Faculty Focus: Dr. Debbie Fulthorp
Title: Online Full-Time Faculty, College of Theology
Years at GCU: 2 years in May
- Bachelor of Arts in Cross-Cultural Ministries/Communications 1999 from Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU)
- Associate of Arts in Spanish – 1999 from SAGU
- Masters of Divinity with a focus on Intercultural Ministries in 2007 – Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS)
- Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership 2016 from AGTS
What is your most notable accomplishment in your field, and why was it important?
I am part of the Women’s Caucus for the American Academy of Religion. Within this group there is a special project to add stories of notable women of influence within religion into Wikipedia, the largest encyclopedia in the world. This is called the 1000 Women in Religion project (for more information, click here).
Because the majority of people access either Google or Wikipedia for their information, the stories of information about women in religion are disproportionate. Working through Wikipedia to write their stories is more difficult than one might imagine. There are strict criteria and scholarly requirements that need to be met. Many of these women’s stories have yet to be written.
Women in Christian ministry are more hands-on practitioners and not necessarily writers. Their stories also need to be heard. In October, I wrote a chapter on Christian Pentecostal matriarch Eleanor Mae Frey. It was published through a partnership with American Theological Library Association (Atla) and the Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of World Religions. Atla is an association that connects students, scholars, and researchers with scholarly religion and theology content. It is available online for free as an open press book (Claiming Notability for Women Activists in Religion). We are working on a second edition, scheduled to be published in June.
What are you most passionate about in your field and why?
I am most passionate about creatively pastoring my students. I work hard to help my students understand the concepts, succeed and finish strong. I also do this through valuing honesty and communication. I tell my students that I can’t help them if they don’t communicate with me and if they aren’t honestly telling me what is going on.
I always have strived for honesty and integrity in all that I do. I have found that when you lean into the hard conversations and wait, relationships are stronger and students grow in their understanding and character.
I also am passionate about helping people to grow in their knowledge of their worldview. I believe that God has brought me to GCU for such a time as this. Things have changed drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic. We need an understanding of who Jesus is to the Christian worldview more than ever. I want to impact as many students as I can and believe our GCU students will impact our world.
What is a memorable moment you had in class, and what does that reveal about your teaching style?
I have many memorable moments because I really try to pour into my students as much as I can. I teach full time in the online context. Because of this, I have to be more intentional to find ways to connect with students.
One moment in particular stands out to me. I had a student whose grandma recently passed away. She mentioned her grandma was a Godly woman who helped care for her and was like a mom to her. She was really struggling because although her grandma’s faith was strong, hers was not.
When I called her and talked to her personally, her grandma reminded me of my dad, who passed away in June. I shared with her my own loss and prayed with her regarding her grief. I didn’t know what would happen in the next few weeks.
But this interaction reminded my student of her Christian worldview roots. As a result of the time we shared in class and through reading the Bible, she renewed her Christian faith. She is now part of a local church body and is excited about her renewed faith.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
I like to spend time with my family – my three kids and my husband. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and my family and I were quarantined, we started a new hobby to have something to nurture in the meantime. We started out adopting one bearded dragon and now have two bearded dragons, two blue-tongued skinks and a few extra pet Instagram accounts. My children and I have learned ways to take care of them, and they have become extensions of our little family.
What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
I have many different interesting and “extra” stories about my life.
One time I was on a family trip to Indiana with my parents. We traveled in an old “deluxe” van. I had fallen asleep with pillows and sleeping bags covering me in the back of the van. At 2 or 3 a.m., they stopped at a rest area for a bathroom break. Unfortunately, they didn’t see me get out. Somehow we went different directions to the restroom and missed seeing each other along the pathway to the restroom. I came back out from the restroom, and they were gone. They didn’t see me get out of the van, and now the van was nowhere to be seen.
A lady from another car saw me and immediately asked me what was wrong. I said, “I think my parents left me here on accident.” I knew they wouldn’t realize what had happened until the sun came up, and by then they would be hundreds of miles down the road. I asked a policeman if he could go down the highway and catch up to them, but he mentioned that he couldn’t do that but would have to take me to the station. I knew they were taking their time driving, so I refused to go with him.
These were the days before cellphones. Car phones existed, but they were for those who were wealthy. The same lady told me I could stay with her and her husband in her car until my parents came back. I knew that would be the best course of action because once they saw I was gone, they would go back to the last place they stopped. I was right, and several hours later, it was a tearful but happy reunion when they returned to pick me up.
I was only 23 years old.