Roots of social action in prayer, says Duke Chapel dean

Jan. 23, 2013 @ 03:10 PM

The Rev. Luke Powery, the dean of Duke Chapel, urged members of Durham Congregations in Action to remember prayer for the spiritual foundation of their social action work. Powery was the guest speaker at DCIA’s annual banquet meeting Tuesday night at Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church. DCIA is an interfaith group of 62 congregations.
Powery talked about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spiritual foundation for the drumbeat of his work – prayerful listening. The roots of social engagement are learned in prayer, Powery said.
“God speaks, but do we listen?” he asked. Silence and an open ear are required, he said.
“God provided the interior resources for King to do his social justice work,” Powery said. Prayer and protest are intertwined, he said, and prayer was vital to the Civil Rights movement. The first task of any prophet is to listen, he said.
“So what is the spiritual foundation of your justice work?” Powery asked the DCIA members gathered before him. MLK has a national memorial, he said, but a living memorial may come in the form of a bowed knee or turned ear.
There is still a lot of work to be done in Durham, Powery said.
“What we do know also is one cannot expect to succeed publicly if you fail privately,” he said. “While you engage in action, do not clip your spiritual roots.”
In other business, DCIA re-elected its officers, who are: the Rev. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham of Pilgrim United Church of Christ, president; Hank Eichin of Holy Cross Catholic Church, vice president; LaNella Smith of New Creation United Methodist Church, secretary; and Bob Newlin of Parkwood United Methodist Church, treasurer. Continuing board members are Charles Byrd of Westminster Presbyterian, the Rev. Joe Harvard of First Presbyterian, the Rev. Warren Herndon of City of Joy Ministries, Joy Mickle-Walker of Shambhala Buddhist Center, the Rev. Taylor Mills of Trinity United Methodist, the Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve of Iglesia Emanuel, and the Rev. Brad Troxell of the Congregation at Duke Chapel.
DCIA also awarded funds raised at the 2012 Durham CROP Hunger Walk to local agencies, including Changing a Generation Outreach, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern N.C., Genesis Home, Housing for New Hope, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Meals on Wheels, Mt. Calvary UCC Food Pantry, Society of St. Andrew, Threshold, Urban Ministries of Durham and YO:Durham.
For information about DCIA, visit