Where We Are Now
Dear Fuller Alumni and Friends,
As we are fully in the midst of the rhythms and patterns of the holiday season, I am particularly reminded of the hope and meaning of Advent. It’s the expectant season of Emmanuel—God with us—through the incarnation in Jesus, God in flesh, present with God’s people. Advent invites us to continually recognize God’s presence in seasons both prosperous and lacking, clear and ambiguous, hopeful and desperate.
As we shared with you in the spring, Fuller has embarked on a journey to refine our vision for theological education for the next generation of pastors, scholars, therapists, cross-cultural leaders, and learners. Here is where we are:
Our Mission. Fuller’s vision remains that of forming global leaders for kingdom vocations. We trust that the gospel of Jesus Christ is our hope and the hope of the world. The very complexity and pain of our nation, cultures, and churches reflect the wise, effective, courageous, Jesus-following leaders that are needed everywhere. Our mission to help form women and men to lead in Christ’s name through “the manifold ministries of Christ and his church,” taking up vocations both inside and outside the life of the church, in the United States and around the world, is compellingly urgent work. We demonstrate that we matter as an institution through the capacity of thousands of our students and alums who faithfully stand and capably serve at the critical intersections of our day.
Undergirding this work is our spiritual vision as followers of Jesus to live as servant leaders in every kind of context, in response to every kind of human need, with trust in the God who in Christ “holds all things together.” Our faculty and students engage in the highest level of scholarship and research, pressing on in our investigations and reflections in the various disciplines to which we are committed—giving increased focus to inclusion and equity for our diverse community. Scholarship remains the engine for all we do. In a time like this, we also make it our purpose to bring such scholarship into vigorous interaction with local and practical settings in both church and society. Fuller has always been at its best when it has embraced the intersection of scholarship and practice, and we must do so even more intentionally and distinctly today.
Our Campus(es). Since our spring letters, we have been moving forward on the sale of our current campus and on the design of our new one. We won’t be able to discuss the sale in detail until the negotiations are complete in a few months, but we are encouraged and hopeful about where we are now in this effort. We have received an extraordinary level of potential buyer interest in our Pasadena campus. We are being represented by CBRE, the largest commercial real estate and investment firm in the world, who has described our campus as a once-in-a-generation sale. This process has been an encouraging reminder of God’s faithfulness even amidst a season of tumult, and we are hopeful for what the campus sale will mean for Fuller’s sustainability moving forward. As I’ve said before, Fuller’s home for the past 70 years is one of the reasons our future home in Pomona will be possible, and it will provide another 70 years and more.
Our Architect. The new campus architectural and planning efforts are also underway, and meetings with various faculty and staff have already begun. We selected John Chan and his architecture firm, Formation Association, as the design architect to represent our collective vision for the future campus. His firm will be partnering with their longtime collaborators CannonDesign, an integrated global design firm that unites a team of architects, engineers, industry experts, and builders. Chan and Formation Association, based in Los Angeles, describe their process as “an expansive cultural enterprise emerging from investigation and reflection to transform our expectations of the built environment.” One of the reasons we chose this team to design the physical expression of our future space is their commitment to excavating institutional history and emphasizing architectural features that foster communal spaces of collaboration. These emphases are crucial for the campus we are envisioning that will reflect Fuller’s continued mission in a changing world.
Our Structure. While much is changing around Fuller, we primarily fulfill our mission through the degree-earning process and we will continue to do so, at both the master’s and doctoral levels. The Future of Fuller working group (two faculty from each school, provost, three deans, and three administrators) is tackling the question of how we can do this primary work with much greater simplicity, focus, and sustainability for a strong future. Their recommendations are being developed and will lead to the streamlining and simplification of our programs and structures to strengthen and improve our processes. Those recommendations will be submitted to the Board of Trustees as well as the faculty in January, after which we will begin the necessary work of implementing these changes.
We are also continuing to develop the Fuller Leadership Platform in response to the increasing number of those who would like theological formation but do not want or need a theological degree. It is within both our mission and our capacity to provide the best resources for the benefit of a very large, global church. These resources will draw both from the expertise of our faculty and from other experts whose work and ministry can address the needs of many people who will be served by the Fuller Leadership Platform. This is not a distraction from our mission of offering degrees, but a complement to it and one that will train more leaders beyond what our degree programs can. The combination of Fuller’s academic degrees, Fuller Leadership Platform, and FULLER studio will provide the necessary resources for leaders at any point on their vocational journey.
In all our residential, online, and leadership platform education, we are still in the process of discovering how to do incarnational education in every modality. It may sound like an oxymoron, but we must hold on to that vision across all we are doing if we are committed to the kind of Christian formation that our students, our learners, and those they influence need.
Our Prayers. These are challenging days. We can readily admit and name the challenges because they are so obvious and plain. But that is not the greater story of these days: God is giving us a chance to be a part of one of the most strategic and important times in Fuller’s history. Our vision of forming global leaders for kingdom vocations is urgently important, and all that we are doing aims to make that mission sustainable and healthy for decades to come. Let’s do this good, important, and difficult work together and to the glory of God. Let’s continue our prayers.
Seeing and anticipating God’s faithfulness in this Advent season and beyond,
Mark Labberton, President
P.S. Your feedback is very important. Please check for updates, ask questions, submit ideas, and find answers to FAQ on this web page dedicated to this transformation. At the bottom of this page, you will also find a sign-up form where you can give us your email address—our preferred way of communicating. Additionally, if you are an alum or friend with memorable experiences that took place on the Pasadena campus, please contribute to “Let the Buildings Speak”—our project to honor the space that has served us so well for seven decades—by sharing those memories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 3, 2018
May 15, 2018
May 21, 2018
From Pomona: May 24, 2018
Speaking from the iconic pedestrian bridge in downtown Pomona just after attending the city’s Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast—where Fuller’s relocation was announced and enthusiastically welcomed—President Labberton discusses how Fuller is entering, along with the city of Pomona, a journey of transformation.
Leaning Into the Whirlwind
President Labberton discusses what relocation means for the future of Fuller and broadening the seminary's offerings.
Reflections from the Fuller Community
“The graduate theological education I received at Fuller was absolutely life-changing. It prepared me for ministry as a speaker, author, thought leader, and professor of Reconciliation Studies. I am confident that Fuller will continue to prepare men and women from every tribe and nation to address the complex issues facing our world.”
—Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
Associate Professor and Director of Reconciliation Studies
Seattle Pacific University
“As I travel and relate to leaders throughout North America and the majority world, my conviction has only strengthened regarding Fuller Seminary—it truly is one of the world’s premier institutions in developing leaders for the church. Fuller not only forms students with the truths, values, and character of Christ, but it embodies these things as an institution. I am excited about Fuller’s future, as it continually innovates to launch future generations of leaders and effective Christlike witnesses in a fast-changing and increasingly globalized world.”
—Tom Lin, President/CEO
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Fuller trustee and alumnus
“My first exposure to Fuller was as a visiting professor while I was a faculty member at Calvin College. On one of my visits, the president of Fuller at the time—David Allan Hubbard—spoke about the 'beyond' of Fuller. Fuller existed beyond the mission of academia, beyond the limits of a graduate education. Fuller exists to advance the mission of God across the world. That was when I knew Fuller was a community I wanted to be a part of, and have loved serving for over 30 years. Fuller's relocation is to continue the legacy of beyond.”
—Richard J. Mouw
Professor of Faith and Public Life and President Emeritus (1993–2013)
“When I was invited to come to California to join the Fuller faculty, I knew that it was a body of unequaled evangelical scholarship with a mission to shape ministers and missionaries and theologians for the 21st century. I didn't realize how important the work is that Fuller also does in resourcing people to be therapists or musicians or movie-makers who are not merely Christian on Sundays, but who want their Monday to Saturday vocations to be shaped by the Scriptures. I am thrilled to be engaged in this important work.”
—John Goldingay, PhD
David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament Emeritus
“As CEO of one of the great high-tech innovative companies, I live daily in the need to innovate or die. Fuller has constantly sought to bring an innovative spirit and deep theological scholarship as it equips influencers of all kinds. Fuller has always known how to adapt to shifting needs without losing its biblical grounding—shaping the kinds of courageous, innovative, and faithful evangelical leaders we’re going to need more than ever.”
CEO of VMware
“Fuller’s educational ministry centers not only on academic excellence but also obedient discipleship, evident in the ways its programs and centers engage with issues pertinent to the church, culture, and society. What's more, because of its commitment to God’s kingdom, Fuller relates to younger and smaller seminaries from around the world with both generosity and humility.”
President, Biblical Seminary of Colombia
"Fuller continues to be top on the list of seminaries of choice for quality, thoughtful, Christ-centered, transformational leadership and ministerial formation for those of us from the Global South. This is evidenced in the quality of its alumni as they lead and serve in diverse churches and institutions around the world, something I have seen firsthand as I have served with some in my life and work in Africa. Fuller has a track record of being both locally and globally engaged, and I am gratified to see intentional efforts to remain on the cutting edge: walking the talk of being evangelically inclusive, not being afraid to ask hard questions, pushing boundaries, and exploring new ideas. I thank God for Fuller!
—Bishop Zac Niringiye
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