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Fuller Seminary Appoints First Black President In Its History

Published on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 | 11:43 am

Incoming Fuller president David Emmanuel Goatley. [Courtesy of Fuller Seminary]
David Emmanuel Goatley has been named the sixth president of Fuller Seminary. 

The Seminary was founded in 1947 and maintains a campus near Pasadena City Hall. Its founder was Charles E. Fuller, who, it is said, dreamt the seminary would become ‘the Caltech’ of theological seminaries.

Incoming President Goatley is a constructive theologian and globally recognized missiologist with a background in pastoral counseling, Goatley brings a unique blend of experience and expertise that aligns with Fuller’s major disciplines of theology, missiology, and the psychological sciences. 

Having studied or worked in more than 35 countries, he brings a global perspective to his leadership and vision for Fuller. 

Prior to his appointment, Goatley served as the associate dean for academic and vocational formation, Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Research Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry, and director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School. 

For nearly four decades he has served in leadership roles in organizations dedicated to justice advocacy, Christian mission, and global ecumenism. 

Goatley earned his BS in guidance and counseling from the University of Louisville and holds two degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: an MDiv with an emphasis in pastoral care and counseling, and a PhD in Theology.

For more than 20 years (1997–2018), he served as CEO of Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society, where he led the organization’s efforts to sustain mission partnerships in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America. He is passionate about justice and advocacy as reflections of God’s desire to offer flourishing to the whole creation. As such, he has been both a thought leader and an activist in addressing the issues of genocide, poverty, racism, hunger and inequality, serving in leadership capacities for organizations including Kids Against Hunger, the Save Darfur Coalition, and the NAACP. Ordained in the National Baptist Convention, USA, he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Campbellsville, Kentucky, for nine years (1986–1995).

In addition to his articles, essays, and book chapters, Goatley is the author of Were You There? Godforsakenness in Slave Religion and A Divine Assignment: The Missiology of Wendell Clay Somerville, as well as the editor of Black Religion, Black Theology: Collected Essays of J. Deotis Roberts. His current research focuses on flourishing in ministry and thriving congregations, most recently working on projects funded by the Lilly Endowment and the Duke Endowment.

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