Golden Gate seminary selling campus, moving

After four years of fighting obstacles to expansion plans, a Southern Baptist seminary is selling its 55-year-old campus located on prime real estate overlooking San Francisco Bay.

By Bob Allen

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is selling its 126-acre campus with sweeping views of San Francisco Bay for an undisclosed price, the seminary’s president told faculty, staff and students April 1.

President Jeff Iorg said the school, one of six theological seminaries operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, will open a new commuter campus in the Bay Area and relocate its main campus to Southern California.

golden gateThe buyer is North Coast Land Holdings, a billion-dollar trust of a family foundation started with wealth from oil and ranching in Texas a century ago. Plans for the property aren’t nailed down, but media reports suggest it might include housing for seniors and low-income renters and a school campus, possibly the Branson School, a prep school in Ross, Calif., seeking to expand.

The decision to sell the property, which Iorg said was unanimously approved by trustees, comes two years after county planners turned down the seminary’s proposal for 117 new dwellings, including 74 home sites for sale to the public, because it conflicted with a 1984 master plan.

Iorg said hindrances to the seminary’s expansion plans have been going on the last four years. “For the past four years we have interpreted the challenges we have faced as obstacles to overcome,” he said. “We have now changed our perspective and believe they are signposts telling us to go another direction.”

Golden Gate seminary was formed in 1944, just two years after the first churches from California were seated by the Southern Baptist Convention. The school was adopted by the SBC in 1950 and moved to its current campus on Strawberry Point in Marin County in 1959.

Seminary trustees purchased the prime real estate located seven miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge for $400,000 in 1953. Today the average home price in the community is well over $1 million.

According to the Marin News, Iorg says proceeds from the sale will allow the seminary to build both a new campus in a Bay Area neighborhood more affordable for students and a new headquarters in Southern California and still have money left over for endowment.

Iorg said the seminary will remain on its current campus for two more years. About 90 employees and 175 students who live on campus will decide whether they want to follow the school to Southern California.

Iorg said everyone is sorry to leave the campus behind, but: “Our mission isn’t land development. It’s not campus preservation. Our mission is shaping leaders.”