Reverend Dr David Emmanuel Goatley: “Ecumenism and global engagement are essential to who I am”
How will you continue your strong commitment to ecumenism in your new position as president of Fuller Theological Seminary?
Doctor Goatley: I have been involved in ecumenism and the global church for most of my life in ministry as a vocation. This has included praying and contributing to world missions in my childhood church; participating in ecumenical networks as an urban missionary and congregational pastor; and international service and study as a pastor and teacher. Ecumenism and global engagement are essential to who I am, and I look forward to continuing and contributing to this work in my new role as President of Fuller Theological Seminary. While those engaged in global ecumenical and evangelical movements have sadly experienced strains, I long to see Christians across communions, traditions and geography demonstrating our love for God, our neighbors and one another. .
One of the ways I hope to continue supporting the global ecumenical movement is by participating in and promoting the Thursdays in Black campaign for a world free of rape and sexual violence. I was an ambassador at my previous ministry placement, the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society, where several individuals and congregations embraced the campaign. Since coming to Duke Divinity School, I have continued to encourage participation in this global movement. Our dean, some administrators, several staff members, a few professors and many students wear black on Thursdays to support the movement. We have also organized events that promote advocacy in action. I hope to continue this work and invite others to work for a world free of rape and sexual violence.
What are some of your most inspiring moments when you look back on your work with the WCC?
Doctor Goatley: I was very inspired by my participation in the Reference Group for the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. Sharing with companions on this sacred journey in various parts of the world has introduced me to many people who bear good and faithful witness to Christ Jesus and has helped me to see more clearly something of the heavy weight that so many are forced to wear. Our methodology of celebrating gifts, visiting wounds, and transforming injustices offered a framework for better understanding the contexts of service and God’s calling in the world. I recommend to my friends the publication WCC / Globethics.net Towards an ecumenical theology of companionship: a study document for the ecumenical pilgrimage of justice and peace as a useful guide for study and reflection between people and churches.
I was even more inspired by the 11th assembly which met in Karlsruhe. I had the privilege of serving on the Assembly Planning Committee, which gave me the opportunity to participate in the early development and ongoing collaboration in the preparation of the gathering with thoughtful and loyal colleagues from various traditions and regions of the world. The creative work of staff and partners to shape and guide progress has resulted in a transformative experience for many. This includes the 14-person group that I co-led from Duke Divinity School. Our 10 students, two alumni and two faculty members have engaged in workshops, worship, pilgrimages and fellowship that will continue to inform and inspire their work and witness as leaders and ministers of churches.
What can your ecumenical family pray for you as you embark on your new journey?
Doctor Goatley: I invite my ecumenical family to pray, in the words of an old spiritual song, which says: “Guide my feet, Lord Hold my hand, Lord Be my friend Lord, as I run this race. I do not have any‘I don’t want to run this race in vain. Additionally, I invite my ecumenical family to pray for our work and witness in theological education and professional training at Fuller Theological Seminary.