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.

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

Inquirers 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,


The Marriage Course

Thursdays, Sept. 19- Nov. 7, 2019 (No class Oct. 31), 6-8:30 p.m. | Blacknall Fellowship Hall


marriage course.jpg

An 8-week series for couples who want to invest in their relationship and build a strong marriage. The course is designed to help couples build strong foundations, learn to communicate more effectively and resolve differences well. Each week you will fed a delicious meal at an intimate table for two, listen to a practical talk, and have time for private discussion between you and your partner. Childcare is available. Contact: Joyce Kight.


Click here to learn more about the course.

Marriage Course Testimonial from Matthew Tay & Emmaline Thor – “We'd like to invite every married couple in Blacknall to attend the Marriage Course. The course provides practical tools for each couple to improve their marriage, including communication, conflict resolution, and how to love each other better. More than 50 couples have now attended the course at Blacknall, and have all found the course to be beneficial. We have had couples on the course with great marriages who felt that they grew even closer on the course. We have also had couples who were separated who decided to take the course together and sat and talked and laughed with each other and worked together at restoring their relationship. Emm and I have gone through the course 5 times now (once as participants, then as leaders), and each time we still learn something new to apply to our marriage. Meals are provided, and all communication is private between you and your spouse - you'll be seated at a  table for two, and you won't have to share anything that you discussed. There will also be childcare available. Please allow the Marriage Course Team to bless you.”

God at Work: Jeff'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 Jeff Baker

If I’m honest, I would have to say that reading has been one of the most deeply formative practices of my journey with Christ. And here I include reading not only Scripture, but books by Christian authors. This is the kind of practice that can, of course, get out of hand. There is an old Twilight Zone episode, “Time Enough At Last” about an old man who hides in a bank safe to curl up with a book. The Bomb falls while he’s inside, and he escapes to find himself the world’s sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust. Seeing piles of books lying around, he’s elated—until his glasses fall and shatter into pieces (I thought of that moment in June when I sat on my own glasses on Day 2 of a pilgrimage walk in Spain).

But in our age of perpetual distraction and on-line diversion, I still think that the practice of reading can offer one path of resistance. And like many of us, I suspect that I am less in danger of literary overconsumption than simply finding any time for sustained reading.

I want to emphasize that Scripture is our primary book. I discovered the Bible via a strange path. I grew up in an Episcopal church that was better at preaching manners and politeness than the Gospel, and can still remember clandestinely buying my own story bible and being fascinated by the colorful stories—especially in the Old Testament. I started reading actual Scripture in 8th grade after getting a copy of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, a rather colorful apocalyptic thriller that did at least prod me to open the Bible. And when I heard the lyrics of Jesus Christ Superstar, the only rock album allowed in our household in 1972, I started reading the Gospels, wondering how many of the lyrics were really in the New Testament.

Looking back, I see a pattern here. C.S. Lewis spoke of how his imagination had to be baptized before he could believe. I suspect that a similar kind of “baptism” was taking place in my own story well before the moment when I received Christ during my senior year of high school. It happened through reading the plucky adventures of a little misfit hobbit (not unlike myself), and C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, which I read before any of his nonfiction.

I think I may have consumed just about every book Lewis wrote on Christianity while I was in college. Now I struggle just to stay awake while reading at bedtime. I still try, however, to remember something Lewis wrote that I have never forgotten: reading old books frees us from the parochialism of the present. It can be hard to get past differences of style or assumptions, but it is really amazing when you can connect with a Christian from a different era. I read Augustine’s Confessions while walking on a dark road myself, and was deeply affected by how my own struggle with the world’s brokenness echoed the words of someone who lived over 1500 years ago (even if my transgressions were rather comparatively mundane).

I still agree with Lewis’ comment on reading to challenge parochialism, but would add that you don’t have to go back in time to do this. Lately I’ve been reading the autobiography of Pauli Murray, a woman who grew up in Durham and later became both a civil-rights pioneer and the first African-American woman to be ordained in the Episcopal church. Her life was utterly different than mine in so many ways, yet she clearly witnessed to a powerful Christian character in her life, hard work, and convictions. Paul Murray, to be sure has been embraced today by a very different crowd than the C.S. Lewis club, and I am still getting acquainted with her story. My point is that it’s very different learning about her from her own book rather than a google search.

Again, I want to put these thoughts in perspective. My time devoted to this kind of reading is mainly limited to late evenings (if I’m awake) and Saturday mornings. My more consistent daily practices center on morning Scripture, reflection, and prayer. I try to memorize scripture, often carrying an index card, though am not very good at it. I still struggle with breaking down the lines between my inner life and how I actually live. I have much to learn, and far to travel on the road ahead. To paraphrase a line from The Hobbit, I am only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all.

The Parenting Course

Wednesdays, Sept. 18- Nov. 20, 2019, 5:30-7:30 p.m. | Fellowship Hall (dinner) and Community room (discussion)


This fall, Blacknall will be offering Alpha’s Parenting Course during the TableTalk time slot. Single parents, guardians, and grandparents raising their grandchildren are welcome. Participants do not need to be Blacknall members, we encourage Blacknall families to invite a friend to take the course with them!

Over ten sessions, the course will help you to:

  • Build strong foundations

  • Meet your children's needs

  • Set clear boundaries

  • Teach healthy relationships

  • Consider your long term aim


Families will eat together in the Fellowship Hall from 5:30-6. Childcare opens at 6 p.m., parents should drop off their kids and be in the Community Room by 6:15, when the session begins. The course is video-based, with time for small group discussion after each segment. Parents will be grouped in tables based on their kids’ ages, a table host will facilitate the discussion using the workbook as a guide.

Please note: The Parenting Course is being offered as one of Blacknall’s TableTalk offerings, but will start one week before and end one week after the other TableTalk classes to accommodate the ten sessions. We ask participants to commit to attending at least 8 out of 10 sessions. Registration is limited, please register by Sept. 9.

Meal Cost: $50-$150 for 10 weeks, depending on family size. No charge for childcare or class materials.

Please contact Ali Shoenfelt with any questions.



Learn more about the course.

Watch the promo video.