Pastor Don Hall
Pastor Don was appointed to serve Trinity in July of 2016. He has been “officially” a retired minister for a couple of years. However, he approaches his work with a youthful enthusiasm and 37 years of experience serving congregations of all sizes. Prior to his entering into those years of full time pastoral ministry, Don taught public school music for six years in Arkansas. He holds a master’s degree in music education form Arkansas State University and a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from Saint Paul School of Theology. He and his wife, Cheryl, have five children and nine grandchildren, a dog and two cats. When time permits they enjoy camping and fly fishing.
Vernon Carey, Minister of Music
Vernon was born in Oklahoma City, OK. He began piano lessons at the age of 5. At the age 10 he started his organ studies, at age 12 he was the organist for the children’s choir at the Presbyterian Church that he grew up in Oklahoma City. At the age of 14 he was the assistant organist and substitute organist for the church. He won several piano competitions while in Junior High and High School. He also studied the clarinet while in elementary school, junior high and high school and was a member of the band and choir in high school. He graduated from High School in 1972 as class valedictorian went to The Royal Academy of Music, London England and received a performance certificate in piano, and finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Central Oklahoma with a major in vocal music education and piano/organ performance. He then went back to Europe and studied at the American Institute of Music in Vienna, Austria. He was awarded the Master Performance Certificate in piano. During that time he traveled as a concert pianist and played with the major orchestras of Europe during the late 70’s. He returned to Oklahoma and began his teaching career due to family illnesses and circumstances that needed his attention. He attended the University of Oklahoma and in 1983 received his Master’s of Music in choral conducting, piano and organ performance. He then continued his studies and completed all the course work for his PhD in piano and organ pedagogy and performance at the University of Oklahoma and did not complete his dissertation, another story.
As a teacher in Oklahoma his choirs excelled and he was able to take his choirs on tour of Europe, Hawaii, New York, and one of his choirs performed for the Christmas program at the White House in Washington D.C. He moved to Texas and taught at the University of Texas Pan American campus in south Texas where he taught piano and was the musical director and pianist for the Musical Theater department and also taught elementary music in the public schools there as well. He moved to San Antonio and taught High School and took his choirs to New York and Florida. Then he moved to Dallas where he taught high school and elementary music in the public schools. He has 37 years experience as a public school music teacher and this May will complete 45 years as a church musician. As a church musician he has been both organist and choir master, in some churches just organist, others just choir director. He is aware of doing both and of having separate positions. He was always asked to play when his organist needed to go on vacation. His experience as a public school teacher and a church musician has been invaluable to his success in both school and church.
Paul Owen, Minister to Families with Children
As a native of Little Rock, Paul and his wife, Becky, have been members of Trinity for over 30 years. Both of their adult children are members of Trinity and were baptized in our original sanctuary which is now known as Martin Hall. He is starting his 5th year on staff. Before this position, he taught English, speech, and theatre at Bryant High School for 30 years. After retiring from the "school house", Paul managed The Disney Store and Banana Republic at Park Plaza . Becky, is a long-time member of the Chancel Choir at Trinity and is a teacher in the preschool here at Trinity. Their daughter, Melissa, is also a teacher in our preschool as well as a childcare provider with our cradle-roll children on Sunday mornings. Their son, Jeffrey, completed culinary school and is a sous chef. In his spare time, he enjoys creating a new yard at their new home.
Judy Gribble, Internal Communications
Judy is originally from Rector, Arkansas, in Clay Country, the very northeast corner of the state. She attended college at the University of Arkansas and graduated from UALR with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She continued her education at the University of Arkansas graduate School and Hampton Institute in Virginia . She began attending Trinity in 1982 and transferred her membership here when her daughter, Tisha was confirmed in 1987. She has been on staff for 14 years. She is married to Joe R. Gribble who is retired and they have one daughter, Tisha, who works at Camp Aldersgate as a special events coordinator. One thing people probably don’t know about her: that she picked cotton every year of her life until age 17. She loves to bake and her guilty pleasure is reading mysteries.
Jay Sweningson, Minister to Families with Youth
Jay was originally born in St. Paul, MN. He was born into an extremely poor, rough and abusive home life and then eventually, at the age of 5 1/2, was given up for adoption and spent over a year in the state's foster system. Shortly before his 7th birthday, he was offered a chance to come visit his half brother, whom he'd never met, in Houston, Texas. That "visit" turned out to be permanent as he was later adopted by the same amazing and loving parents who had adopted his brother. Jay grew up in Houston and still considers it to be his hometown. He moved to Hot Springs, AR in 1992 to attend Bible College at Applied Life Christian College where he received a Bachelors Degree in Education and later became ordained in 2001. Jay was the youth minister here at Trinity from 2000-2003. He then moved to the New Orleans, LA area and had been there until his return to Little Rock and his re-hire here at Trinity in 2009. Jay has a daughter, Rachel, and his son, Tyler, both of whom are what brings him his greatest joy. He also enjoys sports of all kinds, movies, music and just "walking life' with his friends and family.
Susan Garner, Financial Secretary
Susan Garner grew up in Middle Tennessee and graduated with a BBA from the University of Memphis with a major in Accounting. She has lived in Little Rock for 26 years in the Leawood subdivision and is a longtime member at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Her older daughter, Sara lives with her husband, Jack and their 11 month old daughter, Laney in Columbia, MO and Sara works for the University of Missouri. Susan's younger daughter, Stephanie, lives in Little Rock and teaches kindergarten at Terry Elementary. Susan is in charge of all the financial areas so feel free to contact her with any concerns or questions.