Fuller announces Mark Labberton as next president

Dr Mark Labberton

The Fuller Theological Seminary Board of Trustees has announced Dr Mark Labberton as the seminary's fifth president, beginning on 1 July.

Labberton has served at Fuller Seminary, based in Pasadena, California, since 2009 as the Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching, and director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching.

According to a news release, Labberton's unanimous election by the trustees followed a 10-month search and review of 250 nominations.

Board Chair, Dr Clifford L Penner announced, "Along with my fellow trustees, I am delighted to welcome Mark Labberton to the presidency of Fuller Seminary.

"We are excited and inspired by the outstanding qualities and accomplishments he brings to this position. He is a scholar and academic leader, pastor for more than 25 years, accomplished author, and leading voice in many international ministries."

He added, "Mark brings strong spiritual leadership, a wide range of experiences and the vision to guide Fuller into a new era of global leadership in seminary education. As a Fuller alumnus (M.Div.) and professor, he fully comprehends Fuller's rich and diverse legacy."

Labberton said, "Fuller has influenced my life and ministry in so many ways. I am honored to have this opportunity to work with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and our Board to further Fuller's leadership in seminary education and its global outreach."

Labberton also expressed admiration for the leadership of Dr Richard J Mouw, who has served as Fuller President since 1993 and is retiring in June 2013.

Commenting on the way Mouw has helped Fuller's public voice and life become widely known and understood, Labberton said, "I hope to continue the kind of generous, gracious, and irenic leadership that he established at Fuller and the world beyond."

Dr Mouw said Labberton was an "excellent choice" as the next President of Fuller.

"I know him to be a very gifted Christian leader who will be able to take Fuller into an exciting new future," he said.

Included among the priorities Labberton has already identified for his presidency are to strengthen Fuller's commitments to the church, to deepen the ways Fuller addresses some of the key concerns and needs of the world, and to nurture a spiritually supportive community that includes all of Fuller's regional campuses and the rich ethnic, language, and denominational diversity of the seminary.

Labberton encourages prayers for Fuller "at such a turbulent time in the church and in the world, when tangible demonstrations of God's love are needed".

He also welcomes prayers for his new role as president, as he seeks to foster "careful understanding, deep and diverse community, courageous and wise decision-making, and effective creativity to address the challenges facing seminary education."

With a Bachelor of Arts degree from Whitman College, Labberton earned a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller and a PhD in theology from the University of Cambridge, England.

In 2009, Labberton joined Fuller's faculty with a key goal of empowering preachers through the development of small and highly diverse pastor-formation Micah Groups, which have now expanded into 25 US states as well as several international cities.

Prior to coming to Fuller, Labberton served for 16 years as senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, California.

"In the national and international setting of this university church community, the canvas for life and for the Gospel was big and wide," Labberton shared. "I had the daunting joy of leading a team of staff and laity toward seeing and engaging the Gospel, each other, the campus, the city, and the world more fully."

Labberton also served in the early 1990s as senior pastor of Wayne Presbyterian Church in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Long committed to international ministry and development, Labberton co-founded the Christian International Scholarship Foundation (now ScholarLeaders, Int'l), which funds advanced theological education of Christian leaders from the Majority World. He has also worked closely with John Stott Ministries (now called Langham Partnership), which provides books, scholarships, and seminars for Majority World pastors. Today, he continues to contribute to the mission of the global church as a senior fellow of the International Justice Mission.

Labberton succeeds Dr Mouw who announced last May his retirement from the Fuller presidency. Following a study leave during the 2013-14 academic year, Dr Mouw will return to Fuller in a faculty role. Under his leadership Fuller has become the largest multidenominational seminary in the world with seven regional campuses, rapidly expanding online programmes, and a new Korean-language Doctor of Ministry programme.

In addition, new centres of study, research and innovation have been established, including the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts. Known and highly respected as a key proponent of communicating with "convicted civility" in the public square, Mouw has participated widely in interfaith dialogues with Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, and others.

"With almost every nation and institution undergoing profound change, this is the time when the light and salt of the Gospel is meant to show up and make a real difference," Labberton said. "Fuller is well-positioned to influence how the Gospel is communicated, understood, and embodied in the world."

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