Duke student to preach from the chapel pulpit

Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:25 AM

A Duke University senior from Asheville has been chosen for Student Preacher Sunday at Duke Chapel. Hannah Ward, a religion major who is pre-med, will preach from the chapel pulpit at the 11 a.m. worship service on Feb. 23. It will be her first time preaching not just at Duke Chapel, but preaching at all.

It’s exciting, said Ward, whose sermon, “Everybody’s Perfect,” is the first sermon she has written. It is based on Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18, which includes the Ten Commandments, and Matthew 5: 38-48. She will preach about what perfect looks like through God’s eyes.
“We have high expectations and fall short of it,” Ward said. She is revising her sermon this week with help from Duke Chapel staff. Each year the chapel chooses an undergraduate student to preach. Ward said she applied because she firmly believes “that all Christians have a not only a gift but also a call to preach and proclaim the good news. I saw the opportunity to publicly profess our faith at Duke Chapel and am humbled to have been given that honor.”
Being chosen for Student Preacher Sunday is a great honor, she said, to explore the text and speak from her heart.
She’s also nervous, Ward said, because it’s a very public first sermon.
Ward said she chose religion as an undergraduate major because she will study medicine the rest of her life and wanted to major in one of the humanities. It helps her explore other ways of thinking, she said.
“I’m from the South, so mostly everyone is religious. They don’t go to church every week but talk about it…It’s important to be sensitive to it,” she said, especially in the medical field.
After she graduates in May, Ward hopes to work for a free clinic or be part of a research team before applying to medical schools. That could be in Durham or elsewhere. The city has captured her heart, she said, but she’ll go wherever life takes her.
“I may never preach behind a pulpit again, but this process has really taught me what it means to think critically about the text and connect it to the world around us,” Ward said.

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: Student Preacher Sunday with Duke University senior Hannah Ward preaching on “Everybody’s Perfect”
WHEN: 11 a.m. Feb. 23
WHERE: Duke Chapel
Duke University West Campus, Durham