Rev. Dr. Curt Longacre
The Promise of the Future
I have been affiliated with Fuller Seminary as a student and as an alum for the past 24 years. For the last 17 years, I have served as the regional director for Fuller Seminary Northern California (FSNC). The sum of the changes that I have seen during my 24 years at Fuller pale in comparison to the scope of the changes that I see taking place at this point in Fuller’s history.
One of the most significant changes is the appointment of Dr. Mark Labberton as Fuller’s fifth president. Dr. Labberton earned a PhD in theology from the University of Cambridge, and served as the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley for 16 years before being called as the Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching and director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching. Dr. Labberton served in that role for four years before being appointed as president.
Dr. Labberton has the mind of a scholar, the heart of a pastor, and the vision of someone who has served as a leader in the shadow of UC Berkeley, which according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014, was rated as “the best public University in the world.” (The Universities were ranked according to teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.) These qualities (individually and taken together) have influenced Dr. Labberton’s vision for theological education at Fuller Seminary.
One such change is the shift from a more traditional view of theological education of preparing men and women to serve in parish ministries toward a more visionary view of “forming global leaders for kingdom vocation” wherever God calls them. This can be seen in all of Fuller’s degrees and programs, which include the following:
- Personal formation: embodying God’s call
- Spiritual formation: deepening God’s call
- Academic formation: equipping God’s call
- Global formation: engaging God’s call globally and locally
These four strands can easily be seen in Fuller’s new Master of Divinity degree program, which is designed to help students identify and prepare for their calling in a more holistic way.
The new, MDiv degree program that goes into effect this fall gives more attention to vocational discernment, discipleship practices, integrating courses across the curriculum, and contextualization. The reduction from 144 to 120 quarter units also makes the degree more accessible and affordable. These same principles will be incorporated into Fuller’s other master’s degree programs in the coming year.
Another significant change is restructuring FSNC into two separate and distinct regions (the Bay Area and Sacramento) effective July 1, 2014. While I believe that FSNC has benefited from the combined efforts of both sites as part of a larger regional campus, I also believe that creating two separate regional campuses will enable each campus to sharpen its focus and better serve the needs of those in each of their respective regions.
Less visible, but equally important, are some of the organizational changes that have taken place this past year. Fuller has appointed five new deans, two vice-presidents, a chief information officer and a vice-provost. Each of these senior leaders brings a fresh new perspective and vision that will inspire and shape Fuller’s vision for the next 10-20 years.
As I come to the end of my time as the regional director of Fuller Seminary Northern California, I am reminded of Moses as he stood atop Mount Nebo overlooking the Promised Land. Like Moses, I see the promise of the future. I am excited about what God is doing at Fuller Seminary, and I truly believe that Fuller’s best years lie ahead.
I am grateful for my time at Fuller and for the opportunity to get to know so many people who have inspired me along the journey. To those who have been part of that journey with me, thank you. To those who are part of the journey yet to come, I pray that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ might bless you with every spiritual blessing so that you might go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
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