Grant will enable Fuller to pursue work in three new, strategic project areas
The Kern Family Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to Fuller’s School of Theology, as part of the foundation’s program “Leading Through Change: Innovation in Theological Schools.” The grant will allow Fuller to pursue three forward-looking projects—expanding Hispanic leadership, experimenting with congregation-based MDiv education, and enhancing educational technology—that spring from the seminary’s recently adopted strategic plan.
In a process that involved input from faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni/ae, Fuller adopted a long-range strategic plan last fall that responds proactively to current trends and anticipated changes in culture, the Church, and the world. As part of this plan, “Fuller is creating a series of ‘experimental’ projects that try strategic new ways of preparing God’s people for the manifold ministries of Christ and his Church—and this important grant will fund some of those key projects,” explains Scott Cormode, Fuller’s Hugh De Pree Associate Professor of Leadership Development and coordinator of the grant.
The first of the three projects will pursue an expanded educational outreach to the Hispanic community through the hiring of new Hispanic faculty: a professor of New Testament in Pasadena, and potentially a second faculty member at Fuller’s Houston campus. “The Hispanic community is growing and diversifying in the U.S.,” says Juan Martínez, assistant dean for Fuller’s Hispanic Church Studies Department. “Fuller needs highly qualified people who can help us understand the community so as to most effectively prepare pastors and leaders to serve this increasingly important segment of the U.S. population.”
The second Kern grant project will work to bring theological education closer to church life by creating “congregational cohorts”—groups of MDiv students who focus their theological education in the work of one congregation. “Seminary education can be strengthened by closer connections with churches,” says Mark Lau Branson, Homer L. Goddard Associate Professor of the Ministry of the Laity and coordinator of this part of the grant. “These church-based cohorts will bring a ‘learning community’ of students into deeper involvement with churches, and on-site work with professors and theological mentors will help students connect the dots between academic work and church ministries.”
The third project will center on educational technology, helping faculty members develop enhanced pedagogies that take advantage of new possibilities in technology. “We want to continue and expand what we offer in our degree plans, but we also want to expand how we think about sharing evangelical research, resources, and perspectives through web-based learning,” says Professor of New Testament Interpretation Joel Green, coordinator of this project. “This will help us to influence lifelong learning for Christian leaders at every stage of ministry, and not only during those few years of formal theological education.”
The Kern Family Foundation, a private foundation based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, offers its “Leading Through Change” grants to energize institutions to develop innovative models and change designs. As a grant recipient, Fuller will be required to match one-half of the grant award.