120 years of spiritual guidance

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More than 100 people gathered inside the Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) Historic Chapel for an evening of worship, Evensong, to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Historic Chapel.

The Reverend Nita C. Johnson Byrd, university chaplain, gave the homily for the occasion, which was taken from the Book of Genesis about Jacob. The SAU University Choir sang musical selections such as Total Praise and In Bright Mansions.

Interim President Everett Ward gave remarks stressing the importance of the chapel.

“We are here today over a hundred years later to celebrate the spiritual growth and leadership of this Historic Chapel,” Ward said. “Today is confirmation that the Saint Augustine’s University Historic Chapel will continue to play a central role in the spiritual formation for our students and the community.”

In the early beginnings, the institution recognized the importance of spiritual formation for its students. Affiliated with the Episcopal Church, Saint Augustine’s University was started by twelve Episcopal priests to teach freedmen. In December 1895, construction for a worship space on the campus was completed. On October 11, 1897, the chapel was consecrated “The Saint Augustine’s Chapel” by the Rt. Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Alumnus Henry Beard Delany, the first African American elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, led as a teacher of carpentry and masonry at SAU. Students who were enrolled in the carpentry and masonry classes were required to construct the university’s chapel, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The University is planning various yearlong events to continue the celebration of the Historic Chapel’s 120th anniversary.

Campus Events


Sunday, May 8: Baccalaureate Program; 6 p.m.; Saint Augustine's Chapel


Friday, May 13: Stone of Hope Gala; 7 p.m.; Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, 4700 Emperor Blvd., Durham, NC; $100 per person


Saturday, May 14: Commencement; 9 a.m.; University Quadrangle