When President Labberton appointed me to be the vice president for Vocation and Formation, the very first person to take me out for a cup of coffee was Mary Given. As the vice president for Alumni and Church Relations, Mary was eager to get right to work. She could see the potential for partnership even before I did. Mary dreamed of a “Fuller Network,” a deeply connected web of churches, alumni, and donors who would all work together to further Fuller’s mission in the world.
I immediately caught the vision, and it has shaped every decision we have made about Vocation and Formation since.
In my very first address to the Fuller staff and faculty, I said, “This is the promise we are going to make: ‘From the moment you come to our website until you go to glory to be with Jesus, you will be part of a community forming you for your vocation.’”
It was because of Mary’s vision and my promise that the Alumni and Church Relations department became part of the Vocation and Formation division last September. Mary and I spent the year partnering together, dreaming and strategizing about what a community of lifelong formation for Christian vocation would look like. Mary, Laura Harbert, our dean of Chapel and Spiritual Formation, and I traveled to four of our regional campuses (with four more coming next year) to talk to alums about this vision.
And we became clear about these two goals:
To create a process and community where every Fuller alum is engaged in ongoing lifelong vocational formation to further and live out one’s call to God’s mission in the word
To create a network where every Fuller alum is engaged in vocational partnership with Fuller so that we might continue to serve and form the leaders of the future
To accomplish this vision, we have renamed the Alumni and Church Relations Office as the Alumni Engagement Office. We have created a team of staff people from alumni, church vocations, Development, IT, and Vocation and Formation who will work on a seminary-wide strategy for creating the Fuller network. We will also be conferring with the Alumni Council on creating a strategy for accomplishing these two goals. I have already met with Alumni Council Chair Kristen Huffman, and we will be engaging the entire Alumni Council in this process of discovery and discernment.
The Alumni Engagement Office is served by Bert Jacklitch, Rob Bethke, Jay Cook, and Holly Earle. They will continue hosting events with the warm hospitality for which our Alumni Office has been known. We’ll continue to communicate with you regularly, and Rob will be working on the Fuller Network Strategy Team. We have recently hired Fuller MAGL graduate and current DMiss student Brian Wallace to create the Alumni Vocation and Formation process that makes available to alums the resources that we are offering students.
We intend to hand President Labberton a comprehensive strategy that includes a recommendation for hiring a new person to lead the Alumni Engagement Office before the end of the next academic year.
As an alum myself (MDiv ’91; PhD ’00), I am so pleased to have the opportunity to work more closely with the Alumni Engagement team during this transition. They are an experienced and caring corps of professionals who love serving the 41,000 alums of Fuller Seminary.
Please be praying with us—and if you have any questions, comments, encouragements, or creative ideas, please feel free to contact me directly.
Yours for God’s mission in the world,
Vice President for Vocation and Formation