Rev. Luke Powery was installed as dean of Duke Chapel at Duke University on Sunday, Oct. 7.
The installation service emphasized the cosmopolitan Holiness-Pentecostal tradition in which Powery was raised. In addition to choral works by 19th and 20th Century British and American composers, the service featured an African choral piece and a Caribbean-style setting of the “Sanctus” text, sung in Italian and accompanied by steel drums and other percussion.
Adding to the international emphasis of the day, the ceremony took place on the same date as World Communion Sunday. Held the first Sunday in October each year since 1933, World Communion Sunday is an ecumenical event in which Christian denominations around the world take part in a common observance of sharing communion.
At a luncheon on the chapel grounds following the service, Caribbean food and southern pies were served to represent international and local cultures, and to honor Powery’s Caribbean-American ancestry. Steel drums were played during the celebratory lunch.
Powery, an ordained Baptist minister, delivered the sermon centered on the story of Joseph, the dreamer.
“At the installation, we will dream dreams and have visions of God’s world,” Powery said in a statement prior to the event. “It will be a day in which we follow the sagely advice of poet Langston Hughes, who said, ‘Hold fast to dreams.’”
Powery comes to Duke Chapel from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he served as the Perry and Georgia Engle assistant professor of homiletics. Before becoming a professor, he was associate pastor of the International Protestant Church of Zurich, Switzerland and campus minister at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, N.J.
In addition to serving as dean of Duke Chapel, Powery is associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke Divinity School. His teaching and research interests include the Holy Spirit and preaching; lament, loss and Christian hope; African American preaching and worship; and worship in relationship to social justice. He has written two books, “Dem Dry Bones: Preaching, Death and Hope” and “Spirit Speech: Lament and Celebration in Preaching.” He and his wife, Gail, have two children.