Barker Commons

Barker Commons

In 1986 the seminary dedicated Barker Commons to the memory of Glenn Barker, professor of New Testament and provost of Fuller Theological Seminary (1974-1984) and vocal advocate for women in ministry. The stone sculptures lining the wall are drawn from biblical stories. This secluded grassy space has been used for outdoor concerts and dramatic performances, meals and picnics, and as a respite for the Fuller community and surrounding neighborhood.

“I don’t think there were formal rules for joining the ‘Fuller Five,’ a group I was part of as a seminarian. I don’t even recall why the group had that name except that there usually seemed to be five of us sitting around one of the alcoves in Barker Commons over the 2002-3 academic year. I suppose a set of affinities were in play. The answer to the question of smoking or not was, more or less, affirmative. You certainly needed to be tolerant of meandering open-ended theological conversations. Conversations could go from the social norms that divide us to the nuanced distinctions between Christian claims concerning God’s humanity. These were the dots that connected after studying Christology, film, the arts, religious pluralism, Greek, and translations of the Hebrew Psalms. A number of the Fuller Five continued on through doctoral and postdoctoral programs to become academics themselves. On occasion we find each other at the annual American Academy of Religion conference. In 2017, I learned that Fuller was considering selling its campus to find firmer financial footing in a new era of theological education. Soon after, I made my way to Barker Commons one last time. Anniversary banners on light posts commemorated 70 years of helping people find their niche, as it were. As with most of the best things about Fuller’s campus of repurposed Craftsman homes, the Fuller Five wasn’t well planned or clearly structured. It simply arose in the human spaces created for five seminarians to think anew about how to see the world a little differently. I think this ethos goes with us, no matter the academic campus in which we find ourselves.”
—Timothy (MAT ’03)

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