Meet Our Staff
Rev. Decherd “Deck” Guess, Transitional Pastor
Originally from Union, SC, Deck has been coming to the High Country since the 1970’s when his parents built a vacation home on Beech Mountain. He and his wife, Deb, love the mountains, its culture and people and are delighted that God called Deck to serve the Banner Elk Presbyterian Church.
Deck has had training as both a Natural Church Development Coach and a transitional pastor, having worked with several other churches in those capacities. One of his favorite aspects of ministry is worship leadership; he loves to preach the Word, but has a deepening appreciation for how music and art open people up to God. During his career in ministry, he has served as the pastor of churches in Mississippi, Florida and North Carolina.
Deck and his wife, Deb (a retired Christian Educator and workshop leader AND a jewelry artist), are the parents of four incredible adult children and one terrifically fantastic granddaughter, Clark (aka “Alarm Clark”) who has a gift of waking up her grandfather early in the morning! Deck enjoys tennis, skiing and loves to sport quirky socks which have spawned quite a few children’s sermons.
We welcome Deck and Deb and look forward to working together in ministry and service to our Lord here in Banner Elk.
Cell phone: 910-610-9045
Alisa Ballard, Office Administrator
When Alisa began coming to the Banner Elk area in 1977, little did she know that she would return to the area 39 years later to be a permanent resident. Alisa is originally from Lenoir, North Carolina, graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University and moved to Wilkesboro, North Carolina where she became involved in the Wilkesboro Presbyterian Chapel, which is the historic mother church established in 1837 of North Wilkesboro Presbyterian Church. Alisa became very active in the North Wilkesboro Church working with Presbyterian Women, Vacation Bible School, Presbytery, volunteering in the church office and later as Interim Director of Christian Education. In 2005, Alisa moved to Winston-Salem area where she became a member of Highland Presbyterian Church. Alisa has been a Vista Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and worked in various corporate environments during her career before moving to the Banner Elk area. She is very pleased to have become a member of BEPC several years before she moved in 2018, as BEPC has a home church feel, all due to the loving and friendly members of the BEPC congregation.
Dedy Traver, Office Manager/Bookkeeper
Dedy says the love of skiing brought her to Banner Elk many years ago, soon after the Sugar Mountain Resort opened. She has wide-ranging experience in office management, and everyone in this church knows how pleasant, informed and helpful she is. However, some folks may not know that among certain circles, Dedy is known as the “Duchess of Who-Dunnit Mysteries.” An avid reader of English cozy murder mysteries, Dedy and several friends write, produce and host mystery productions along with high tea parties in her home each year as fund raisers for Holy Cross Episcopal Church. She also sings in several choirs, plays hand bells, golfs, has been Clerk of the Vestry in her church for 36 years, is an election poll worker, serves on the Avery County Board of Equalizations. She is known for her work in various forms or arts and crafts—including expert jam and jelly-making. Dedy is a dauntless hostess, entertaining large eclectic groups of friends for holiday feasts as well as serving “proper” English teas featuring her to-die-for-hot-from-the-oven scones. What a versatile lady—and what a lucky day for our church when she began working here in 2011!
Diane Rydell, Director of Music
When Diane agreed to fill in as interim organist a number of years ago, little did anyone realize the profound impact her talents would lend to the music program of BEPC as her position evolved into Organist and Music Director. Diane trained in New York and met her husband Stephen there as they sang in opera. But she laughs that she learned to count and ring (a cash register) at an early age in her parents’ toy store—thinking this may have helped hone skills that would lead to beginning and directing our Hand bell Choir. She also began and directs the Men’s Choir which sings at the early worship services throughout summer. Diane’s lovely singing voice, as well as accomplishments in playing organ and directing, have helped develop our music program into a vital and greatly enjoyed part of the church’s ministry. Visitors are often extremely complimentary of the music they experience when worshipping with us, but members have become accustomed to the rich variety and quality we experience on a regular basis. When not working with our church music, Diane teaches music, saying she has taught students from 6 to over 60 years old–and she still enjoys it. A gifted musician, BEPC is blessed with the gifts she shares with us and recently recognized her more than 25 years of service.
AC Marriott, Preschool Director
Ann-Charlott is originally from Gothenburg, Sweden. “AC” came to America after receiving a full tennis scholarship to play NCAA Division I tennis at High Point University located in High Point, NC. After only 5 years she was awarded 4 Big South All-Academic Honors, Bachelor of Science and a Master’s Degree from HPU. AC comes to us from The Goddard School in Mooresville, NC where she was the Lead After School Teacher and Assistant Teacher in the pre-k classroom. While at Goddard she received several early childhood trainings and earned multiple certificates for her teaching. AC and her family moved to Banner Elk earlier this year as her husband Donald works at Mountain Air Country Club in Burnsville. Besides teaching and playing tennis AC loves spending time with her daughter Katariina and her two step-children, Cooper , and Mimi . AC’s favorite color is purple and one of her favorite children’s books is “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown. AC’s passion for teaching has always been strong “being able to be a positive role model and present the children with a safe educational environment means the world to me”.
Margaret Trivette, Church Housekeeper
Margaret has been on our staff longer than anyone else, serving as Church Housekeeper for over 30 years. One look around the building and it’s evident how well she does her job, but her influence reaches much further than keeping the building neat and clean. She is known throughout the community for her helpfulness and compassion. Her daughter, Rebecca Bivens, describes her mom as “the most giving and caring person—always putting others first.” When not working at BEPC or helping others in the community, Margaret is busy supporting her husband Richard’s work as pastor of Faith Missions Baptist Church in Watauga County. They’ve been married for over 50 years and have three children and five grandkids. They are very proud of their daughters, Rebecca who lives here in Banner Elk, Tammy who lives in Boone, and son, David a missionary/minister in Florida. Margaret’s smiling face and upbeat spirit are inspirations to us all.