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Fuller Seminary Picks Preacher of 'Dangerous Acts' as New President

(UPDATED) Professor chosen out of 250 nominees to replace retiring Richard Mouw.

Trustees at Fuller Theological Seminary have sorted through 250 nominees and selected Mark Labberton as the school's next president.

Labberton, who currently serves as director of Fuller's Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching, replaces longtime president Richard Mouw, who retires in June after leading the seminary for the past two decades. (Complete press release below.)

Fuller has had only two presidents over the past 50 years: Mouw and his predecessor, David Hubbard. Labberton will be the seminary's fifth president.

CT has an exclusive interview with Labberton here.

Labberton's priorities will be "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," according to Fuller's press release. "I hope to continue the kind of generous, gracious, and irenic leadership that [Mouw] established at Fuller and the world beyond," said Labberton in the release.

Labberton served for 16 years as senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, California, before coming to Fuller in 2009. He co-founded the Christian International Scholarship Foundation (now ScholarLeaders, Int'l), worked closely with John Stott Ministries (now called Langham Partnership), and serves as a senior fellow of the International Justice Mission. His books include First Things: A Theology of the World, the Church, the Pastor, and the Sermon (2013); The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus (2010) and The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God's Call to Justice (2007).

Labberton has contributed to CT on multiple occasions. He argued in essays that many Christians' view of the gospel is too small and that pastors need alone time in order to preach more effectively. Most recently, Labberton reviewed Kevin DeYoung's The Hole in Our Holiness. Labberton also is a contributor at CT's sister publication Leadership Journal.

Mouw announced last May his intention to retire as president and return to a faculty role. During his 20-year tenure as president, Mouw committed himself to furthering interfaith and ecumenical dialogue.

CT has regularly reported on Fuller Theological Seminary, including Mouw's retirement and Hubbard's death. CT interviewed Mouw on the relationship of evangelicals to both Mormons and Catholics; Mouw also has written several essays for CT.

Here's the complete press release:

Fuller Seminary Announces Mark Labberton as Its New President

The Fuller Theological Seminary Board of Trustees has announced that Dr. Mark Labberton has accepted the call to serve as the seminary's fifth president, beginning July 1, 2013. Labberton has served at Fuller Seminary since 2009 as the Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching, and director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching.

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. 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."

"Fuller has influenced my life and ministry in so many ways," said Labberton. "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."

"Mark Labberton is an excellent choice to be the next President of Fuller," said Dr. Mouw, "I know him to be a very gifted Christian leader who will be able to take Fuller into an exciting new future."

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 Ph.D. 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 U.S. 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, CA. "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, PA.

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.

A frequent lecturer and preacher at conferences, in congregations and at academic gatherings throughout the world, Labberton has authored: First Things: A Theology of the World, the Church, the Pastor, and the Sermon (2013); The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus (2010) and The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God's Call to Justice (2007). He has also published articles in periodicals such as Christianity Today, Christian Century, Radix, and Leadership Journal, for which he also serves as contributing editor.

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 programs, and a new Korean-language Doctor of Ministry program. In addition, new centers 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."

From the East Bay of Northern California, Mark Labberton and his wife, Janet Morrison Labberton, have two sons, Peter (24) and Sam (18).

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Posted:March 12, 2013 at 12:00PM
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