A Matter of Degrees
Students will begin study for three new degree programs in the fall of 2011, pending approval this summer by accrediting agencies.
The degrees are part of the school’s updated strategic plan in response to the global economic crisis and the church’s need for a greater variety of educational offerings from seminaries.
“The financial crisis accelerated our plans,” says Dean L. Gregory Jones, “but we would have faced many of the same issues without a recession. We were determined to respond missionally to the needs of the church.”
Beginning in fall 2011, the school hopes to offer a master of arts in Christian studies (M.A.C.S.), a master of arts in Christian practice (M.A.C.P.), and a doctor of ministry (D.Min.).
Two of the degrees—the M.A.C.S. and D. Min.—will combine courses taken at the Divinity School with web-based learning platforms, a first for the school.
“None of these degrees would diminish the school’s commitment to existing degree programs, especially our core master of divinity (M.Div.) program for local church ministers, or to residential learning,” says Jones. “Rather, they are meant to fulfill needs of churches and individuals that we are unable to address with our current offerings.”
Study, Worship, Renew at Duke
Study Leave for Ministry Professionals is for Christian institutional leaders and pastors of all traditions who want to spend a week immersed in learning and renewal through self-directed study, worship, and prayer on the Duke University campus.
While on campus, participants have full access to university libraries, community worship, and lectures. Special arrangements can be made to audit courses or meet privately with Divinity School faculty.
Unlike traditional continuing education, Study Leave allows each participant to propose a topic for the five-day program. Past topics have included church history, Scripture, worship, ethics, and preaching.
Twenty hours of study are expected during the week, for a minimum award of 2.0 CEU.
Divinity Sign Makes Prime-Time
Director of Financial Aid Sheila Williams made the final stitch on an impromptu “Duke Divinity School ‘loves’ CBS” banner just in time to hand it off to middler Laura Steed for her afternoon flight to Indianapolis, Ind., for the 2010 NCAA Basketball Championship game.
Earlier in the day, the Admissions Office had e-mailed students challenging any who were attending the game to “hold up a Duke Divinity School sign that can be seen on TV!” When Steed, who works as a student assistant in admissions, offered to take a sign with her to the game, her colleagues rallied. In less than two hours, a recruitment table runner had a new message intended for prime-time: “Duke Divinity School ‘loves’ CBS.”
The banner and a more hastily drawn sign (held by middler Megan Burt) showed up twice during halftime.
“My husband said I was more excited about the sign than I was about Duke winning the game,” says Williams, who had cut out the heart and CBS letters and stitched them in place. “I was excited about both!”
An Angel Named Kaos
By Judith M. Heyhoe
Writing a novel at 18 was “as much about having fun as exploring the forces of good and evil,” says author Brad Acton, whose first book, Kaos, was released in 2007.
The novel tells a version of the Miltonic story of Satan’s rebellion and fall from grace, but from the point of view of an angel named Kaos. “I wanted to present spiritual warfare and angels, but I wasn’t too concerned about orthodox views,” explains Acton. “Kaos is in many ways like Jesus; he is an angel, but Christlike.”
In addition to Milton, the book’s literary influences include Tolkien, whose ability to tell a story Acton admires, and Steinbeck, whose fiction provides a model for characters who are palpably real and earthy. The strong visual nature of the prose makes this Christian fantasy indebted to the graphics often found in contemporary computer games.
While Acton never intended for the novel to be a “vessel of orthodoxy,” he says he hopes that it manages to convey some truth about God. And he readily acknowledges that the forces of good and evil are much grayer than he depicted them in Kaos.
Acton was born and raised in a Baptist family in Birmingham, Ala., where his interest in writing began, and was encouraged by teachers at the Presbyterian school he attended. When he received a laptop computer as a gift, he began writing the rough draft of what later became his novel.
“I didn’t really know how to write,” says Acton, “but I figured that, at the very least, I could staple the pages and give them to my brothers to read.”
He took his first classes in creative writing as a liberal arts major at Auburn University. Between those classes and his studies in philosophy, history, and English, he continued revising his manuscript. After completing a second draft, he self-published a few copies of the novel and gave them to his family and friends. Eventually, he sent the polished manuscript to a Christian publishing house and, in his senior year at Auburn, Tate Publishing released Kaos.
His undergraduate experiences “pulled me out of my bubble a little bit,” says Acton. “There was a healthy Christian subculture, but Auburn is a secular institution, so I saw people different from me.”
By his senior year of college, he knew he wanted to study theology, and that Duke’s M.Div. program was his first choice. When he arrived on campus, he kept his published novel quiet, but word eventually got out, and last February, Cokesbury Bookstore invited him for a book signing.
He originally considered an academic career, but Acton has since decided that his gifts and talents lie elsewhere. He and his wife, Emily, look forward to being confirmed at All Saints Anglican Church in Durham, N.C., and ordination now seems an attractive possibility. And, of course, he’ll continue writing. He’s currently at work on a second novel.
Judith M. Heyhoe is editor to the faculty at Duke Divinity School.
No Part of You
Sarah S. Howell D’12 wrote both music and lyrics for the four tunes on this debut recording. Howell, a master of divinity student, performs “World on Fire,” “In the Wings,” “Stick Around,” and “No Part of You” with Gary Mitchell.
Seeing God in Everything
Godzchild Publications, 2009
A first book from Shaun V. Saunders D’10, who received his M.Div. degree in May.
Free for All: Rediscovering the Bible in Community
Baker Books, 2009
In this book, Tim Conder and Daniel Rhodes Th.D.’12, pastors of Emmaus Way, an emerging church in Durham, N.C., present a theology of Scripture for emergent Christianity.
For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts
Baker Books, 2010
W. David O. Taylor, who edited this book, served as the arts pastor of Hope Chapel, Austin, Texas, before coming to Duke for the doctor of theology program.
State’s UMC Clergy Suffer More Chronic Disease
New research from the Clergy Health Initiative indicates that the health of United Methodist pastors in North Carolina is worse than that of the state’s overall population.
These findings—to be published in a forthcoming issue of the research journal Obesity—stem from a 2008 Clergy Health Initiative survey, through which 95 percent of the state’s United Methodist pastors reported their health histories.
Researchers compared the health of clergy from the state’s two UMC conferences against a comparable subset of the overall N.C. population— those 35-64, white, employed, and with health insurance.
They found that nearly 40 percent of United Methodist pastors aged 35-64 are obese, a rate fully 10 percent higher than that of North Carolinians in the comparable subset.
The clergy also reported significantly higher rates of diagnoses of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, angina, and asthma.
To learn more about why pastors are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic disease, the Clergy Health Initiative is preparing to repeat its survey of the state’s United Methodist pastors in August.
These findings, together with ongoing research, are shaping the Clergy Health Initiative ’s efforts to develop programs designed to help pastors enhance their health, and to sustain them in their vocation.
The fourth annual Broadway Revue attracted an audience of nearly 500 to the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham, N.C., and raised almost $2,000 for the Alliance for AIDS Services Carolina-Durham and ZOE Ministry.
The April 21 performance featured tunes from Broadway hits including Spamalot; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; and The Sound of Music.
‘Our Sufficiency Is of God’
Gardner C. Taylor, recognized as the “dean of preachers in America today,” received a Festschrift titled Our Sufficiency Is of God: Essays on Preaching in Honor of Gardner C. Taylor Feb. 15 at Duke Divinity School.
“Gardner Taylor captures the whole American experience in one lifetime,” said Richard Lischer, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland professor of preaching at Duke, who contributed to the volume. “He has not only seen enormous change; he was at the forefront of it.”
Taylor, 91, served for more than 42 years as pastor of Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, N.Y. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 2000. Hear or download audio of the presentation .
“Speak, Lord,” a photograph by first-year M.Div. student Laura Lysen D’13, took first-place honors at The End of Words, the Second Annual Juried Art Exhibit, April 21–May 2, at the Divinity School.
The exhibit, inspired by Professor Richard Lischer’s 2005 book, The End of Words, was directed and curated by Laura Levens, a doctor of theology student who challenged artists to consider both senses of end—as limit and goal.
“In continual pursuit of richer, more nuanced, and more faithful forms of ministry it is imperative to recognize the limits of words,” said Levens. “As every church service discloses, each word is spoken into a situation, and every text lives within a larger embodied context.
“Another sense in which words have an end concerns their end goal, the telos of words. What good are the words of a sermon if they do not carry us beyond all words to the reality of the risen Jesus Christ?”
Second- and third-place awards respectively went to Julie Laub D’10, for her graphite and acrylic drawing “Psalm 151,” and to Bonnie Scott D’12, for her textiles appliqué “Tongues, as of Fire.”
An honorable mention was awarded to Fred Wise, spouse of Divinity School employee Jami Wise, for his pen and ink drawing “Appalachian Alchemy.” A new juror’s award for technical skill and originality went to Tom Chappell Lewis D’13 for “The Incarnation,” a Post-It Note mosaic.
Juror Courtney Reid-Eaton, exhibitions director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, said the prizewinners “generated an emotional response that was beyond articulation. They were visually strong and technically well executed.”
She said that Lysen’s photograph spoke to her immediately, and is “a deeply quiet, profound image.”
“Laub’s drawing was like a slap in the face, a ‘bloodstained’ handprint on a cross; and Scott’s art-quilt expressed the experience of Pentecost in a surprising and tactile way.”
“I saw the work of being in relationship in Wise’s drawing, and while dialogue was implied, there was also a great deal of emotional energy drawn around the figures.”
She said that adding a juror’s prize made it possible to acknowledge the creative work of Lewis, who “used Post-It Notes and colored paper to create an arresting triptych that included the text ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ in Greek.”
The exhibit was in association with the school’s New Creation Arts Group.