The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Andrew

“This was the most important class I took at Duke. And the most painful.”

Those words, or something like them, were what I wrote on the course evaluation for my last class at Duke Divinity School.

“Christian Identity and the Formation of the Racial World” was challenging not only because of the reading (heart-breaking accounts of racial violence) and the exams (case studies of real life situations involving racism and the church) but also because of what the course demanded of us spiritually.

For reasons that require more time and space than this article can give, every student in the course had to come face to face with the reality that our identity as Christians (particularly as white Christians) was bound up in the history of slavery and the structural racism that continues to oppress people of color.

Allowing God to use this truth to transform my mind was the real work of the course, and even when the semester was over and my final exam turned in, I felt I had just scratched the surface. There was so much more work to be done.

I am deeply grateful that both Dean Powery and Congregation leadership have committed to this hard and painful work by inviting Chapel and Congregation staff to attend racial equity training. In September, I’ll be attending a 2-day workshop on dismantling racism with others from the Chapel community. Some staff  have already received this training, and others will attend in upcoming months.

I invite your prayers for the Chapel and Congregation staff as we enter a season of this important and difficult work; pray that God might use this time to transform us, to transform the Chapel community, and continue the work of dismantling racial oppression.

This important and painful work is not for staff and pastor-types alone; it takes all the people of God. Consider signing up for a workshop , or sharing your own experience of racism and resistance.

Together, God is using us to do this important and painful work.

On the journey with you,