Who we are

our calling

Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church is called to glorify the Triune God, to make known the crucified and risen Christ, and to advance the Kingdom that God is building in us, in Durham, and around the world.

Who we are

We are surely imperfect and we make mistakes, some honest, some not so much. But as a body of believers who has heard and responded to the call to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we are embedding Scriptural teaching in our hearts, and working out our faith in our daily lives. So who are we? We are:

  • Not our own. Our lives have been interrupted by the disconcerting and promising grace of God. We have come to see that we are both loved and flawed. We recognize our sin and gratefully accept God’s grace. We trust in God’s promise of transforming forgiveness and renewal through the Holy Spirit.
  • Christians. Jesus Christ is our Savior. Our call is to know Him, love Him, and follow Him. Together.
  • Reformed. We are shaped by a theological tradition that emphasizes the unique authority of Scripture, the sovereign grace of God, and the recognition of the Lordship of Christ over all.
  • Evangelical. By this we mean that we are committed to the centrality of the atoning death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, who is alive today to be encountered by the power of the Holy Spirit. (We resist the current attempt to co-opt the term as a descriptor of some allegiance within the framework of US politics.)
  • Presbyterian. We are governed by elected elders (presbyters) and connected to other churches in our local presbytery and denomination.
  • Thoughtful. We enjoy thinking deeply about what we believe. We recognize questions and doubt as a part of faith. 
  • Neighbors. We pursue partnerships with churches and other organizations that share the concerns of the Kingdom of God. We recognize that to serve the Lord is to seek the welfare of the city. 
  • Mission-oriented. We have a long history of sending missionaries abroad and supporting local missions. We are extensively and personally involved in a wide range of ministries in the city, on campus, and across the globe.

Blacknall is a member of The Fellowship Community, a network of churches and leaders within the PC(USA) called together to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ by growing in Christ’s likeness, living by God’s word, and joining in God’s mission in the world. 


Our roots in Durham are deep and date back more than one hundred years. On Sundays in the 1890's, brothers Richard and James Blacknall, elders in Durham's First Presbyterian Church, along with their wives, would ride the train out to the Erwin Textile Mill village to conduct Sunday School in an abandoned barroom. By 1916 the "mission" had grown and a frame building was constructed. The congregation was established as a Presbyterian Church with the Blacknall family memorialized in the name. That building was later destroyed by fire, and in 1923 the congregation moved to its current location on Perry Street, just a few blocks east but strategically located a block from Duke’s East Campus.

During the 1960's the textile industry was beginning to diminish, and under the leadership of Pastor Bob Henderson the church's focus turned to reaching the students of nearby Duke University and to the concerns of the city as it faced the challenges of integration. The congregation began to be recognized as a distinctly evangelical congregation that welcomed students into their midst from all the local universities. 

That trajectory continued under the leadership of Ed Henegar, a strong teacher committed to pastoral care. The congregation’s footprint expanded both numerically and physically, and in 1985 Blacknall hired a second pastor, Allan Poole. In 1999, following Ed’s retirement, Allan was joined by Peter Hausmann, who shepherded the church through a significant building and renovation project that met the church’s need for greater gathering and educational space. Peter was followed by David Dunderdale, who joined Blacknall’s staff as associate pastor in 2006. Allan and David were joined in 2016 by Goodwyn (Goodie) Bell.