Thank you to all who have expressed support and encouragement for our proposal to build deeply affordable housing on Asheland Avenue in downtown Asheville. There has been a flurry of activity and activism over the past week that makes it clear more time is needed to allow the city to discern on how to make meaningful progress towards reparations with the Black community AND address affordable housing. These are both important objectives and are not mutually exclusive. It is time to step back and dialogue further on how we can all journey together towards shared goals. While disappointed over the pause, we celebrate the hopefulness of reconciliation, restoration and wholeness that is on the other side of it.

12 Bones agreed in December to provide the Sunday casserole side item for January and February’s Welcome Table meals. They have faithfully done so, providing weekly deliveries of their famous corn pudding. We thank the owners and employees of 12 Bones for their continued love and support of the Haywood Street community, even in these most challenging of times.

In observance of Ash Wednesday, Friends were invited to take a band symbolizing the solidarity of the journey we take together through Lent.

During this lenten season, please feel invited to spend time in the Haywood Street sanctuary for prayer and contemplation. You may make an appointment by emailing April.

This event affected numerous members of the Haywood Street Community. Remarks from Rev. Combs are included in the latter part of this article.


1. Upcoming Companion Zoom Hours:

March 4 @ 3:00 PM – Bryan Mitchell will be there to give vision for the building and grounds and share updates and answer questions

March 18 @ 3:00 PM – Father Mike Reardon will be there to visit, share updates and answer ministry questions.

2. Current Recovery meetings (held in the sanctuary):

Serenity Service AA: M, T, W, TH, F @ 5:30 pm
NA: T, TH @ 8:00 pm
CA: W @ 7:30 pm
AA Men’s Meeting: Sat @ 9:15 am



Glimmer of Hope Through Abundant Grace

Last week I attended a ZOOM conference call Hannah organized for the Companion community at Haywood Street. I sat in for most of the conversation while Doug stayed plugged in throughout the session.

One by one, voices came on to the call, Linda, Trudy, Dell, Steve, Cassy, Maggie, Jeannette, Sharon and Dick and many other friends sharing their hellos, making comments about the weather since we had just been hit with a snow storm in our region. Hannah talked about getting snowed in at her home, where she lives at a higher elevation and having to park hers and Patrick’s car at the base of the mountain in order to get out of their neighborhood. We continued with that kind of back and forth sharing of living experiences for a few minutes as the conversations got lively. Some of us just plainly said “I miss my friends and being at Haywood Street”. With every voice I heard, I felt a glimmer of hope shining into my soul through abundant grace.

It was inevitable we would get into the discussion of the COVID-19 virus. Each of us took turns with our stories and experiences with the pandemic bringing them forward and placed on the table to share. Most of us talked about difficulties in scheduling an appointment for the first shot. Some talked about seeking out vaccine sites outside of their own community, as Asheville in particular was experiencing an over capacity surge for appointments and under supply of shots available for 65+ aged people. One person said they went to Madison county, others talked about Polk county and so on. Some had family or friends that had contracted the virus and their concerns for recovery as well as getting infected by family members. It all seemed like our attention spans were maxed out with the long duration, now about twelve months out from when the virus started to be visible in our communities. In spite of the challenges of making an appointment, I felt glimpses of hope through abundant grace by getting vaccinated.

Yes, we can now say there are glimpses of hope for our nation to recover from the pandemic. Twelve months of feeling like we’ve been walking in the wilderness, afraid of going out of our homes, minimizing contact with family or friends, staying vigilant of getting infections by wearing masks, staying our distance from each other, listening to news developments to keep up with the latest information about the virus from experts and even pundits. We have been hyper vigilant, and for myself, I can admit that it is becoming a weary pathway to follow. But we must follow God’s call to see abundant grace all around.

Last year, we experienced a radical departure in how we deliver ministry through Haywood Street. Our dependence on physical presence, spiritual closeness and expressions of being in communion with each other took a dramatic departure in how we expressed ourselves. Our true and tried model changed by force of the virus, a departure from all we’ve known and have been accustom to sharing. Our alternative ways of practicing ministry became centralized and limited in our parking lot under tents. ZOOM conference calls quickly replaced physically meeting spaces on campus. The “God’s Outfitters” clothing closet evolved into a “personal shopper” experience for both the Companion manning the closet as well as the friend receiving the clothing. In reflecting on the positive side of change, the pandemic forced new, different ideas to be adopted in how Haywood Street remained significant in serving a vulnerable, food insecure community. But the change also brought a sense of strangeness, loneliness and loss which has set in throughout this journey over twelve months. Yet still, through these new transformations in our community, I see the glimmer of hope through abundant grace.

So, I ask, “what is the point” in this reflection? I think the point is that I’m beginning to see and look for glimmers of hope through abundant grace… showing up in our voices over ZOOM calls, showing up in our prayers for recovery from the pandemic, showing up in the caring of family and friends through phone calls, Facebook posts, text messages, even greeting cards. The vaccines are bringing us closer to the possibility of resuming ministry in ways we long for as a loving, worshiping and connecting community. Perhaps “what is the point” is about holding on to faith that we will regain our vitality, our directed purpose, our comfort zones of presence with each other in full measure, soon enough. We’ve had time to look around and take note of God’s abundant grace for us… his intention favors us, no matter what. Our faith can win over dark moments of doubt, help us cope with the loneliness we feel by being physically separated while our prayers call up our faith through…. Abundant Grace…how sweet the sound.