Monday, October 4, 2021 - 12:00am to Monday, October 25, 2021 - 11:59pm
Zoom Webinars
Stacey Tompkins

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

Again in 2021, the annual Convocation & Pastors’ School will be a virtual, free event designed for Christian leaders of all traditions and take place October 4, 5, 11, 18, and 25.

2021 Theme

The 2021 Convocation and Pastors’ School will focus on the theme, Uncommon Ground: Living with Humility, Patience, and Tolerance in a Divided Age. We will highlight practitioners who, in a broken world marked by division, have found creative ways to work across “uncommon ground” to build up communities and relationships.

Our primary gathering will take place on October 4 and 5 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. These sessions will center around panel discussions, with each session spotlighting one of our featured speakers: Bishop Claude Alexander, Dr. John Inazu, Sara Groves and Dr. Warren Kinghorn. As part of our gathering time we will host optional lunchtime sessions to hear updates on several Duke Divinity School Houses of Study as well as chances to register for small group opportunities with our featured speakers.

October 11, 18, and 25 we will host lunchtime webinars from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. with presentations by Tru Pettigrew, Dr. Jan Holton and Pslams in Dialogue featuring Dr. Ellen Davis, Dr. Zeb Highben, and Amanda Hughes.

Webinar Leaders

John Inazu
Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis

Professor John Inazu teaches criminal law, law and religion, and various First Amendment seminars. His scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related questions of legal and political theory. He is the author of Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly (Yale University Press, 2012) and Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference (University of Chicago Press, 2016), and co-editor (with Tim Keller) of Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference (Thomas Nelson, 2020). Inazu has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA TodayThe Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post

Inazu holds a B.S.E. and J.D. from Duke University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He clerked for Judge Roger L. Wollman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and served for four years as an associate general counsel with the Department of the Air Force at the Pentagon.

Claude Alexander
Senior Pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and Second-Presiding Bishop of the Kingdom Association of Covenant Pastors

Since May of 1981, Bishop Claude Alexander has sought to serve God and community. Having accepted the call to ministry at the age of 17, he endeavored to prepare himself by obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Morehouse College (1985), a Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (1988), and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2004). Bishop Alexander has served as the senior pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, N.C. for the past 29 years. Under his leadership, The Park Church has grown from one local congregation of 600 members to a global ministry of thousands with three locations and weekly international reach. Currently, he serves on the boards of Charlotte Center City Partners, Christianity Today, Mission America Coalition, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Movement.Org. He is the chair of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Board of Trustees.

Sara Groves
Singer and Songwriter

Sara Groves is a veteran singer/songwriter and recording artist with a passion for justice. Since 2005 she has been an artist advocate with International Justice Mission, a global organization that works to protect the poor from violence. At home in Minnesota, Groves and her husband Troy run a unique community art center, Art House North, out of a 110-year-old church where she has recorded her last two of 15 albums: "Abide With Me", a collection of hymns, and "Joy of Every Longing Heart" (Christmas).

Warren Kinghorn
Esther Colliflower Associate Research Professor of Pastoral and Moral Theology; Co-Director, Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative; Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical CenterKinghorn

Professor Warren Kinghorn is a psychiatrist whose work centers on the role of religious communities in caring for persons with mental health problems and on ways in which Christians engage practices of modern health care. Jointly appointed within Duke Divinity School and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of Duke University Medical Center, he is co-director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative and is a staff psychiatrist at the Durham VA Medical Center. He has written on the moral and theological dimensions of combat trauma and moral injury, on the moral and political context of psychiatric diagnosis, and on the way that St. Thomas Aquinas’ image of the human as wayfarer might inform contemporary practices of ministry and mental health care. 

Tru Pettigrew
Founder and President of Tru Access, an inspiration and empowerment consultancy

Tru Pettigrew is a celebrated author, an engaging speaker, a community bridge-builder, and an award-winning marketing executive with over 20 years of experience at the nation’s top advertising and marketing agencies. He is also the founder and president of Tru Access, an inspiration and empowerment consultancy that serves individuals and organizations by helping them to build bridges across different areas of division. His first book, Millennials Revealed, serves as a guide for countless individuals and organizations across the country to help them build meaningful connections across diverse generations.

In addition to his role as chief bridge-builder at Tru Access, Pettigrew currently serves as the vice president of Player Programs and Diversity & Inclusion for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association.

Jan Holton
Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Care at Duke Divinity School

Professor Holton’s work focuses on the psychodynamic implications of trauma and forced displacement, the intercultural dynamics within traditional pastoral care, and pastoral care to marginalized populations. She most recently served on the extension ministry with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, Conn., and also was a member of the faculty at Yale Divinity School from 2006 to 2015. In her latest book, Longing for Home (Yale University Press, 2016), Holton examines the psychological, social, and theological impact of forced displacement on communities in the Congo and South Sudan and on indigenous Batwa tribespersons in Uganda, as well as on homeless U.S. citizens and on U.S. soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She also is an ordained elder in the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Ellen Davis
Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School

The author of 11 books and many articles, Professor Davis's research interests focus on how biblical interpretation bears on the life of faith communities and their response to urgent public issues, particularly the ecological crisis and interfaith relations. Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge University Press, 2009), integrates biblical studies with a critique of industrial agriculture and food production. Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship and Ministry (Westminster John Knox, 2014), explores the prophetic role and word across both Testaments of the Christian Bible. Her most recent books are Preaching the Luminous Word (Eerdmans, 2016), a collection of her sermons and essays, and Opening Israel’s Scriptures (Oxford, 2019), a comprehensive theological reading of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

A lay Episcopalian, she has long been active as a theological consultant within the Anglican Communion. Her current work explores the arts as modes of scriptural interpretation.

Zebulon Highben
Associate Professor of the Practice of Church Music at Duke Divinity School and Director of Chapel Music at Duke University Chapel

Professor Zebulon Highben is director of chapel music at Duke University Chapel and associate professor of the practice of church music at Duke Divinity School. He conducts the Duke Chapel Choir, edits the Music from Duke Chapel choral series, teaches courses in hymnody and sacred music, and oversees Duke Chapel’s extensive music program. His scholarly output includes two sacred choral anthologies, numerous articles and essays, and more than sixty published choral and liturgical compositions. He is an ordained deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Amanda Hughes
Director of Development and Strategy, Duke University Chapel

Amanda Hughes has a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a master of fine arts in art and religion from Goddard College. She is the author of several books, articles, blogs, and resource materials, including the Ackland’s Five Faiths Project curricular materials and A Place for Meaning: Art, Faith, and Museum Culture. Other publications include: Lost and Found: Adolescence, Parenting, and the Formation of Faith (Cowley Books, 2004) and Five Voices Five Faiths: An Interfaith Primer (Cowley Books, 2005).


Monday, October 4



10:00 am – 10:10 am

Dean's Welcome

Dean Edgardo Colón-Emeric
10:10 am - 11:20 am Plenary Session One: Peacemaking

Featuring: Bishop Claude Alexander
Panelists: Dr. John Inazu, Sara Groves and Dr. Warren Kinghorn
Moderator: Dr. David Emmanuel Goatley

11:20 am – 11:30 am Break


11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Lunch Sessions

Hispanic House of Studies 11: 30 am - 12:00 pm
Office of Black Church Studies 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

12:30 pm – 1:45 pm Plenary Session Two: Songwriting Featuring: Sara Groves
Panelists: Bishop Claude Alexander, Dr. John Inazu and Dr. Warren Kinghorn
Moderator: Dr. Peter Casarella
1:45 pm – 2:00 pm



2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Small Group Discussion with Speaker

Limited spaces available. Pre-registration and confirmation required.

Small Group 1 with Claude Alexander
Small Group 2 with Sara Groves

Tuesday, October 5



10:00 am - 11:15 am

Plenary Session Three: Translating

Featuring: Dr. John Inazu
Panelists: Bishop Claude Alexander, Sara Groves and Dr. Warren Kinghorn
Moderator: Dr. Sangwoo Kim

11:15 am– 11:30 am



11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Lunch Sessions

Asian House of Studies 11:30 am - 12:00 pm
External Relations 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

12:30 pm – 1:45pm

Plenary Session Four: Caregiving

Featuring: Dr. Warren Kinghorn
Panelists: Bishop Claude Alexander, Dr. John Inazu and Sara Groves
Moderator: Valerie Helbert
1:45 pm - 2:00 pm Break


2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Small Group Discussion with Speakers

Limited spaces available. Pre-registration and confirmation required.

Small Group 3 with John Inazu
Small Group 4 with Warren Kinghorn

Monday, October 11



12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Activating the Power of Inclusion

Featuring: Tru Pettigrew

Monday, October 18




12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Webinar:
Pastoral Care in Times of Division
Featuring: Dr. Jan Holton
Monday, October 25
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Webinar:

The Beauty of Holiness: Psalms, the Arts, and the Life of Faith

Featuring: Dr. Ellen Davis, Dr. Zeb Highben, Amanda Hughes

Webinar Descriptions


October 4-5, 2021 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Uncommon Ground: Living with Humility, Patience, and Tolerance in a Divided Age

These sessions will center around panel discussions, with each session spotlighting one of our featured speakers: Bishop Claude Alexander, Dr. John Inazu, Sara Groves and Dr. Warren Kinghorn. As part of our gathering time we will host optional lunchtime sessions to hear updates on several Duke Divinity School Houses of Studies as well as chances to register for small group opportunities with our featured speakers.

October 11, 2021 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m

Activating The Power of Inclusion led by Tru Pettigrew

Organizations and institutions across the country are actively engaging in efforts to increase and improve their levels of diversity. This is largely due to the current climate of racial, political, and social division and unrest plaguing our nation across all industries, disciplines, and professions. Increasing levels of diversity, however, cannot be the end goal. Instead, the act of developing safe, open, and inclusive environments for all to collaborate, co-create, and thrive is the greatest need and challenge. Real growth and transformation takes place when organizations go beyond diversity, and activate the power of inclusion. This session equips attendees with the tools, insights, and understanding of how to effectively create and provide the inclusive, collaborative, and productive environments that their employees, students, citizens, congregants, and families crave.

October 18, 2021 12:00 p.m – 1:00 p.m

Pastoral Care in Times of Division led by Dr. Jan Holton

October 25, 2021 12:00 p.m – 1:00 p.m

The Beauty of Holiness: Psalms, the Arts and the Life of Faith led by Dr. Ellen Davis, Dr. Zebulon Highben, and Amanda Hughes

How can active engagement with the arts deepen the reading of Scripture in local churches, for both clergy and laity? Drawing on their work with musicians, dancers, and visual artists in the ongoing Psalms in Dialogue project, the presenters will lead participants in a multi-faceted discussion of how those ancient texts might be the best avenue for getting the church engaged with the arts “from the inside out.”

Registration and Questions

Registration is required and will open August 2, 2021. You may register here:

For questions, contact Duke Divinity School at

Past Events

2018 Convocation & Pastors’ School: “Neighboring in a Post-Christendom World” Audio

  • Two sermons by Cynthia Hale, founder and senior pastor of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga.: Cynthia Hale Monday Worship in Goodson Chapel and Cynthia Hale Tuesday Worship in Duke Chapel.
  • A lecture by David Goatley, research professor of theology and Black Church Studies and director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School titled "Aiming for the Ditch."
  • A lecture by Ian Douglas, missiologist and bishop diocesan of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut on the topic of "Participating in God’s Mission: Ecclesial Lessons from the Post Christendom Frontier."
  • A conversation with L. Gregory Jones , dean of the Divinity School and Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry, and Christine Pohl, professor emeritus of Christian Ethics at Asbury Theological Seminary on the topic of "Reweaving the Social Fabric: Hospitality, Community, and Learning to be Good Neighbors."
  • There are no recording for Barbara Brown Taylor’s plenary sessions.

Closed Captioning available on all recordings. Activate closed captioning [CC] by clicking CC on the lower right-hand corner of the audio recordings and YouTube video.

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