Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Downtown Welcome Table work? When does it start and end? Do I need to make reservations?
The Downtown Welcome Table serves lunch on Wednesdays and Sundays. When you arrive, stop by the Hospitality Cart and pick up a reservation for the lunch time of your choice. Then feel welcome to wander around campus, have a cup of coffee in the Hospitality Room, ship in our clothes closet, enjoy the garden or participate in any of the other activities on campus. Then make your way to the Hospitality Room a few minutes before your scheduled lunch time. Lunch is served family-style in our dining room, and you can expect to be at the table for 30-45 minutes.
Wednesdays: Our first seating of lunch begins at 10:30 a.m. in the downstairs dining room, followed by three more seatings at approximately 11:15, 12:00, and 12:45.
Sundays: Lunch seating times are at 1:15, 2:00, and 2:45.
How do I volunteer?
We offer many opportunities and contexts for you to share of your time and talents. We refer to volunteers as “companions,” because we believe that the distinction is important. We’re seeking to build human connection and relationships.
We offer companion orientations once a month, and don’t require any minimum time commitments.
What are your worship times?
We worship at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and 3:15 p.m. on Sundays.
Why do you worship at non-traditional times?
As the ministry was forming, a houseless brother remarked, “The shelter lets out early in the morning and I’m on lock out until afternoon. In the park, there’s a chance of arrest; in the library a chance of getting kicked out, and middle of the day and middle of the week is when I struggle with addiction the most. I’d rather hear the Good News than get high.” So, we began in November 2009 with worship at 12:30 PM on Wednesdays, a tradition that continues.
Over the next five years, strangers and charter congregants alike pressed and cajoled for a weekend worship service due to work and recovery group conflicts on Wednesdays. We began worshipping on Sundays in 2016.
How is Haywood Street funded?
Unlike traditional churches, Haywood Street intentionally does not – and cannot – sustain itself through the worship offering alone. We gather support from individual contributors, partner congregations, fundraising events, and grants.
What’s the best way to support Haywood Street?
There are lots of valuable ways you can contribute to Haywood Street’s mission.
You can make offerings of in-kind donations such as clothing and shoes at our clothing closet. You can offer of your time and talent in one of our many programs or service projects. You can make a tax-deductible financial contribution to the organization.
In addition to these offerings, Haywood Street needs storytellers. Evangelists who can converse about their encounters, verbalize their transformations, and share the Good News of what God is doing. If you feel called to share a story about how this ministry has affected you, please email or call us.
Where and when can I donate clothes?
You can bring donations inside to the clothing closet on Sundays from 1 – 3 PM and Tuesdays from 10 AM – 12 PM and you can pick up a tax receipt during those times. There are large blue donation drop-off bins onsite at two of our partners churches — one in N. Asheville at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and the other in S. Asheville at Biltmore United Methodist Church — where you can drop off donations for Haywood St anytime.
How do I make a financial contribution?
You can contribute financially through our weekly offering during worship, online, or by mailing a check to Haywood Street Congregation, PO Box 2982 Asheville, NC 28802.
Where can I park?
Parking can be a challenge. Click here for some ideas about nearby parking options.
Can I bring my children, both human and canine?
Yes, and yes. Because toddlers and terriers are beloved members of our families, and because Haywood Street thrives on a diversity of voices and yelps, please do bring your kids and dogs if you’d like. Please also know that dogs should be on leashes and children should not be left unaccompanied.
Are you “Safe Sanctuaries” certified?
Because the United Methodist Church takes so seriously Jesus’s call to welcome the children, many local congregations have become “Safe Sanctuaries” certified. This designation requires buddy systems, volunteer screenings, and other comprehensive measures intended to reduce risk and protect children.
For congregations committed to nurseries and youth groups and the overall Christian formation of minors, certification is appropriate. Haywood Street, however, is a mission primarily among mentally ill, addicted, and unhoused adults. Many of our street sisters and brothers have been incarcerated, carry lengthy criminal records, and survive with limited freedoms. It is our deepest calling to be a Church on the furthest edges of the kingdom.
For all of these reasons, we are not a Safe Sanctuaries ministry.
Many parents, after prayer and discernment, after conversation and consultation, have chosen to involve their children at Haywood Street – to safely expose daughter and son to discipleship in the raw, to subvert a society of fear, to embrace the fullest expression of the beloved community. They are able to do so by practicing parental supervision and diligence.
If you feel called to include your child in what God is doing at Haywood Street, then we welcome and invite you to do the same.
Can I bring my youth group?
With advance notice, we are happy to welcome youth groups on Wednesdays and Sundays. Please contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-575-2477, ext 106 if you are bringing a group — even if you are just coming to eat and not serve.
For those who are interested in Haywood Street for an entire week, we have partnered with Carolina Cross Connection to create the Homeless Outreach Mission Experience (H.O.M.E.). An immersion program, H.O.M.E. campers spend their week nurturing relationships, serving and being served, encountering the living Christ among our street siblings.
Parents and youth group leaders, please click for important safety considerations.
Can Reverend Brian Combs preach at my church or lead a workshop?
To invite partnerships and develop collaborations, Brian preaches and speaks at secular and sacred gatherings alike. He travels regularly and welcomes invitations. You can reach him at email@example.com or 828-575-2477 ext 105.
Are the pastors appointed?
As a United Methodist Elder, Rev. Combs is appointed by and serves at the discretion of the Bishop of Western North Carolina. He is an itinerant pastor, serving where sent. While his appointment is only guaranteed annually, pastors who start new ministries in settings where gifts and graces intersect with contextual need, are, more and more, given longer stays.
When and how did Haywood Street start?
We began in 2009 in the soup line, under the bridge, staying over night at the shelter, and loitering downtown with our ear bent towards the cracks of poverty, listening for the voice of Jesus among the disinherited. And what He said was “offer me a congregation of absurd grace, a meal of scandalous abundance, a kingdom glance of heaven on earth.”
Where did your name come from?
To be in poverty is to traverse, everyday, the invisible box of survival, a network of downtown agencies. To access many of these social services agencies, you have to tread up and down Haywood Street, scratching about for resources.
Also, after a long witness of mission ministry in Asheville, the Haywood Street United Methodist Church closed, leaving their fine facility vacant. As a remarkable legacy, they asked only that their building be used for continued discipleship.
Thus, our name gives voice to the plight of our siblings who walk the asphalt between Pritchard Park and our congregation everyday, and as a way to honor the lives and ministries of those who have gone before in the same space.
How is Haywood Street structured/ organized?
In addition to the non-profit status we are granted by virtue of being a church, we have our own 501(c)3 number and maintain an identity as a faith-based nonprofit organization.
We are classified as a mission congregation within the United Methodist Church (per ¶ 259 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline,) and this designation gives us some flexibility surrounding how we are organized.
In some ways we are structured like any other constituted church. For example, we have a Staff Parish Relations Committee that performs many Human Resources functions.
One thing that differentiates us is that we have a Governing Board instead of an Administrative Board. The Governing Board helps ensure that the Haywood Street Congregation is sustainable, with Board members committed to promoting the organization and ensuring that it has the necessary resources to pursue its mission and vision.
I’m intrigued by your work and mission, and by the ideas it sparks in me. Where can I go for more information?
We’re glad you are! You’re welcome to worship with us and to become involved in our programs through participation or donation. If you’re a reader, we have lots of recommendations we love to point people toward:
- The Gospel of Luke
- Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman
- Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn
- Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder
- A Black Theology of Liberation, James H. Cone
- Same Kind of Different as Me, Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Lynn Vincent
- The Weight of Mercy, Deb Richardson-Moore
- The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
- When Helping Hurts, Steven Corbett, Brian Fikkert
- Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich
- An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison
- Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle
- Take this Bread, Sara Miles