Celebrating 40 Years of the Black Seminarians Union

Duke Divinity School

February 08, 2010 to February 10, 2010


Duke Divinity School’s Office of Black Church Studies invites alumni, students, and the Duke University and Durham communities in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Black Seminarians Union (BSU) and its mission.

Hear students’ testimonies of truth and the triumphs that led to the establishment of BSU and the Office of Black Church Studies.

The Feb. 8-10, 2010 celebration will include presentations and preaching by Dr. Cynthia Hale D’79, founding pastor of the 5,100-member Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga., and Gregory Palmer D’79, resident bishop of the Illinois Episcopal Area (Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference) of the United Methodist Church. Palmer also is president of the worldwide Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.

Location and Directions

Directions to Duke Divinity School

Overnight Accommodations

A Duke Divinity School discounted rate is available at the Hilton Hotel near Duke University for $89.00 plus tax per night.

To make a hotel reservation, call 1-800-445-8667 by Jan. 22, 2010, and ask for the Duke Divinity School rate.

Directions to Hilton Durham
3800 Hillsborough Road
Durham, NC 27705-2328
Fax:(919) 383-4287


If you have questions regarding this event, please call (919) 660-3599 or email Callie Davis.


Cynthia Hale

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale is the founding and senior pastor of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga. The church has an active membership of 5,000 and an average of 1,500 in worship each Sunday morning. Ray of Hope has been honored by the 700 Club as Church of the Week and was also recognized in the book, “Excellent Protestant Congregations: The Guide to Best Places and Practice,” as one of 300 excellent Protestant congregations in the United States.

Hale is a native of Roanoke, Va. Her natural talent in music led her to study at Hollins College in Virginia, from which she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University and a Doctorate of Ministry from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. Hale, who holds five honorary degrees, is renowned nationally and internationally for her leadership, integrity, and compassion.

Bishop Gregory Palmer

Gregory Vaughn Palmer has been the episcopal leader of the Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church since September 2008. He served the past quadrennium as president of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and is currently president of the Council of Bishops. He received his undergraduate degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., his Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, and holds three honorary degrees.

Ordained a deacon and probationary member in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference in 1977, Palmer was ordained an elder in full connection in the East Ohio Conference in 1981. His pastoral career includes pastorates at Granville-Vance UMC’s and Durham Asbury Temple UMC in North Carolina; East Glennville UMC and Werner UMC in Cleveland, Ohio; and James S. Thomas UMC in Canton, Ohio and the United Methodist Church of Berea, Berea, Ohio. Palmer also served as district superintendent of the Youngstown District of the East Ohio Conference. In 2000, Palmer was elected to the episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference. He was assigned to the Iowa Area where he served until assuming responsibilities in the Illinois Area.

Dr. William Turner, Jr.

Dr. William Turner, Jr. is the associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke Divinity School and the senior pastor of Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. His ongoing work focuses on pneumatology and the tradition of spirituality and preaching within the black church. He taught in the areas of theology and black church studies and directed the Office of Black Church Affairs prior to his appointment in homiletics. He travels widely as a preacher and lecturer.

Dr. Joy J. Moore

Dr. Joy J. Moore is the associate dean for black church studies and church relations and a visiting assistant professor of homiletics and the practice of ministry at Duke Divinity School.

Dr. Clarence G. Newsome

Dr. Clarence G. Newsome is the Distinguished Church Leader in Residence at Duke Divinity School for the 2009-10 academic year.

Bishop Elroy Lewis

Bishop Elroy Lewis has been the pastor of Fisher Memorial United Holy Church of America in Durham, N.C., for the last 29 years. He became a bishop with the United Holy Church of America, Inc., in 1982 and has been a minister for 56 years.

Monday, Feb. 8, 2010

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Worship Service, Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church (316 Hebron Road, Durham, N.C.)
The 40th-anniversary celebration of the Black Seminarians Union will kick off with a worship service and communion led by Dr. William Turner, Jr. and a sermon by Bishop Elroy Lewis.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010

10:15 a.m.
Westbrook Building, Duke Divinity School, upper lobby
Event Registration

11:25 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Goodson Chapel, Duke Divinity School
Worship service with keynote speaker Bishop Gregory Palmer preaching and The Gospel Choir of Duke Divinity School performing.

12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Alumni Memorial Common Room, Langford Building, Duke Divinity School
Invitation-only luncheon for guest speakers and faculty, as well as students, Duke University, and Durham area leaders. Dr. Joy J. Moore, director of the Duke Divinity School Office of Black Church Studies, and other Duke Divinity School leaders will make brief remarks. Current student leaders to be introduced.

2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Westbrook Building, Room 0014, Duke Divinity School
Panel discussion on “Triumph and Truth: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” with Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, Dr. William Turner, Jr., Dr. Cynthia Hale, and Bishop Gregory Palmer.

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Alumni Memorial Common Room, Langford Building, Room 152, Duke Divinity School
“Jazz & Joy – Jazz and the Spoken Word” Open Reception featuring jazz and reflections on theology and music today. Dr. Cynthia Hale will sing. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010

11:25 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Goodson Chapel, Duke Divinity School
Worship service with Dr. Cynthia Hale preaching.

12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Westbrook Building, Room 0016, Duke Divinity School
Luncheon with panel discussion on “Parish Ministry: Where Do We Go from Here?” featuring Dr. Cynthia Hale, Bishop Gregory Palmer and Duke Divinity School faculty.


Registration has now closed.