by Lois Oliver
All of us resist change. In 2015 the Congregation at Duke Chapel faced a lot of changes. We should rejoice that we found the flexibility to continue to worship, work, play, and study in new places. We joined the Duke students by experiencing three terms; we had a semester in Duke Chapel, a summer session in Baldwin Auditorium, and a fall semester in Page Auditorium. We understood the need for the restoration of the Chapel stone, woodwork and windows, and look forward to returning to our “great towering church” next spring.
Through all three terms our body of Christ adapted, and continued the important work of our church. Wee Praise, Godly Play, Children and Youth classes, Adult Forum continued, and Bible Study groups met. Fellowship events kept us together, with a pancake breakfast, Lenten and Pentecost meals in the Chapel Lounge, cookies and lemonade on the East Campus quad, and snack-lucks on the Chapel Quad. Monthly dinners, Playgroups, and Women’s Ministry, not needing the Chapel building, went on faithfully. Our missions and outreach leaders kept us busy all year with twelve service projects allowing us to not only make financial contributions to local agencies, but to be hands on with them in their work. Urban Ministries Shelter dinners, back pew collections (though not always in a pew), and special collections were all carried forward.
The year had many high spots. In the spring semester, the winter retreat led by Mel Williams taught us to consider Compassion in Action, and to be intentional in our missions program. Lent had three study courses, and, of course, the many services of Holy Week culminated in the beautiful Easter celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The overnight retreat at the Caraway Conference Center brought us together for strengthening our faith and having fun and fellowship in the mountains in our summer session. Christopher Jacobson led the fall semester retreat, teaching us to appreciate the gift of sacred music. The annual business meeting in Gilbert-Addoms Residence Hall was both fun and businesslike, with videos as well as election of new council members, and reports from everywhere. We posed for our pictures for our new directory, so we could put our faces with our names and addresses.
The youth group had a winter ski retreat, as well as an overnight Lock-In during Holy Week, which they shared with youth groups from three other churches. We welcomed eighteen new members, two new babies and three marriages. We congratulated five high school graduates, nine college graduates, and four graduate school graduates, plus our distant Zoe Ministry Program graduates in Rwanda.
In July we gathered in Asbury United Methodist Church to provide a grand farewell and Godspeed to Associate Pastor Brad Troxell as he left us to become a United States Navy Chaplain. With food from Brad’s favorite source, Nana Taco, memories from the children, videos from the youth, and an elegant song and dance number from the Hulett sisters, plus speeches of thanks, it was great afternoon to send Brad sailing off.
In November we gathered in Von Canon Hall of the Bryan Student Center for a luncheon celebration of our thirtieth anniversary. The history of our church was reviewed by founding members. Letters from our two previous pastors, Margaret Via and Nancy Ferree-Clark, enriched our memories, and linked us to our past.
Our ability to be flexible was also tested. The ushers, in particular, had to find ways to make offering plates cross gaps, and to direct us, without traffic jams, to communion servers in Baldwin Auditorium, and then do it all again in Page Auditorium. We all missed the wide central aisle of the Chapel. The altar guild needed to manage the preparation of communion, and the clean up after the service in different places in the two new venues. The choir members found their robes in storage containers in the parking lot outside Page Auditorium, and most finally just took them home. The collection counters had to find a spot in each new ‘church’ to do their work for both the Congregation and the Chapel. In August, the youth had to welcome and get to know their interim pastor, Adam Benson.
In July, suddenly, it was decided to close the Chapel basement, which meant that the Congregation Office had to move in a month. With the help of several volunteers, Carol Gregg, Phyllis Snyder, and Nelson Strother packed up the office and made a pilgrimage across town to their new temporary office in Northgate Mall and unpacked. Then, there was the problem of finding where everything was in the new space. We continued to be welcomed in the new setting by our staff, who made the move look easier than it was.
The Congregation should take pride in our flexibility to continue our worship, our service, our fellowship, and our study in this year of relocations.