Fuller Seminary's 65th annual commencement ceremony drew thousands of joyful families and friends to Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena Saturday morning to celebrate nearly 500 graduates who walked across the platform of the filled-to-capacity sanctuary. Earning master's and doctoral degrees from Fuller's schools of theology, psychology, and intercultural studies, the graduating students represented 78 denominations and 36 countries around the world.
Two retiring deans, Winston Gooden of the School of Psychology and Howard Loewen of the School of Theology, were also honored for their years of leadership and service. Receiving this year's C. Davis Weyerhaeuser Award for Excellence was Bryant Myers, professor of transformational development in the School of Intercultural Studies. The peer-selected "faculty of the year" award honors Dr. Myers for his outstanding care for the education and formation of students.
In his first commencement address as president of Fuller Seminary, Mark Labberton shared encouragement and appreciation to the new graduates, as well as to faculty members, family, friends, mentors, and others, for the ways they have supported and nurtured the students. Speaking directly to the graduating class, Dr. Labberton charged them to "let your roots go deep" in their vocational and spiritual development.
"My life has been transformed at Fuller by what I've learned," said Rand York Moore, from Michigan, who shared briefly from the platform about his experience as a Fuller student. Moore, who has more than two decades experience ministering to youth, received a Master of Arts in Global Leadership from the School of Intercultural Studies.
Gillian Diane Grannum, from Pennsylvania, who received both a Master of Divinity from the School of Theology and a Master of Arts in Psychology, also shared at the commencement how Fuller prepared her to meet the challenges of her own ministry calling.
"Fuller has helped me to think more deeply and creatively," said Grannum. Highlights of activities at Fuller, she noted, include connecting on a research project with clergy in New Orleans, coordinating a jazz service on campus, and creating a "safe space" in the community to sit and share with mentally ill persons. "Fuller has helped build a bridge,” she said, “between my interests in the arts and the church."