Get Involved with the Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, NC

The Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, NC is a remarkable Ministry with the Poor mission of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Blue Ridge District. At the Haywood Street Congregation, companionship with, rather than service to or for, the poor is a key part of their ministry. As their Get Involved page explains:

At Haywood Street, we use the word companion to describe our volunteers.

The invitation to be a companion is a unique and transforming experience. It requires a new way of “seeing” those who gather here. The invitation begins and ends with the recognition that each person is a child of God – each with gifts and each with needs.

This is a not a ministry where “the haves” help “the have nots”. We are a ministry that acknowledges each of us as privileged and each of us as being in need. While some come with hunger from the body others come with a hunger in their souls.

As we stumble to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we find his life and his teachings call us to accompany one another. Most of Jesus’ ministry was gathering with folks at table, sharing bread and story. Haywood Street strives to follow this model.

You will find homeless folks preparing and serving the meal. You will discover folks in 3 piece suits and hospital scrubs coming only to eat. It turns the notion that the homeless are helpless and the housed are the saviors on its head.

Getting involved at Haywood Street requires stepping out of your comfort zone.

If you are accustomed to only serving others, you’ll be invited to be served. If your gifts have been overlooked or dismissed, you’ll be put to work. It’s a joyful and often chaotic ministry. One that requires openness, vulnerability, flexibility, and last but not least, a good old sense of humor. You’ll make new friends and experience a joy only authenticity can uncover. (Reposted with the permission of the Haywood Street Congregation.)

Watch the video below for more information:

Haywood Street is truly an example of a Vibrant Ministry With*, and was profiled extensively in this article from the Asheville Citzen-Times. As the Rev. Brian Combs explains,

“The holiest places in the world for me are always the most broken ... When you sit with somebody who just had a miscarriage by a rock down by the French Broad, or is sitting in jail, there’s just an absence of glibness — folks want to talk about questions that really matter, and superfluous stuff is not part of the dialogue. That raw, real authenticity is incredibly life-giving — (something) I would call resurrection, the good news of Easter."

Combs concludes, “The great paradox of Christianity is that you only have to die before you live."


Nicholas Laccetti

Nicholas Laccetti is the Ministry with the Poor communicator, based out of the offices of the General Board for Global Ministries in New York City. He received his M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in 2015, where he studied the intersections between popular religion, theology, and social change.

About This Blog

Read and comment on a range of personal reflections and perspectives about poverty and Ministry with the Poor. Our goal is to attract diverse voices and points of view from United Methodists and friends, including people and communities living in conditions of poverty, other experts, religious leaders, community organizers, advocates, policy makers, volunteers, and all engaged in Ministry with the Poor.