Home : NewsMakers

Back to Broadway

The third annual “Broadway Revue” featured tunes from popular Broadway hits including Wicked and Hairspray. The April 17 performance, which was held for the first time in downtown Durham’s historic Carolina Theatre, attracted a record audience of 747 and donations of more than $3,800 for the Alliance of AIDS Services in the Carolinas. The annual event is a spin-off of the popular monthly “Lampstand” performances that showcase the talents of students, faculty, and staff.

Rowe Awarded Templeton

C. Kavin Rowe, assistant professor of New Testament, is one of 12 scholars worldwide to receive a 2009 Templeton Award for Theological Promise.

Awards are made for doctoral dissertations or first books related to God and spirituality. Each recipient receives $10,000 plus a stipend of up to $10,000 to support giving public lectures at academic institutions.

Rowe’s award was for Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke (de Gruyter). His book on the cultural contour of the theological vision of the Acts of the Apostles — World Upside Down: Reading Acts in a Graeco-Roman Age — is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Stress in the Round

A cross section of North Carolina’s United Methodist pastors say their health is at risk from more than calorie-laden church suppers and non-stop schedules.

Other stressors include high expectations from church members, who may not understand the full extent of a pastor’s role, and denominational issues involving transitions from one church appointment to another, compensation, and professional advancement. These and other focus group findings are included in the article “A Theoretical Model of the Holistic Health of United Methodist Clergy” in the current issue of Journal of Religion and Health.

The findings are from 11 focus groups conducted by the Clergy Health Initiative, a seven-year program to research and improve the health of the state’s United Methodist pastors. The initiative is a partnership among The Duke Endowment, which donated $12 million in funding, the North Carolina and Western North Carolina annual conferences of the United Methodist Church, and Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

Virtually all of the state’s actively serving United Methodist pastors participated in the next phase of the project: a baseline health survey. A total of 1,724 pastors — 95 percent of those surveyed — completed the detailed questionnaire. The data from that survey, together with the focus group findings, have been used to develop a pilot program for individual wellness support, which will launch in late June.

The pilot program will take place in two districts, one from each annual conference. Pastors will be recruited from the Goldsboro District (N.C.) and the Northeast District (Western N.C.); participation is voluntary. The program combines physical examinations and laboratory studies with support from certified health coaches who have experience working with clergy. Participants can also apply for small grants to fund those activities or services that they and their coaches agree would support their health.

The Clergy Health Initiative’s vision is to develop resilient, informed United Methodist pastors as skilled in the care of themselves and their families as they are in the care of their congregations.

For more information about the focus group findings, visit Faith & Leadership, the online magazine of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

“Taking the Long View”

An expert on the history of Christianity and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Kearns Professor of the History of Christianity David Steinmetz presented a retirement lecture, “Taking the Long View,” April 2.

Effective July 1, Steinmetz will become the Amos Ragan Kearns distinguished professor emeritus of the history of Christianity. Since 2003, he has taken particular interest in the intersection of religion and the media and published numerous op-ed articles in national newspapers.

For more on Steinmetz and the media, see “The Media and Me” (Divinity Spring 2008). You may also listen to his retirement lecture on iTunes U.

“Tradition & Memory”

Richard P. Heitzenrater, William Kellon Quick professor of church history and Wesley studies, whose 1969 discovery of the code for John Wesley’s Oxford diaries is credited with shaping the future course of Wesley studies, presented a retirement lecture, “Tradition and Memory,” March 4. He will retire effective July 1. After earning his B.A., M.Div., and Ph.D. degrees at Duke, Heitzenrater returned here as a faculty member in 1993.

For more about his career, see the Fall 2008 Divinity magazine. You may also listen to his retirement lecture on iTunes U.

“Lamb and Its Lion”

“Lamb and Its Lion,”
by Celia Wolff;
“Spiraled Navajo Sandstone Cathedral,”
by Eric Prenshaw; and “Milk or Honey,”
by Skyler McGee.

Top honors for “Reconciling All Things,” the Divinity School’s first juried art show, went to Celia Wolff, a student in the doctor of theology degree program, for her painting “Lamb and Its Lion.”

Second- and third-place awards went to Eric Prenshaw D’11 and Skyler McGee, respectively, for the color photograph “Spiraled Navajo Sandstone Cathedral” and the acrylic and beeswax painting “Milk or Honey.” Prenshaw is a master of divinity student, and McGee is married to Timothy McGee, who earned his M.T.S. degree in May.

Pedro Lasch, assistant professor of the practice of visual arts and faculty for Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, said the 30 entries by 15 artists represented a wide range of engagement with the theme of reconciliation.

Wolff’s “Lamb and Its Lion” is reminiscent of the ex-voto tradition from his native Mexico, said Lasch. These devotional paintings are typically small, modest works that connect simply and deeply with the viewer. He described Prenshaw’s work as a “superb photograph that suggests the reconciliation of mankind and nature” and introduces the intersection of American history with the Navajo.  “Milk or Honey” suggests a deeper engagement with the question of reconciliation with the introduction of animals, Lasch said.

The exhibit’s theme was inspired by the award-winning book Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing by Chris Rice and Emmanuel Katongole, co-directors of the Duke Center for Reconciliation.

Luce Fellowship

Professor of Christian History Grant Wacker has been awarded a Luce Fellowship for 2009-10 to complete work on his cultural biography of Billy Graham, now under contract with Harvard University Press. He will be on leave during the 2009-10 academic year.

Wacker, who serves as director of graduate studies in religion, has also received Duke University’s annual Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Graduate School.

CASE Award

Divinity magazine received a second consecutive Award of Excellence for Alumni Magazines from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District III at the 2009 conference in Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 10.

The annual award, which recognizes all-around excellence in magazine content, writing, editing, design, photography, and printing, was based on the Winter, Spring, and Fall 2008 editions of Divinity. The Alumni Magazine I category is for colleges and universities with enrollments of fewer than 5,000.

Top 10 Book Award

Reconciling All Things, the lead title in the Duke Center for Reconciliation book series, was named one of the year’s 10 best books by Christianity Today.

The judges said the book, which won in the category of Christian living, “retrieves the term reconciliation from the buzzword bin, and offers hope and direction at the same time.” 

Authors Chris Rice D’04 and Emmanuel Katongole, associate research professor of theology and world Christianity, are co-directors of the Center for Reconciliation.

More information about the center and its book series.

Sudan Roundtable at Lambeth Place

Lambeth Palace, the London residence of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, was the setting for a Feb. 22 roundtable of scholars, clergy, and other professionals in support of efforts by the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) to advance theological education, community health, and agriculture in the war-ravaged country.

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan asked the roundtable participants to lend their time, talents, and resources to rebuilding Sudan and strengthening the church, which provides key social services as well as spiritual leadership. The Sudan government’s recent expulsion of non-governmental organizations from the country has added urgency to the need for assistance, he said.

Participants from Sudan, Britain, and the United States included six bishops and seminary deans from Yale, Duke, and Virginia Theological Seminary. Dean L. Gregory Jones led the Duke Divinity School contingent.

Deng, who became archbishop in April 2008,  is a former student of Professor of Bible and Practical Theology Ellen Davis, who has served with other Duke Divinity School professors and graduate students as visiting faculty at Renk Bible College. The Renk Visiting Teachers Program is a Duke partnership with Virginia Theological Seminary.  

New Distinguished Chair

Ellen Davis, professor of Bible and practical theology and associate dean for faculty development, has been named the Amos Ragan Kearns distinguished professor of Bible and practical theology effective July 1.

She succeeds David Steinmetz, who is retiring at the end of this year as the Amos Ragan Kearns distinguished professor emeritus of the history of Christianity.

Professor Davis is interested in theological interpretation of the Old Testament, with particular concern for exegesis as it is useful for Christian preaching and for developing a biblically based response to the current ecological crisis.

Read the review of her her most recent book, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible.

Past Made Present

In In partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, the Divinity School Library has digitized each volume of the Duke Divinity School Bulletin/Review from 1936-1980. The volumes are now available for searching, viewing, and downloading.

In Search of “Thin Moments”

Cathleen Falsani, a Christian whose religion column is read by a predominately secular audience, said her writing is best done “wearing a crash helmet and forging full speed ahead.”

Falsani made the comment during her March 31 talk “Thin Moments: Telling Faith Stories in the Mainstream Media” as the Divinity School’s spring media fellow.

Falsani’s four-week fellowship was in conjunction with Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.

Named 2005 Religion Writer of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association, Falsani writes for the Chicago Sun-Times. Her newspaper blog, “The Dude Abides,” focuses on the intersection of spirituality and pop culture.

Hear audio from her March 31, 2009, talk at Duke on iTunes U.