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Divinity Online Edition - Fall 2006

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From the Archives: 1955

William Kellon Quick, 1957

William Kellon Quick, 1957

By William Kellon Quick D’58

WITH HALTING FOOTSTEPS, Dean James Cannon made his way to the pulpit for our first York Chapel worship service in the fall semester of 1955.

He adjusted his reading glasses, looked across the sanctuary at the new class of seminarians, and said:

“My name is James Cannon. I am your dean. I’m in charge of this place. I have two points to make to you . . . :

James Cannon III, A.M., Th.B., Th.M., D.D., LL. D., who served
as dean from 1950-58.

James Cannon III, A.M., Th.B., Th.M., D.D., LL. D., who served as dean from 1950-58.

“The first point: I hope you can read and write! If you can’t read, you won’t take anything in, and if you can’t write, you can’t give anything back. You probably won’t be around this place come next semester.

“The second point is this: I hope you have come to Duke Divinity School with a ‘Call to Preach.’ Because if you didn’t, don’t expect to get one while you’re here.”

He slowly glanced again across the chapel, turned from the pulpit, stepped down to the clergy seat. End of sermon.

If the dean did this for shock value, he achieved his goal. Fifty-one years later, it’s as real as yesterday. Now beginning my ninth year teaching at Duke Divinity School since retirement, I share this story in the first lecture with every class.

Photos courtesy of Duke Divinity School Archives

Adapted from "Quick at Duke"

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