Fuller Seminary Makes History With Inauguration of First Black President

David Immanuel Goatley (Photo courtesy of Fuller Seminary)

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Saturday, Jan. 21, signified a landmark day and event in its 75-year-history as Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, installed its first Black president at an inauguration ceremony at Lake Avenue Church.

David Emmanuel Goatley, a leading voice in the evangelical movement, became Fuller's sixth president as the school concluded a special weekend celebrating is 75th anniversary, and following a three-day celebration of Martin Luther King Day last week.

Chair of Fuller's Board of Trustees, Dan Meyer described Goatley as a "superb leader of our vision to provide indispensable, formal education to Christian leaders everywhere."

"The confluence of David Emmanuel Goatley's professional expertise in the fields of theology, psychology and missiology, together with his experience as an academic dean at a premier university, make him a remarkable match for Fuller Seminary at this pivotal moment in its history. For 75 years, Fuller Seminary has been blessed with uncommonly thoughtful, gracious, biblically rooted and culturally relevant presidents, and Dr. Goatley is another figure in this inspirational line."

Goatley previously served as the Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Research Professor of Theology and Christian University at Duke Divinity School. He was also the Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke.

Goatley has as B.S. from the University of Louisville and a M.Div., and Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a globally recognized missiologist and he emphasizes cross-cultural experiential learning with indigenous communities to build understanding, broaden horizons and deepen impact for leaders and churches.

Goatley is ordained in the National Baptist Convention USA. He has authored several books, including "Were You There?," "Godforsakenness in Slave Religion" and "A Divine Assignment: The Missiology of Wendall Clay Somerville"

The theme of Goatley's inauguration was "The World is Our Village." In his acceptance speech, Goatley related a vision for Fuller's future that will expand upon its traditional American borders and more broadly establish itself as a global institution that supports the Christian community across the world.

"We live in the midst of formidable challenges locally, nationally and globally," Goatley said. "Christian higher theological education is as critical today as ever before, because churches need good leaders and the world needs good churches.

2023CMPrintcover"Fuller has a rich history of forming faithful pastoral, academic, mental health and community leaders, and we will continue to expand Fuller's ability to help equip people for the work that God is calling them to do. I'm grateful to greet all who are part of Fuller's family."

Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo also extolled Goatley's qualifications and leadership abilities.

"For 75 years, Fuller has been at the forefront serving the community of Pasadena in ways both meaningful and measurable," Gordo said. "And we are fortunate to welcome this next chapter in Fuller's history under the leadership of Dr. Goatley. His wealth of experience and expertise will make him a groundbreaking leader of leaders at this pivotal time in Pasadena's history."

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Shawn A. Akers is the online editor at Charisma Media.

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