Still Called to Life Together

“Duke Lutherans is a welcoming community of Lutherans and friends at Duke University, called to boldly share God’s gift of life together on campus, in our local congregations, and through the wider Durham community.”

I recently attended Duke Chapel’s Religious Life back-to-school retreat—virtually, of course. Led by the Director of Religious Life, Rev. Kathryn Lester-Bacon, and including words of wisdom and encouragement from the Dean of the Chapel, Rev. Dr. Luke Powery, the retreat gathered together a diverse group of campus pastors and leaders, all of whom are doing their best to prepare for the school year ahead.

Many, many questions were shared:

  • How will we best care for and serve our students when it’s still not safe to meet in groups?
  • Will campus pastors be allowed to meet one-on-one with students to provide pastoral care?
  • How can we tend to our students’ emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being in a time full of significant challenges and uncertainties?
  • Will students suffering from “Zoom fatigue” even want to participate in online worship, Bible study, and fellowship?
  • What resources will be available for our students when they feel anxious, fearful, or overwhelmed, as they no doubt will at times?

I suppose it wasn’t a surprise that, at least for the time being, there are still more questions than answers. Dr. Powery reminded us that circumstances—and Duke’s protective measures in response to the fluctuating pandemic—continue to be fluid. Although classes will begin in less than a month (August 17 to be precise), we will continue to receive new information and guidelines until then and probably throughout the fall and into 2021.

So much is yet unknown.

But, this much we know is true: Duke Lutherans is still called to life together. These were the words of our beloved Deacon William Dahl as members of the Duke Lutherans committee shared our concerns and hopes for our community of faith. We are still called to share God’s gift of life and unconditional, boundless love with one another, our neighbors, and the world. The means through which we do this have indeed changed; the end—our very purpose—has not. We are God’s children and we are still called to embody Christ’s grace and healing.

Perhaps now more than ever, dear friends, our students need us. They need our support and love. To this end I ask you to pray for them: for nervous incoming freshman, for isolated juniors and seniors who will not live on campus this fall, for graduate and professional students endeavoring to stay on top of their research, and, last but not least, their families. Pray for all of these, for “the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5.16).

Finally, please reach out to me or one of our Duke Lutheran Committee members if you feel called to help us in any way. We are always open to new and creative ideas. Our partnership in ministry with St. Paul’s and Grace Lutheran makes all the difference for us, and we thank our God of grace for you.


Pastor Amanda

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