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‘A place for every student’: What Duke’s religious leaders say about getting involved

Whether students are searching to belong to a community or to learn about a new faith, religious leaders at Duke welcome all students to participate in their activities.

Supported by Duke Chapel and Student Affairs, Duke’s Religious Life Groups consist of 21 officially recognized organizations and three Chapel-sponsored affiliate groups, including Jewish Life at Duke, Muslim Life at Duke and the various Christian groups on campus. 

Christian life at Duke

In addition to being the center of religious life on campus, the Chapel also serves as a hub for the Christian faith. It supports groups such as Duke Catholic Center, Duke Lutherans and Duke Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

Students can get involved with Christian life at Duke by participating in worship services, the Chapel Scholars program or by singing in one of the Chapel’s three choirs.

“The Chapel is more than a building; it’s a living, breathing community of people,” said Luke Powery, reverend and dean of Duke Chapel. 

Ten years ago, Powery became involved with religious life at Duke because he felt called to foster community and guide college students. He wants students to focus on a holistic learning experience, regarding students' faith.

“Don't leave a part of yourself out of the classroom, bring your whole self into the classroom,” Powery said. 

Students can meet with Chapel staff in their offices inside the Chapel. Students who wish to see Powery must email Ava West, assistant to the dean. 

“We’re here for you, to serve and support you, during your time at Duke,” Powery said. “There would be no other reason for us to be here, if it wasn't for the students.”

Jewish Life at Duke

Jewish Life at Duke is comprised of the Freeman Center for Jewish Life and the Rubenstein-Silvers Hillel. Jewish Life at Duke offers students opportunities to get involved such as Sunday bagel brunches at the Freeman Center and free Shabbat dinners open to all students regardless of faith.

Campus Rabbi Elana Friedman hopes that “every Duke student joins us for our Shabbat experience at least once.” Friedman came to Duke because she feels drawn to working with students on campus as they explore their spiritual and intellectual pursuits.

“No matter your background, upbringing, or level of Jewish knowledge (or, in fact, if you’re even Jewish!), there is a place for you here in our building, our program, and our community,” Friedman wrote.

Jewish Life at Duke’s physical address is the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, which is located at the corner of Swift Ave and Campus Drive at 1415 Faber St. 

The Center for Muslim Life

The Center for Muslim Life provides a place for students to “explore Muslim identity, celebrate Muslim and Islamic cultures, build community, and engage with Islam in spiritual, social and intellectual ways.” Students can get involved through prayer service Jumu’ah, KitabConnect, which is a weekly program to study the Qur’an, Fajr breakfast club and more. 

“We all have the ability to expand our knowledge and horizon by getting to know each other,” Director and Chaplain Joshua Salaam writes in a statement on the Center’s website. Since beginning his role in 2018, Salaam brings a unique background from previously serving in the Air Force to working with large Muslim communities for many years.

The Center for Muslim Life is located in Few Quad GG.

Although students may be more familiar with the larger centers on campus, many other smaller religious organizations also strive to support students of all faiths. The full list of Religious Life at Duke groups can be found on the Duke Chapel website.

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