Elaine A. Heath, a theologian, preacher, teacher and writer was named dean of Duke Divinity School last week
She is currently a professor of evangelism at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. She succeeds Ellen Davis, who has served as interim dean since Richard Hays retired last August.
“Elaine Heath is a leading scholar of emergence, the process by which religious faith finds new life outside familiar institutional forms,” said Duke President Richard Brodhead. “She is also a noted practitioner of emergence and has reached out to establish new communities with people marginalized in many ways.
“At a time when the religious life of mainstream Protestantism is undergoing profound change, she will be a perfect leader for helping Duke Divinity School retain traditional strengths while creatively responding to new challenges. A person of powerful authenticity and a good listener, she will strengthen the community within the divinity school and help the school maintain its important leadership role.”
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Heath’s appointment comes after a national search chaired by Randy Maddox, professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity.
Before going to Southern Methodist, Heath was an assistant professor and director of the doctor of ministry program at Ashland Theological Seminary. She is an ordained minister and earlier served as a pastor in the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.
She is a graduate of Oakland University, received an master of divinity degree from Ashland and earned her Ph.D. in systematic theology from Duquesne University in 2002.
University Presbyterian Church, 209 E. Franklin St., has issued an invitation to the community to attend special worship services during Holy Week.
Services begin on Palm/Passion Sunday, March 20, with worship at 8:30 and 11 a.m. A service at 7:30 p.m. including communion will mark Maundy Thursday and a Service of Tenebrae is set at 7:30 p.m. on Good Friday.
Easter Sunday services at 8:30 and 11 a.m. will include a special offering called a Great Hour of Sharing with proceeds going to support work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Self-Development of People program and the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
The Episcopal Church of the Advocate has invited the community to Tenebrae on Monday, March 21
The word “tenebrae” comes from the Latin word for “darkness” or “shadows,” explains the Rev. Lisa Fischback, the rector. In another age, she says, monks chanted the ancient psalms and lamentations in the darkness of night or very early morning hours.
She notes further that these early offices (Matins and Lauds) of the Sacred Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter) later began to be anticipated on the evenings before Maundy Thursday and Good Friday of Holy Week.
In keeping with this tradition, Church of the Advocate has invited a small schola, a Latin word meaning “school,” under the direction of Cindy FitzGerald to lead a 7 p.m. Tenebrae service. The service will be marked by the gradual extinction of candles, culminating in the “strepitus,” a loud noise symbolizing the earthquake described in the crucifixion story.
The guest schola will offer various ancient motets and will lead worshipers in singing early chants, contemporary settings of select psalms and traditional hymns of the Lenten season.
All are welcome to join in this music filled evening of song and prayer. The church is located at 8410 Merin Road, at the corner of Homestead and Merin roads in north Chapel Hill.
Purim, a joyous Jewish holiday that celebrates the courage of a Jewish woman who saved her people from a wicked plan to annihilate them, told in the Old Testament Book of Esther, will be celebrated at Kehillah Synagogue onWednesday, March 23.
The fun will begin at 6 p.m. and will include reading of the story, a costume parade, Scotch tasting and feasting on special cookies, called hamantaschen, made to resemble the hat of Haman, the villain in this story.
Participants are reminded to bring a box of macaroni and cheese to use as a grogger (noisemaker). The boxes will be donated to the IFC when the noise has helped blot out Haman’s name. The congregation will also collect money to support the work of the IFC Community House.
Anyone without a costume is welcome to borrow from the extensive collection of silly hats, etc. that will be available.
Kehillah Synagogue is located at 1200 Mason Farm Road.
St. Paul AME Church will honor the Rev. Thomas O. Nixon for his 30 years as pastor of the church with special worship services starting at 7 p.m. tonight, March 16. and continuing through Friday night.
Guest preachers are the Rev. Marion Robinson of St. Matthews AME Church in Raleigh, tonight; the Rev. Mitchell Simpson, University Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, Thursday; and the Rev. Alphonso E. McGlen of Bethel AME Church in Greensboro, Friday.
On Sunday, March 20, services will be held at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
In recognition and appreciation of Pastor Nixon, members are asked to donate a minimum of $35 symbolizing his 35 years in ministry.
The Orange County Historical Museum and Hillsborough Presbyterian Church will present a program honoring six previously unrecognized heroines of African American descent who have earned a place in Hillsborough’s history.
The event will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, in the fellowship hall of the church at 102 W. Tryon St.
The six honorees are Hassie Gattis, Sallie Ray Harris, Mariah McPherson, Delores Simpson, Catherine Stanback and Martha Villines. All except Delores Simpson are now deceased, but the life and accomplishments of each will be described during the program.
“The Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion” will be discussed Thursday, March 17, in the Family Life Center at Grey Stone Baptist Church, 2501 Hillsborough Road.
Dr. Charles Herbst, emeritus professor of surgery at UNC Hospitals. will lead the discussion from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are the most significant events in history, he said. His presentation will zero-in on little known information about this form of capital punishment, first used very early in the Persian Empire as a way of handling uprisings, he said.
His interest was first piqued, he said, on just exactly why a person dies when crucified. He will discuss the physiological causes of death on the cross.
“It usually took several days,” he said, “but Jesus died in just six hours.”
One of the talking points in his discussion will be what Jesus meant when he said, “It is finished.” Since Herbst is a Christian, a member of Chapel Hill Bible Church on Erwin Road, he said this could be considered a theological question rather than a medical one.
This forum, free of charge and including a light lunch, is sponsored by Senior Health Support of the Triangle, a ministry led by Dr. Rollin Burhans, director, a retired Durham surgeon and Grey Stone Baptist member.
“The one thing seniors are most concerned about, next to their finances, is the medical issues they have,” Dr. Burhans said. “In addition, doctors are so busy seeing as many patients as they can in a day that little time is spent talking to seniors and answering questions they may have.”
This realization led him to develop this program to help seniors navigate the health-care system and provide a forum for them to meet many of their needs. The resulting ministry attracts 180 to 200 seniors from all over the Triangle area and beyond to its monthly presentations.
The ministry offers a two-track program: Educational presentations and discussions of medical and non-medical topics followed by breakout sessions with one-on-one help available.
Those providing one-on-one assistance include retired as well as other social workers, pharmacists, Medicare representatives, dietitians, representatives from Diabetic Learning Center, Alzheimer’s Family Support and Senior PharmAssist.