Mark Labberton is the Clifford L. Penner Presidential Chair Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Fuller Seminary. He served as Fuller’s fifth president through 2022, after being appointed to the position in 2013. As Fuller’s president, Dr. Labberton brought to his leadership a deep awareness of the urgency of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a passion for the vital role that Fuller Seminary plays in the enactment of that gospel. For Labberton, this urgency was informed by a sense of the critical and unique contribution Fuller is called to make to the global church.
Freedom and joy are concepts Labberton intentionally infused into his presidency, committing to lead with openness and a spirit of gratitude. With his long history in pastoral ministry, he brought relational warmth and an authentic concern for the individual. Through his term as president, Labberton led with a vision for preparing Christian leaders holistically for their callings, nurturing each student’s personal, spiritual, academic, and global formation.
A Washington State native, Labberton embraced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ on the threshold of his undergraduate years at Whitman College. After earning his bachelor’s degree he came to Fuller for his MDiv, a time he calls “a tremendously influential season” in his life. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and began what was to become three decades of pastoral ministry—along the way, meeting and marrying his life partner, Janet Morrison Labberton.
Labberton had served for 16 years as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, California, when he joined Fuller’s faculty in 2009 as Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching and director of the newly established Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching (now Brehm Preaching—A Lloyd John Ogilvie Initiative). In early 2013 he received the call to the presidency, succeeding Richard J. Mouw on his retirement, and on July 1, 2013, stepped into service as Fuller Seminary’s fifth president.
Labberton brought more than rich pastoral experience to his leadership role at Fuller. “My interest in ministry has always been defined by the needs and realities of the world,” he has said, and an intentional awareness of God’s work in the global church led him to deep friendships with leaders in the majority world. He co-founded the Christian International Scholarship (now ScholarLeaders) to help fund the advanced theological education of those leaders, and served on the board for 17 years. He was chair and board member of Langham Partnership (previously John Stott Ministries) which provides scholarships, books, publishing, preaching seminars, and more for majority-world scholars and pastors. He also serves on the board of International Justice Mission and is a Senior Fellow of The Trinity Forum.
Labberton has been a popular and well-traveled speaker for years, and continues to speak in the US and internationally. In addition to publishing articles in various periodicals such as The Atlantic, Christianity Today, and others, he has authored or edited Still Evangelical? (2017); Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today (2014); The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus (2010); and The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice (2007). He hosts the podcast Conversing from FULLER studio, where he speaks with a broad spectrum of leaders on critical issues of our day.
Trinity Forum Appearances and Remarks
January 22, 2016 | “The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today” an Evening Conversation with Mark Labberton
August 13, 2021 | “Public Faith in Polarized Times” an Online Conversation with Mark Labberton, Claude Alexander, and Walter Kim