When the news of Bishop Tutu’s death reached me, my mind went back to 1986 when Bishop Tutu honored me and Duke Chapel by a visit. The regional TV was eager to broadcast. Trouble was, Bishop Tutu was delayed in Atlanta while meeting with Coretta Scott King and so we started the service that night, and the TV broadcast, with no Bishop Tutu. I took the congregation through the entire service as planned and, when we got to the place of the sermon, we had the Chapel’s first “hymn sing.” I was in agony. Then, just as we were singing, “When through firey trials I cause thee to go,” the doors of the chapel burst open and my friend Lew Waddel of Duke Public Safety led the bishop through down the Chapel aisle as the congregation went wild (at 37:00 on the video).
I greeted the bishop with, “Good to see you. Preach as long as you like but the TV leaves us in fifteen minutes.” Bishop Tutu ended a thrilling sermon right as TV coverage ended.
“I had a great time,” he said to me after the service.
“Me too,” I said. Though I never wanted to lead a hymn sing on live TV ever again.