Turning a page

By now, if you’re connected at all to Fuller Theological Seminary, the institution where I have taught for over 30 years, you will have heard the news: we have begun the process of leaving our historic main campus in Pasadena and moving eastward to Pomona. It will take a few years, of course, to accomplish the physical transition, but the emotional transition has already begun.

A few years ago, when I first created the photo montage above, I had no idea that we would come to this pass. My entire adult professional life is rooted in this campus. I arrived as a graduate student in 1980 and have never left, having joined the faculty in 1986. Inspired by similar montages I had seen created for other schools, I went about the campus looking for the images that could spell out our name; it was a fun, somewhat whimsical personal project. Each of the pictures represents some part of the institution’s history. Oh, the stories┬áthat could be told.

And now, it feels like something recorded for posterity, like musty old photos tucked away in a family album for the occasional reminiscence.

In this more or less post-denominational age, the face of congregational leadership has changed, and with it, the perceived value of a seminary education. Fuller is not alone in trying to figure out how to navigate the present while charting a course for the future. The move to Pomona represents both present crisis and future hope, the passing of what was and the birth of…what?

I wish I knew. And for me, all of this is complicated by the fact that sometimes, when my wife and I get together with friends, I’m the only one who hasn’t retired yet. To borrow from the apostle Paul, I think I’m still running the race.┬áBut it feels like someone just moved the finish line.

(Someone get this man some nice cheese to go with his whine.)

Don’t get me wrong. There are tangible benefits on the horizon, not the least of which is knocking about 45 minutes off my commute each way. I’m definitely looking forward to that part. But it comes at the cost of adding to my colleagues’ commute. How will that affect our sense of teamwork and community? Again, I wish I knew.

So. We turn the page on one chapter and begin another. It’s not the story I would have written. But through all the uncertainty and mystery of recent months, there have been glimmers of providence.

We still have work to do. God hasn’t let go of us yet.

And in the end, that’s what matters.