Voices on Disruption: Gabriella Bontrager

Gabrielle Bontrager

As an employee and fourth quarter MDiv student, I am fairly new to Fuller. In reflecting over the past year, I’ve been tremendously grateful to hear of Fuller’s long legacy in the Pasadena area and see its positive impact on the wider community. The network of relationships the seminary has among churches, hospitals, schools, and businesses is extensive and will be missed.

To be sure, I also lament alongside my fellow coworkers and peers for the uncomfortable, sometimes hurtful, changes experienced in the last few years and the changes to come as we move to Pomona. I know it has not been easy. As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), I’ve always known the most profound aspect of the Deaf culture as being present with one another. In other words, we carve out time and resources to invest in being present with our “people.” The Deaf are community-centric, in that we attend church together, share potlucks and meals throughout the week, go grocery shopping with one another, celebrate birthdays, graduations, and Seattle Seahawk wins together. It’s the kind of family-oriented community that stays for the clean up after dinner, and are the first to pray and offer support when life happens.

That being said, with the many changes and the shift to online programs at Fuller, we’ve lost a lot of what it means to be present with each other. Indeed, we’ve come up with great ways to include online students and build relationships, but I think the journey toward being deeply present with one another has a long way to go. My hope is that these changes and disruptions drive us to be more present with one another as we grow and continue to prepare for Pomona.

+ Gabriella Bontrager is a current MDiv student and office assistant in Student Life and Services