Body and Belonging


Nurturing Wholeness in Christian Community


Duke Divinity School


October 12, 2015 to October 13, 2015

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Alumni and Special Events




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How might the church serve as a place of welcome and belonging, nurturing wholeness in every possible sense? How does the church, as Christ’s body, walk with those whose bodies or minds act and respond differently? How might Christians helpfully engage in practices of modern healthcare?

Join professor John Swinton, chaplain Claire Wimbush, pastors Debra Richardson-Moore and William Lee and others as we explore the difference Christ’s body makes for the way that we care for our communities and ourselves.

Connect with us: #dukeconvo

John Swinton
Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care in the School of Divinity, Religious Studies and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen

John Swinton is professor in practical theology and pastoral care in the School of Divinity, Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He has a background in mental health nursing and healthcare chaplaincy and has researched and published extensively within the areas of practical theology, mental health, spirituality and health, and the theology of disability.  He is the director of Aberdeen University’s Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability.

His publications include  Dementia: Living in the Memories of God, Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader, Living Well and Dying Faithfully: Christian Practices for End-Of-Life Care, Raging With Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil,  Spirituality in Mental Health Care: Rediscovering a “Forgotten” Dimension.

Debra Richardson-Moore
Pastor and Director, Triune Mercy Center

The Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore has been pastor and director of the non-denominational Triune Mercy Center for 10 years. She is a Greenville, S.C., native and a graduate of Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Erskine Theological Seminary (Due West, S.C.). She worked for 27 years as a writer for The Greenville News, covering art, theater, general features, and religion. After obtaining her Master of Divinity degree in 2005 and being ordained by First Baptist Church of Greenville, she accepted the position as pastor/director at Triune, a church that brings homeless, working poor, middle-class, and wealthy parishioners into community.

Richardson-Moore is author of a memoir, The Weight of Mercy, about her first three years as Triune’s pastor. Since the 2012 publication of the book, she has preached at Memorial Church at Harvard University, Syracuse UMC in New York, Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, N.C., and has taught at churches and ministries across the Carolinas and Georgia. She addressed a statewide SCANPO (South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Associations) conference as an “Exemplary Leader” in 2015.

William Lee
Pastor, Loudon Avenue Christian Church, Director of the African American Leadership Development Program and Founder, New Horizon Health Care

A native of Nuttsville, Va., Lee received his Bachelors of Science degree in Special Education from Virginia State University with honors (Cum Laude) in 1974, his Masters of Divinity from the Divinity School at Duke University in 1978 and his Doctorate of Ministry Degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June 2009.

Lee has served as pastor for more than 38 years at the cutting-edge Loudon Avenue Christian Church. He is also the founder of New Horizon Health Care, a federally qualified health care center, and serves as chairman of its board of directors. He also serves on the Duke Divinity School’s board of visitors and is the director of the African American Leadership Development Program.

Lee is a member of the board of trustees of Lexington Theological Seminary, the Black Endowment Fund of the Christian Church, and the Greenwood Cemetery, Nashville, Tenn., and he is a member of the board of trustees of the Pension Fund for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  He also serves on the following boards: United Way of the Roanoke Valley, president of the board of CHIP – Child Health Investment Partnership, BB&T Bank, Virginia Community Healthcare Association and Healthy Roanoke Valley. From 20015-2007, Lee served as moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.

Lee is a Paul Harris Fellow with the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and recently received the Faithful Servant of the Year Award presented by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society for his faithful service to the Christian Church in the United States and Canada. The Roanoke City Council named the Rev. Dr. William L. Lee as the citizen of the year for 2011. In November of 2009, the board of directors of New Horizon Health Care honored him by naming the educational wing The Rev. Dr. William L. Lee Educational Center.

Monday, October 12

8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Bryan Center

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Spirted Life Alumni Reception

Alumni Memorial Common Room

11:00 a.m.

James A. Gray Lecture: John Swinton

Reynolds Theater

12:30 p.m.

Lunch and Gathering Time

Alumni Homecoming Luncheon
Alumni and friends will gather by class year:
1989 and earlier: York Room
1990 and later: Divinity Café

Duke Divinity School

2:00 p.m.

Franklin S. Hickman Lecture: Claire Wimbush

Reynolds Theater

3:00 p.m.

Refreshments provided

Project BriDDDge Alumni Reception

Duke Divinity School:
Westbrook Cloister Walk

Baker Room, Divinity Library

3:30 p.m.


Duke Divinity School

5:00 p.m.


Duke Divinity School

5:30 p.m.

William Lee, preaching

Goodson Chapel

7:00 p.m.

Baptist House of Studies Alumni and Friends Dessert Fellowship

York Room

Tuesday, October 13

8:15 a.m.

Morning Prayer

Goodson Chapel

9:00 a.m.

James A. Gray Lecture: John Swinton

Reynolds Theater

10:30 a.m.

Refreshments provided

Duke Divinity School:
Westbrook Cloister Walk

11:00 a.m.


Duke Divinity School

12:30 p.m.

Lunch and Gathering Time

Duke Divinity School

2:00 p.m.

Closing Plenary: Deb Richardson-Moore

Reynolds Theater

3:15 p.m.


Duke Divinity School

3:30 p.m.


William Lee, preaching

Goodson Chapel

The seminars offered during Convocation & Pastors’ School are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy small-group learning with Duke faculty, guest leaders, and other attendees. Participants who attend the seminars and all lectures will receive one Continuing Education Unit (CEU). When registering, participants will have the opportunity to choose Professor Stephen Chapman’s two-day seminar, or two one-day seminars.

Two-Day Seminar Choice:

The Embodying God – Two-Day Seminar only
Stephen Chapman, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School
This course offers an opportunity to plan sermons and worship services for the Advent season. The Old Testament lectionary texts (Year C) can seem random and disconnected, but in fact they share a unified focus on Israel’s vocation not only to follow but to embody God in its polity, urban life, and leadership. In retrospect, the incarnation of Christ was not absolutely new, but the decisive culmination of a long-standing divine initiative to become flesh.

One-Day Seminar Choices:

Toxic-Free Mercy: How to Serve the Poor without Enabling – Monday only
Deb Richardson-Moore, Pastor and Director, Triune Mercy Center
Every church has missions. Every church wants to alleviate poverty. But what is truly helpful and what merely keeps the homeless in homelessness and the poor in poverty? Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore, pastor of Triune Mercy Center in Greenville, S.C., and author of The Weight of Mercy, will talk about what has worked and what has failed in her ministry.

The Vision of Thriving Rural Communities – Monday only (TRC pastors only)
Brad Thie, Director, Thriving Rural Communities Initiative, Duke Divinity School
This seminar will discuss the vision of Thriving Rural Communities (TRC) and the integral part that rural fellows and partner churches fulfill within the initiative. Participants will share stories of hope and transformation in the lives of rural churches and communities, as well as discuss ongoing opportunities for continuing education and community development grants.

Preach, Teach, and Heal – Tuesday only
Brad Thie, Director, Thriving Rural Communities Initiative, Duke Divinity School
Jesus sends out his disciples to preach, teach and heal, and we are commissioned to equip our churches to embody this ministry of healing.  We will consider healing ministries of the Church rooted in Scripture and tradition and share local church practices that honor the God-given gift of healing.

Mind, Soul, and Spirit Prosperity: Promoting Mental Health in Our Congregations
Tonya Armstrong, Founder and CEO, The Armstrong Center for Hope
Mental illness affects about one in four persons in our congregations, yet even the absence of mental illness does not ensure that our congregants are experiencing wholeness.  Through the use of lecture, dialogue, and case materials, this seminar equips pastors and other leaders with a fuller understanding of the multiple facets of mental health and wellness.  Additionally, participants will receive practical tools for promoting congregational and community wholeness in mind, soul, and spirit.

Living Well and Dying Faithfully
Farr Curlin, Josiah C Trent Professor of Medical Humanities, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, & History of Medicine and Co-Director, Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative, Duke Divinity School
The default pathway for dying in America—kept alive by technology as long as possible—does not seem congruent either with living well or dying faithfully. But what to do? The institutions of hospice and palliative medicine provide a helpful alternative. In this talk, Dr. Curlin, a palliative medicine physician and co-director of the Divinity School’s Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative, will consider how the practices of palliation can serve as modest but powerful tools to help patients, as well as clergy, family, and friends, recover the practices of living well, and faithfully, in the face of death.

Flourish:  A Christian Practice of Health
Melanie Dobson, Minister of Faith Formation, Myers Park United Methodist Church
Come learn how to cultivate a habit of health.  Utilizing Thomas Aquinas as a primary resource, along with John Wesley, this seminar will provide a theological and ethical basis for a Christian practice of health.  Participants will have the opportunity to envision, pray, andplan for a new habit that could lead them into deeper love of God and neighbor.

Oneself in Another: Paul and the Transformation of Persons
Susan Eastman, Associate Research Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School
The letters of Paul are a neglected resource for the care of persons. Yet his insights into persons in relationship, the forces that distort and harm us, and the liberating power of grace, are deeply transforming. This seminar will look at Paul's understanding of what it means to be a human being and how he speaks to contemporary issues in pastoral care and the care of persons.

Plain Language in Worship
Anna Gidion, Pastor, Institute of Liturgy and Worship, Hamburg/Germany
“Plain language” describes a style of language that is easy to read, understand and use, and helps break down barriers to effective communication.  Although all benefit from its use in public communications, people with disabilities have found it particularly helpful.  The use of plain language represents a challenge for the language used in worship, but it can lend religious discourse a kind of humility that helps the Word of God emerge more clearly from amongst the spoken words. In this workshop we will transpose and reformulate prayers and biblical texts in plain language, discovering what happens to the familiar, or not so familiar, words.

Being Present: Towards a Faithful Understanding of Mental Illness and Mental Health Care
Warren Kinghorn, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pastoral and Moral Theology, Duke Divinity School  and John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care in the School of Divinity, Religious Studies and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen
The idea of “being present” pops up repeatedly in the pastoral literature, but what does it mean?  It is surely more than “being there”; in order to be present to someone you need to know who they are, to look at them properly, and to pay attention to the right things.  In this seminar, a psychiatrist and a pastoral theologian will explore ways to be present to persons with serious mental illness, starting not with psychiatry and its diagnostic assumptions but with a set of narratives drawn from the Christian tradition that point toward a richly theological understanding of humanness.

Baptized or Medicalized?: Reclaiming the Church's Authority over the Body
Brett McCarty Th.D. student, Duke Divinity School and Will Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School
What does it mean for both clergy and physicians to declare life and death over a person?  How are we to remember our baptisms when we are in the hospital?  These questions and others will be considered during this seminar, which aims to help pastors remind their parishioners that their bodies fundamentally belong to Jesus Christ — not to doctors, anxious family members, or the fear of death.

Advocating for Clergy Wellness
Carl Weisner, Senior Director, Clergy Health Initiative, Duke Divinity School
A full account of the health of an individual looks past particulars of illness or frailty to consider a complex network of factors and relationships. This session will review the Clergy Health Initiative’s holistic approach and lessons learned while working with more than 1,200 UMC clergy in North Carolina. Participants will deepen their understanding of risks and challenges to the health of clergy and leave with practical ideas and steps to promote positive health and wellbeing in themselves and others.

Eating Our Way into Wholeness and Health
Norman Wirzba, Professor of Theology, Ecology, and Rural Life, Duke Divinity School
Eating is one of humanity’s most profound and intimate ways of living into relationship with each other, the world, and God. This seminar will examine a Christian understanding of food—what it is, why it matters for the life of faith—and why “eating God” may well be the most important dietary recommendation on offer, because it is the diet that puts all other diets in their proper perspective.

We invite you to join with friends old and new for these additional gatherings. To participate, please register for each as part of your Convocation & Pastors’ School registration. Pre-registration is required so that we can plan each event appropriately.

Spirited Life Alumni Reception
Alumni Memorial Common Room, Duke Divinity School
The Clergy Health Initiative’s Spirited Life program concluded last year, but the energy and vitality it created among clergy is still going strong. On Monday, Oct. 12 from 9:00-10:30 a.m., join other Spirited Life participants at this informal reception to share memories and new experiences. Light refreshments will be served. Pre-registration is required, and there is no cost to attend.

Alumni Homecoming Luncheon
Duke Divinity School

Alumni and friends will gather by class year:
1989 and earlier: York Room
1990 and later: Divinity Café

Join us Monday, Oct. 12, at 12:30 p.m. for the Alumni Homecoming Luncheon—a great opportunity to enjoy a relaxed picnic meal with friends and classmates, Dean Hays, and members of the National Alumni Council. All convocation attendees and their guests are invited to participate. Pre-registration is required. Cost: $11.00 per person for the general public and $6.00 per person for Duke Divinity School faculty and staff (both of these prices include the N.C. sales tax).

Project BriDDDge Alumni Reception
Baker Room, Divinity Library
The first Project BriDDDge took place in 1991, and over the past 23 years, we’ve amassed many memorable experiences. We welcome all BriDDDge alumni to gather on Monday, Oct. 12, from 3:00-3:30 p.m. to meet other BriDDDge alumni, share stories, and rekindle friendships. Light refreshments will be served. Pre-registration is required and there is no cost to attend.

Baptist House of Studies Alumni and Friends Dessert Fellowship
The York Room, Duke Divinity School
The Baptist House of Studies will host a conversation with Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore on Monday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the York reading room on the second floor of the Duke Divinity School Library. She is the senior pastor of Triune Mercy Center in Greenville, S.C., and author of The Weight of Mercy, and one of the convocation speakers. The format will be Q&A and will be facilitated by Amy Canosa (M.Div. ’08). Coffee and desserts will be provided beginning at 7:15 p.m. Alumni and friends, Baptist and others are welcome to attend. Pre-registration is required, and there is no cost to attend.

Lodging reservations should be made directly with Durham motels or hotels.

Several local hotels offer special rates to Convocation & Pastors’ School participants. In order to receive these special rates, please refer to "Duke Divinity School/Convocation & Pastors' School" when you call to reserve your room. Rates cannot be guaranteed after the cutoff date listed.

Hilton Garden Inn
Rate: $119 per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 286-0774 by Friday, Sept. 11

Hilton Durham near Duke University
Rate: $104/single per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 383-8033 by Friday, Sept. 11

Millennium Hotel Durham
Rate: $99/single or $109/double per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 383-8575 by Monday, Sept. 28

Other properties are also located nearby. We offer the following list as a convenience:

Brookwood Inn, (919) 286-3111

Comfort Inn University, (919) 490-4949

Courtyard Marriott Durham near Duke, (919) 309-1500

Durham Marriott at the Civic Center, (919) 768-6000

Homewood Suites by Hilton, (919) 401-0610

La Quinta Inn, (919) 401-9660

Red Roof Inn, (919) 471-9882

Sheraton Imperial Hotel, (919) 941-5050

Staybridge Suites, (919) 401-9800

University Inn, (919)286-4421

Washington Duke Inn, (919) 490-0999

Additional hotel information may be found at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Everyone planning to attend Convocation & Pastors’ School should submit a registration form in advance, along with the appropriate fees. Your registration for Convocation & Pastors’ School includes access to lectures, seminars, and worship, as well as on-campus shuttles and parking. We will send confirmation upon receipt of your registration information. Event fees are non-refundable.

Registration will open soon.

Online registration closes on Friday, September 25, 2015. Hardcopy registrations are available upon request. Contact Duke Divinity School via phone at (919) 613-5323 or events@div.duke.edu.


Early Bird Rate

Available through August 2

Standard Rate

Regular registration



Reduced rates available for:

Pastors of churches eligible for grants from The Duke Endowment.  Am I eligible?

Current Duke Divinity School students

2015 Duke Divinity School graduates



Duke Divinity School Faculty/Staff registration




The cost of this event is kept minimal due to the generous support of the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church, as well as The Duke Endowment and the Parish Ministry Fund, which provide financial assistance to clergy in support of their ongoing education.


Duke University is committed to providing access to programs for persons with disabilities. If you anticipate needing accommodations or have questions about physical access, please contact (919) 613-5323 in advance of the program.

Contact Duke Divinity School at events@div.duke.edu or (919) 613-5323.

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