Voices on The City

The City
“There are many, many ways God is at work in the urban context, and we really need to develop eyes to see that. I think part of working in the city is asking God, ‘God, show us what you see.’ The city can be the place not just where hard things happen. The transformation of God’s kingdom means that those hard things can produce amazing character and real beauty. I think part of my desire . . . is for us to learn to see those things. For us to see differently.”
+ Jude Tiersma Watson, associate professor of urban mission, speaking with Fuller Youth Institute on developing sustainable practices for caring for the city. Above: a student looks over the city of Los Angeles from Mt. Wilson.



Mako Speaking



“Beyond mere survival, beyond job function, bureaucratic specialization, or social roles, is a wide scope of human concern and responsibility. We are all given gifts for which we all must care. Just as we’re learning the importance of taking care of our environment to leave the earth healthy for future generations, so we must all care for culture so future generations can thrive.”
+ Mako Fujimura, visual artist and director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, from his recent book Culture Care. He is pictured challenging staff and faculty at Fuller to cultivate a new engagement with culture.


Jean Burch“As Christian leaders it is the mission of the Clergy Community Coalition [CCC] to work with the community to improve the quality of life for all people through spiritual transformation and creative solutions that enhance educational advancement, economic empowerment, and health and wellness. . . . This year the CCC celebrates 10 years of instilling hope in our community through reconciliation, spiritual transformation, and collaborative relationships for the shalom of our city and the surrounding areas.”
+ Jean Burch [MAGL ’15] has lived in Pasadena and been an advocate for churches and the community. The CCC was founded in 2005 and currently has a membership of over 40 pastors and leaders within the Pasadena community. Read her reflections here and her sermon in All-Seminary Chapel here. She’s pictured at Fuller where she met with student leaders who want to foster new relationships with the city.

Janet Labberton“I spent my first year here at Fuller just listening to people in City Hall, the school district, and nonprofits, and as I heard from people in the city, I would look for partners within the Fuller community who were doing that kind of work. I wasn’t trying to create a program or make Fuller create them—I was looking for any natural connections that we could make and trying to create linkages. My hope is that Fuller will have committed relationships to people in Pasadena, that it will be a part of our DNA, and that there will be more ways for us to share our stories with each other—stories about what God’s doing in us and through us by being willing to serve our neighbors.”
+ Janet Labberton—a veteran Young Life leader—volunteers with Pasadena High School students, and, as part of a commitment to Fuller and the city of Pasadena, works to facilitate new partnerships between them.




“Many churches have deserted French neighborhoods such as the ones in which the attackers grew up. I often think of the transformation that could happen if these places would know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When I stood at the sites of the attacks where row after row of flowers, signs, candles, and other tributes had been left, I was surprised to see so many notes longing for peace, harmony, and love. What if interconnectedness also meant including Jesus, the Prince of Peace and the Giver of Life, as our partner in opposing terrorism and bringing hope to our world?”
+ Evelyne Reisacher (above), associate professor of Islamic studies and French citizen, after the recent shootings in Paris. Reisacher took written prayers with her from the Fuller community offered in solidarity and grief from thousands of miles away. Read her full reflection.

Delonte Gholston“I want to do more than protest and pray. I want to be part of an effort to  take even a small step toward healing and justice in my community. I want to give voice to people who are usually told that they are the problem. I want for people on all sides of the issue to be humanized instead of stereotyped or vilified. I want to find a way to be faithful to a gospel in which Jesus focuses on people that society has abandoned and left for dead in order to touch them, heal them, listen to them, and restore them into a loving community. It’s a sacred story that says Jesus gave his everything, including his life, just to love those whom others considered unlovable. For me, the Trust Talks are a first step toward creating that kind of community and that kind of love.”
+ Delonte Gholston [MDiv ’15], a pastoral intern at New City Church in downtown Los Angeles, responded to the violence he saw around him by creating the Trust Talks, a parachurch event that gathers community leaders and members of the police force together to discuss issues of race, police violence, and poverty.

It Matters to Us! Cristian Cazacu

We are still here
and if we ever become grandparents
we will tell our little ones:
“It was worth it living here!”

Now it’s our turn
to give our very best
We will not be indifferent
selfish, cynical spectators

Hey, Hey!
Hey, Hey!
It matters to us!
This is home!

+ lyrics from a song by Cristian Cazacu [MAICS ’10] that became a rallying cry in Romania during a recent presidential election, calling on people to be committed and hope-filled participants in the public sphere rather than withdrawing in fear and cynicism. Hear the song sung by Cristian in the original language below.


+ Matthew Whitney, pictured above in “Self Portrait” (watercolor and ink on paper, 2014), “writes text into the urban grid” by praying as he walks carefully planned patterns on Seattle streets. He then paints or illustrates those grids as a completion of his prayer for those neighborhoods. Whitney is a Cascade Fellow, a new initiative started by Fuller’s Institute for Theology and Northwest Culture in partnership with Seattle-area churches and marketplace ministries. See more of his work.

Brehm Texas


“Multiethnicity is not essentially a problem to be solved. It’s part of the plan. From the get-go, God has been creating a people in which diversity is not simply tolerated but advanced. . . . In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit unites people by opening them out to each other, unblocking closed minds and hearts, unlocking those otherwise locked in.”
+ Jeremy Begbie, from his lecture at the inaugural event for Brehm Texas. Pictured left: President Mark Labberton speaks with Mark Lanier inside the Lanier Theological Library and chapel facility in Houston, Texas, where the event was held.



Sophia Herrara“The essence of incarnation is embedded in the indwelling of God in us through the Holy Spirit. . . . Standing with the poor as we stand with Christ requires time and the building of mutual trust as well as commitment. [This kind of] incarnational solidarity requires a long-term commitment. In the beginning when you’re working with the poor, you often feel like you do not have enough resources. It feels like all you have are a few loaves and a few fish—and five thousand problems. However, the longer you stay . . . the resources miraculously multiply.”
+ Sofia Herrera is a licensed clinical psychologist and cofounder of the Office for Urban Initiatives (OUI). Hear her entire lecture at the 2010 Integration Symposium.

Joe Colleti

“My own life has been transformed by the many urban social issues that I became involved in over the past 25 years and by infusing my Christian faith and spiritual practices into every one of them. This integrative experience has led me to call myself ‘an urban monk.’ . . . I so wanted to move from the ‘state of beginners’ that St. John of the Cross talked about to the ‘purified soul’ that I eagerly sought to climb the ‘mystic ladder of divine love’ that purified the soul rung by rung through prayer, love, and forgiveness. At the same time, I began to fashion my own ladder of service to homeless persons based upon my deeper understanding and experiences of compounding complications such as mental illness.”
+ Joe Colletti is an affiliate associate professor of Urban Studies, the cofounder of the Office for Urban Initiatives, and the founder of the Society of Urban Monks.


+ Fuller Seminary’s Office for Urban Initiatives equips students to develop and participate in strategies of social justice, following the tradition of past and contemporary Christian reformers. Founders Joe Colleti and Sophia Herrara (above) teach students to address local and global issues of injustice. (Below: a student works for the yearly homeless count facilitated by the Office of Urban Initiatives and the City of Pasadena. Students canvas the city in groups gathering information from the homeless population in order to provide more robust social services.)

WORK_student looking towards city hall

“We have giant populations of people who live in the shadows of our culture. That affects our schools. That affects our communities. That affects the history of who we are. . . . How are we going to pay attention to the entire city as a whole—and not just the pretty parts?”
+ Billy Thrall [MAT ’87] leads CityServe AZ, a parachurch initiative to connect resources and social services to impoverished families in the cities of Arizona. More here.