Monday, May 20, 2024

Alumni Guest Preachers Summer 2024


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As Duke University celebrates its Centennial, the Chapel is celebrating the fruit of J.B. Duke’s investment in training preachers by welcoming to the pulpit Duke alumni and professors who have earned reputations as potent and faithful proclaimers of the Gospel. All of these preachers will deliver their sermons during the Chapel's weekly Sunday service at 11:00 a.m.

See the Chapel's calendar for a full schedule of worship services, including dates when Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery and other Chapel staff will preach. A recent archive of services is available on the Chapel website and a podcast of sermons is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. For sermons before 2003, see the  Duke Chapel Recordings collection on the Duke Libraries website. The Living Tradition online resource explores the rich and deep tradition of preaching at Duke Chapel through the expertise of Duke Divinity School faculty, research by Duke students, and the reflections of renowned preachers.

Read an article in Chapel View magazine about reflections from alumni who have returned this year to preach at the Chapel.

June 9 — Rev. Dave Allen, T ’04, D ’10

The Rev. Dave Allen is the campus minister and executive director of the Wesley Fellowship, Duke’s United Methodist campus ministry. An Elder in the North Carolina Annual Conference, Rev. Allen began serving as campus minister in 2016, following five years of local church ministry. He is a graduate of Duke’s Trinity College and Divinity School; in 2003, he was selected as the Duke Chapel Student Preacher. Between his undergraduate studies and divinity school, he spent three years working for the Sojourners ministry in Washington, D.C. He brings great enthusiasm for connecting with students and probing questions at the intersection of the Bible and the world. He works to lift up scriptural holiness, social justice, and marginalized voices in order to live into the good news that Jesus Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility between us (Ephesians 2:11-22).

June 23 — Rev. Rachel Billups, D ’06

The Rev. Rachel Billups is a visionary, leader, speaker, and author. She serves as senior pastor at New Albany United Methodist Church, New Albany/Columbus, Ohio. Rev. Billups is a popular speaker for national gatherings and has recently authored An Unlikely Advent: Extraordinary People of the Christmas story as well as BE BOLD: finding your fierce. She is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible/religion and history from Anderson University and a master of divinity from Duke Divinity School. In exploring new venues for ministry and mission, she draws on her love of people and passion. Most days you can find her reaching out—praying online, hosting Open Table gatherings in her home, or enjoying moments with her husband and four children. You can find her on social media at @rlbillups.

July 14 — Rev. Dr. Cathy Gilliard, D ’97

The Rev. Dr. Cathy Gilliard is the senior pastor at Park Avenue United Methodist Church, New York City—the first person of color and second woman to be appointed as full-time pastor. Rev. Gilliard graduated from Duke Divinity School with a master of divinity and has also received a bachelor of arts degree from North Carolina A&T State University, a master of education in counseling psychology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a doctor of ministry from United Theological Seminary. She currently serves on the Duke Chapel Advisory Board and has served on the Duke Divinity School’s National Alumni Council as well as several positions within the United Methodist Church’s New York Annual Conference. She is a pastor-in-residence at Princeton Theological Seminary’s Iron Sharpening Iron Executive Leadership Program for Women. She is the proud mother of two sons and grandmother of six.  

July 21 — Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, T ’86, G ’95

The Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle was ordained a priest by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1993. Rev. Dr. Battle’s clergy experience, in addition to his academic work, makes him an internationally sought after speaker, teacher, writer, and spiritual leader. In 2010, he was given one of the highest Anglican Church distinctions as “Six Preacher,” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He has published eleven books, including his latest, Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Biography of South Africa’s Confessor. His PeaceBattle Institute works on subjects of diversity, spirituality, prayer, race, and reconciliation. Additionally, he has served as a pastor and spiritual director to thousands of clergy and laity. He has also served as chaplain to Archbishop Tutu, Congressman John Lewis, the Episcopal House of Bishops, and the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. He served as vice president of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, which was founded by a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi. Rev. Dr. Battle and his wife were married by Archbishop Tutu and are parents to two daughters and a son. 

August 18 — Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, D ’79

Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer serves as the episcopal leader of the Ohio West Area of the United Methodist Church, where he was assigned in 2012. Elected to the Duke University Board of Trustees in 2023, Bishop Palmer serves on the Graduate and Professional Education and Research Committee. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters and chair of the Comprehensive Africa Plan in the United Methodist Church. He also is a board member of several organizations, including The United Methodist Publishing House, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, United Theological Seminary and OhioHealth, a family of nonprofit hospitals and health care facilities, Ohio Northern University, Ohio Wesleyan University, Mount Union University, and Emory University. Bishop Palmer received his undergraduate degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a master of divinity degree from Duke Divinity School. Baldwin-Wallace College, Iowa Wesleyan College, Simpson College, Hood Theological Seminary and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary have awarded him honorary degrees. Born and reared in Philadelphia, he is the son of the Rev. Herbert E. Palmer, a United Methodist pastor, and Mrs. Charlotte Sue Hewitt Palmer, a schoolteacher in the Philadelphia Public School system. Married for forty-six years, he and his wife Cynthia are the parents of two adult children.