St. Luke’s enjoys a wonderful mix of new and old among our clergy and lay staff.  We are blessed with a Rector, Priest Associate, and lay staff. 

The Reverend Doctor Helen Svoboda-Barber


Helen became rector of St. Luke’s in 2014. Before moving to Durham, she served as rector of Harcourt Parish in Gambier, Ohio; assistant at Holy Cross ELCA in Overland Park, KS; and canon of Grace Cathedral in Topeka, KS. She has undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Human Development, a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry. In her free time, she is the director of Women Embodying Executive Leadership (WEEL) a cohort discernment program for Episcopal clergywomen, is a Leadership Coach, and is active in the Eno Commons cohousing community. She and her husband, Shawn, have two children, Amelia and Luke, backyard chickens, and dogs names Izzie and Boo.

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Parishioners can schedule phonecalls and zoom meetings with Helen here.

The Reverend James B. Craven, III

Priest Associate

Jim Craven has been at St. Luke’s since 1992. Jim was ordained a deacon at the Duke Chapel in 1985 and, after only ten years and two weeks, was ordained a priest here at St. Luke’s in 1995. He was a volunteer prison chaplain for 17 years. Jim has been a lawyer since 1967, ordained since 1985, is a retired naval officer, and still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. We let him preach and celebrate regularly, and occasionally he does services without adult supervision. Educated, after a fashion, at the U.S. Naval Academy, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke Law School, and the Duke Divinity School, Jim’s real passions are Durham Bulls baseball, Duke football, and fishing. He and Sara are the parents of Jamie, Joe, and Will, and the grandparents of Olivia and Harris. They share their home with their cats, Ruthie and Buddy.

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Ms. Kaye Saunders

Director of Music and Organist

Kaye Saunders, Music Director and Organist at St. Luke’s, has been a musician in the Episcopal Church since 1991. She has worked with adult choirs, RSCM-based graded children’s choirs, community children’s choirs, and handbell ensembles. She holds degrees from Coastal Carolina University, where she also taught as adjunct music professor, and Graduate Theological Foundation, where she earned a Master of Sacred Music degree. She enjoys work as a vocalist, having sung throughout the coastal region during her years as a resident of South Carolina, where she was featured with organizations such as the Piccolo Spoleto festival, The Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art, Long Bay Symphony, Carolina Master Chorale, and at Mepkin Abbey. As a composer, she recently had two original choral anthems published by St. James Music Press. Kaye also teaches private voice and piano lessons. She is a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians and the American Guild of Organists, and is certified in the early childhood curriculum Musikgarten. Kaye is married to videographer Ted Trinkaus. 

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Ms. Laura Thornton

Children and Youth Minister

Laura Thornton has just returned to North Carolina after spending 20 years living and working in California. She has worked in children and youth ministries for her entire career, but most recently Laura was the Director of Children’s Ministry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. She loves spending time with children and their parents to help them know God’s love for them, and to support them in connecting to the church community. Before moving to California Laura worked in churches in North Carolina, Tennessee and Cardiff, Wales. She loves to talk about her time in the UK so feel free to ask. Laura is also mom to two boys who are excited about being closer to grandparents and cousins in North Carolina. Laura received her Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School and was ordained in the Southern Baptist tradition. If there’s ever any free time Laura loves to scrapbook, to cook with her boys, and watch movies.

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Ms. Kathy Barnes

Parish Administrator

Kathy Barnes has been with St. Luke’s since 1994 and has been working in the secretarial/administrative field since 1970.  She obtained her CPS (Certified Professional Secretary) rating in 1992 and was recertified in 2003.

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Ms. Carol Joyner

Director of Hospitality and Nursery Attendant

Ms. Carol Joyner is the Director of Hospitality and Nursery Attendant at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. For many years, “Miss Carol” has been a familiar, comforting presence in the nursery for the youngest members of our St. Luke’s family as well as for young visitors. More recently, she has taken on leadership of our two after-church coffee hours, helping to welcome and provide for members and guests of St. Luke’s. 

Mr. Dan LaVenture

Diocesan Intern

Hello! My name is Dan LaVenture, and I will be your diocesan intern for the next six months as I discern a call to the priesthood. I’m looking forward to meeting each of you! My sponsoring parish is the Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill, but I’ve lived in Durham for about five years. I’m originally from Winston-Salem, but came to Durham to go to Duke Divinity School, where in addition to my general studies, I got a concentration in Theology and the Arts. I love thinking about how church communities can incorporate art into their worship and communal life. In particular, I focused on culinary arts, thinking about how eating can be an act of reverence and worship. I now work production for Black and White Coffee Roasters in Raleigh, helping ensure that deliciousness abounds. Let’s share a cup sometime!