Duke University Chapel reopened to the public Wednesday, May 11, 2016, after a yearlong closure for restoration work. Throughout the 2016-17 academic year, the Chapel will celebrate its reopening with joy and gratitude. Find here updates about events, programs and stories related to the reopening year.

Duke Chapel by Candlelight: Christmas Open House

Over 1,500 people came to celebrate the first Christmas Open House in the restored Chapel. Whether celebrating their first Christmas or their ninetieth, many were delighted by music on the organs, carillon and from members of the Vespers Ensemble. View photos on Facebook.  

J.S. Bach Complete Organ Works

Chapel Organist Christopher Jacobson is playing all of Bach’s organ works over the course of 14 recitals throughout the year of celebration. In this video Jacobson explains how J.S. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in E minor received the nickname "The Wedge”: 

Jazz Vespers with Nnenna Freelon

Nearly 500 people attended a "Jazz Vespers" worship service held on Nov. 7, 2016 featuring music by GRAMMY-award-winning vocalist Nnenna Freelon and the John Brown Little Big Band. Combining the form of traditional evening vespers with the musical improvisation of jazz, the service included Scripture, a literary reading, and three prayer stations. View photos on Facebook.

PathWays House 10 Year Reunion
To celebrate ten years of ministy at the Pathways House, Duke Chapel, in partnership with ReCity and Durham Cares, invited Dr. John M. Perkins to Durham on November 5, 2016. Kown as one of the leading Christain voices to emerge from the American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Perkins shared with a group of nearly 150 Chapel and Durham community members how he has sustained his work as a Christian community organizer for more than 50 years. Read more on the reunion event in Chapel View Magazine

Bridge Panel Discussion: Peace in an Age of Terror

A Duke Chapel “Bridge Panel” conversation, held October 24, 2016, took up the question of what spiritual, political and communal resources are available to seek peace in an age of fear. Dean Powery moderated the conversation with panelists Professor Valerie Cooper, associate professor of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School, Professor Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law, and Professor Omid Safi, director of Duke’s Islamic Studies Center and a professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Watch the full conversation.

Celebration of Music

Celebration of MusicSince the moment of Duke Chapel's opening, music has been infused into every aspect of its life. From university worship to memorial services, weddings to concerts large and small, music brings people to the Chapel and guides their journey during their time here. In celebrating the reopening of the Chapel, all three Chapel choirs (the Chapel Choir, Vespers Ensemble, and Evensong Singers) joined with a large brass ensemble on powerful arrangements of favorite hymns of the church. The concert also featured a newly commissioned festival anthem by South Carolina composer Dan Forrest and music on the grand organs of the Chapel.

The Bach Cantata Series

Part of our year of celebration includes a new Bach Cantata Series. The series provides a modern connection with great music of the past, exploring both the theological underpinnings of the pieces, as well as their sheer musical brilliance. Each month will feature a Bach cantata with other meditative sacred and instrumental music. Watch highlights from the first concert:


The Chapel's new #FindSanctuary initiative is an exploration of the many ways and places the Duke community finds sanctuary. In this crowdsourced photo project, we plan to create large banners to hang in the Chapel’s main entryway (narthex) with a variety images of sanctuary. Learn more and find out how to participate.

Music at Duke Chapel 2016-17

Music at Duke ChapelDuke University Chapel is putting on an extensive concert series, part of a yearlong reopening celebration after closing for a year because of restoration work. The series of more than 30 performances ranges from J.S. Bach compositions to G.F. Handel’s “Messiah” to contemporary jazz. It comprises four choirs, four organs, and the chapel’s carillon, in addition to guest soloists and musicians. See the full schedule.

A Communal Lament

CandlesThe Chapel is a place many people go to find sanctuary. In response to incidents of violence in the news, the Chapel has been holding periodic times of silence, prayer and lament. A communal lament is being used at those times, in addition to other prayers and songs. The lament is written in a call-and-response format, which can be used by individuals or groups. Read the lament.

Guest Preachers for 2016-17

Guest PreachersThe Chapel celebrates its strong tradition of ecumenical preaching with a schedule of compelling guest preachers for the 2016-17 academic year. See the schedule. Also 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 iTunes. Duke Libraries' maintains the Duke Chapel Recordings collection.

UNC-TV Profiles the Chapel

On the occasion of the Chapel's reopening, UNC-TV's "NC Now" elegantly tells the story of the building's architecture, history and mission. The Chapel "is this 'great towering church,' as James B. Duke said, but it's also this great loving church," Chapel Dean Luke Powery says in the segment. Watch the video:

First Worship Services in Restored Chapel

Worship ServiceMore than a thousand people attended the first Sunday worship services in the restored Chapel. The University Worship Service included a multilingual call to prayer; Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery preached on being "All Together;" the Chapel Choir returned to surrounding the congregation to sing "God Be in My Head;" and Choral Evensong brought its traditional Anglican chants back to the chancel.

Three TV stations covered the morning service. Watch their reports:

Watch recordings of the two Sunday services:

Worship Services Return to the Chapel

Worship ServiceOn May 22, Duke University Chapel holds its first Sunday worship services inside the Chapel building since reopening last week after a yearlong restoration project.

People are invited to gather on the Chapel Quad at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday for carillon music and a procession into the University Worship Service, which begins at 11 a.m. The service will feature a sermon from Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery, a multilingual call to worship and a litany of thanksgiving. The Chapel Choir will lead the music for the service, along with guest choirs from Millbrook High School in Raleigh and Garner Magnet High School.

After the service, lunch will be provided on Abele Quad. Nonprofit groups with whom the Chapel partners in mission will be on hand to describe their work in the community.

At 4 p.m., the Chapel will hold a Choral Evensong Worship Service in the tradition of Anglican evening prayer. Dean Powery will preside at the service and the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, bishop pro tem of the Diocese of North Carolina, will be reading from the Scriptures.

Read more.

Young Students Draw Pictures of Chapel Reopening

DrawingsStudents from the Carolina Friends Durham Early School came to the Chapel's reopening celebration on May 11, 2016. Their teacher said they marveled at the architectural beauty of the Chapel and the dramatic sound of the organs and carillon. The children were inspired by an invitation to document the historic moment in the life of what they call the "Quiet Castle." See their drawings.

'The State of Things' at Duke Chapel

State of ThingsWUNC Radio's "The State of Things" recorded a show in front of a live audience, as part of the Chapel's Reopening Celebration on Wednesday, May 11. Host Frank Stasio interviewed Chapel Dean Luke Powery, Duke senior Yi Ying Teh, alumnus Brandon Hudson, University Archivist Valerie Gillispie and Chapel Music Director Rodney Wynkoop. The conversation covered the history of the Chapel, its role at a major research university, the PathWays student ministry program, preaching in an interfaith context and music from the Chapel Choir. Listen to the show.

A Day of Celebration

Reopening Celebration

Thousands of people visited the Chapel on Wednesday, May 11, to celebrate the iconic building's reopening. The day included six musical performances, five talks, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and four opportunities for prayer or meditation. WUNC Radio's "The State of Things" did a live recording of a show about the Chapel, which is scheduled to air at noon on Friday, May 13. See the news stories about the celebration, rotate a 360° video of people's first glimpse inside the Chapel and watch this video recapping the day:

Personal Reflections on the Chapel

With the Chapel reopening on Wednesday, May 11, students, alumni, community members and others share what the Chapel community means to them in this video.

Chapel Reopens After Year of Restoration

On May 11, exactly one year to the day Duke University Chapel closed for a yearlong restoration, the iconic building will reopen to the community.


Throughout the closure, crews worked to rehabilitate the limestone ceiling, replace the original roof and cleaned or polished items from the pews to stained-glass windows. But when Chapel staff return to offices on May 2 and community members step through the doors during a daylong grand reopening celebration May 11, they shouldn’t notice a thing.

“If we did your job, it’ll all look the same,” said Ray Walker, a project manager with Facilities Management who oversaw the work.

Read more.

Duke University Chapel Through the Years

In anticipation of the Chapel reopening May 11, here's a brief video slideshow that looks back on the building's history. Learn more in Duke University Archives' exhibit "An Iconic Identity: Stories and Voices of Duke University Chapel.”

An Invitation to Artists

Chapel CeilingOn May 11, the Duke University Chapel will open its doors for the first time after a yearlong closure and extensive restoration project. To document this historic moment, the Chapel seeks to showcase an array of visual depictions that creatively and artistically express the beauty and joy of this grand reopening celebration.

Artists working in dry media are invited to bring their materials inside the Chapel on May 11 and join other artists in rendering the building's gothic architecture, cleaned and restored stained glass windows, organs, and services, people, and events of the day.

To preserve the newly refinished pews and floors, artists using acrylic, oil, watercolor, or pen and wash should plan to work outdoors on the Chapel lawn and courtyards. We regret that easels and tripods cannot be allowed inside the sanctuary. Read more.

Duke Vespers Ensemble’s New Album Includes World Premiere Recording

Viva ItaliaLast spring before the Chapel closed for restoration work, the Duke Vespers Ensemble recorded their Viva Italia concert in the nave. After the building closed, the group worked with the GRAMMY award-winning studio Soundmirror and the record label MSR Classics to produce an album based on the live concert.

It includes a world premiere recording of a grand, Baroque Catholic mass musical setting “Missa Sancta Maria Magdalenae.” Read more.

What Does Duke University Chapel Mean to You?

With the Chapel reopening, we are celebrating the many and varied connections people have to the towering building at the center of Duke’s campus. What stands out to you about the Chapel? A Convocation or Baccalaureate? Something about its architecture? The music? Were you married at the Chapel? A special connection with God? A quiet but significant moment? What about the daily carillon bells?

Share your Duke Chapel connection on social media with the hashtag #DukeChapelOpen!


May 11 Reopening Day Schedule Includes Music, Prayers, Tours

The schedule for the Reopening Day celebration May 11 includes: music by three choirs, two organists and the university carillonneur; tours and talks by Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery, Head Docent Dr. Lois Oliver and Art History Professor Caroline Bruzelius; and times for prayer, communion and silent meditation. General parking will be available in the Bryan Center Parking Garage (at $2/hour); ADA parking will be available directly in front of the Chapel. See the full schedule (click for an expanded view):

Reopening Day Schedule

Chapel Digital Collection Grows to 1,400 Recordings

CollectionWhen the Chapel reopens, it will build on its reputation as a site for stirring music and powerful preaching. The Duke University Chapel Recordings Digital Collection captures much of this rich tradition with sermons from Desmond Tutu, Billy Graham, Barbara Brown Taylor and many others. Duke University Libraries and Duke University Archives recently added another 1200 audio and video recordings of Chapel worship services to the collection, bringing the total number of items to more than 1,400.

Exhibition Highlights Chapel History

windowIn conjunction with the chapel's reopening, a University Archives exhibit, "An Iconic Identity: Stories and Voices of Duke University Chapel," in Perkins Library looks at how the chapel has been at the intersections of many aspects of campus life -- from protest and preaching, to reflection and music, to graduations and weddings.

An exhibit reception from 4-6 p.m., Friday, April 15, at Rubenstein Library will include remarks, music and refreshments.

Duke University Chapel Reopening Celebration May 11

Duke University ChapelDuke University Chapel is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, May 11, with a daylong celebration beginning at 10 a.m.

“With gratitude, we are going to celebrate the reopening of Duke University Chapel and all that it represents as an icon of the university, a house of worship and a sanctuary for all people,” said Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery. “May it continue to be a sacred place that embodies the university motto -- Eruditio et Religio -- bridging faith and learning.”

The university will hold Baccalaureate services and other graduation ceremonies in the chapel on May 13-15.

The first Sunday morning worship service in the building since the restoration will be held at 11 a.m. May 22. There will also be a choral evensong service at 4 p.m. that day.

Read more on Duke Today.