Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chapel at 'Duke Divinity in 1955

In 1955 I entered Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C. Students in Div School are classed as:
Juniors - Middlers - Seniors.
Dean James Cannon, as a part of Orientation, met the Juniors in our first Worship service in York Chapel. He was the preacher for this first Chapel event. I remember the venerable old Dean, with haltering footsteps, making his way to the pulpit.
Adjusting his reading glasses, he looked across the Sanctuary and said:
"My name is James Cannon. I am your Dean. I'm in charge of this place.
I have two points to make to you Junior students:
The first point: I hope you can read and write! If you can't read, you won't take anything
in and if you can't write, you can't give anything back. You probably won't
be around this place come next semester.s
The second point is this:
I hope you have come to Duke Divinity School with a 'Call to Preach'.
Because if you didn't, don't expect to get one while you're here."

He slowly glanced again across the Chapel, turned from the pulpit, stepped down to the clergy
seat. End of sermon.

If the Dean did this for 'shock value', he achieved his goal. Fifty one years later, it's as real as yesterday.
Now beginning my ninth year teach at Duke Divinity since retirement, I share that story in the first lecture with every class .