African American Alumni Day/Gardner C. Taylor Lecture Series

Duke Divinity School

September 22, 2015 to September 23, 2015

Overview

Join the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School for our annual African American Alumni Day reunion and Gardner C. Taylor Lecture Series. This will be an opportunity for communal reflection on the ministry and mission of the Black Church “to serve this present age,” and for prayer, networking, and celebration of Divinity School alumni and the work of the Office of Black Church Studies under the directorship of Rev. Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman. This year’s theme is “This Far by Faith: Memory, Ministry, and Mission.”

Gardner C. Taylor Lecture Series

Since 1975, the Gardner C. Taylor Lecture Series has brought outstanding black preachers and pastors, including Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, and Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, to Duke University. The lecture is named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor (1918-2015), known as “the dean of preaching.”

Our 2015 guest preacher and lecturer is the Rev. Dr.  Renita J. Weems, vice president, academic dean, and professor of Biblical studies at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tenn.

 Dr. Weems will deliver a sermon and lecture on Tuesday, and a sermon on Wednesday.

African American Alumni Day

The alumni day events will begin Tuesday morning with a “State of the Black Church Address” by Rev. Prince R. Rivers, M.Div. ’99, senior pastor of United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Winston Salem, N.C. This address will focus on the historical, present, and future direction of the Office of Black Church Studies and the legacy of African-American church leaders and theologians.

Tuesday evening will feature the African American Alumni Banquet for students, faculty, staff, and friends at the Hilton Durham. Come enjoy great food and fellowship, as the Spirit moves us from memory to hope. Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr., senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY will be our preacher. During the  banquet, we will also memorialize those who have passed from labor to reward.

Registration is required for all events.

Speakers

Renita WeemsRev. Dr.  Renita J. Weems

Reverend Dr. Renita J. Weems is a biblical scholar, an academic administrator, a writer, an ordained minister, and a public intellectual whose scholarly insights into modern faith, biblical texts, and the role of spirituality in everyday lives make her a highly sought-after writer and speaker. She has numerous books, commentaries and articles on the Bible and prophetic religion to her credit. Among these are Just A Sister Away (1987 & 2005); I Asked for Intimacy (1993); Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Prophets (1995); Showing Mary: How Women Can Share Prayers, Wisdom, and the Blessings of God (2003); What Matters Most: Ten Passionate Lessons from the Song of Solomon (2004); “Song of Songs: A Commentary,” Interpreter’s Bible Series, Vol. 5 (Abingdon, 1997). Her 1999 book, “Listening for God: A Minister's Journey Through Silence and Doubt” (Simon & Schuster), won the Religious Communicators' Council's prestigious 1999 Wilbur Award for excellence in communicating spiritual values to the secular media. An ordained elder in the AME Church, Weems is a former member of the faculty of Vanderbilt University Divinity School (1987-03), where she was the first African-American woman to be tenured. She is a former William & Camille Cosby Visiting Professor of Spelman College (2003-05). Weems is the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Old Testament (Princeton Theological Seminary, 1989). She received her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary (1983) and B.A. from Wellesley College (1976). She was the first African American woman to deliver the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lecture at Yale University (2008). Weems lives with her family in Nashville, Tenn., where she serves as vice president, academic dean, and professor of Biblical studies at American Baptist College. In her spare time, she is an avid quilter.

Prince Raney RiversRev. Prince Raney Rivers

The Reverend Prince Raney Rivers has served as the senior pastor of United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Winston Salem, N.C., since 2005. United Metropolitan was established in 1965 through the merger of two historic congregations. Reverend Rivers is an author, pastor, and engaged community leader. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Downtown Winston Salem Partnership and the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. He is the co-chair of The Forsyth Promise, a county-wide initiative to promote student success “from cradle to career.” Rivers was recently elected vice-president of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Reverend Rivers graduated from Morehouse College, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and he earned a M.Div. from Duke Divinity School. He completed Harvard Divinity School’s Summer Leadership Institute and a two-year program in spiritual transformation at the Transforming Center. Rivers resides in Winston Salem with his wife, Dr. Monica Corbitt Rivers, and their two young children. 

Michael WalrondRev. Michael A. Walrond Jr.

Michael A. Walrond Jr. is the senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem, N.Y. Walrond—affectionately known as Pastor Mike—is quickly rising as one of the most prolific and sought-after teachers and preachers in the country and has led FCBC to exponential growth. Walrond’s community and social justice initiatives include the Micah Clergy Roundtable of NYC, A.C.T. Social Justice Ministry, anti-“stop and frisk” campaigning, and helping to get living wage legislation passed by the New York City Council. Walrond is a board member of the National Action Network (NAN) and was appointed the first national director of its ministers division. He serves as a trustee and adjunct faculty member of Chicago Theological Seminary and for over two years served as weekly columnist for the New York Amsterdam News. His work has been recognized by The Harlem Torch, Positive Community Magazine, and The Amsterdam News, and he was named “One of the Lord’s Foot Soldiers” by Newsweek magazine. Walrond has received numerous honors, accolades, and recognitions, including induction into the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers as a “Distinguished Preacher.” In 2014, he was a recipient of The Root 100 Award, a list of the top 100 most influential African Americans under the age of 45. Walrond earned a B.A. in philosophy from Morehouse College and a M.Div. from Duke Divinity School. He served Duke University as the university minister and director of the African American Campus Ministry for eight years and was the senior pastor of Zion Temple United Church of Christ in Durham, N.C., for eight years. Walrond, a native of Roosevelt, N.Y., is married to the Rev. Dr. LaKeesha N. Walrond, who serves as the executive pastor of FCBC. They are the proud parents of Michael III and Jasmyn Dominique.

Schedule

Registration is required for all events.

Tuesday, Sept. 22

  • 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
    Registration and check-in, continental breakfast reception, and gathering with current students and alumni (Alumni Memorial Common Room)
  • 9:00 –10:15a.m.
    “State of the Black Church Address”: Rev. Prince R. Rivers (Alumni Memorial Common Room)
  • 10:30 – 11:15 a.m.
    Divinity School tours
  • 11:25 a.m.
    Worship, Rev. Dr. Renita Weems  preaching (Goodson Chapel)
  • 12:30 p.m.
    Gardner C. Taylor Community lunch (Alumni Memorial Common Room)
  • 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. 
    Gardner C. Taylor Lecture: Rev. Dr. Renita Weems  (Goodson Chapel)
  • 4:00 – 5:30  p.m.
    Free time
  • 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
    African American Alumni Banquet for Duke Divinity faculty, staff, students and friends: Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr., preacher (Hilton Durham)

Wednesday, Sept. 23

  • 11:25 a.m.
    Worship, Rev. Dr. Renita Weems preaching (Goodson Chapel)

     

Hotels

All participants are responsible for making their own hotel accommodations. We have arranged for special rates at the Hilton Durham to assist you. In order to receive these special rates, be sure to refer to “Duke Divinity School – African American Alumni Day” when you call to reserve your room.

  • Hilton Durham near Duke University: $109/single nightly rate, plus applicable taxes. Call (800) 445-8667 and refer to the African American Alumni Banquet Room Block or Group Code: DDALUM by Sept. 11.

An additional list of properties is provided for your information:

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

Meals

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the Office of Black Church Studies will provide complimentary continental breakfast and will host a community lunch as part of the Gardner C. Taylor Lecture series. Advance registration and payment for lunch is required.

Tuesday evening will feature a banquet for alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends at the Hilton Durham. Come enjoy great food and fellowship, as the Spirit moves us from memory to hope. Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr., senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY, will be our preacher.  

Travel

Parking

Pre-arranged parking will be available on campus during the event for an additional charge. Advance registration and payment is required.

Air Transportation

The nearest airport is the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), a 20-minute drive to Duke University. Many area hotels offer shuttle service to and from the hotel. Super Shuttle Service is available from RDU airport to Duke University and the surrounding area. You can make a credit card reservation online prior to your arrival to Duke. There will also be taxi cabs waiting outside each terminal of the airport.

Rail Transportation

The Durham Train Station offers Amtrak service to and from Charlotte, Raleigh, Washington D.C., and New York City and points in between. Make reservations in advance online or by phone.

Ground Transportation

Directions to Duke University

Register

Worship and Gardner C. Taylor lectures are free, but we ask for you to register so that we can anticipate your presence and make the proper arrangements in advance.

The cost of the community luncheon is $20 for alumni, $25 for friends, $15 for Duke Divinity School faculty/staff, and $10 for Duke Divinity School students. The banquet Tuesday evening is $40 for alumni, $50 for friends, $35 for DDS faculty/staff, and $10 for DDS students. Parking passes are $14. Please visit our registration page for more information.

Register

Questions

Contact Shanielle Liburd at  sliburd@div.duke.edu or (919) 660-3461 with questions or concerns.