The certificate offers experiences and exposure to racial justice and cultural competency in worship
Friday, June 18, 2021

Duke Divinity School has announced a new Certificate in Worship, designed to prepare Duke Divinity students to engage in practical formation and theoretical reflection on the worship of God in Christian congregations. Students enrolled in the hybrid and residential M.Div., M.A., and M.T.S. degree programs are eligible to pursue the certificate, which includes components of coursework, field education, ministry events, spiritual formation groups, or a thesis project.

Lester Ruth, research professor of Christian worship, described the aims of the new certificate: “One of the marvelous wonders of a Trinitarian faith is the ability to affirm robustly that sameness or uniformity is not required for essential unity. Thus, in the new worship certificate, we aim to expose students to and train them in a breadth of Christian ways of worshiping. Several hopes flow from that. One is the cultivation of the virtue of patience. Graduates with the certificate should be able to work patiently with a worshiping people, seeking to understand the internal logic of their way of worship and the heart language for their adoration of God. Another hope is that our certificate recipients will be able to draw upon the breadth of ways of glorifying God they have studied through certificate courses in order to strengthen and enrich the worship of whatever congregations they have the opportunity to serve.”

The new certificate is one of several measures being introduced by the school in response to listening sessions on racial justice and cultural competency that unfolded throughout 2020. The work of the Racial Justice and Cultural Competency task force revealed a desire and need for both formation and expression that would welcome, support, enhance, and celebrate worship from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

Adam Perez, Th.D.’21, has been appointed to help lead the efforts to expand the worship opportunities that are informed by racial justice at Duke Divinity. He will also teach courses for the Certificate of Worship. Perez earned his Th.D. with an emphasis in liturgy and music, and has served as interim director of chapel worship at Goodson Chapel. He has also served as a church musician and minister of music in a number of churches in North Carolina and Connecticut.

“Dr. Perez brings depth and breadth in the leadership and scholarship of worship,” said David Emmanuel Goatley, research professor of theology and Black Church Studies; director of the Office of Black Church Studies; and associate dean for vocational formation and Christian witness. “His scholarly formation at Duke Divinity School positions him uniquely to understand areas of strength and opportunities to strengthen our worship life, and his intellectual and practical capacities equip him to facilitate expanding our horizon of worship traditions and expressions and imagining how the rich contours and intertextuality of approaches can help us worship more faithfully the God of love and life. He will help lead us to respond to the call of our community to diversify our worship experiences more integrally.”