Duke Divinity School

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How Duke Uses Financial Aid
to Invest in Church Leaders

“My goal is to bring hope and revitalization to urban neighborhoods by renewing the mission of inner-city churches,” says Brady D'06. “I see myself as a pastor of an urban church with a holistic ministry that includes economic development, community development and social entrepreneurship.”

Photo by Les Todd

 Chris Brady sees in the church the power to transform neighborhoods just as it transforms individual lives.

Brady, 40, knows of the needs in poor communities. And he knows how the church can help fill them.

“As a child growing up in Philadelphia, I often witnessed the pervasive hopelessness that lingers amidst economic, social and political disparities,” he says. “But there was always at least one beacon of light — the church. The church was a living witness to the power of community, a community from which emanated a spirit of hope.”

Before coming to Duke Divinity School, Brady honed his organizational and leadership skills as an officer in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. He was honorably discharged as a major in 2005, following 18 years of service. He also served as director of community and economic development for the YMCA of Philadelphia and as a United Methodist pastor.

Brady says his Duke Divinity Fellowship allows him to pour all of his energies into school and the church as he prepares for future ministry — possibly back in Philadelphia. It also gives him more opportunities to serve others in the school and beyond.

“This support frees me to focus and really be a part of the life of the community,” Brady says.

In addition to his academic work, Brady works with the divinity school chaplain's office, coordinates a revivalist service each Friday, participates in a variety of community programs and started a mentoring program for first-year students.

“The scholarship I received allowed me to flourish academically by helping me develop an ethic of sustained learning,” he says. “I gained friendships of accountability which will encourage me throughout this vocational journey, and I was freed for active servant-leadership, contributing to the whole life of the divinity community.

“Church ministry is the continuous nurturing and forming of future pastors,” Brady adds. “Contributing to scholarships for the school is an extension of that real and meaningful ministry.”  

$10 Million for Scholarships 'Minimum Needed'

Noting that $10 million is a “challenging goal,” Dean L. Gregory Jones said it is “the minimum required if the divinity school is to continue preparing outstanding leaders” for the future of the church.

“Even though we strive to maintain divinity school tuition at less than half that of the other graduate and professional schools at Duke,” said Jones, “theological education is costly.”

Given the salaries that students anticipate in serving the church, borrowing for seminary is prohibitive. Many students, said Jones, come “to us from undergraduate school with educational debt that leaves them ‘broke at best.’”

The divinity school's $10 million goal is part of Duke's university-wide $300 million fundraising endeavor, Affording Opportunity-Duke's Financial Aid Initiative, announced by President Richard Brodhead on Dec. 1. The three-year initiative will continue through Dec. 31, 2008.

A record grant of $75 million from The Duke Endowment, based in Charlotte, N.C., will match, dollar for dollar, contributions of $100,000 to $1 million. The divinity school, along with the other professional schools, will share up to $2 million of these matching funds.

“This chance to double the value of an endowment, along with an opportunity for permanent naming and prioritizing causes and recipients, makes a compelling case for generous scholarship support,” said Jones.

“Adding permanent resources for student financial aid is our greatest continuing need. The Duke Endowment has provided a rare opportunity to endow new scholarships, as well as to strengthen our present scholarship resources.

“This support is critical for training the sustained transformative leadership needed by the church today.”

Duke University's FAI steering committee includes David Stone of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., who is a current member of the Divinity Board of Visitors. The group is co-chaired by Duke alumni and former trustees Sally Robinson and Richard Wagoner. Morris Williams, past chairman of the divinity school Board of Visitors, and Jack Bovender, who chaired the divinity school's participation in the Campaign for Duke, are also members of the steering committee.  

Join the Financial Aid Initiative!

Duke Divinity School welcomes your commitments for scholarship endowment, as well as your help in identifying prospective donors committed to the future leadership of the church.

To learn more about joining this vital campaign, contact Wes Brown at wbrown@div.duke.edu or Gaston Warner at gwarner@div.duke.edu or call 919-660-3456.

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