When I Was a Stranger: Immigration, Preaching and Religious Imagination (2020-2021)


The Duke Chapel Recordings Digital Archive contains sermons by leading American theologians, scholars and pastors who preached at Duke Chapel between the 1960s and 2001. Additional materials (2002-present) are being added to the Archive in an ongoing effort to create a complete history of preaching in this location. While the Archive paints a rich historical picture, it is also a generative resource for contemporary research on the role of preaching in shaping religious imagination and defining culture and community.

Project Description

This project will consider how preaching has addressed important questions of hospitality, demographic change and public policy for a religious tradition in which “the other” is often presented as a revelation, a gift and/or the presence of divinity in the midst of human society. The ultimate goal is to discern how preaching informs, ignores or intensifies the complexity of immigration policies and immigrant experiences.

Team members will review sermons in the Duke Chapel Archive that address themes of “the other” or “the stranger” between 1960 and 2001. These sermons will be contextualized by the passage of time, the leadership of the Chapel and the University and the changing demographics of North Carolina, as well as federal immigration laws. Team members will seek to discern the role of Christian preaching in shaping the imagination of a community.

Earlier projects with this Archive have focused on preaching and protest from 1960 to 1964 and minoritized bodies in the pulpit.

Anticipated Outputs

Content-rich map/database of Archive contents; online exhibition; papers for presentation through Academy of Homiletics, American Academy of Religion or Center for Excellence in Preaching at the Calvin Institute


Summer 2020 – Spring 2021

  • Summer 2020: Learn about the Archive; begin mapping/analysis of all sermons to be included in the project; identify passages from Common Lectionary to focus the research; design and conduct critical review of text comparisons across time; develop online exhibition for Pedagogical Portal
  • Fall 2020: Research methods for showcasing findings; continue generative mapping and considerations for further research
  • Spring 2021: Generate videos of key interviews; design and conduct Symposium for April 2021

Team Outputs to Date

Living Tradition website

Preaching in Time and Place

Immigration and Intersectionality: Reflections by Keith Daniel

"Am I Still a Stranger?" Reflections of an Immigrant Preacher Cristal Jiménez

This Team in the News

A Look into a Living Tradition of Preaching at Duke Chapel

See earlier related team, #MyVoiceMyBody: Minoritized Bodies in the Pulpit at Duke Chapel (2019-2020), and related Story+ projects, #MyVoiceMyBody: Minoritized Bodies in the Pulpit at Duke Chapel (2019) and Preaching and Protest: Sermons from Duke Chapel during the Civil Rights Era (2018).


Image: Chapel Interior, by Megan Mendenhall/Duke University


Team Leaders

  • Miriam Cho, Divinity School
  • Peace Lee, Divinity School
  • Jerusha Neal, Divinity School
  • Luke Powery, Divinity School

/graduate Team Members

  • Brittany Darst, Divinity-MDV

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Crystal Chiu
  • Benjamin Crook
  • Ami Wong

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Suzanne Shanahan, Kenan Institute for Ethics|Arts & Sciences-Sociology