Gathering honors retiring Vice President of Finance with preaching and song
H. Lee Merritt, who retires this month from his position as Vice President of Finance after 40 years of service to Fuller, was celebrated with a festive program in Travis Auditorium and subsequent reception on Wednesday, June 9.
With a lineup of homiletics faculty “all-stars” preaching a series of mini-sermons, Dr. Mouw commissioning Lee into “God’s new calling” to a life of retirement, a slide show featuring engaging images of Lee from boyhood on, and a rousing performance of the song “I’m Feeling Good” tailored just for Lee, all agreed that the gathering was a fitting tribute to a colleague who has served the seminary with devotion and excellence.
Centering on Lee’s favorite scripture passage, Romans 12:1-11—in which Paul calls his readers to serve as living sacrifices for God’s purposes—five faculty members “preached Lee into retirement.” Senior Professor of Preaching Bill Pannell spoke of Lee living out this verse in practical, nuts-and-bolts ways as he “gets the job done and sprinkles it with a little cheer.” To Clay Schmit, Fuller’s Arthur DeKruyter/Christ Church Oak Brook Professor of Preaching, the Romans passage calls us to leadership based on “excellence wedded with humility”—and it is impossible to read it, he said, “and not think of Lee.”
Mark Labberton, Fuller’s Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching, spoke of our individual finitude and how much more we become as we contribute our gifts to the body. “Because you are here,” he said to Lee, “we are so much more than we would have been. Thank you for being one who lives your uniqueness, your singularity, and your finitude to the glory of God.” The importance of mentoring and valuing those around us was stressed by Marguerite Shuster, the Harold John Ockenga Professor of Preaching and Theology—and she pointed out that those who have worked for Lee over the years have had their own gifts strengthened through his guidance and leadership.
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord, reads Romans 12:11. “You have become to us an example of those last three injunctions,” said Assistant Professor and Director of Chapel Doug Nason to Lee. “Your 40 years of dedicated service here have been to the Lord Jesus Christ first, and to Fuller Theological Seminary second. And in this service there is no retirement!”
Invited to make some comments of his own, Lee emphasized the significance of the Romans 12 passage in his life—even to the point of using it as his voicemail password. “It reminds me every time that none of us serves in isolation,” he said. “We all achieve because we achieve together.”
After a spirited rendition of “I’m Feeling Good” from Professor of Psychology Alexis Abernethy and friends, the celebration moved to the School of Psychology breezeway where a reception featured some of Lee’s favorite treats.