Rev. Karen H. Whitaker

Senior Pastor

Rev. Karen H. Whitaker is the senior pastor at Epworth, appointed to our church in 2015. She is a Duke Divinity School graduate and has served churches in Fayetteville, Cary, and most recently at Soapstone UMC in Raleigh. Pastor Whitaker is married to Alan and they are blessed with three children: Megan, Kristen, and Justin. Throughout the years, God has called her in numerous ways. In every place, there have been powerful grace-filled, God moments, as well as challenges and joys of journeying with Jesus. She is here at Epworth, seeking to be faithful to that call. She prays that God uses her for God’s work in this corner of the kingdom, in this place.

Dr. Sangwoo Kim

Rev. Dr. Sangwoo Kim

Pastor of Spiritual Formation

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward appointed Sangwoo Kim to Epworth UMC in July 2016. Sangwoo earned his Doctor of Theology degree in the fields of theology, worship, and spiritual formation at Duke Divinity School. Prior to his study at Duke, Sangwoo studied religion/theology at Seoul National, Harvard, Emory, and Yale Universities, and then served multicultural and multiethnic Methodist churches in Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts as a pastor for five years. At Duke, Sangwoo wrote a dissertation about the significance of the embodiment of worship and prayer in Christian theology and life. He has also taught Christian theology, ethics, worship, evangelism, and Methodism classes. Sangwoo is passionate about teaching Bible and theology, leading spiritual formation groups, and building a diverse community that is committed to social justice.

Amanda Wilson Children’s Ministry Coordinator

Rev. Amanda Fleishman Wilson

Amanda came to Epworth in November 2016 as Coordinator of Children’s Ministries. She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, an ordained United Methodist Deacon, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a small counseling practice serving low-income individuals and families. Amanda grew up in Maryland and Virginia but is blessed to have married a lifelong Tar Heel, J.D. They have two children. Amanda is passionate about building cross-cultural relationships, seeking both personal and social transformation by God’s grace, and helping kids grow in God’s love through the stories of the Bible and through their daily lives.

Meg Hemingway Bass

Financial Manager

Meg was born in Elizabethtown, NC to long-time Epworth members, Pat and John (Alden) Hemingway. She attended Epworth Kindergarten in 1964 and was taught by Hilda Moone. She grew up overseas in Mexico City, Mexico; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Brussels, Belgium as her dad worked in the International Division of Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company. She graduated from Duke University in 1981 with a BA in Psychology. She has two children, Lewis IV and Emily who are both life-long members of Epworth. Meg loves to read, pull for her Blue Devils and stays busy caring for her dogs, Elmo and Edsel.

Dona Gamble

Administrative Secretary

Dona Gamble was born in Fitzgerald, Georgia. After graduating from The University of Georgia, teaching 5th grade, and marrying Don, she began working as a church secretary at First UMC, Myrtle Beach, S.C. After moving to Durham, she began working at Epworth and enjoys working on the newsletter and bulletins each week, supporting other staff members in their ministries, and helping those who call, email, or stop by the office. She and her husband Don enjoy their children and grandchildren, traveling (especially to the Pacific Northwest, Montana, and Wyoming), Duke basketball, and Georgia football.

Carie Dupree Youth Coordinator

Carie Dupree

Youth Coordinator

Thank you for welcoming me into your church family! I am blessed to be with you as the Coordinator of Youth Ministries. I look forward to getting to know everyone here at Epworth, so feel free to chat with me on Sundays or schedule a coffee date so we can get to know one another!

Before moving to Durham in August, I called Shreveport, Louisiana home. I spent four wonderful years at Centenary College of Louisiana studying History, Political Science, and Geology. At Centenary, the Christian Leadership Center helped me discern a call to youth ministry and for the past two years I was blessed to serve as the Director of Youth Ministries at Love Chapel UMC. I am currently enrolled at Duke Divinity School seeking my Masters in Theological Studies. After Divinity school, I feel called to pursue a law degree and become an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church.

My life primarily revolves around studying for school, the youth ministry, and my cat. On any given day, you can find me studying, usually at Cocoa Cinnamon, or trying to find a team building exercise for the youth. My goal for the youth is to build a community and help them understand their faith while growing into the people they are becoming. I have one cat, her name is Catherine, and she and I love to watch Netflix together on rainy days. When I do get away from school, work, and Netflix, I enjoy running around East Campus, baking, and exploring Durham. A lot of change has taken place this fall, but I feel at home here in Durham and at Epworth.


Fred Ibberson



Leigh Furman

Epworth Preschool Director

Leigh joined us as Preschool Director in July 2017. She moved to Durham in 2002 and started at Epworth Preschool as a parent in 2003. Leigh began teaching in the preschool in 2008. She graduated from UNC-CH in 1996 with a BA in Psychology. While her husband, Jeff, was in the Navy, Leigh received her Masters in Leadership of Teaching in 2001. She then worked in the Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Program in both Maryland and North Carolina.


Leigh is Tar Heel born but spent most of her childhood in New Bern, NC. She and Jeff were thrilled to settle in the Durham/Chapel Hill area to raise their three children, Abby, Molly, and Will. When Leigh is not at Epworth, she enjoys spending time with her family. They love to go for family hikes but more often you can find Leigh on the sidelines of soccer games, watching tennis matches, on deck at swim meets, and cheering for the Tar Heels.

David Lewis

Director of Music Ministries

David Lewis has over 12 years of experience in serving church music ministries.  He was the Music Director at Genesis United Methodist Church in Cary from 1999-2001 and 2003-2011, and then served as Music Director at Soapstone Methodist Church from 2011-2013.  He held the Principal Tuba chair in the North Carolina Symphony from 1976 to his retirement in early 2016.  In addition, he was the Orchestra Personnel Manager from 2000-2013.

Theresa Shebalin

Nursery Coordinator

Theresa grew up in Florida but considers Durham “home.” She moved to the Triangle area in 2001 to pursue a PhD in archaeology at UNC, which she completed in 2011. Theresa now works as a 5th grade science teacher and swim coach at Durham Academy, runs archaeology summer camps in Morganton, NC, and of course cares for Epworth’s youngest members on Sunday mornings. She rarely has “spare” time, but when she does, you’ll find her playing with her 4-year-old son, Stefan.