During the summer of 1960, Jordan Memorial Methodist Church in Ramseur, N.C., welcomed Danny Arichea, a new field education student from Duke Divinity School.
Nearly 50 years later, Daniel C. Arichea Jr. returns to visit that church when he can. Now, however, he is a professor, a retired bishop, and an accomplished leader in the field of scriptural translation.
Elderly parishioners remember his time there, and they still talk about his Fourth of July sermon, which Arichea himself has long since forgotten.
“I don’t remember what I said,” he explains with a laugh, “but they think they do!” Looking back he recalls that he had a room in the parsonage, but never stayed there, “because I had a bed in every house I visited.”
At the end of the summer placement, parishioners held a party in his honor and gave him a set of American Tourister luggage, which he used for years traveling around the globe.
All this, for an internship of just two months.
Arichea’s reception at Jordan Memorial United Methodist Church speaks to who he is—an easygoing and affable individual for whom ministry across continents has been a life-long calling. That calling has led Arichea around the world, from rural North Carolina to metropolitan Hong Kong, from the local church to biblical translation and to the episcopacy, and in 2006, to the honor of Duke Divinity School’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Born in 1934 to Roman Catholic parents in San Narciso on the west coast of Luzon, Arichea was baptized in the Methodist church at the urging of his grandfather, who had converted not long after the infant’s birth. His parents soon joined the church as well.
As a young man he was headed for a career in law until a single sermon changed everything. That sermon, preached in 1953 by a visiting seminary professor, convinced Arichea that his calling was to the gospel, not the courtroom.
After earning his bachelor of theology at Union Theological Seminary in Manila, he came to the United States in 1958 for a preaching tour arranged by missionary and Duke graduate Elbert Wethington. Proceeds from the tour made it possible for Arichea to continue his studies at Duke.
When he arrived, Arichea remembers his feelings of being an outsider: he was the first Filipino student at Duke at a time when minorities on the segregated campus were rare.