About Jesse

    A veteran newspaper reporter, Jesse tells stories of regular people living with passion, struggling against injustice or simply practicing their faith. Through songwriting, magazine journalism and essays, Jesse aims to describe the human condition, especially the search for transcendence.


    The Atlantic

Transgender seminarian finds peace as a man (Washington Post)

Three years ago when he began his studies, Adam was a North Carolina woman with a desire to plumb the intersection of faith and sexuality. By the time of the graduation ceremony, Plant had found acceptance and peace as a man.

Continue reading…

A local music champion ambles out of town (Durham News column)

Wearing a T-shirt that said, “CHOOSE LOCAL MUSIC,” JKutchma was his usual kinetic self on-stage – one of the most physical performers the Triangle has known – but he gave it a little extra that night, ad-libbing an impassioned sermon on how in the age of the mp3, it had become harder and harder for musicians to finance their work.

Continue reading…

A rose garden’s promise (Durham News)

Last fall, the Duke Memorial United Methodist Church installed a port-o-potty outside after a youth-group mission trip to Asheville, where the kids met a lot of people living on the streets and realized how hard it can be to find a bathroom.

Continue reading…

Never going back again (Durham News column about vinyl records)

Vinyl records make you sit and listen, because if you don’t, then they’re just going to keep playing the same three or four songs over and over again. You can just turn on Pandora and forget about it, which is what so many of us do with music nowadays. With vinyl, you sit there, waiting: to carefully, delicately lift the needle, to pick up the disc with attentive gentleness, reverently to flip it over or slide it back into its sleeve, to coax another one out, to hold it by its edges so as not to smudge the ebony sheen, to circumnavigate the center hole over the spindle, to land the stylus like a helicopter carrying the queen.

Continue reading…

Emanuel AME widow wants to carry on husband’s work (Religion News Service)

The first lady of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church offered two enduring images: her late husband’s smiling face lying in a casket, and the bullet holes that riddled the church walls when she went to clean out his office a week later.

Continue reading…