New Creation Women's Retreat


November 8-10, 2019

Valle Crucis Conference Center
146 Skiles Way
Banner Elk, NC 28604


New Creation sounds good, but what does it mean? What does it mean for us as individuals and for us as a church? Join us as we explore the promise of New Creation together. Our guiding text for the weekend will be 2 Cor. 5:16-20.  "If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17). We will consider the meaning of this well-known passage in the broader context of 2 Corinthians, think together about its theological implications, and come up with practical responses. 

Sessions will include teaching, contemplation, conversation, and, we hope, some humor. Our goal is this: to wonder at the marvelous depth of the new creation which has begun with Jesus Christ and to dream about how we might live into this reality.


Goodie Bell | Speaker


Goodie enjoys welcoming new Young Adults to Blacknall as the Associate Pastor for Young Adult Ministry. She earned her Masters of Divinity Degree from Duke Divinity School in 2013. Goodie lives on a farm with her husband, three children, seventy chickens, seven cows, three cats, a dog, and a turtle.

Rebecca Gurney | Speaker


Rebecca lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband and three young children, and serves as the director of congregational care at First Presbyterian Church. She was a member of Blacknall for about a decade, and is grateful to be back for the weekend. 

Amy Lett | Music Leader


Amy lives in Longview, TX where she practices as a Family Nurse Practitioner in Pediatric Primary Care and Special Needs. She and her husband, Jonathan, attended Blacknall from 2009-2014. Amy has been a worship leader at their Scottish church and Longview church. She has a very social and outgoing (surprise!?) 3 year old, Hazel, and smiley, active 1year old, Harrison. She is very much looking forward to joining us again. “What an honor and enormous blessing to have another chance to reunite with my forever Blacknall family!”

Jamie Turnage | Music Leader


Growing up in the church and in a singing family, Jamie's childhood was a dream! She sang with her family at church, at home, in the car, in the backyard, pretty much anywhere they were together. She often leads worship at Blacknall, where she has attended for 10 years and where her husband, Brad, is the Director of Youth Ministries. It's such a joy to sing and especially to sing to and about Jesus. 


4-6 p.m. Arrival/registration
6:30 Dinner
7:30 Session #1
9-9:45 Small group

8:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 Session #2
10:30 Solitude
11:30 Small group
12:30 p.m. Lunch w/ small group
1:30 Free time
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Session #3

8:00 a.m. Breakfast/pack up
9:30-10:15 Small group
10:30-12 Worship

Special Thanks

A special thanks to the Retreat Steering committee:  Diane Felton (chair), Kay Ferguson, Margaret Frothingham, Heather Hodge, Abby Muehlstein, Lauren Patterson, Maureen Peterson, Caroline Raby, Jamie Turnage, Alex Turner, Andrea Tshihamba, and Anna Wade. 

Durham Ministries Listserv


Sign up here

The newly formed DMET (Durham Ministries & Engagement Team) invites you to join our new listserv. This is an email list for members of Blacknall who are interested in engaging faithfully and constructively in the life of the city of Durham.

Sign up using the above link to receive periodic emails with updates on the DMET’s work and involvement with Blacknall's local ministries, service opportunity and local event announcements, and short reflections by DMET members on issues facing our community.

Festival of the Bean


Sunday, Oct. 27, 3:30-7pm | Camp Chestnut Ridge, Efland, NC

Please join us for our 13th Annual Festival of the Bean fall picnic and chili cook-off. Come and enjoy good food, good fellowship, hayrides, games, and s'mores 'round the campfire. If you plan to enter your chili for competition (and we hope you do!), please bring by it 4 p.m. in a crockpot along with a ladle for serving and any condiments specific to your chili. Be sure to give your chili a fantastic name (names should not indicate who made it). The competition categories are Traditional, Vegetarian & Spicy, and the overall winner will be declared Lord or Lady of the Bean. If you are not bringing chili, please bring cornbread or some other side dish to share. 

  3:30 - Festival begins, check in chili for competition
  4:00 - Cut-off time for entering chili for the judging
  4:15 - 4:45 - Chili tasting and judging
  4:00 - 6:00 - Hayrides & games
  5:00 - Baptisms of Joshua Eagle and Vanessa Shively
  5:15-6:00 - Dinner & 'smores at the fire pit 
  6:15 - Announcement of the winning chili (Lord or Lady of the Bean)
  6:30 - Clean up 

Questions? Contact Bill Shively.

Pastor's Letter | David Dunderdale


I thank God for Dave Stuntz. It is such a gift to work with him. It is a gift to lead in worship with him. Each week he “sets the table” for us in worship. He gives us so much that the Holy Spirit can use to engage our imaginations and our own spirits to respond to the Lord in worship.

There are many things that bind us together, but one of the best things we share is a love for the book of Isaiah, particularly the last half of the book, chapters 40-66. When we are trying to think of an Old Testament passage that connects with the gospel, both of us instinctively turn to this portion of Isaiah and the vivid images and language that describe the Gospel for us. Isaiah clearly was one of the prophets who longed to see what we have come to know through Jesus Christ.

 Peter exhorts us to always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us. (1 Peter 3:15)

Are you hope-full? As our nation continues its decline into polarization and hatred and nastiness, do you have hope? As families and marriages continue to fall apart, is there hope in you? As the Church in our nation continues to compromise and accommodate itself to the culture around us, are you able to fight off despair?

Can I give you a prescription for hope? Three prescriptions, actually?

  1. Spend the next month in Isaiah 40-66. Read it or a portion of it every morning and every evening, twice a day. Let Isaiah’s language and description of the LORD begin to fill your imagination. Allow Isaiah to expand your vision of how big our God is and of how big His heart is for us. Allow his description of God’s love and commitment to us drive you deeper in love with God and deeper in relationship with your neighbors.

  2. Come to worship every Sunday. Of course I hope that you will listen to the sermons and allow God’s Word to penetrate your heart and mind. But come to worship and pay attention to what we are singing. Read Dave Stuntz’ worship notes for clues to how the worship service is knit together. Look for the connections between the songs and the scriptures and the prayers. Some of them are planned and premeditated. Many are the Holy Spirit’s work through unwitting participants. Ask the Holy Spirit, “What do you have for me to find hope in this day?” Come to the Table and receive the Hope of the Gospel in the bread and the cup.

  3. Practice hope. Practice with each other. Practice giving a reason for the hope we have. Lean on each other to remind each other why we are hope-full. When our conversations turn to complaint and fear and anxiety and start leaning towards despair, can we pause and remember our hope?

Dave Stuntz and I share another thing. We share a favorite Gospel word. That word is “but.” The Gospel “but.” Life’s a mess. Evil is rampant. I’m a mess. All of this is true. “But God…”

But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [Rom. 5:8]

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Eph. 2:4-6].


Can we remember the Gospel “but” with one another? Can our laments and complaints include, “but God…”? 

I hope so.


Officer Recommendations


Elder & Deacon Recommendation Form

Blacknall has been gifted with great officers through the years, elders and deacons who love Christ and his church and are responsive to His call to leadership. Each winter a Nominating Committee enters into a discernment process asking “Who among us is the Lord raising up for leadership?” Now is the time to be prayerfully considering who God might be calling to be leaders in our church. The Officer Nominating Committee welcomes your recommendations for Deacons and Elders.

This above form allows you to recommend a person to the Blacknall Officer Nominating Committee for consideration as a possible candidate for the office of deacon and/or elder. Please note this form is a recommendation and not a nomination.

In our polity, or church governance, elders and deacons are elected from the congregation to lead in various capacities. Elders are responsible for the oversight of the spiritual life of the congregation, and are nominated based on "their wisdom and maturity of faith, having demonstrated skills in leadership and being compassionate in spirit…. They are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life." (Book of Order G-2.0301). Deacons are particularly possessed of a servant’s heart, and serve in ministries of hospitality, care, and attention to our facilities, in addition to caring for those in particular need. Together elders and deacons seek to lead the church as servants of Christ. Elders and deacons (often listed by class on the back of the bulletin) serve three year terms, with a third of their number rotating off each year as the next class joins.

Thank you for your recommendations.

The 2019-2020 Officer Nominating Committee

God at Work: Mark's Story

The Elders were recently asked to write about three pivotal moments in their Christian formation and many have generously offered to share them in the newsletter. Look for a different story each month. If you would like to share about God at work in your life, contact Mary Grimm.


By Mark Paulson

“Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Life Together”

It has always seemed to me that life is simply a series of relationships, often concurrent, sometimes not. When I think about how God has shaped my life, how my faith has been formed, I always come back to the people God has placed in my life, who have walked beside me in both good and bad times, pouring His wisdom, kindness and love into my very being.

When I first came to faith in college, I was invited to live in Christian community at UVA with 12 other believers who made up the Alpha Omega house. As you can imagine, living with 12 other college aged guys under one roof provided some unique challenges! But living at the AO house gave me my first opportunity to “practice” my newfound faith daily. Together we studied, we ate, we prayed, we played, we worshipped. We learned to tolerate each other’s messes and annoying habits, we argued, and we (eventually) forgave one another. It was a great laboratory for me during which I began to understand what it meant to live out life as a Christian.

After college, I moved to Charlotte where the Lord placed me into a wonderful Christian community surrounded by people who continued to shape my Christian understanding. From one of my roommates I learned the value of Scripture. He had grown up as a missionary kid, and he so treasured Scripture that he memorized the entire book of Psalms! Others challenged me to think through what I believed, and why I believed. I distinctly remember a bike ride with a friend during which he stated that he thought that God was more interested in who I was than in what I did (I was struggling with career choices at the time). And, through a group study I began to see how the various parts of the Bible fit together.

While in Charlotte, one person in that Christian community had a particularly strong and positive impact in my life – this is where I met and married Anne! Certainly, through marriage God has given me a glimpse of His unconditional love - a love that persists through and is greater than all of my faults and weaknesses. In marriage, God has taught us many things, but none more important than how to give and receive forgiveness.

When I moved to Durham my faith continued to be shaped by the people God placed into my life. From the ministerial staff at Blacknall I have learned, among many things, what it means to walk humbly with our Lord. I have been challenged and encouraged by members of the various small groups I have been involved with over the past 30+ years. I have been shaped by others as I walk with them in Duke Forest, around East Campus or on the Tobacco Trail. There, we talk about the books we have read, or about how to approach the challenges in our lives.

As a Deacon and then an Elder at Blacknall I have been greatly shaped by those with whom I have served. As we pray for the church, discuss various books and think through difficult issues I have been humbled and grateful for the wisdom and grace that God has given my fellow deacons and elders.

Often, God has used others to show me His presence during the very hard times. When Anne and I experienced a heartbreaking miscarriage, my Blacknall elder at the time tracked me down at the hospital in the wee hours of the night and gave me a shoulder to cry on. It was as if God Himself showed up to comfort me in an act of compassion that I will never forget.

To be clear, I don’t believe that as Christians we should live sheltered lives within the cocoon of Christian community – rather we are called to be salt and light to the world. But God has used those around me to teach me how to be salt and light. As the potter shapes the clay, God has used other believers to gently shape and form me into who He wants me to be.

We were made for relationship – we weren’t created to go through life on our own. And God has graciously provided us a wonderful community of faith at Blacknall! I’m not suggesting you should strive to know as many people as possible, but I am saying you should invest in those you do know (and allow them to invest in you). I would encourage you to intentionally seek out others in our Christian community – not just saying hello on Sunday morning, but really working to know others deeply and to be known deeply by others. My prayer is that you too might experience the transformational power of the Holy Spirit shaping you as we walk through life together.

Inquirer’s Class (New Members)


Are you interested in inquiring about life and membership at Blacknall? Come get to know more about Blacknall, and let us get to know you! Please register if you would like to join the fall session. Contact Margaret Frothingham with questions.


Sundays, 5-6:30 p.m.
October 6 - What does it mean to follow Christ?
October 13 - What is the Church?
October 20 - What does it mean to be part of the Presbyterian tradition?
October 27 - No class, Festival of the Bean
November 3 - Meet the Staff
November 10 - No class, Women’s Retreat
November 17 - Elder Interviews and Dinner 
December 15 - The class joins the church, 11 a.m. service

Pastor's Letter | Allan Poole

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord…. “
- Psalm 102.18 


Dear Blacknall family,

These things seem to come in waves. In the course of these past two months we have had several deaths, deaths of three in particular who have been long-standing participants in our life together as a congregation. Newland Oldham, Ruth Buchanan, and Susan Gillette were each responsive to the grace of Jesus Christ, and each lived with a particular focus and gratitude that was instructive to all of us who knew them.

Oddly enough, I have these three saints in mind as we recently marked the maturing of a number of our children in the congregation, some of whom are now at an age to join in the first part of our worship each Sunday, and others who are joining the rest of us for sermon, and Table, and our life together. I doubt I am the only one who prayed for them, asking the Lord to lead them through this transition to a deeper understanding of, and love for, and even joy in following Christ. The point, of course, is for children in the Faith to grow up in the Faith to be adults in the Faith. One generation to the next. Susan, Ruth, and Newland didn’t magically wake up one morning to find themselves deeply formed in their Christian identities and imaginations!

The imagination. It is the bedrock of meaning, laying the foundation for reason to then lead us into the Truth of things. It is the formation of the imagination, especially in the young, that provides a deep well from which living water might be drawn throughout one’s life. In a conversation two weeks ago with a friend I asked something like, “What was formative in your own coming to faith in Christ?” Answer: “We had a story Bible in our house when I was young, and we read it so much that those stories shaped the way I felt the world.” (My paraphrase, but I like it.)

 Every parent of young children that I know is so happy when the children at last lay down their heads in sleep that he or she cannot imagine doing anything else but doing the same! But even in the press of life, is there room for yet one more detail before those children sleep? What is the last image our children have in their minds as they drift off to sleep? What story is working, even in their dreams, to establish the way they feel the world? (We have a good story Bible to recommend if you need one!)

And of course, as you might suspect, here is the pitch. Is there room for you to join a team to be the agents of faithful imagination for our children on Sunday mornings? I am proud of what we offer our children, and we take the imagination seriously in our approach to the formation of our kids. You are the ones our children look to as their own hearts and minds are being formed in ways too deep to know. But the Scripture is right: One generation to the next. 

Psalm 102 concludes “The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.” What a gift Blacknall has been given in our children! The surprise is that in our leading of our children into the presence of Jesus, we find ourselves being led there as well.


Together in Christ,