The Koekers: A Fuller Family
Exactly 50 years separate the Fuller graduations of father and son John Koeker (MDiv '60) and David Koeker (MDiv '10). Both participated in June's commencement ceremony: John in the Class of '60 processional and David as a new graduate, with proud wife and mom Susan Koeker supporting them both. And the Fuller family connections don't end there. David's fiancé, Joy, will complete her MA this Winter Quarter, 30 years after her father, Peter Mosgofian (MFCC/MAT '80), completed his. John and Susan's son-in-law, Christopher Wagner, received his MA in 2001.
John, who has served as a pastor for 40 years, has also taught biblical languages as an adjunct professor at Fuller Northern California since 1979. David and Joy, after marriage and Joy's graduation, will move to Eastern Europe to live in Christian community, serve an international church, and meet community development needs.
|Left to right: Joy Mosgofian, David, Susan and John Koeker|
Below, John and David both reflect on their Fuller experience.
What led you to Fuller?
David: During a time in my life when I was teaching fifth-grade science and living in the redwoods--in a yurt with solar power, wood fire stove, and outdoor shower--my spirituality was deeply informed by an intimacy with God's creation. God had called me in the past to ministry in secular work and school. But while teaching, I was restless and sensed a call to more formal ministry and to seminary. I told God, "Okay, I'll go to seminary anywhere but Fuller." Fuller was Dad's place.
But God's call to Fuller became so clear that I could not deny the authority of God's truth in this new step. God cleared my heart of any reservations about going to "Dad's place" and made it clear that Fuller was to be shared space. God called me to Fuller because of all its strengths, especially interdenominationally dynamic learning opportunities.
John: My appreciation of Fuller goes back to the days before Fuller even existed. As a junior high school student and regular listener of the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" radio program, I heard broadcaster Charles Fuller announce that he had engaged pastor Harold John Ockenga to start a new school that would emphasize scholarship and evangelism.
My family attended Eagle Rock Baptist Church, and many of Fuller's early professors filled our pulpit. A particularly gifted student, Bob Lauren, taught our college class on Genesis when I attended a semester at Pasadena City College in 1952--and I thought, "This fellow is getting good teaching at Fuller."
Our family was at the first Fuller graduation, where the wider Christian community filled the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to celebrate that they were a part of making Fuller a success. After a time, with appropriate prayer, I was on my way to Fuller myself.
How did Fuller prepare you?
David: Fuller has grounded me theologically. I always think analytically, and this degree in theology has informed my spirituality and vocation. The three greatest blessings of Fuller to me have been: (1) life together at Fuller's intentional living community "Allelous," (2) my worship experiences at Knox Presbyterian Church and delightful exchange between the two institutions, and (3) beginning the life adventure with my fiancé, Joy.
Of course, the classwork at Fuller was superb and my classmates inspiring. The bottom line is that God is working through it all, and connecting the aspects of my growth for the purposes of his Kingdom.
John: Before entering Fuller I was a bit put off by the Fuller students I ran into, sporting their Greek Testaments and parroting then-president Edward John Carnell. I had my guard up the first day of class when he taught the incoming first-year students an introductory class, "Personal Christian Living." I was not going to spend three years walking around like a little "Carnellian." But Dr. Carnell's opening lecture was so powerful and moving that I shook my head in amazement. As I walked out of that first class, I thanked God for the grand opportunity to learn from him, Wilbur Smith, and others, and I wasn't going to worry if it showed that I had "been with Carnell."
Fuller means even more to me now than when I attended. Godly living and careful scholarship were modeled and encouraged. Today I still hear the professors as I work through biblical texts, and I quote them often as I teach at Fuller Northern California. On occasion I have passed on professor William LaSor's approach: "If you ask a question of the text long enough, soon it will answer you."
What does it mean to you to be part of the broader Fuller family?
David: I will likely learn more about the Fuller family once I leave the Fuller home after graduation. You know how it is: we leave home, only to learn more about it from a distance. Like all families, the Fuller family has not been without its dysfunctions, but it has been nurturing and dynamic. I am grateful for it.
John: During my time at Fuller we began courting Presbyterians and Methodists, who were not yet "on our side." It was a big coup when Dr. Livingston, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in San Diego, agreed to speak at my graduation. One of the things he said was this: "Fuller has been accused of being divisive. Well, if it is a case of 'divisive' or deadness, give me division." Wow.
So it is now 50 years later, and I would say that by God's providence and decree, we are neither divisive nor dead. Praise the Lord.