Duke Senior to Preach on ‘Belonging’ at Duke Chapel on March 27

Joy Reeves, a student leader in the Duke Wesley Fellowship, is this year’s Duke Chapel Student Preacher

Part of the Portraits From the Class of 2022 Series
Joy Reeves
Joy Reeves

Duke senior Joy Reeves will deliver a sermon on the theme of belonging during the Duke University Chapel worship service on Sunday, March 27, at 11:00 a.m. Selected as this year’s Student Preacher, Reeves will preach about how her experience of finding community during the pandemic connects with a scripture passage about reconciliation.

The service is open to the public. It will also be broadcast live on the chapel’s website, WDNC Radio 620 AM, and channel 12 on the Duke Hospital TV system.

An environmental science and policy major from Frederick, Maryland, Reeves said one reason she decided to apply to be the Student Preacher is that one of the assigned scripture readings for the service, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, was one of the first biblical passages she memorized as a child.

“It felt right to pursue that text in a written sermon,” she said.

Reeves said the process of drafting the sermon, titled “Little Ponds,” has given her an opportunity to reflect on the disruption of the pandemic.

“I realized that writing this sermon was my way of reflecting on a lot of things that I hadn’t thought about during the pandemic because they are difficult subjects of loneliness, belonging, isolation, confusion, and separation from Christ,” she said. “So, when I saw the text about becoming new people in belonging to God, I really homed in on the word ‘belonging’ and the ways that we have, and haven’t, felt that through such a lonely era.”

Reeves’ sermon was selected by a committee led by the chapel’s assistant dean, the Rev. Bruce Puckett.

“Joy’s sermon strikes just the right note for the kind of reflection to which we are called in Lent and throughout life,” Puckett said. “Her words speak not only to the experience of students but to the experiences of Christian disciples of all ages.”

There are ways Reeves’ Duke experience has prepared her for preaching at the chapel. She has taken a course on public speaking and helps to lead services on campus for the Duke Wesley Fellowship. Additionally, as part of her sermon preparations, she will be coached by Duke Divinity School Professors Jerusha Neal and Christine Parton Burkett.

“The biggest thing I want people to take away from the sermon is that God has been with them in subtle and nuanced ways, even though we have all felt profound loneliness over the past two years,” Reeves said.

Duke Chapel has had an annual Student Preacher Sunday for more than 40 years. Watch recent Student Preacher sermons.