Powery to Be Installed as Dean of Duke Chapel Oct. 7

The service will feature international music and a sermon on dreaming of "God's world."

The Rev. Luke Powery will be installed as dean of Duke Chapel on Sunday, Oct. 7, in a special 11 a.m. worship service that will be followed by an outdoor luncheon.

Both events are open to the public. Parking is available in the Bryan Center parking deck. A tent will be on hand in the event of rain.

The installation service will emphasize the cosmopolitan Holiness-Pentecostal tradition in which Powery was raised by including internationally diverse musical performances. In addition to choral works by 19th and 20th century British and American composers, the service will feature an African choral piece and a Caribbean-style setting of the "Sanctus" text, sung in Italian and accompanied by steel drums and other percussion.  

Watch the video interview: Luke Powery on preaching, the arts, spirituals and more.

Powery, an ordained Baptist minister, will deliver the sermon centered on the story of Joseph, the dreamer.

"At the installation, we will dream dreams and have visions of God's world," Powery said. "It will be a day in which we follow the sagely advice of poet Langston Hughes, who said, 'Hold fast to dreams.' 

"This service will provide a doxological space to imagine the future of the university and community in the gracious and loving hands of God." 

Adding to the international emphasis of the day, the ceremony will take place on the same date as World Communion Sunday. Held the first Sunday in October each year since 1933, World Communion Sunday is an ecumenical event in which Christian denominations around the world take part in a common observance of sharing communion.

"Dr. Powery's installation aims to convey a message of community involvement and engagement, encouraging those in attendance to go forth and do good things," said Rodney Wynkoop, director of Duke Chapel Music and the Duke Chorale and Chamber Choir. The service will conclude with a grand celebratory piece performed by the Chapel Choir, brass and percussion, the Duke student group United in Praise, the Divinity School gospel choir and children from the congregation. 

Luke Powery
Powery in the Duke Chapel pulpit.

Powery comes to Duke Chapel from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he served as the Perry and Georgia Engle assistant professor of homiletics. Before becoming a professor, he was associate pastor of the International Protestant Church of Zurich, Switzerland, and campus minister at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, N.J.

In addition to serving as dean of Duke Chapel, Powery is associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke Divinity School. His teaching and research interests include the Holy Spirit and preaching; lament, loss and Christian hope; African American preaching and worship; and worship in relationship to social justice. He has written two books, "Dem Dry Bones: Preaching, Death and Hope" and "Spirit Speech: Lament and Celebration in Preaching." He and his wife, Gail, have two children.

At the luncheon on the chapel grounds following the service, Caribbean food and southern pies will be served to represent international and local cultures, and to honor Powery's Caribbean-American ancestry. Steel drums will be played during the celebratory lunch. 

Later in the afternoon, at 3:30 p.m., the chapel plans to hold its annual Blessing of the Animals service.

Watch a live video stream of the service here.