Hillsborough church co-founded by UNC professors focuses on resurrection

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Two UNC faculty members and an optometrist have co-founded Resurrection Church, a new church that is based in Hillsborough.

“We have a pretty traditional liturgy, creed, hymns and everything,” Lundberg said. “After that we open things to questions and discussion ... for anyone to voice not only what they appreciated but also what they didn’t agree with.”

The new Hillsborough-based church co-founded by two UNC professors combines thoughtful discussion with traditional Christian doctrine by focusing on the story of the resurrection.

The church’s three founders — Lundberg, Trey Benfield and Praveen Sethupathy — look different from a typical church staff. All three have advanced or doctorate degrees: Benfield is an optometrist, and Lundberg and Sethupathy are faculty members at UNC.

The three had concerns with the approach some churches took to discussing difficult issues, Lundberg said.

“We wanted a place that not only ministered to your soul and heart but also your mind,” said Lundberg, a professor in the communication studies department. “That place was difficult to find, so we decided to roll our own.”

Sethupathy, a genetics professor, said Resurrection Church fills a unique role in the religious community.

“These days it’s increasingly challenging to find a worship community that is really serious and committed to their faith but at the same time is thoughtful and reflective and willing to ask hard questions,” Sethupathy said.

Benfield said the discussion element of the church’s early history has been lost.

“In Scripture there’s this phrase — ‘iron sharpens iron.’ Do we really have that anymore? Because iron sharpening iron is loud. It sends sparks. I don’t see that going on in the church. I just see everyone coming in their own little echo chamber,” he said. “We’re trying to be an alternative to that.”

The church works with organizations like City of Joy Rwanda, which provides livestock to families in Rwanda, and Stop Hunger Now, which packages and donates food across the world.

Benfield said they want very little money going to the church itself. No pastor takes a salary.

“If you look at a typical church budget, the money is mostly going to go toward perpetuating the church,” he said. “We’re actually trying to get away from that.”

Lundberg said the church is seeking to expand its 30-member congregation.

“Politically we’re really diverse. We range from Cruz people to hardcore Bernie people and everything in between.”

“The people who have shown up are committed Christians who are kind of misfits at their regular church — wouldn’t quite fit into standard, vanilla, evangelical Christianity.”

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