New minister named at Duke Chapel
A new ministerial position at Duke University Chapel honors a late professor and is designed to reach more students.
The C. Eric Lincoln Minister at Duke Chapel is named for man who taught religion and culture at Duke University from 1976 to 1993. He was also a scholar, pastor, social activist, novelist and hymn-writer. Lincoln died in 2000.
Joshua Lazard was chosen as the Lincoln minister and started his new job last week. Lazard, who is seeking ordination through the United Church of Christ, previously worked at Dillard University in New Orleans. Lazard directed student ministry programs in the historically black university’s chaplain office. He was also once a student there, Lazard said this week. He spent his first three years of college at Dillard, then after Hurricane Katrina, finished his senior year at Fisk University. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta in 2010 with a master of divinity and master of arts in church music.
Lazard said he was familiar with Lincoln’s work after reading, as a student, the book “The Black Church in the African American Experience” by Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya.
The role of the Lincoln minister is primarily to engage students. The emphasis is on “racial reconciliation, artistic expression and outreach to students who have been historically underrepresented in the chapel’s ministries,” according to Duke Chapel. In the chapel’s announcement this week, the Rev. Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, said that in Lazard they “see someone prepared to carry on the work of truth, justice and reconciliation as modeled by Dr. Lincoln’s pioneering work in black church and religious studies, as well as his life of ministry in the Methodist Church.”
Lazard said he is interested in worship in the arts, like Duke’s gospel choir, United in Praise, as well as looking at poetry, spoken word, liturgical dance and liturgical mimes.
With students, Lazard plans to engage underrepresented students in worship services and form bridges across groups. Building relationships means sitting down and having one-on-one conversations, he said, and use those means to move forward. As far as the racial reconciliation aspect of his ministry, Lazard said he’s eager to join conversations already going on.
Lazard is a musician and grew up in the church with gospel music. He plays the Hammond B-3 organ and keyboard. He was raised Baptist until his family joined Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago when he was 12. He grew up in Chicago’s Southside. Now 29, he remembers a younger President Barack Obama, who was a member of the church, running for state senate.
“He was a great guy,” Lazard recalled.
Lazard’s next step in his UCC ordination is joining a local church and finding out what will be required before being ordained, which he hopes will be completed in about a year.
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