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Audio-Visual Exhibition at Duke Chapel to Highlight Black Women Pastors

Part of the Anti-Racism Scholarship, Learning and Activism at Duke Series
Photo of three black women pastors in front of Black Lives Matter mural
A new Duke Chapel exhibit highlights the work of Black clergywomen in their communities.

Duke Divinity School student Kaiya Jennings As the recipient of Duke University Chapel’s C. Eric Lincoln Theology and Arts Fellowship this year, Duke Divinity School student Kaiya Jennings will present an exhibition of audio recordings and photography documenting the testimonies of Black women pastors.

The exhibition, “On the Shoulders of Our Sisters!”, will be available for viewing in the chapel and on the chapel’s website beginning Sunday, May 23. To view it in-person, sign up to spend time in the chapel during available hours.

A Baptist staff pastor, Jennings is enrolled in the Divinity School’s doctor of ministry program, while also working as an adjunct professor and faith and service coordinator at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. She grew up in Suffolk, Virginia, where she was shaped by the ministry and care of Black women pastors in her community.

“There are countless faithful African American women in Virginia, who have been called and affirmed to pastor churches or to lead as staff pastors and community liaisons, even though they face much opposition due to race, gender, and sexuality,” she said. “This exhibition will show how African American clergywomen are leading and living out their callings within the church and the community.”

“It is my desire that through this exhibition, people will be able to see themselves in the stories and work of these Black clergywomen in such a way that it challenges their faith and grows their love for all humanity,” she said. “It will show how, despite the obstacles that have tried to block them, these women are still standing, leading and pressing to build a more inclusive community.” 

A committee led by the chapel’s Rev. Kathryn Lester-Bacon, director of Religious Life, selected Jennings to be this year’s C. Eric Lincoln Fellow.

"Through these photos and prayers, Jennings amplifies often-unheralded models of spiritual leadership, models that are innovated by these Black women clergy in communities across Virginia today,” Lester-Bacon said. “In this exhibit, we take another step towards giving these spiritual leaders the honor they are due."

The chapel’s arts and theology fellowship, named in honor of the late Duke religion professor C. Eric Lincoln, provides funding to a student for a sacred art project that employs theological concepts, illuminates one’s personal faith, and engages the topics of gender, race and religion.