Duke Divinity School’s annual Convocation & Pastors’ School will return Oct. 14-15, featuring lectures by renowned scholars and practitioners, seminars that foster in-depth discussion, worship services, and the opportunity to reconnect with friends and faculty.
This year’s event, “Renewing the Church,” will explore how thriving Christian communities are meeting the deep needs of the world and in the process breathing new life into the church. Registration for Convocation & Pastors’ School is now open.  Pastors serving churches eligible for grants from The Duke Endowment, current Divinity School students, and 2013 graduates of the Divinity School can attend the event at a discounted rate.
On Monday, James K.A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College holding the Gary and Henrietta Byker chair in applied reformed theology and worldview, and editor of Comment magazine, will deliver the two James A. Gray Lectures. Informed by a long Augustinian tradition of theological and cultural critique—from Augustine and Calvin to Edwards and Kuyper—Smith’s interests lie in bringing critical thought to bear on the practices of the church and the church’s witness to culture. He is the author of numerous books, including Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?; Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy; Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation; and the recently released Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.
On Tuesday, Jorge Acevedo, lead pastor at Grace Church , a multi-site United Methodist church centered in Cape Coral, Fla., will deliver the Franklin S. Hickman Lecture, through which he will examine the identity of the church and the task of theological education. Under Acevedo’s leadership, Grace Church has grown from one to four campus locations and now has more than 2,600 people who attend weekly worship. It is recognized as having one of the largest and most effective ministries for people recovering from addiction in America.
Laceye Warner, executive vice dean, associate professor of the practice of evangelism and Methodist studies, and Royce and Jane Reynolds teaching fellow at Duke Divinity School, also will lecture on Tuesday. Warner’s research interests in the historical theology of evangelism seek to inform and locate contemporary church practices within the larger Christian narrative. The author of several books on evangelism and women, in 2010, Warner co-authored Grace to Lead: Practicing Leadership in the Wesleyan Tradition with Bishop Kenneth Carder.
The Rev. Jeremy Troxler will serve as Convocation preacher during the event’s two worship services. Currently the pastor of Spruce Pine United Methodist Church in Spruce Pine, N.C., Troxler served for the last six years as director of the Thriving Rural Communities  initiative at Duke Divinity School, an effort to help divinity students, rural pastors, and churches take the lead in creating sustainable communities across North Carolina.
Focused learning and fellowship
Alongside the larger lectures will be 12 seminars on topics ranging from ministering to millennials to missional renewal to clergy health. These more intimate learning experiences enable participants to explore additional avenues for cultivating Christian leaders with faculty, church leaders, and practitioners.
Alumni and friends of the Divinity School are invited to reconnect with each other and with current faculty and students on Monday at the annual Alumni Homecoming Luncheon in the Divinity Refectory and Bovender Terrace. Several other groups, including the Baptist House of Studies and Project BriDDDge, also will host alumni gatherings.
Photo submissions needed for mosaic
The school plans to adapt the watercolor painting that forms the central image for this year’s event, “The Basin and the Towel” by Michigan artist Libby Riemersma, into a photo mosaic composed of images that illustrate the many ways that congregations, organizations, and individuals are renewing the church. Congregations, students, and individuals representing a diverse array of Christian organizations are invited to participate in this collaborative art project as part of Convocation. Learn how to submit an image.