New campus pastor to pursue faith integration and presence among student body
Along with new students, stop signs and speed bumps, Lee University welcomes a new campus pastor this semester—Pastor Rob Fultz.
As his predecessor, Jimmy Harper, moves into his new role as president of Tennessee Christian Preparatory School, Fultz steps into this role with humility and excitement about getting involved on campus.
“I’m just incredibly humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be here,” Fultz said. “I’m genuinely looking forward to building a relationship with the students, faculty and staff.”
Prior to his career in ministry, Fultz attended Lee University for a bachelor’s in Christian education. Since then, he has compiled a list of accomplishments, including the completion of master’s degrees in both Christian education and government and public policy, service in the U.S. Marine Corps and leadership in a number of different ministries.
Vice President for Student Development Mike Hayes said these varied experiences are some of the factors that made Fultz attractive for the job.
“He has a variety of ministry experiences with youth and young adults. He’s also worked extensively with various types of ministries—so a local church ministry but also an administrative ministry,” Hayes said. “He’s got the Church of God roots. However, one of the things that really did interest us in him was the idea that he had been exposed to different denominations and different persuasions.”
Hayes expressed that, in light of this wide-ranging background, Fultz will allow for a greater connectedness among a diverse body of students.
This idea of connectedness pervades the position of campus pastor, as Hayes maintains that the role is centered around faith integration. Fultz and former campus pastor Jimmy Harper both echo the same sentiment, stressing the importance of allowing faith to permeate every aspect of one’s life.
“I think the campus pastor has to help promote and involve students in a consistent focus on their spiritual lives,” Harper said. “Obviously, there are several ways to do that.”
One of those ways is to reach beyond the bounds of chapel. While Lee has the infrastructure for this faith-infused lifestyle—chapel, small groups, service learning, spiritual clubs, religion core classes—Hayes asserts that the campus pastor’s willingness to get involved in these programs will be crucial in fulfilling this goal.
Fultz explained that he intends to promote this goal of faith integration authentically, strategically and intentionally. In a world that is sometimes unfriendly towards Christians, he hopes to both challenge and prepare students to live faithfully through any cultural tensions and on any career path.
“A lot of our students who come here now are not pastoral majors. They’re not ministry majors,” Fultz said. “We’re giving students an environment to learn hands-on—in nursing, in business—and to do that in such a way that they can keep their faith intact.”
While Fultz keeps his eyes set on this broader vision for the school, he explained that he is still developing a plan for tangible execution. He believes his education and experiences have provided him with both a general, big-picture mindset and an inside, operational understanding. However, he refrains from drawing conclusions about the school too soon as he continues to engage with the student body and learn about the university’s culture, understanding that Lee has been time-tested now for a century.
“It’s so early in the game for me. I think I’m just still very much in assessment mode,” Fultz said. “When you start saying ‘100 years,’ it takes on a whole different level of meaning and understanding. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect by any means, but things that survive and grow and prosper for 100 consecutive years essentially—that’s not because of poor leadership. … Now, is it everything that we want it to be? Maybe not. But are we headed in the right direction? I think so.”
Though Fultz said he approaches his new position with humility, his associates said they have faith in his character and perspective. Hayes expressed confidence in Fultz’s ability to connect with students from varied backgrounds, and Becky Stevens, campus ministries secretary, foresees promising results spawning from the pastor’s worldview.
“Pastor Rob is comfortable thinking outside the box and sharing his vision with others,” Stevens said. “I think his fresh perspective—a new set of eyes, if you will—will benefit all areas of campus with which he intersects.”
Fultz credits much of this character and perspective to his time in the Marines. He explained that the military promoted an attitude of perseverance and optimism: a “take the hill” approach.
“The military has played such a vital role in…primarily building my mentality as a person,” Fultz said. “I’m not a person that gets down a lot. I’m not a person that looks with a defeatist attitude towards life in general. I wouldn’t say that was always the case, but it certainly has been the case [due], in large part, to my training in the military and the Marines.”
Fultz said he carries this experience into his everyday life and hopes to use this perspective to transform his office into a place of encouragement for students, faculty and staff—a place that promotes a sense of belonging in the greater Christian community.
“My hope is that, as we lead and we minister out of this office, it is done with excellence, but it’s done with incredible compassion and care,” Fultz said.
Students will have the chance to learn more about Pastor Fultz and his vision for the school on Tuesday, Sept. 11, as he speaks and makes his official introduction in chapel.