Monday, October 9, 2017 - 8:00am to Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 4:30pm
Duke Divinity School
(919) 613-5323

The annual Convocation & Pastors’ School is an intensive two-day conference that offers lectures, worship, and seminars for Christian leaders of all traditions. Led by scholars and practitioners from Duke and beyond, this event is a cooperative endeavor with the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church. The Convocation also includes alumni gatherings.

Connect with us: #dukeconvo

2017 Details

We have the Power: Dismantling Bias and Hate
Duke Divinity School
October 9-10, 2017

Convocation & Pastors' School 2017
How can the Church confront and heal the bias and hate that breeds fear and division within our families, congregations, and communities? How can clergy and church leaders empower congregations to embrace the freedom God offers to seek justice and love kindness with and for our neighbors? Join us as we explore strategies for living into God’s will and action for the world.

Featured presenters:

  • Lecia Brooks, outreach director, Southern Poverty Law Center;
  • Amy Butler, senior minister, The Riverside Church of New York;
  • Michael-Ray Mathews, director of Clergy Organizing, PICO National Network
  • Valerie Cooper, associate professor of Religion and Society and Black Church Studies, Duke Divinity School; and
  • William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C., will serve as convocation preacher.


BrooksLecia Brooks
Outreach director, Southern Poverty Law Center

Brooks has worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) since 2004 in numerous leadership roles, prior to which, she worked to fight bias, bigotry, and hatred at the National Conference for Community & Justice from 1992-2004. Brooks also served at Diversity Matters to engage groups in conversation and reflection on intersectionality and positive identity development from 2000 to 2007. She has many media appearances and publications, most recently helping to write Civil Rights Activity Book and editing the God Loves Uganda discussion guide for SPLC.

ButlerAmy Butler
Senior minister, The Riverside Church of New York

Pastor Amy Butler is the seventh senior minister and first woman to serve at the helm of the Riverside Church. She holds degrees from Baylor University, the International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Wesley Theological Seminary. Pastor Butler's professional ministry career began as the director of a homeless shelter for women in New Orleans. She later became associate pastor of membership and mission at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church there. In 2003, Butler was called to the position of senior minister of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown, where she was also the first woman to lead that historic congregation. She recently completed a memoir, which will be published by Penguin Random House in February 2018. Pastor Butler is a single mom to three young adults. She blogs at and on social media @PastorAmyTRC.

CooperValerie Cooper
Associate professor of Religion and Society and Black Church Studies, Duke Divinity School

Professor Cooper, the first African American woman to earn tenure at Duke Divinity School, joined the faculty in 2014. She has degrees from Howard University and a Th.D. from Harvard University. Using historical and theological methodologies, her wide-ranging scholarship examines issues of religion, race, politics, and popular culture. She has published essays on African American evangelicals (particularly in Pentecostalism and the Holiness Movement), on African Americans’ use of the Bible, and with political scientist Corwin Smidt, co-authored an essay on the roles of religion and race in the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. Her article on “Black Theology” is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Political Theology. Her book, Word, Like Fire: Maria Stewart, the Bible, and the Rights of African Americans, (The University of Virginia Press, 2012), analyzes the role of biblical hermeneutics in the thought of Maria Stewart, a pioneering 19th-century African American woman theologian and political speaker. Cooper is working on Segregated Sundays, a book evaluating the successes and failures of the racial reconciliation efforts of Christian congregations and ministries from the 1990s to the present.

LamarWilliam H. Lamar IV
Pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.

William H. Lamar IV is pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Ordained as an itinerant elder in 2000 at the Florida Annual Conference of the AME Church, Rev. Lamar has also served congregations in Monticello, Orlando and Jacksonville, Fl.; and Hyattsville, Md. Prior to his two most recent appointments, he was the managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, where he convened and resourced executive pastors of larges churches, denominational finance executives, young denominational leaders, Methodist bishops, and the constituency of Lilly Endowment’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Program. For nearly 15 years, Rev. Lamar has being actively involved with Direct Action Research Training (DART), Industrial Areas Foundations (IAF), and Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) for faith-based community organizing for justice. Most recently, he has collaborated with Repairers of the Breach, the Center for Community Change (CCC), and PICO National Network.  At Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Lamar earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Management with a minor in Philosophy and Religion and a certificate in Human Resource Management. He earned the Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. Lamar is currently a doctoral student in the inaugural cohort of Christian Theological Seminary’s Ph.D. program in African-American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric. Rev. Lamar has published articles in outlets such as Christian Century, The Christian Recorder, Divinity Magazine,, The Anvil, “,” and the “Huffington Post.” He has also been featured in The Washington Post and the Afro-American and on “The Takeaway,” the “Huffington Post Live,” and PBS “News Hour.”

MathewsMichael-Ray Mathews
Director of Clergy Organizing, PICO National Network

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews is an ordained American Baptist minister and a leading pastor in the multifaith movement for justice. He brings more than 20 years of ministry leadership experience as a senior pastor, grassroots leader, psalmist, and community organizer to his work as the director of clergy organizing for PICO National Network. Prior to his work with PICO, Rev. Mathews was the senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in downtown San Jose. Since 2014, Reverend Mathews’ ministry has centered on the theology of resistance. Developed in the aftermath of the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., theology of resistance is a prophetic, multi-faith discourse and is intended to ignite conversations and spark faith leaders to fight injustice and dehumanization. Rev.  Mathews is the founding organizer and co-convener of the Racial Justice & Multiculturalism Community of the Alliance of Baptists and the co-editor Trouble the Water, a resource on racial justice and multiculturalism for congregations. A native of Compton, Calif., Rev. Mathews earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences and Communications from the University of Southern California and a Master of Divinity degree from the American Baptist Seminary of the West and the Graduate Theological Union.


Monday, October 9

8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Duke Divinity School

11:00 a.m.

Gray Lecture: Valerie Cooper
Segregated Sundays: Why the Most Diverse Nation on Earth Still Has the Most Racially-Segregated Worship

Goodson Chapel

12:30 p.m. Lunch and Gathering Time Duke Divinity School

12:30 p.m.

Alumni Homecoming Luncheon

Divinity Café

2:00 p.m.

Lecture: Lecia Brooks
Embracing Justice as a Healing Balm

Goodson Chapel

3:00 p.m. Break
Refreshments provided
Duke Divinity School:
Westbrook Lower Level

3:00 p.m.

Project BRI(DDD)GE Alumni Reception

Duke Divinity School

3:30 p.m.


Duke Divinity School

5:00 p.m. Break Duke Divinity School

5:30 p.m.

William Lamar, preaching

Goodson Chapel

8:00 p.m. Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies Open House Blue Corn Cafe, Durham


Tuesday, October 10

8:15 a.m.

Morning Prayer

Goodson Chapel

9:00 a.m.

Lecture: Michael-Ray Mathews
Trouble the Water:  Disrupting Empire, Cultivating Beloved Community

Goodson Chapel

10:30 a.m. Break
Refreshments provided
Duke Divinity School:
Lower Level

10:30 a.m.

Morning Recess – jointly sponsored by the Office of Black Church Studies and the Center for Reconciliation

Divinity Café Terrace

11:00 a.m.


Duke Divinity School

12:30 p.m. Lunch and Gathering Time Duke Divinity School
12:30 p.m. Hispanic House of Studies Networking Lunch Duke Divinity School

1:00 p.m.

Reimagining Health Collaborative Information Session

Duke Divinity School

2:00 p.m.

Franklin S. Hickman Lecture: Amy Butler
Be In The World...And Love It

Goodson Chapel

3:15 p.m.


Duke Divinity School

3:30 p.m.

William Lamar, preaching

Goodson Chapel


The seminars offered during Convocation & Pastors’ School are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy small-group learning with Duke faculty, guest leaders, and other attendees. Participants who attend the seminars and all lectures will receive one Continuing Education Unit (CEU). When registering, participants will have the opportunity to choose two seminars, one for each day. 

Seminars offered Monday only

Rural Fellows, Covenant, and Community (TRC pastors only)
Brad Thie, Director, Thriving Rural Communities Initiative, Duke Divinity School
During this session, we will discuss the ways that rural fellows, rural fellow alums, and Thriving Rural Communities partner churches can relate in faithful community.

Seminars offered Monday and Tuesday

Sanctuary Everywhere
Jennie Belle
Director of Immigration and Farmworkers
North Carolina Council of Churches

The term sanctuary has been used in many ways, both within the church and in the current divisive political climate. While the word has many different definitions and implications, it generally means “a place of refuge or safety.” In this workshop, we will work together to expand our conceptions of sanctuary to include the simple idea that everyday people can come together to keep each other safe. We will envision places of refuge at many different levels (individual, family, neighborhood, institution, and city/state) to ensure the safety of specific targeted communities including sanctuary in the streets, schools, cities, and congregations. 

Five Means of Grace
Elaine Heath
Professor of Missional and Pastoral Theology
Duke Divinity School

This workshop guides participants through the five means of grace that John Wesley called “instituted,” meaning these are spiritual practices in which Jesus himself participated and which he encouraged his followers to do. One of the beautiful aspects of Wesley’s theology is that spiritual practices are seamlessly integrated with practices of loving our neighbors well. This is why Wesley said there is no holiness but social holiness. A life of genuine prayer inevitably leads to a life of hospitality, mercy, and justice. Based upon Dr. Heath's book, Five Means of Grace, in this session we will consider how each of the five means of grace help us as communities of faith to pray more deeply and live more missionally as followers of Jesus Christ.

Restorative Justice in the Local Church – Asset Based Community Development
Maria King
Church Vitality Strategist
Western North Carolina Annual Conference (UMC)
John Parker
Adjunct Faculty
Wake Forest University School of Divinity

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) authentically transforms local churches to embrace, learn, grow and restore relationships and communities. Through ABCD, communities find authentic and sustainable ways of bringing God’s Beloved Community into reality. During the workshop, participants will engage the process of ABCD, cultural intelligence and practical skills for leaders to bring congregations into deeper engagement with their communities.

Tolerance is a Moral Imperative
Lecia Brooks
Outreach director
Southern Poverty Law Center

Understanding and practicing true tolerance calls for us to stand against injustice. This session invites participants to examine social diversity in all its complexities as we begin to build the attitudes and skills required to lead communities and congregations toward love and acceptance. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program seeks to improve intergroup relations and reduce prejudice.

Segregated Sundays
Valerie Cooper
Associate professor of Religion and Society and Black Church Studies
Duke Divinity School

There is a remark often attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr., decrying the “sad fact” that “eleven o’clock on Sunday morning” is the “most segregated hour of America.” In the more than fifty years since King proclaimed his dream that “one day ... sons of former slaves and sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood,” little has changed. Sociologists designate American churches as “hyper-segregated,” and very little progress has been made in transforming sanctuaries around the country into sites of real, interracial communion. In this seminar, Dr. Cooper will present material from her current book project, Segregated Sundays: Why the Most Diverse Nation on Earth Still Has the Most Racially-Segregated Worship. She will lead participants in a discussion of the historic and social causes of racial segregation in churches as well as the successes and failures of some of the racial reconciliation efforts of Christian congregations and denominations. In the aftermath of the tragic massacre of nine black congregants by a white supremacist gunman at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., racial reconciliation has taken on a new urgency. Will churches in the U.S. be ready to respond?

Will D. Campbell and the Ministry of Reconciliation
Jeremy Troxler
Spruce Pine UMC in Spruce Pine, N.C.

Will D. Campbell was an iconoclastic Baptist bootleg preacher and self-proclaimed "steeple dropout" whose unique ministry included both serving as an unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement and intentionally befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. Campbell's life embodied the boundary-breaking gospel of Christ that proclaims God's already-accomplished, gracious redemption of both the racist and the victim of racism. His prophetic writings and sermons articulate a thoroughly theological vision of reconciliation and radical Christian fellowship. In this workshop we will encounter Campbell's life and engage with several of his writings in the hope that they might bless us, challenge us, and make us more faithful ministers of reconciliation.

Organizing Communities of Prophetic Resistance
Michael-Ray Mathews
Director of Clergy Organizing
PICO National Network

This workshop will explore the practice of faith-rooted organizing as an effective tool for both developing congregational leaders and teams that organize for racial and economic justices in local communities. The workshop will explore the Theology of Resistance (TOR) model as a framework for faith formation for justice work and will offer resources for beginning a process of education, relationship-building ,and action for racial justice and healing. 

Walking the Talk: The Blessing of Culture Crises
Amy Butler
Senior minister
The Riverside Church of New York

Have you ever walked around the halls of your church with no reason at all to do so? What would people think or say if you did? Cultures in churches sometimes shift a little, but sometimes they have to change altogether, especially when the world we inhabit seems to change overnight. We’ll explore how major cultural shifts at our churches can help prepare us for the cultural crises we will all face together in the wider world.

Dismantling Bias and Hate: Theological Tools
William Turner
James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of the Practice of Preaching
Duke Divinity School

In the Western hemisphere hate and boundaries exist largely along the fault lines of race and class. Perhaps the most egregious is race, a relatively modern fiction. The performance of these fictions is no less than deadly within human communities. Perhaps the saddest factor of all is how the roots are sunk deep in theological constructions emerging from ways of interpreting the bible that oppose the mission of God manifest in the “word made flesh.” The session will be designed to furnish theological tools that can assist in the work of rescuing Christian faith from powers that sap vitality and diminish effective witness.

Engaging with Islam and Muslims
Abdullah Antepli
Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs, Duke University/Adjunct Faculty of Islamic Studies
Duke Divinity School

Islam and Muslims are at the center of attention these days. Despite almost daily encounter with Islam and Muslims, often with high level of negative associations and mainly through media, very few Americans get access to accurate knowledge on the topic. There is so much confusion and misunderstanding around the issue. This workshop will aim to introduce crucial basic terms and realities on Islam and Muslims and will be an attempt to witness the richness of Islamic religion and Muslim civilizations. The class will aim to equip the students with required intellectual, academic, and spiritual skills in order to relate their Muslim neighbors. Special attention will be given to Muslim men and women who are interpreting the faith of Islam in the new contexts of the 21st century. 

Worship as Resistance: Embodying God's Mission at the Margins
Heidi Miller
Director of the Duke Neighborhood Seminary
Duke Divinity School

Gathered worship can embody an imagination of resistance and vitality of purpose through practices that take seriously how persons come to know God and God’s mission in the world, particularly as modeled within marginalized communities. This workshop will explore how such embodied practices can shape congregations to be the Body of Christ, thereby discovering and animating their prophetic witness and missional vocation.

Dismantling Bias and Hate: A Liberation Theology Perspective
Ismael Ruiz-Millán
Director, Hispanic House of Studies
Duke Divinity School

In this seminar, we will explore the implications of liberation theology for church leaders in the U.S, by taking a look to the theology of prophetic voices such as Howard Thurman, Oscar Romero, and Richard Twiss, who challenged the powers of their time that had used bias and hate to pushed many people to living in the margins, be tagged as the disinherited, and be oppressed—and to be with their backs against the wall.

Alumni and Special Events

We invite you to join with friends old and new for these additional gatherings. To participate, please register for each as part of your Convocation & Pastors’ School registration. Pre-registration is required so that we can plan each event appropriately. All events are free unless noted otherwise.

Alumni Homecoming Luncheon
Divinity Café and Bovender Terrace
Monday, Oct. 9 – 12:30 p.m.
Join us Monday, Oct. 9, at 12:30 p.m. for the Alumni Homecoming Luncheon—a great opportunity to enjoy a relaxed picnic meal with friends and classmates, Dean Elaine Heath, and members of the National Alumni Council. All Convocation attendees and their guests are invited to participate. Pre-registration is required. Cost: $12 per person for the general public and $8 per person for Duke Divinity School faculty/staff (both of these prices include N.C. sales tax).

Project BRI(DDD)GE Alumni Reception
Baker Room, Divinity Library
Monday, Oct. 9 – 3:00 p.m.
Your fellow BRI(DDD)GErs invite you to join us for time of reminiscent reflection during the Project BRI(DDD)GE Alumni Reception at the 2017 Convocation and Pastors’ School. Rekindle old friendships and make new ones. BRI(DDD)GE continues to provide an incredibly transforming experience.

Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies Open House
Blue Corn Café, Durham
Monday, Oct. 9 – 8 p.m.
The Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies will host an Open House gathering at the Blue Corn Café in Durham at 8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 9.  Learn about ministerial formation in the Reformed tradition at Duke Divinity School. Meet some of our student leaders and hear about their Duke Divinity experience. Latin fusion hors d’oeuvres provided, beverage is your choice. 

Morning Recess – jointly sponsored by the Office of Black Church Studies and the Center for Reconciliation
Duke Divinity School
Tuesday, Oct. 10 – 10:30 a.m.
Join us to learn more about our ongoing programs and initiatives, meet the staff, and connect with other pastors and alumni engaged in actively building up the kingdom of God within their congregations and communities. Light refreshments will be served.

Hispanic House of Studies Networking Lunch
Duke Divinity School
Tuesday, Oct. 10 – 12:30 p.m.
The Hispanic House of Studies seeks to be a resource center for churches and pastors passionate about serving with the Hispanic and Latino/a community. We invite all Convocation attendees and their guests to attend this luncheon to learn more about the work and offerings of the Hispanic House of Studies. Lunch will be provided.

Reimagining Health Collaborative Information Session
Duke Divinity School
Tuesday, October 10, 1 – 2:00 p.m.
Drop in any time during this hour to learn more about the Reimagining Health Collaborative (RHC), a program that invites churches and Christian communities to engage more fully in God’s healing and restoring work through innovative and faithful practices of health and health care. You will hear about the work of congregations currently participating in RHC and receive information on our upcoming 2018 program, “The Church, Health, and Food.”  Light dessert refreshments will be offered. 


Lodging reservations should be made directly with Durham hotels.

Several local hotels offer special rates for Convocation & Pastors’ School participants. In order to receive these special rates, please refer to "Duke Divinity School/Convocation & Pastors' School" when you call to reserve your room. Rates cannot be guaranteed after the cut-off dates listed.

Hilton Garden Inn
Rate: $119 per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 286-0774 by Friday, Sept. 8

Hilton Durham near Duke University
Rate: $104/single per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 383-8033 by Friday, Sept. 8

Millennium Hotel Durham
Rate: $110/single or $125/double per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 383-8575 by Friday, Sept. 8

Other properties are also located nearby. We offer the following list as a convenience:

Additional hotel information may be found at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.


Online registration is now closed. Onsite registration is available Oct. 9-10 at the event for $225.

Everyone planning to attend the 2017 Convocation & Pastors’ School should submit their registration  in advance, along with the appropriate fees. Your registration for Convocation & Pastors’ School includes access to lectures, seminars, and worship, as well as on-campus shuttles and parking. We will send confirmation upon receipt of your registration information. Event fees are non-refundable.



  Early Bird Rate
Available through Aug. 31
Standard Rate
Available Sept. 1-22
Onsite Rate
Available Oct. 9-10

Regular registration

$125 $150 $225

Reduced rates available for:

  • Pastors of churches eligible for grants from The Duke Endowment. Am I eligible? (pdf)
  • Current students
  • 1st Year Seminary graduates
  • Retired Pastors
$55 $75 $225
Duke Divinity School faculty/staff registration $0 $0 $0


The cost of this event is kept minimal due to the generous support of the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church, as well as The Duke Endowment and the Parish Ministry Fund, which provide financial assistance to clergy in support of their ongoing education.


Duke University is committed to providing access to programs for persons with disabilities. If you anticipate needing accommodations or have questions about physical access, please contact (919) 613-5323 in advance of the program.


Contact Duke Divinity School at or (919) 613-5323.

Past Events

Audio recordings of the lectures and worship services held during previous sessions of Convocation & Pastors’ School are available for download through iTunes U.

2016: Who Needs Theology? Inside and Outside the Church
Featuring Elaine A. Heath, Norman Wirzba, Ellen F. Davis and panel, Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. and panel, and Brian E. Combs

2015: Body and Belonging
Featuring John Swinton, Claire Wimbush, Deb Richardson-Moore, and William Lee

2014: Life After Christendom: Resident Aliens 25 Years Later
Featuring Stanley Hauerwas, Will Willimon, James Davison Hunter, and Hope Morgan Ward
Due to technical difficulties, recordings of this event are not available.

2013: Renewing the Church
Featuring James K.A. Smith, Jorge Acevedo, Laceye Warner, and Jeremy Troxler

2012: Form/Reform: Cultivating Christian Leaders
Featuring Richard J. Mouw, Andy Crouch, Sarah Coakley, and Prince Raney Rivers

2011: Drawn into Scripture: Arts and the Life of the Church
Featuring Jeremy Begbie, Marilynne Robinson, Anthony Kelley and the BLAK Ensemble, and Lillian Daniel

2010: The Living Witness: Tradition, Innovation, and the Church
Featuring N.T. Wright, Rob Bell, Andy Crouch, and Vashti McKenzie

2009: The Next Generation
Featuring Os Guinness and Philip Jenkins

2008: For Such a Time as This
Featuring L. Gregory Jones, Janice Riggle Huie, Ron Heifetz, Al Gwinn, Greg Palmer, Larry Goodpaster, and Adam Hamilton

2007: Our Daily Bread
Featuring Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Stanley Hauerwas, Ellen Davis, Janice Virtue, Norman Wirzba, L. Gregory Jones, and Carol Bechtel