Princeton Seminary professor Luke Powery will become the first African-American to serve as dean at Methodist-affiliated Duke Chapel.

By Bob Allen

An ordained Baptist minister and Princeton Theological Seminary professor has been named the first African-American dean of the chapel at Duke University.

Luke Powery, 38, the Perry and Georgia Engle assistant professor of homiletics on the Princeton faculty since 2006, grew up in the Holiness-Pentecostal tradition but was ordained by the Progressive National Baptist Convention. He has served in an ecumenical capacity in churches throughout Switzerland, Canada and the United States.

Powery, who begins his new position Sept. 1, succeeds Duke Chapel Dean Samuel Wells, who stepped down this summer after seven years to return to England as the vicar of the historic St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican church in London.

Located in Durham, N.C., Duke University is historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church, but services at Duke Chapel are ecumenical. As dean, Powery will oversee the operation of the chapel, which has a staff of about 25 and several student interns in working to connect the academic and spiritual lives of the university’s students, faculty and staff.