In this secular age, many people are not connected with a local religious community. Yet there are times in life that are inherently sacred—birth, marriage, significant life transitions and death. I am excited to offer my diverse background to those who need occasional ministry services. Whether you are a person of deep faith or one who rarely gives thought to religious matters, I can help you give expression to your deepest beliefs in times that really matter.

My background makes me especially well suited to this work.

I have been an ordained minister for more than 25 years and a yoga teacher for more than 7 years. Both ministry and yoga have given me life-changing gifts. In ministry, I have learned the power of ritual and worship to create meaning and community. Practicing and teaching yoga has improved my health, deepened my spiritual life and strengthened my ability to be present to myself and others.

Most of my ministry has been in multi-faith settings. As a campus minister with the Greater Dallas Community of Churches and as Director of Religious Life for Duke University, I learned to be respectful and appreciative of people from many different religious backgrounds, while honoring my own Christian tradition. I am nonjudgmental and accepting of others. I believe that God can be found in any moment and in any person.

As Associate Dean at Duke Chapel, I helped plan and lead hundreds of worship services-- from intimate candlelit vespers services for fifty, to official Duke University events for two thousand. I presided over majestic weddings in Duke Chapel with the fanfare of brass, organ and professional vocalists, and at lovely weddings for a few family and friends in Duke Gardens. I officiated at simple graveside services and presided over state funerals with full processional, recessional, honor guard and visiting dignitaries. I baptized babies and blessed homes and animals. For more than a decade, I taught worship classes at Duke Divinity School to hundreds of ministers. I am knowledgeable about tradition and ritual and liturgy. I draw from the old and the new to create unique and meaningful worship.

Through my career in college and university settings, I have worked with hundreds of young adults who were trying to discern what is most important to them. I’ve led dozens of retreats, mission trips and spiritual pilgrimmages. I was the Supervising Pastor for several Duke Divinity School students each year. I was the Spiritual Director for the Pathways program, a year-long intensive vocational discernment experience for recent Duke graduates. I led several Women’s Spirituality groups for students and adults (one of those groups continues to meet after 20 years!). I am skilled at working with existing groups to foster community and in creating intimacy in new groups. I have a lot of experience meeting with individuals for conversations that matter. I’m easy to talk to because I am open-minded and open-hearted.

One of my areas of expertise has been event planning and leadership. At Duke I scheduled speakers, plays, musical events, conferences and retreats for as many as 500 people—including conferences with Thomas Moore, Matthew Fox and Richard Foster (hosting a four-day Renovare Conference). In this age of anxiety and stress, setting aside time and space to reflect, heal and focus, is more important than ever. I have worked with groups large and small to imagine, plan, and lead these “times apart.”

In my “yoga life,” I’ve been teaching restorative yoga and mindfulness for over 7 years. I specialize in working with individuals and groups who “can’t do yoga.” I teach many adaptive yoga practices to improve flexibility, strength, and health. I teach mindfulness as a way to deepen awareness of the body, reduce stress and create peace of mind. I am equally comfortable teaching in religious and non-religious settings. I have many healing practices to share.

This introduction to me would be incomplete without mention of my husband and family. I’ve been married to Geoff Dunkak for more than 25 years. We have three children--Blake, and our twins, Nicole and Trent. Being a wife and a mother is more rewarding and demanding than I ever imagined! I grew up in South Louisiana so it is no surprise that awesome food, generous hospitality, and a love of music and dance, are bone deep in me.

I am excited to offer my diverse background to those who can use my services. You can contact me at: debra.brazzel@gmail.com or call for a free phone consultation, 919-624-7322.

Reverend Debra Brazzel

Reverend Debra Brazzel

Master of Divinity, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, 1987

Ordained Elder, United Methodist Church, Louisiana Annual Conference, 1988

Campus Minister, Greater Dallas Community of Churches, 1984-1989

Director, Life Transitions Program, Mountain View College, 1985-1989

Executive Director, Dallas Bethlehem Center, 1989-1991

Assistant Dean Duke Chapel, 1991-1994

Director of Religious Life, Duke University - 1991 - 1998

Associate Dean, Duke Chapel, 1994-1996

Acting Dean, Duke Chapel, 1996-1997

Associate Dean, Duke Chapel 1997-1998

Taught Preaching and Worship classes, Duke Divinity School, Course of Study, 1993-2007

Community Relations Coordinator for Service Learning, Kenan Ethics Institute, 1999-2000

Consultant, Pathways Program, Lilly Foundation, Duke Chapel, 2003

Interim Director, Pathways Program, Lilly Foundation, Duke Chapel, 2004

Spiritual Director, Pathways Program, Lilly Foundation, Duke Chapel 2005

PTA President at Forest View Elementary, 2010-2012

Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, Board Member - 2005-2011
Board Chair, 2008-2009

EmbodiYoga, 200 hr Teaching Certificate - 2007

EmbodiYoga, 500 hr Teaching Certificate - 2008

EmbodiYoga, Teaching Assistant and Student, 2009-2012

Teaching Yoga - 2007-present