At Banner Elk Presbyterian Church, the session is made up of the ruling elders and the pastor. The members of Session are is elected by the congregation to serve in leadership positions, to develop the annual budget, to support and encourage mission projects, and to make decisions regarding the work and programs of the congregation. Each session elder has responsibility for at least one of the congregational committees.

Susan Carter – Clerk of the Session
Susan Carter is a child of the church, lifetime resident of Banner Elk, daughter of Margaret, wife of Lynn, mother to Karen and Andy, mother-in-law to David and Stephanie, step-mother to Ryan and Grant, grandmother to Lawson, Emerson, and Isabelle. She enjoys playing hand bells, singing in the choir, hiking, reading, knitting, and traveling. Susan is a retired educator of developmentally delayed preschool children through the Avery County Schools system. Susan has served in many capacities in our church: a church nursery school teacher, Sunday school teacher of young children, an active member of many congregational committees, several terms as a ruling elder and now as clerk of session.

William Dethlefs – Class of 2024 – Technology/Media
William grew up in Miami, Florida, and joined the U.S. Coast Guard when he graduated from high school. In 1987 he moved to North Carolina and eventually migrated to the mountains with his wife Trish. They built their dream home in 2010 after searching for two years for the perfect location. William recently retired as a Data Engineer and plans on enjoying the mountain lifestyle of hiking, fishing, hunting and relaxing by a crackling fire. William has been an elder in the Presbyterian church in the past and looks forward serving the congregation here.

Chappie Petree – Class of 2024 – Treasurer
Chappie is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He graduated from Guilford College in 1973 with a BS degree in Business Management. In 2012 he retired from a career in the banking industry. He was a 30-year member of Highland Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he served three terms on the session. He was a member of the finance committee for 17 years at Highland Presbyterian, and he served nine years as chairman. Chappie and his wife, Deb, have been married 51 years, and they have one son, John. They bought a weekend home on Beech Mountain in 1988. In 2015, they moved full-time to Beech Mountain. They transferred their membership to Banner Elk Presbyterian in August 2016. Chappie joined the Stewardship and Finance Committee in 2020, and he served as chairman in 2021. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and working in the yard in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Jesse Pope – Class of 2024 – Permanent Funds
Jesse is a native of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology with a naturalist concentration from Lees-McRae College and a master’s degree in environmental education from Montreat College. He is the executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, following a 13-year stint on the mountain as a naturalist. His interests, of course, include bird watching, hiking, camping, fishing, golf and traveling. Jesse is married to Michelle who came to LMC in the footsteps of her grandmother, who attended BEPC in the ’40s. She and Jesse met as students, married, and have now been in this area for over two decades. They have three children—Spencer, and twins Trevor and Lily. Jesse and Michelle joined the church in 2017 on reaffirmation of faith, with church backgrounds both Presbyterian and Baptist. Michelle is full time at home with children but loves reading and camping. She reports skill in writing and working with computers. Jesse notes he has a botany background, and experience in carpentry and landscaping.

McNair Tornow – Class of 2024 – Personnel
McNair grew up in Laurinburg, North Carolina, and received both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Wake Forest University. After graduating from law school, McNair served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, with a tour in Vietnam. Afterwards, he established a law practice in Winston-Salem and became a member at Highland Presbyterian Church, where he served as deacon and elder. At BEPC, McNair has served as a ruling elder and chaired the Pastor Nominating Committee. He and his wife, Debi, live in their “retirement” home on Beech Mountain.

Sara Brewer – Class of 2025 – Membership
Sara was born and raised in Banner Elk and baptized in Banner Elk Presbyterian Church by Rev. Dan Thomas. Previously, she has served 3 terms on Session, as well as on search committees for an Associate Pastor and Pastor. She currently is enjoying retirement after working 39 years as general manager of the High Country ABC Store.  Son Corbin is back in this area, working at the Blue Ridge Mountain Club in Blowing Rock.

Debi Hagna – Class of 2025 – Congregational Care
Debi moved to Avery County in 1982 and has been a member of BEPC for nearly 40 years. Though originally from Vermont, she has been here so long she now considers herself a southern girl. She spent her career serving as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Room and now retired, she continues to do private duty nursing. Debi traveled to Guatemala with our church years ago and says it changed her life. She has a grown son, Will, who was confirmed in our church and attended NC State School of Design. Now living in California, Will spends every available moment in these beautiful mountains

Ann McConnell – Class of 2025 – Fellowship
Ann was born and raised in central Florida. Before retiring and moving to Seven Devils in 2021, she lived in Greenville, NC for 31 years, working at East Carolina University in the Clinical Laboratory Science educational program. She has been married to husband, Tom, for 39 years. They have two children and two grandchildren. Ann is a lifelong Presbyterian and has served the church as an elder, deacon, and member of the handbell choir. Her favorite things to do include visiting family, reading, ringing handbells, gardening, cooking, craft projects, and being outside.

Nancy Owen – Class of 2025 – Perschool
Nancy grew up in Southern Illinois but moved to the High Country right after college. She is married to Rick Owen and they have one son, Hampton, a freshman at Lees-McRae College.  Nancy has been an Elder, served on two different Pastor Nominating Committees, several different standing committees and is a current member of the Christian Education and the Nominating committees. She is active with the youth/children of the church as well. Nancy is Director of Tourism, working for the Town of Banner Elk. In her spare time she loves to play pickleball.

Jim Ferguson – Class of 2026 – Finance
Jim is a native of South Carolina. He and Dee live at 157 Grouse Ct. for at least six months of the year. Jim is a graduate of Davidson College and Baylor College of Medicine. He served as an Army flight surgeon from 1970 to 1972. Completing a residency in ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia in 1975, he studied glaucoma in a fellowship at Edinburgh University later that year. He was the founding Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. In 1991 he returned to private practice in Richmond, Va., where he was managing partner of Richmond Eye Associates until retirement in June of 2004. During that time, he and Dee were active inFirst Presbyterian  Church where he served four terms on its session. He has served on the boards of Union Theological Seminary, Richmond Eye And Ear Foundation, the Easterby Foundation, and formerly served on the board and as President of Elk River Club. He currently serves on the board of the High Country Charitable Foundation.

Pam Hardin – Class of 2026 – Permanent Funds
Pam lives in Matney with her husband, Phil and their two basset hounds, Jake and Elwood. They have been involved with BEPC for over two years. The Hardins lived in Asheville for more than 30 years prior to calling the high county home. Pam is an experienced development professional and is currently serving her Alma Marta, Appalachian State, in the University Advancement division. She has deep Avery County roots in the Linville Falls community. Pam is a proud BEPC choir member and she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, hiking and reading.

Wes Reed – Class of 2026 – Building & Grounds
Wesley (Wes) grew up in Avery County. After graduating from Avery County High School, he joined the US Navy, staying on active duty for 11 years. Upon leaving active duty with the Navy, Wes became a California Highway Patrol Officer (CHP) working mostly in the San Francisco Bay area. He finished his career as a Firearms Instructor at the CHP Academy in Sacramento, CA. After retirement from an additional 12 years in the Naval Reserves and the CHP, Wes became active with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the Woody Williams Foundation. Wes met his wife Cindy while both worked for the Woody Williams Foundation. Cindy and Wes were married on Grandfather Mountain in 2022 and moved to Linville. Together they have 4 children and 2 grandchildren. Wes attended Calvary Baptist Church in Montezuma until joining the Navy. Through his travels he was active in several churches in California. Wes and Cindy are thrilled to call Avery County home.

Jim Jones – Class of 2026 – Missions
After attending churches in the High Country for many years, Jim and his wife, Marsha, felt like they found a church home at Banner Elk Presbyterian Church, about 10 years ago, before Marsha passed away in January 2021 with cancer. Jim now lives full-time at Seven Devils, moving there about a year ago. Both Marsha and Jim were active members of First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia for 55 years, where they were involved with youth and other fellowship programs. Jim served on various church committees and as an elder for two terms there, as well as in numerous community activities, including Gastonia Jaycees, Habitat for Humanity, and other civic organizations. Jim has two sons, James and Bryan, and Ginny, a niece/daughter, who came to live with their family at age 14. Between them, there are seven grandchildren ranging in age from 15 to 22, most living in North Carolina and Colorado. Ginny teaches kindergarten at Banner Elk Elementary School. Jim comes from a long line of Presbyterians, since both his father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers, as well as an aunt who was an ordained minister.