Duke Chapel welcomes new dean

Duke Chapel (Jim Schumacher)
October 7, 2012 12:25:56 PM PDT
Nearly every pew was filled at Duke Chapel Sunday morning as the congregation welcomed its first African-American dean.

Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery was selected from a field of more than 130 applicants. He has taught at Princeton Theological Seminary since 2006 and has written a book about the use of spirituals as a resource for preaching.

As dean of the chapel, Powery manages a staff of 25 and oversees worship, counseling and preaching.

"I've just been receiving the warmth of folks here at Duke and Durham. I know this day is historic in many ways, and I'm humbled by that, and just grateful to be here," Powery said.

On Sunday, the diverse congregation welcomed Powery and his family to the Duke campus.

"I got a little teary a couple of times! You know, we prayed long and hard that the search committee would be guided to the right person, and we really feel God's hand at play in this," Duke Chapel Assistant Dean Christy Lohrsapp said.

Powery greeted worshippers with an acknowledgement of another pioneering African-American, Julian Abile. Abile played a key role in the development of Duke Chapel.

"[Abile] was the architect for this chapel. He never got to come to the chapel. His granddaughter did visit some years ago and was so pleased to be here," Duke Chapel member June Griggs said.

The 38-year-old Powery succeeds the Rev. Dr. Samuel Wells, who has returned to England to become the vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

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