Robert Yowell

List of thoughts on my life at TAPC:

  1. baptized here 80 years ago
  2. I lived on Gregson Street until 1945
  3. We lived in Raleigh until 1957 – charter members of White Memorial PC
  4. I returned in ’57 to start medical school and joined TAPC choir
  5. After internship, marriage, and US Navy, we returned to Durham in ‘64
  6. Rejoined TAPC choir
  7. First child Kell died in 19676 – service in TAPC (packed house) led by Dr. Bennett. Her memorial is in the back of the church.
  8. My dad died in 1984 – Dr. Bennett did the service.
  9. Three children baptized at TAPC, 1966-1970.
  10. Mother died in 2000 – service by Donovan in TAPC.
  11. Room in Bennett building dedicated to Mom and Dad.
  12. Sister died in 2007. Donovan did the grave service.
  13. Choir member for 50 years.
  14. Deacon in the 70’s – chairman for 2 years.
  15. Elder – two 6-year terms.
  16. Organ committee chairman.
  17. Worship Committee.
  18. Kent Clise family physician.
  19. Delivered Flo Beth’s baby in 1975 (assistant minister Roger’s wife.)
  20. Daughter Sally married at Duke Chapel by Donovan in 2005

TAPC is very special to the Yowells!

Deirdre Gordon

Imagine a 19 year old college student, just finished with her second year of college, trying to find a church home. This summer prior to her junior year, the need has become more urgent, because she feels untethered: her parents are moving out of the country, she’s spending the summer in Durham for the first time, she’s feeling disconnected from family and friends given some changes in her life. She decides to venture off campus to worship, not finding the rah-rah worship of the college fellowship a point of connection to her faith, nor does she find the high liturgy of the campus chapel a way to access her faith. She quietly and anonymously slips into the Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church sanctuary for worship one Sunday, and by the end of the service, feels like she has come home. It’s not the small clapboard church of her high school years, it’s not the large Southern church of her childhood, but it is home. The pastor reaches out after she attends a few weeks in a row. He stays in touch as the busy fall semester starts. He invites her to join the church. Invites her, a college student, who may or may not be here in two years. But he invites her to formally become a member of the family of faith at the corner of Trinity Avenue and Gregson Street. He writes to her parents to tell them she has found a church home, and sharing that the church will support her in her journey of young adulthood. She has been welcomed, and she is called to this congregation. Fast forward to the present day, where after 24 years of membership at Trinity Avenue, she has gone through periods of more-connectedness and less-connectedness; active voluntarism, and passive participation; formal leadership as a church officer, and quiet behind-the-scenes leadership for particular needs of the church; frequent worship attendance and occasional attendance. She has been a single young adult, a married adult with a spouse who is not a believer, the mother of two children who have grown up within the walls of the church, the daughter of a mother who has joined the church in retirement. Through it all, she has felt the love of Christ because of the family of faith that is Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church. It is home. And forevermore, she will look to extend the hospitality of that home to others that they may find their church home. This is my story. This is Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Catherine Wilson

I was invited by a friend to worship at TAPC in early 2007. I slipped in to the back of the sanctuary as a tired graduate student and appreciated the respite and comfort that worship provided in the midst of an academically demanding season of life. I recall being warmly welcomed by Rosa Beavers and Ann Kirkland.

Ten years later, TAPC now feels like an extension of my family. My husband, Fletcher, and I set roots in the church neighborhood, discerning God’s call to love our neighbors in this geographical place shared by our church. I give thanks for the love of Christ evident to me through intergenerational friendships, grace poured out through serving and receiving Communion weekly at the 9am service, and opportunities for service and ‘being the church’ with other community members.

I believe who we are as a church is represented through our worship, which is intentionally planned week after week by our incredible worship leadership. We gather together not as a people that have it all together or boast faith that is fully formed, but as a people hungry for the grace of Christ to meet us and the burdens and questions we carry, individually and on behalf of the aching world around us. I depart worship feeling challenged to submit more of my life to Christ’s calling and assured that I am a beloved child of God.

God is faithful. A sign of His faithfulness in my life has been living in community at TAPC.

15 - Catherine Wilson

Susan Ross

Rev. Bill Bennett was a dear friend of my parents, and I adored him though we were not Presbyterian.  When looking for a church that fit us better as a young couple expecting our first child in 1986, our first stop was TAPC and it immediately felt like home. Through all the ups and downs, weddings and funerals and “ordinary times” in between, it still does.

People used to say that Trinity Avenue was “Bill Bennett’s church”, and it really did feel that way for decades because of his style and tenure. When he retired, we had to grow up and make it OURS instead of our pastor’s. We have had several ministers and associates in the ensuing years and I loved them all. But the church is ours as a congregation today, and we take that role very seriously. We love and care for one another and we value what God does through us in this community and beyond. My week always starts better if I am in church on Sunday morning.

Jane Harper

Our family had been members at a church that had undergone a devastating split.   Worship had ended up being a contentious event rather than a glorious one and we were a little burned out.  I was invited to TAPC during an appointment with Dr. John Lane, who was a choir member at TAPC.  He described TAPC as a place where Jesus was preached.  He was so right!  We ran into Bob Clarke at a school event and he had noticed we had visited and he invited us to come back.

After we joined Trinity Avenue, my daughter was enveloped in the music program, where she was encouraged and nurtured. When she helped deliver the sermon on Youth Sunday, Chuck Campbell asked her if she had considered the ministry.  She became very close with Elizabeth Michael and later, with Katie Crowe.  What godly examples for young women!  She will begin seminary this fall, thanks to God’s call and the relationships she has developed with this church.

I have grown in my faith here through the amazing sermons that are Spirit-breathed, the music that is so well matched with the sermons, the opportunities to serve the congregation and the community, the educational opportunities, and the deep and abiding fellowship found through choir,  circles and covenant groups.

TAPC has been a blessing beyond what we could have ever imagined! Thanks be to God!

Mark Garner

My wife Denise and I relocated to Durham in the fall of 2013 from York, Pennsylvania. We lived there for 25 years where we raised our two children. It was very important for us to find a new church family in Durham.  We are life-long Presbyterians with Denise growing up in Canton, Ohio and me growing up in Bucks County, PA. We visited many local Presbyterian churches but did not feel we had yet found our next church home.

On the Sunday we planned to visit Trinity Avenue, my back went into spasm as I picked up the Sunday paper from the porch, and I was literally flat on my back. Denise went alone to the early service and as soon as she sat down, Marie Grauerholz tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she was a visitor.  Marie and her friends were very warm and friendly.  Denise came home and said “I can’t wait to take you back to Trinity Ave.  Everyone was so welcoming and the service was similar in format to our former church.  Also the sermon was excellent.”  As we continued to visit we learned Katie was a seminary classmate of our Associate Pastor in York.  Elizabeth Michael encouraged us to start a Small Group which is still going strong after three years, emphasizing both socialization and participation in community outreach projects.

We have made many friends at TAPC, and are glad God lead us to this wonderful church family.

12 - Mark Garner

Becky Bowden

My roots in our church run deep. My father was a founding member of TAPC, and the church has been a major part of my life for the past 90 years. I remember, as a child, walking into our church’s narthex and smelling that distinct mix of old wood and a building aged by time – “that Jesus smell,” I remember calling it as a young girl.

Over my years in the church, I have been involved in many aspects of church life, from service to committee work to fundraising. I’ve served as a youth leader, an elder, and a deacon. I’ve also been an active participant in the outreach committee, Prime Timers, and various fellowship and study circles, including the massive fundraising effort to build a new wing onto our church. I was also involved in the renovations to our sanctuary and organ.

Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church means so much to me and to so many people.

(as told to Stuart Albright on the occasion of Becky’s award for service to our Presbytery)

Becky Bowden