The Presidential Symbols of Office

At his inauguration service on November 6, 2013, President Mark Labberton was presented with four “presidential symbols of office,” representing principles to which the Fuller community has been committed since it was established in 1947.

Presidential Medallion: A Legacy of Leadership

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Passed down from president to president over six decades of Fuller’s history, the presidential medallion is inscribed with words and symbols that are deeply meaningful to the seminary’s mission. The front of the medallion replicates Fuller’s official seal. It pictures the symbols of cross, shield, and crown, accompanied by Hebrew text that is taken from Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim good news.” On the reverse side, the names of the first four presidents of Fuller, as faithful adherents to that charge, have been inscribed: Harold John Ockenga, Edward John Carnell, David Allan Hubbard, and Richard J. Mouw. We celebrate that the name of Mark Labberton has now been added to their number, by the witness of his own heart and by the confirmation of the Fuller community.

BIBLE: GOD’S GOOD NEWS OF TRUTH AND GRACE

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Sixty-six years ago Fuller Theological Seminary was founded out of the combined visions of two men: Charles E. Fuller, a gifted evangelist who devoted his life to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to the world, and Harold John Ockenga, a pastor and deep theological thinker who championed the highest levels of biblical scholarship. Ever since, that merging of head and heart has defined Fuller Theological Seminary. This Bible symbolizes that dual mission Dr. Labberton has been charged to uphold as president: to relentlessly seek out and teach the truths found in Scripture with scholastic rigor and courageous questioning, while continuing to proclaim the good news of grace we find in this book: the gospel of unmerited love, forgiveness, and eternal life Jesus Christ offers to a fallen world.

Presidential Stole: The Yoke of Service

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In some traditions, the ecclesiastical stole is linked to the cloth Jesus used in washing his disciples’ feet, and, so, is a fitting symbol of the yoke of service Mark Labberton accepts. Designed and crafted by Fuller alumna Olga Lah, the stole features seven crosses embedded in three flowing lines that represent the Spirit moving around the world over places and cultures—the Trinity at work. The stole’s color, blue, signifies the living water that flows around the world via the Fuller community. Inside the stole is an inscription from John 13:34: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” When Dr. Labberton wears the stole, this verse will lie over his heart as a reminder that he is deeply loved, and that God calls him to serve out of and through a love for others. Artist Olga Lah was led to this verse, she says, as the new commandment given to the disciples after Jesus washes their feet: “Such a profound connection!”

Globe: Partnership in God’s Global Mission

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This globe represents the world God loved so dearly that he gave his only begotten son to save it. Spread out upon it are the sons and daughters of Fuller Seminary, as well as many who suffer without the transformative knowledge of Jesus Christ. The globe serves as a reminder that we are embodied of the earth’s clay, bound to time and place, with all the joys and sorrows the world brings to us. That we are stewards of the earth and of God’s fruitful handiwork. And it is a tangible symbol of our partnership with Christ, and with one another, in his Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20): “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Photos by Nate Harrison