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Chapel View Magazine Spring 2021

In This Issue

The image above is from the online presentation of the Duke Chapel carillon ringing on January 19 as part of a nationwide memorial for people who have died of COVID-19. Viewed more than 3,000 times, the remembrance is one way the Chapel has been offering hope during turbulent and challenging times. Read about more ways the Chapel community is living out its value of hope in this issue of Chapel View magazine.

This was such a moving memorial for the lives lost to COVID-19.... Thank you @DukeChapel and @DukeU for this moment of remembrance. Both beautiful and sad. Much needed." — a viewer of A Tribute to Lives Lost to COVID-19 writing on Twitter.

This issue of the magazine is presented online. This digital medium allows us both to wisely steward our resources during the current pandemic and to present the work and vision of the Chapel in a multimedia format. Hyperlinks in the stories below will open other webpages while also keeping this webpage open. To engage this issue, you can browse by scrolling down this page or use this table of contents to jump to a section:

From the Dean

A message from the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel:

On the last Saturday of January, I fell. What should have been a simple misstep took my breath away as I slipped on ice, resulting in broken bones in my right leg and ankle. The fall frightened my wife (and me) and sent us to an unfamiliar hospital for surgery. We were worried, we were cared for, and we were grateful. With the help of doctors, nurses, prayers, and grace, my bones will heal.

We are always at risk of falling. To stand up is to risk falling. To be alive is to risk falling. Falling is universally human. Our children fall. Our parents and grandparents fall. Perhaps it is safe to say that every human being falls.

Though we may have heard theologians speak of ‘the Fall,’ ‘falling away,’ or ‘falling from grace” as things with negative consequences, I am not speaking of falling from grace, but rather, falling into grace.

Over the past few days (and even before my recent fall), I have thought deeply about the times in which we are living. A global pandemic is a kind of fall, a reminder of our frailty. Financial hardships can send us to our knees. The terrible loss of so many people worldwide is blinding. But all of these things – personal and global; individual and collective – prompt us to look and see again the grace of God into which we fall every day....

As you read through this virtual edition of Chapel View, please know that we are actually here. We remember you. We are grateful for you. We pray for you. And we continue to work every day to discover the grace into which we fall, a grace that will eventually lead us home.

Dean Powery's (Virtual) Public Appearances

Dean Powery delivering online the 2020 Howard Thurman Lecture for the Candler School of Theology on November 12, 2020.

Among other virtual appearances this academic year, Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery has given the Virtual Ruben L. Speaks Endowed Memorial Lecture Series for Hood Theological Seminary and the annual Howard Thurman Lecture for Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. He contributed an essay to a new book on the theologian Howard Thurman and participated in a book-launch webinar with co-contributors Barbara Brown Taylor, Marian Wright Edelman, and Parker Palmer.

From the Board Chair

A message from Charles Berardesco, T ’80, chair of the Chapel's National Advisory Board:

So far this year, we have seen the inauguration of our new U.S. President, following on a year that has seen the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, protests about police actions and racial justice issues, and political protests that led to unprecedented threats to some of our nation’s institutional norms. And, in all of this, we seem to be losing the ability to disagree in ways that do not quickly lead to anger, threatening behaviors and, ultimately, separation from those with whom we disagree. It sometimes seems to be difficult to maintain a hopeful attitude in the midst of so much anger and dispute.

Yet, hope is to me one of the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Hope that flows from the resurrection of Jesus. Hope that flows from the fact that the arc of the history of our faith and world ultimately bend towards justice and freedom. Hope that flows from the fact that, in the words of the affirmation of faith used at Duke Chapel during my undergraduate years—“God is with us and we are not alone.”

Hope for Students

Faith and Learning Profile: Tatayana Richardson

As a double major in religion and African American studies, Tatayana Richardson, T ’21 (pictured right), finds that her academic work blends into her personal and public conversations.

Her biweekly column “Searching for Canaan” in the Chronicle student newspaper tackles topics at the intersection of faith and public life, such as the role of the church in advocating for racial justice. Another place for discussions about faith for Richardson is the Duke Wesley campus ministry, where she has found friendship among other Methodist students.

“I often encounter topics in the classroom that I am able to discuss, research, and unpack outside of the classroom whether through my Chronicle column, in conversation with members of Duke Wesley, or simply through personal research and reading,” says Richardson, a Duke Chapel Scholar from Atlanta, Georgia, who is also a member of Peer Advising and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. “I have also been able to make my faith and learning intersect in developing a deep interest in Black Theology, going so far as to base my senior thesis on it.”

Finding Sanctuary During a Pandemic

Students spend quiet time in the Chapel.

During the fall semester, the Chapel welcomed students into the main sanctuary for meditation, reflection, prayer, or contemplation. Chapel staff worked with university leaders and Duke Venue and Production Management to develop a process for students to sign up for times in the Chapel and ensure compliance with university public health protocols. Two hundred and twenty students signed up for more than 300 time slots to be in the Chapel.

A Faith-Filled Opinion

Dean Powery continues to speak to students in a a biweekly opinion column for the (Duke) Chronicle student newspaper. Last semester, his columns addressed voting for love, the value of gratitude, and understanding how to just be. His first column this semester is "The Nazareth Principle," in which he draws a lesson from the disciple Nathanael's epiphany about the significance of the backwater village of Nazareth.

Students Pause for Prayer

The Chapel Ministry Team sends regular emails to students in the Chapel Scholars program. The newsletters contain notices of virtual events and programs—and end with a prayer. Following are excerpts from recent “Pause for Prayer” items sent to students; you may find them to be a blessing as well.

I measure my life in vessels. They trace the contours of my days. Teacup, bowl, oil lamp, pitcher, baptismal font, Communion chalice, basin, bathtub. I sleep in the belly of night and wake under a downturned bowl of blue." — from “Vessels” by Jan Richardson in Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas
Bring a spirit of confession on our land, on our world. Help us to see, to listen, to understand, to acknowledge, to apologize. May your followers model your character by demonstrating love and by defending those who need it. May we live out the truth that every human bears your image.” — from April Jorgensen
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” -- from the Magnificat in the Gospel of Luke (1:47–49)

Living With, and Learning From, Students of Other Faiths

The Rev. Kathryn Lester-Bacon, the Chapel's director of Religious Life, on a Zoom call with the students in the Chapel's Eruditio et Religio living-learning community.

With some students on campus and others living elsewhere, the eight students in the Chapel’s Eruditio et Religio living-learning community (LLC) gathered virtually during the fall semester to better understand each other’s faith traditions. The online discussions were part of the student-led house course “Religion Across Boundaries: Interfaith Living and Learning at Duke.” Guest speakers for the course included Duke religion professors Dr. Laura Lieber and Dr. David Morgan, as well as Divinity School student Alberto La Rosa Rojas.

At Duke, Residence Life encourages students to consider being part of a LLC to enrich their undergraduate experience. Applications are now open for students to participate in Eruditio et Religio during the next academic year. Learn more about Eruditio et Religio here.

Hope in Worship

Curating the Chapel’s Living Preaching Tradition

Funded by the Lilly Endowment, Living Tradition is a new online resource that presents the rich and deep tradition of preaching at Duke Chapel through the expertise of Duke Divinity School faculty, research by Duke students, and the reflections of renowned preachers. A multi-year, collaborative effort, the resource webpages serve as an introduction to, and a pedagogical tool for, the Duke Chapel Recordings digital archive; hosted on the Duke Libraries website, the online archive contains more than 3,000 videos, audio recordings, and manuscripts of sermons given at the Chapel from 1946 to 2002. One offering from Living Tradition is a growing collection of interviews with renowned preachers about how they approached an especially difficult or important sermon. Watch the interview here:

Praying for the People

During every Sunday morning worship service, the Prayers of the People express the concerns of the campus, the community, and the broader world to God. See excerpts from those prayers below and follow our Instagram account and pray with us. You can also request prayer for yourself or others. Prayer requests are confidential.

Merciful Spirit, comfort your people. Offer your tender mercies and healing presence to all those suffering from COVID-19 and provide additional strength and endurance to all those who are caring for those who are ill." — the Rev. Dr. Carol Gregg, pastor to the Congregation at Duke Chapel
We give you thanks for those workers among us who do labors which are often unseen and underappreciated." — the Rev. Kathryn Lester-Bacon, director of Religious Life at Duke University Chapel
God is with us as we walk or Zoom this uncertain road with our full range of human responses." — the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel
May God bless you with a spirit of peace and comfort even in the face of sorrow." — the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel

Students Share in Worship Leadership

Students participating in worship (L to R): Margaret Gaw, T '22; Tatayana Richardson, T '21; Jonathan Avendano, T '21.

Students are contributing to online Chapel worship services both in-person as lectors and soloists as well as virtually by recording prayers and participating in virtual choir anthems.

New Role of Online Minister Emerges

With Chapel worship services moving online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Chapel ministers have been creative about connecting with students and other members of the Chapel congregation. One approach they have taken is the addition of an "online minster" who prompts and responds to written comments from online worshippers in real-time. Some people participating online volunteer their location, type notes of greeting during the passing of the peace, describe prayer requests, or respond to the sermon with written comments and "Amens."

Chapel Community Minister Rev. Breana van Velzen regularly serves in the role of online minister during Sunday morning services. "People seem to appreciate having someone there to pray with them and being able to offer prayers and encouragement to one another," she says. "I believe it helps connect us across distance in lieu of an in-person greeting time."

Lent and Holy Week Virtual Services

This year, the Chapel is observing Lent and Holy Week with the online worship services listed below. All services are offered within the restrictions of state and local COVID-19 guidelines and the Duke Compact.

  • Ash Wednesday—Wednesday, February 17, at 8:00 a.m.
  • Palm Sunday—Sunday, March 28, at 11:00 a.m.
  • Holy Week Midday Services—March 29 through April 2 at 12 noon each day
  • Maundy Thursday—Thursday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Good Friday—Friday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Easter Day—Sunday, April 4, at 11:00 a.m.

Hope in Sacred Music and the Arts

A Reimagined 'Messiah' Lifts the Spirits of Thousands

The Chapel has performed G.F. Handel’s oratorio Messiah since 1933, but this year the pandemic presented challenges for continuing that tradition. In response, the Chapel worked with university leaders and campus colleagues to present a reimagined Messiah—an online version of the concert that featured live soloists and chamber orchestra with recordings of choral movements interspersed. Supplementing the livestream was a digital concert program and a documentary video with reflections from Chapel Choir members. The performance was presented with enhanced health and safety precautions, in consultation with Duke’s Occupational and Environmental Safety Office, enabling the musicians to safely perform.

The online format was a hit. More than 7,600 people signed up for free, virtual tickets; 2,400 people watched the livestream; and the recording of the concert was viewed another 13,000 times by Christmas Day. The documentary video has been viewed more than 1,500 times.

Messiah is one of the longest-running and most important traditions at Duke," says Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs and government relations. "In ‘normal’ times it is a spectacle of sights and sounds that renews the majesty of the Chapel and the season, so it was important to us to find a way bring it to life for our community."

"Thanks to the vision of the Chapel staff and the ingenuity of Duke’s scientists, environmental health specialists, logistics experts and dedicated volunteers, Messiah 2020 became a global event that brought Duke Chapel to the world in a way that we never could have anticipated,” he said.

Numerous viewers of the concert expressed their appreciation on social media:

I'll remember this abbreviated COVID performance of Handel's #Messiah as one of the high points in the history of @DukeChapel"—a viewer writing Twiiter
Watching it in community with so many others was a real joy." — a viewer writing on Facebook
As glorious as ever, even virtually."—a viewer writing on Twitter

This year's Messiah concert was made possible through the support of the F. M. Kirby Foundation Endowment Fund for Chapel Music and the friends of Duke University Chapel.

Photos from the rehearsal of Messiah.

Making Music (Apart) During a Pandemic

While the coronavirus pandemic has prevented the Chapel’s choirs from singing together in person, it has not stopped them from making music and contributing to worship. All three choirs have produced virtual anthems that have been broadcast during the livestream of worship services. The Chapel Choir has worked with the audio production company The Workshop, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to record a series of anthems.

Two of the anthems—“Words from Two Women” and “God’s Got the Whole World”—are compositions in the new Music from Duke Chapel Series, a collaboration between Chapel Music and ECS Publishing Group/MorningStar Music to publish new choral anthems and other sacred compositions from the Chapel. Another of the anthems, "The Hope That Calls Us" is an original hymn by Chapel Music Director Dr. Zebulon Highben written in honor of Chapel Dean Luke Powery on the occasion of Dean Powery's twentieth anniversary of ordained ministry.

"It can be challenging for choir members to record themselves individually in their homes," says Dr. Highben. "But the final product makes the effort worthwhile, and hopefully we’ll be singing together again in the Chapel soon."

Enlivening Bach for a Weary World

As the coronavirus surged again last fall, 2,500 viewers tuned in live to hear Chapel Organist Christopher Jacobson, FRCO, present the first-ever, online-only organ recital from Duke Chapel. The program, consisting of the Great Eighteen Organ Chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach, represents the summit of Bach’s sacred works for solo organ, which he compiled over the course of his lifetime. To help guide the audience during the recital, Jacobson created slides to give viewers an overview of each chorale. Adhering to university public health protocols, the concert was presented via livestream on November 8. Since then it has been viewed an additional 15,000 times. Watch the recital:

Viewers from around the world chimed in with comments in the chat window, including:

  • "I listen from Netherlands to the beautiful organ pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach."
  • "Greetings from Uruguay."
  • "This is soul-nourishing today! Greetings from just across town in Raleigh, NC."
  • "Hey, I am watching in Leipzig—greetings from the place Bach wrote these stunning pieces."
  • "On Italian lockdown..., listening reconciles me with hope."

Mark your calendars for two more online organ recitals this semester:

The Chapel's organ recital series is supported by the M&E Smith Memorial Fund and the friends of Duke University Chapel.

Engaging the Psalms Through Music, Dance, and Visual Art

In collaboration with scholars and artists, the Chapel is probing the meanings of the Bible’s Psalms. Through the multi-year Psalms in Dialogue initiative, musicians, theologians, dancers, and visual artists are creating new pieces inspired by particular sets of Psalms. This fall the working group created an hour-long video presentation inspired by Psalms 22, 23, and 24. Watch excerpts from the program based on each of the three Psalms:

The Psalms in Dialogue group continues its work with a focus for next fall on Psalms 46, 139, and 145 and the theme "[Be]holding the Broken Pieces." The group invites you to study, pray, and create your own art with these Psalms.

This year's Psalms in Dialogue was made possible through the support of the Few Fund and the Waldo Beech Hymnody Fund.

'Sacred on Saturday' Series Enriches Music Listening

In a series of three Saturday morning presentations last semester, Dr. Philip Cave, associate conductor for Chapel Music, explored notable pieces of sacred music according to liturgical and musical themes. Dr. Cave placed the music in its context, and examined its construction and musical language. The series covered music for Advent, Christmas, All Souls’ and All Saints’, as well as compositions expressing lament. Featured composers included J.S. Bach, William Byrd, Johannes Brahms, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, and Charles Villiers Stanford. Watch the recordings of Sacred on Saturday:

Sacred on Saturday continues this spring with these online presentations:

Hope for the Community

Arts and Activism

Photo on right: PathWays Fellow Junette Yu, T '20, poses with a yard sign from RESIST COVID / TAKE 6!

In the fall semester, the Chapel partnered with the Nasher Museum of Art on an outdoor exhibition and public awareness campaign by nationally renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems that emphasizes the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on the lives of communities of color. Titled RESIST COVID / TAKE 6!, the public art initiative features large-scale banners, window clings, posters, and street signs that celebrate front line workers and also raise issues of public health and racial inequities. As part of the partnership, Chapel Community Minister Rev. Breana van Velzen moderated an online discussion of the exhibition with Dr. Marshall Price, chief curator and Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum. Watch the conversation here:

Wrestling with Race and Theology in Community

In collaboration with community partner DurhamCares, Chapel Community Minister Rev. Breana van Velzen led an online biweekly book study last semester on The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by the Rev. Dr. Willie Jennings. More than forty people participated in the study, including people in Canada, Germany, and England. The series culminated in a discussion with the author, Dr. Jennings, previously a professor at Duke Divinity School and currently an ordained Baptist minister and associate professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale Divinity School. Watch the discussion:

"The Christian Imagination book group not only challenged our group to learn and think about our faith and its racialized history in recent centuries, but it also brought us together as fellow sojourners, building trust and connection in community throughout the semester across geographic, economic, educational, and racial differences," Rev. van Velzen says. "It felt like coming out of what Douglas Adams calls 'a long dark tea time of the soul' into a place of cooperative learning and spiritual feasting when we desperately needed that."

2020–2021 PathWays Fellows

This year's PathWays Fellows are (pictured from left to right): Lily Koning, T ’20; Karissa Tu, T ’20; Grace Feng, T ’20; and Junette Yu, T ’20.

The four women are spending this year living in Christian community and serving with nonprofit organizations in Durham.

New Ways of Finding Sanctuary

For many people, their usual places for worship or reflection became unavailable during the pandemic. In response to this challenge, the Chapel re-engaged an online visual conversation based on this question: Where (or how) do you find sanctuary? People connected to the Chapel posted their responses with images using the hashtag #FindSanctuary. See a collection of those images.

Chapel Staff Adapt to Work During a Pandemic

Caroline Horton (left), staff assistant for development, and John Santoianni, Ethel Sleck Carrabina Curator of Organs and Harpsichords.

As it has for so many organizations, the pandemic changed the way members of the Chapel staff do their work. Two staff members describe the change:

John Santoianni, Ethel Sieck Carrabina Curator of Organs and Harpsichords: "Early in the pandemic, my access to the instruments was only a few hours a week so I had to prioritize what organs would receive what care. Even if the organs were being played less (and heard less), they nonetheless require ongoing care. As more time in the Chapel was allowed, I took on some 'deferred maintenance' in my workshop, including rainy day projects that we all say we will do when we have a spare moment but never seem to get to."

Caroline Horton, staff assistant for development: "While the transition from working full-time at the Chapel to working full-time at home has had its fair share of challenges, it has encouraged me to approach my work with greater flexibility and creativity. The main question I have been asking myself is, 'How can I continue to make people feel seen, supported, and acknowledged while apart?' Almost every aspect of my job looks different; team meetings, board meetings, Chapel tours, Chapel Ambassadors, donor stewardship and communications have had to be reimagined and restructured. Much of this year has been spent reformatting, troubleshooting, critical thinking, and learning to best navigate the present moment while ultimately looking to the future."

Supporting the Chapel's Mission

Investing in Chapel Music: Mark and Elaine Brown

Elaine and Mark Brown, G ’82, (pictured right on a 2011 Chapel Choir tour of Greece and Turkey retracing the journey of St. Paul) have been Duke Chapel Choir members for more than forty years. They met through the choir back when Benjamin Smith was the music director and were married at the Chapel by University Minister Rev. Robert Young. “The choir has become our family and our congregation,” they say, “and we treasure our Chapel Choir friends and all the wonderful memories we have of rehearsals, services, concerts, social gatherings, and tours.”

In addition to serving the Chapel by singing in the choir, they are supporters of Chapel Music.

“We think the gift of music provided by the choir is a universal means to show the beauty of God, not only to the listeners but also to those of us who are so fortunate to sing the beautiful melodies and words,” they say about why they give to Chapel Music. “The timing of our gift this year coincided beautifully with the online presentation of Messiah. We were thrilled when we learned that Zeb had chosen to use it in this way, especially because we were all grieving the lost opportunity to tell the Messiah story in person.”

The Browns explain how they have seen the work of Chapel Music being especially important this year.

“Music bridges the gap between listeners and God, and offers solace, grace, and hope as we make our way through loss, illness, and social upheaval,” they say. “While we have all missed the closeness of singing shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow choir members, Zeb has graciously provided the choir opportunities to have Zoom rehearsals, to record ‘virtual’ anthems and to revisit music from previous services or concerts.”

Supporting the Chapel as a Spiritual Center of Duke: Grace and Ken Lee

Grace Ku Lee, T ’79, and Ken Lee, T ’74.

The family of Grace Ku Lee, T ’79, and Kenneth Lee, T ’74, intersects with Duke in many ways. The couple met on a blind date at Duke. Since then, their two children Bethany, T ’07, and Brian, T’11, have graduated from Duke. And now, the couple, who live outside Washington, D.C., serves together on the Chapel’s National Advisory Board.

“For us, the Chapel is synonymous with Duke,” Grace says about deciding to give back to the university by serving on the advisory board. “We have wonderful memories attending services as students and as parents—including baccalaureates and convocations for our children.”

They see the Chapel not only being located at the geographic heart of campus but also being an important spiritual center for the university.

“It’s hard to imagine Duke without the Chapel, and the people and programs that make it come alive in service to God,” Ken says. “Strolling by the building is a reminder that God is with us every day.”

For the Lees, the pandemic has underscored the importance of the Chapel’s presence.

“We’ve all experienced hardship and sadness; the pandemic has been one of the most difficult times in our lives,” Grace says. “The Chapel helps us feel closer to God when our faith is challenged.”

As supporters of the Chapel, the Lees invited others to join them in giving through a donor-matched challenge gift as part of an outreach to people who signed up to watch the Chapel’s reimagined Messiah online concert in December. The result was 140 new gifts to the Chapel. They are delighted to see the fresh support for the Chapel’s mission and ministry.

“It’s more than the beautiful iconic building with its rich history,” Grace says. “It’s the people including Luke and Bruce who provide inspirational messages in and out of the pulpit, the beautiful music from Zeb, Christopher, and the choir—now piped into our homes via YouTube and Zoom.”

Your Gift Offers Hope

An image from the online presentation of "A Tribute to Lives Lost to COVID-19" on January 19.

A message from Amanda Millay Hughes, the Chapel's director of development and strategy:

On January 19, Duke Chapel joined in the national memorial for the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19. With forty tolls of a bell and the lighting of 400 luminaries, the Chapel and the Duke community united mourning people across the country and once again proclaimed a message of hope. For the memorial, Dean Powery said:

This is a time for introspection and to consider who is important in our lives and what is important in our lives.”

In this challenging season, and in every season at the Chapel, you are important to us. It is only with the support of people like you that the Chapel can continue to fulfill its vision to respond to God’s all-inclusive love at Duke, in Durham, and in the world.

We may not know what 2021 will bring, but we can take heart in knowing that the Chapel does not face the future alone. Together, we will ensure worship continues, with faithful preaching and inspiring sacred music. Together, our ministry team will continue to pray for the community and for those who request prayer at www.chapel.duke.edu/prayer. Because of you, we will bridge faith and learning, nurturing and embodying the intellectual, ethical, and spiritual life of students both on campus and at home. In the months ahead, the Chapel will offer sanctuary virtually until the joyous day when once again we find sanctuary in the pews together.

If you have not yet made a gift to the Chapel this year, or would like to increase your giving, please visit gifts.duke.edu. You can make a one-time gift or pledge a recurring gift by following the instructions on the giving pages. Please take a moment to share what inspires you about the Chapel in the comments field for online giving.

If you would like to learn more about our ministry, connect more deeply with us, or explore new ways to support our work, please visit our website or email us at dukechapel@duke.edu. We look forward to the day we are together again in the Chapel, giving thanks for the all-inclusive love of God.

Duke University Chapel