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Divinity people in the news

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.

Student Releases

No Part of You

Sarah  HowellSarah 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.

Broadway Redux

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 .

View the Broadway Revue slide show »

‘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