Fuller Seminary is pleased to announce the launch of a new Chinese Studies Center, which aims to provide academic and communal support to Fuller seminarians whose primary or first language is Chinese, who bring to Fuller classrooms their gifts of ethnic diversity, talent, wisdom, and cross-regional experience. The Chinese Studies Center joins Fuller’s four other ethnic centers.
“The Chinese Studies Center enthusiastically continues Fuller’s 30-year educational partnership with the mainland Chinese church, while at the same time integrating this partnership into a larger vision of the whole multicultural, local, and global Chinese church,” said Diane Obenchain, director of Fuller’s China Initiative since 2014 and senior professor of religion. According to Dr. Obenchain, “Fuller’s new Chinese Studies Center seeks to embrace and to connect Chinese Christians coming from different cultural contexts.”
In recent decades the Los Angeles area has become a highly strategic location for Chinese seminarian education. Of the roughly 2,000 Chinese churches in North America, 300 are in the greater LA area. “Coming alongside Chinese-language-based seminaries in the LA area, Fuller seeks to contribute its educational resources to harmonize with other schools and enable the crosscultural, local, and global Chinese church to thrive,” said Dr. Obenchain.
Fuller’s Chinese Studies Center serves the multicultural, local, and global Chinese church by (1) coordinating student scholarships, (2) developing academic courses and program initiatives, (3) encouraging research and scholarship, (4) providing a place for mentoring, fellowship, and prayer, and (5) collaborating with Chinese churches, seminaries, mission and alumni organizations, and more. Recognizing the growing local and global significance of the Chinese church, the heart of the Chinese Studies Center is to gather together Chinese Christians from different cultural contexts, including mainland China, to learn, cultivate ministry skills, and grow in Christian fellowship in a manner that brings healing, reconciliation, and the offering of the Chinese church’s gifts to the worldwide body of Christ.
The search is underway for an academic dean to lead the Chinese Studies Center. “We seek a recognized scholar/practitioner whose specialization addresses Chinese Christian life, church, and community, both locally and globally,” said Chief Academic Officer Amos Yong. “The academic dean will serve as a vital source of encouragement for Fuller’s Chinese-speaking seminarians and cultivate opportunities for a Chinese Christian perspective to speak into the many dimensions of Fuller’s educational endeavors.”
The person appointed as academic dean of Fuller’s Chinese Studies Center will serve in the newly endowed Dean and Rebecca Stephan Chair in Chinese Studies. “What makes the Stephan Chair in Chinese Studies particularly special is that Dean and Rebecca Stephan’s relationship with Fuller hails back to Charles E. Fuller himself,” said Fuller President Mark Labberton. “It has been a joy to reconnect with the Stephans’ three children, whose careful stewardship of the Stephan Charitable Fund over the decades has provided essential support for Fuller’s partnership with the mainland Chinese church. It is therefore most appropriate that the center’s academic dean serves in the Dean and Rebecca Stephan Chair in Chinese Studies.”
As with the former China Initiative, a generous endowment from Robert and Dorothy King will continue to provide vital financial support for the Chinese Studies Center’s endeavors, including scholarships.