SBC 2013 Alumni & Friends Luncheon in Houston

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary honored Pearl Dee Chiu, Willie Simmons, and Roger Barrier with Distinguished Alumni Awards at the seminary’s Alumni and Friends luncheon on June 12, during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas.

President Jeff Iorg praised the work of Chiu, Simmons, and Barrier, and described their ministries. “Three roles that depict our distinguished alumni are missionaries, pioneers, and pastors,” explained Iorg. He noted that these people were being honored due to the significance of their valuable contributions in furthering the Gospel.

Pearl Dee Chiu (a missionary) was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. She graduated from Golden Gate Seminary with a Master of Religious Education (1968), and Master of Church Music (1969). While attending Golden Gate, she served at UC Berkeley in the international student ministry department, where she met Wah Chiu, her husband of 41 years. After graduation, Chiu served as minister of education and music for Chinese Baptist Church in Berkeley, CA. In 1999, she founded Mission Hope Ministries, a fundraising organization which supports four major mission projects in Thailand. The projects provide housing and/or education, job training, and religious teaching for various groups. These groups include orphans and children of poor families, children of prisoners and newly released prisoners, and inmates.

Willie Simmons (a pioneer) is a native of Louisiana who graduated from Golden Gate in 1983 with a Doctor of Ministry degree. While attending seminary, he was the first African American called to pastor First Southern Baptist Church of Compton, in Southern California. During this time, he also trained people to work with Hispanics. After graduation, he received a call from the Foreign Mission Board (FMB, now the IMB) to work with African American churches and pastors to stimulate interest in foreign missions. He was the first African American pastor to be called at the management level of the FMB. In 1993, he co-founded African American Korean American Christian Alliance, which served as ambassadors to tour South Korea on a goodwill tour. In 2001, Simmons was appointed to a two-year assignment as a staff missionary and served in Brazil through the IMB’s Masters Program. He was the director of Golden Gate’s Theological Field Education (TFE) program and served as a TFE mentor for international students at Southwestern Seminary. Today, he lives with Marva, his wife of 56 years, and leads a cross-cultural community Bible study at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, TX.

Roger Barrier (a pastor) is a native of Dallas who received a Doctor of Ministry from Golden Gate in 1992. He has been the pastor of Casas Adobes Baptist Church in Tucson, AZ for 35 years. This mega-church is known for its well-integrated and multi-generational ministry. Barrier was called as pastor in 1975 when the church had 70 members, and it currently has approximately 10,000 members. Barrier founded “Preach It, Teach It” in 2008, as a result of a burden he had for overseas missionaries who had few resources. The website ( provides Bible training, questions and answers, and other resources. It is translated into various languages, and offers sermons, series, articles, blogs, devotionals, and advice. Contributors include Francis Chan, Andy Stanley, Beth Moore, Max Lucado, John Piper, and more. Barrier is also a featured pastor on, the largest Christian website in the country. He partners with Intimate Life Ministries and regularly teaches national leaders for Campus Crusade for Christ and other mission organizations. He is the author of several books including Listening to the Voice of God and Got Guts, Get Godly. He is also a contributing author of The Kingdom and the Power. Today Barrier lives in Frisco, TX with Julie, his wife of 38 years.

At the luncheon, Iorg reported on the work of the seminary by reiterating five trends he shared in his earlier convention report. The first trend is that opposition to the Christian worldview is on the rise and will continue to increase in North America. “This reality mandates Golden Gate hold fast to the Word of God,” Iorg said.

A second trend is to reallocate resources. “Churches and seminaries must reorder their priorities,” Iorg noted. “We must take a strong look at what we have and how we’re using it and what is really essential for our seminary” he urged.
A third trend is the acknowledgement that the digital world is here to stay. “Information storage and retrieval, resources and information access are changing, and our seminary has changed and is changing as a result,” Iorg explained. “We are working hard to create an educational delivery model for the 21st century, meeting the needs of students in the digital age.”

President Iorg noted a fourth trend is a result of our digital access to information. “We are becoming an international seminary as we embrace the digital world.”

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, churches are emerging as more vital partners in seminary training,” Iorg said as he explained the fifth trend of partnership. “Internships, apprenticeships, mentoring, and other training programs, all provide opportunities to work hand in hand with churches to bring to bear the best of both worlds – seminary and church – on fulfilling our mutual mission of shaping leaders who expand God’s kingdom around the world.”

President Iorg concluded by stating that Golden Gate continues to live by three watchwords – biblical, missional, global. He pointed out, “Your seminary in the west has just graduated its 8,000th graduate, and is looking ahead to the future. We hope you will continue to stand with us for the Gospel.”