Friday, January 29, 2021

A Religion Major Discusses Faith Inside and Outside of Class

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As a double major in religion and African American studies, Tatayana Richardson, T ’21, finds that her academic work blends into her personal and public conversations.

Her biweekly column “Searching for Canaan” in the Chronicle student newspaper tackles topics at the intersection of faith and public life—such as the role of the church in advocating for racial justice. Another place for discussions about faith for Richardson is the Duke Wesley campus ministry, where she has found friendship among other Methodist students.

Tatayana Richardson reads a scripture lesson during a recent Duke Chapel online worship service.

“I often encounter topics in the classroom that I am able to discuss, research, and unpack outside of the classroom whether through my Chronicle column, in conversation with members of Duke Wesley, or simply through personal research and reading,” says Richardson, a Duke Chapel Scholar from Atlanta, Georgia, who is also a member of Peer Advising and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. “I have also been able to make my faith and learning intersect in developing a deep interest in Black Theology, going so far as to base my senior thesis on it.”

As it has for many others, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted Richardson’s usual patterns of prayer and worship with Duke Wesley in the group’s office in the Duke Chapel basement and in Goodson Chapel at the Divinity School.

“It has been much harder to engage in worship in ways that feel meaningful,” she says, “so I have been heavily reliant on lots of reading, prayers, and informal conversations with friends.”