Fuller Theological Seminary doesn't field a football team. But the Pasadena school will have a homecoming of sorts next week--celebrating its 50th anniversary in part by welcoming back some first-year enrollees, including a well-known student who never graduated.
Now the largest U.S. seminary, enrolling more than 3,000 men and women, the evangelical school began in 1947 with only 39 male students seated on kindergarten chairs at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena.
The seminary will mark its jubilee with five days of lectures, seminars, services and a concert.
Among the former students from each decade to be recognized is Bill Bright, one of the first Fuller seminarians and later founder of the worldwide Campus Crusade for Christ.
The nondenominational seminary was started by popular radio evangelist Charles E. Fuller and Harold Ockenga, a Boston pastor and theologian who became its first president.
Theologically, the school not only evolved from fundamentalist beginnings to mainstream evangelicalism (punctuated 25 years ago by fierce "battles over the Bible") but also accepted the once-controversial Pentecostal/charismatic movement in its faculty and student body. The seminary took a big step in 1965 when schools of psychology and world mission were added to its school of theology amid a steady rise in its academic standing.
The celebration will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Travis Auditorium with the first of three daily lectures on Old Testament "wisdom literature" by a specialist in the field, Roland E. Murphy, a Duke University emeritus scholar.
Besides afternoon seminars by Fuller faculty next Friday and Saturday, Fuller President Richard J. Mouw and former Fuller professor Roberta Hestenes will speak at special events next Saturday. Singer and songwriter Ken Medema will hold an outdoor concert at 7 p.m. Friday. All events are free, but preregistration is urged. (626) 584-5694.
Fuller has many noted graduates--among them Biola University President Clyde Cook, San Francisco Theological Seminary President Donald McCullough and Gen. Paul Rader, commander of the worldwide Salvation Army.
But Bright, winner of the 1996 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, may be the best-known former seminarian returning for the festivities. Bright, who moved Campus Crusade from Southern California to Orlando, Fla., in 1991, recently began construction on a $34-million complex.
In a book about Fuller Seminary published a decade ago, author George Marsden said that a faculty member persuaded Bright, who was impatient to get on with evangelism, to stay enrolled in 1947. Bright struggled with the books as a part-time student even while establishing a campus evangelism foothold at UCLA.
"Finally in 1951, he announced he had learned his last Hebrew word, threw his vocabulary cards in the air, and left the seminary. The needs of the world were too urgent," Marsden wrote.
As synagogues continue a series of solemn services today on Yom Kippur, many Jews will have already made preparations for the next holiday, Sukkot, which starts Wednesday evening. In contrast with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, whose accompanying 24-hour fast ends at sundown today, Sukkot is a festive holiday.
The fall festival calls for building simple huts, or sukkahs in Hebrew, where meals may be eaten as a reminder of the primitive conditions of biblical Israelites after their exodus from Egypt. The holiday is observed for seven days by Reform Jews and for eight by Conservative and Orthodox Jews.
Angie and Debbie Winans, youngest members of the gospel-singing Winans family, will sing during a worship service concluding a conference on world hunger next Saturday in Los Angeles. The Winans sisters will perform selections from their new album at a 6 p.m. service led by Bishop Noel Jones at his church, Greater Bethany Community, 8415 S. Hoover St. The conference, sponsored by Bread for the World, will begin at noon. (310) 631-6189.
* A Scottish highland piper, Thai dancers from First Thai Presbyterian Church in Covina, and Taiko drummers from Little Tokyo's Centenary United Methodist Church will perform Sunday at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, 585 E. Colorado Blvd. A brunch and the musical celebration of world missions will begin at noon. $10 adults. (818) 568-2608.
* Choirs from six Hollywood-area churches will perform at 4 p.m. Sunday at Hollywood United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave. Participating choirs are from Blessed Sacrament Catholic, Mt. Hollywood Congregational, Berean Seventh-day Adventist, St. Stephen's Episcopal, First Baptist of Hollywood and the host church. (213) 874-2104.
Texan Gary L. Bishop, 50, a former U.S. Navy aviator who had a career in corporate management, has been named to head the Redlands-based Mission Aviation Fellowship. He succeeds Max Meyers, who led the group for 12 years. The organization, founded in 1946 by former World War II pilots, today serves more than 500 Christian and humanitarian agencies with a fleet of 81 aircraft and 60 e-mail hubs. Almost routinely, Mission Aviation Fellowship flies missionaries, medical teams and teachers to and from remote airstrips around the world.
Best-selling author Marianne Williamson will speak Sunday at Santa Monica's Agape International Center of Truth at the Religious Science congregation's 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services. Williamson will sign copies of her new book, "The Healing of America," at the center, 3211 Olympic Blvd. (310) 829-2780.
* A town hall-style meeting on efforts to reduce youth deaths from firearms in the Compton-Long Beach area will be held at 10 a.m. next Saturday at Compton Community College's Allied Health Building Forum, 1111 E. Artesia Blvd. The sponsors are the college and the "Not Even One" program directed by the Rev. Romie Lilly. (213) 240-7785.
* The Rev. Charles Haynes and attorney Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, two church-state specialists from the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, will review guidelines regarding religion in the public schools in a three-hour program at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. Several Orange County-based interfaith councils and the National Conference are supporting the event. The event is free, but reservations are required: (714) 668-9191.
* Painter Thomas Kinkade, who specializes in shimmering landscapes and lighted cottage scenes, will be among guests next Saturday in a women's conference at the Crystal Cathedral, 12141 Lewis St., Garden Grove. $25. Reservations required. (714) 971-4069. Kinkade also will appear Oct. 19 with the Rev. Robert Schuller in the church's 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services.
About 2,300 walkers, mostly churchgoers, are hoping to raise as much as $138,000 next weekend in five separate Southland treks of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) each.
Three-quarters of the money raised will go to Church World Service, the relief arm of the National Council of Churches. The rest will go to local agencies combating hunger.
Best known as CROP Walks (Communities Reaching Out to People), nearly 2,000 of the noncompetitive strolls are held around the country each year.
The Inglewood walk, organized by the Inglewood Ministerial Assn., is set for next Saturday. On the next day, Oct. 19, walks will take place in Pomona, Bakersfield, Long Beach and Van Nuys in traditions that date back at least 20 years in those communities.
Three more walks are scheduled a week later: Santa Clarita Valley, Oct. 25, and Irvine/Newport Beach and Ramona, Oct. 26. For information on any walk, call Church World Service (626) 296-3195.
The Claremont School of Theology is 112 years old this year, dating back to its founding as the Maclay School of Theology in San Fernando and many intervening years as USC's School of Religion. But like Fuller Seminary, Claremont will be celebrating an anniversary next week--its 40th year in its namesake college town not far from Mt. Baldy.
The Methodist-related, ecumenical seminary will hold its first "future ministers" competition with three youths delivering their winning sermons Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Claremont United Methodist Church, 211 W. Foothill Blvd., just west of the campus. They are: Jonathan Edward Ter Meer, 11, of Chino; Anthony Butler-Bates, 15, of Pomona, and Nicole Campbell, 16, of Claremont.
Retired NBC newsman Jess Marlow, a longtime Methodist, will emcee a fund-raising dinner Saturday at Sheraton Suites Fairplex in Pomona. On Sunday, the seminary's Marjorie Suchocki, dean of academic affairs, and Robert Edgar, president of the school, will speak at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. services, respectively, at Claremont United Methodist Church. (909) 626-3521.