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Powery to Serve Third Term as Dean of Duke Chapel

The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel.
The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery has overseen several initiatives to strengthen Duke Chapel's connections with the wider community.

The Rev. Luke Powery, who has served since 2012 as Dean of Duke Chapel, has been reappointed to a third five-year term following the completion of a university review, President Vincent E. Price said this week.

“I am delighted to announce Luke Powery’s reappointment as Dean of the Chapel,” Price said. “Reverend Powery’s steadfast leadership has fostered an inclusive faith community on our campus, one that enables students, faculty, staff, and visitors to explore a wide diversity of spiritual practice. I am grateful for his continued service to Duke.”

As dean of Duke Chapel, Powery oversees the staff of Duke Chapel and Religious Life at Duke, offers liturgical leadership at significant university events and at Sunday morning worship, and speaks widely to national and international audiences as a preacher and a scholar. He is also an associate professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School, teaching courses at the school and publishing on the craft and theology of preaching.

In the five years since his last reappointment, Powery has led the Chapel in serving Duke and the wider community in the four areas of the Chapel’s strategic plan—student engagement, Christian worship, sacred music and the arts, and community engagement. Some highlights include: the creation of the undergraduate Eruditio et Religio interfaith living-learning community, a new student fellowship in theology and the arts, the launch of the Living Tradition online preaching resource, a national broadcast of a special Christmas Eve service, and a deepened relationship with the Royal School of Church Music in America.

The new initiatives come alongside, and complement, many longstanding Chapel traditions that Powery has stewarded during his tenure. They include Sunday morning worship services, tower climbs for students, organ recitals, an active docent program, the PathWays Fellowship for service in Durham, annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, the university Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration, and the Baccalaureate service for graduating seniors.

All of the work of the Chapel is made possible through collaboration with other campus units, including Student Affairs, the Divinity School, Duke Arts, Duke Health, Duke Libraries, the Department of Music, and the Office of Durham and Community Affairs. In Durham, the Chapel has strengthened relationships with community partners—such as DurhamCares, Habitat for Humanity and the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham—to bring needed support to the local community.

An expansion of the membership and influence of the Chapel’s National Advisory Board has helped to strengthen and broaden the Chapel’s presence on campus and beyond. Initiatives in public outreach, communications and hospitality have expanded the reach to include an international community of friends of Duke Chapel.

“It has been a privilege to serve as Chapel dean at this university,” Powery said. “I’ve been deeply grateful for the opportunity to work alongside and care for its dynamic students, faculty, staff, alumni and broader community. I am proud of the many ways Duke Chapel contributes to our campus community with inspiring music, faithful worship, gracious hospitality and a compassionate heart for the whole lives of our students.

“This place is a gift, and it is my desire for Duke Chapel to continue to be a beacon of hope, goodness, and beauty, while striving to bridge faith and learning for generations to come.”

The seven-member review committee issued its report to President Price after collecting comments from the university and Duke Chapel communities. The committee was chaired by Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology and senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.