Powery Receives New Term to Lead Duke Chapel

Luke Powery has connected the faith traditions of Duke Chapel to students, faculty and staff and to the Durham community beyond.
Luke Powery has connected the faith traditions of Duke Chapel to students, faculty and staff and to the Durham community beyond.

The Rev. Luke Powery, who came to Duke in 2012, has been reappointed to a second five-year term as dean of Duke Chapel, President Richard H. Brodhead announced this week.

The reappointment through June 30, 2022, came following a review by a Duke committee chaired by Caroline Haynes, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the School of Medicine.

Powery oversees and leads the staff of Duke Chapel and Religious Life at Duke, offers liturgical leadership at significant university events and at Sunday morning worship, and is involved in the administrative, faculty and campus life of the university as well as the broader community.

During the yearlong renovation of Duke Chapel, Powery led the campus and the community through a season of Chapel life without walls.  His commitment to engaging questions of faith within the rigors of an academic community culminated with a reopening celebration attended by more than 1,000 people. After returning to the landmark building in May, the chapel began a yearlong celebration featuring special events highlighting its mission and ministries.

“In his four years as Dean of Duke Chapel, Luke Powery has established himself as an eloquent voice in the pulpit and a major citizen of the Duke University community,” Brodhead said.  “His personal warmth and his gifts as a listener and speaker have enabled him to connect the faith traditions of Duke Chapel to students, faculty and staff and to the Durham community beyond.” 

Powery, who came to Duke from the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary, also serves as associate professor of homiletics in the Divinity School. His teaching and scholarship focus on preaching, worship, pneumatology and culture, particularly expressions of the African diaspora.

Since arriving at Duke in the fall of 2012, Powery completed a planning process to develop a new strategic plan that emphasizes the chapel’s role in bridging faith and learning for the university. Among the initiatives generated by the strategic plan, Powery has partnered with Duke Libraries and the Divinity School in digitizing decades of chapel services and sermons to make them accessible for research, teaching and enrichment.

He also created a new position at the chapel – the C. Eric. Lincoln Minister for Student Engagement – that aims to carry on the artistry and scholarship of the late Duke professor C. Eric Lincoln.

As part of the chapel’s mission of bridging faith and learning, Powery began the “bridge panels” series of public conversations on topics of community concern, including violence, sacred space and dying. He also instituted the Duke Chapel Reads program and is among four chapel staff members who engage students in matters of faith in the classroom through courses in Trinity College, the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Divinity School.

In the chapel’s pattern of worship, Powery has added a regular Choral Evensong service that trains and prepares young organists for service in churches through an Organ Scholars program, as well as a Jazz Vespers service once a semester, presented in partnership with the Duke Jazz Program. He also has continued the chapel’s commitment to community outreach and relations.