Meggie Anderson, Story Table Coordinator: First, here is Caleb Campbell, and he is a student here at Fuller. What year are you here?
Caleb Campbell: Second year.
Meggie: Second year student. This is Clementina Chacon, and she is the Director of Operations at the Centro Latino. Jude Tiersma Watson is a professor of Urban Mission in the School of Intercultural Studies.
Steve Yamaguchi is our Dean of Students, and this is his second year here at Fuller as well. Matt Harris is the founder of Project Impact in Los Angeles, and he is also an alumnus of Fuller—he got his Doctorate of Ministry here.
Jeanelle Austin, a recent graduate, is the director of the William E. Pannell Center for African American Church Studies, and Love Sechrest is a professor of New Testament Studies in our School of Theology. We’d like to open with a word of prayer. Everyone may join.
Oh God, we are all together here about to embark on a great adventure. I pray your blessing upon this evening, upon everyone sitting around this table. God, you have known them and called them by name. We are here to witness stories that are dealing with identity—very sensitive and tender stories of identity, God.
I pray that we would be active listeners to these honorable testimonies. I pray for Lauralee, as she moderates this conversation, and I pray that all of us would be open to the idea that storytelling is a sacred act of participating in your ongoing story of redeeming your creation, God. Thank you that we get to join in on that this evening, and through these stories I pray we would see your image more clearly, that everyone sitting around this table might know you more deeply, Lord. In your name we pray. Amen.
FULLER Magazine’s Story Table: Reconciling Race
Lauralee Farrer, Chief Creative at Fuller and Story Table Moderator: My dears, it’s a pleasure to sit here and to see all your faces. I knew these faces would be here, but I didn’t know what it would feel like to sit here and be looking straight at you from this vantage point. That’s lovely. As far as your faces are giving me good vibes, otherwise look away!
Lauralee: This is such a weighty undertaking if I think about coming to this table as an “issue” that we’re addressing. Without seeing you in your flesh and blood, with your faces here in front of me, all day and many days before now I have felt burdened with “how on earth are we going to have one such conversation and not a thousand? How are we going to choose eight around a table instead of a thousand around a table?”
Now this feels perfectly natural: of course Clementina, of course Jude, of course Jeanelle. Of course even Matt—whom I only met moments ago. This feels as it should—embodied, real, and possible for us to be here for these reasons, because we are here together.
Love and I were talking a few minutes ago about story, and the difference between story and all the other ways that we communicate about this subject and subjects that matter to us. We have chapel services. We have panels. We have conferences. We have classrooms.
What sometimes gets missed in those moments are the stories that end up communicating straight to a different part of us, that live with us. Again, to use you, Love, as an example, I remember when you were on a panel, and I heard everything that you said on the panel, and it all went here [points to her head]. Then you told a story at the end of that. It’s your story whether you decide to tell or not, but the story went somewhere else. It went into my heart.
Every time I think about the story that you told, it affects my whole person because I love you. [tears up] I’m never going to make it this through this! That affects me because you were affected. Love was affected. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably.
Also, it serves as an example of what story can do at the magazine. I hope at Fuller in general, we consider stories, your stories at the table, all of those in the room, and all the ones that end up in our magazines and elsewhere as sacred trusts. Aren’t they?