Wednesday was Thanksgiving at Haywood Street. Every year, this day becomes an epic endeavor, an exposing of small miracles and a remembrance of this incredible ministry of abundance.

The lines for receiving meals were longer than we’ve experienced and lasted well past our normal hours of serving. Clearly, the feeding of the multitude was the calling, and so, we cancelled our Wednesday worship service. Sometimes, a warm, home-made meal is, itself, the sermon, the good word and the greatest of the gospels.

We thank everyone who made another Haywood Street Thanksgiving happen. our gratitude runs way, way over.

Our praise also goes out to six of our partner restaurants who prepared many pounds of turkey for the big day. Thank you, Farm Burger, Vinnie’s, Bargello, East Fork, 828 Family Pizzeria, and Bouchon!

CLICK HERE for a brief ‘how-to’ video about our new, contactless delivery system for clothing closet donations.

A reminder that we accept clothing, camping gear, backpacks and toiletries. If your donation is intended to be for Haywood Street Respite, please mark it as such. And if you need an in-kind receipt, please email Hannah.

** Donations can be made Tuesdays from 10am-12pm only. On Tuesday, December 1, we will be focused on sorting and NOT accepting donations.


1. If you still have visitors this weekend, consider bringing them by to see the Haywood Street Fresco! Saturday, 12:00-2:00. Masks required.

2. A reminder that our newsletter subscribers will be receiving one week of extra faces, stories and reflections from Haywood Street friends, companions and staff beginning December 1. These special emails are meant to be a gift for you and others who have described feeling lonely, isolated and disconnected from community due to COVID-19.


1. Make a meal for Friends staying in Respite. Click here to sign up!

2. Click here to access our wish list and giving information.


The Other Side of Lazarus: Part VI (Part lPart ll, Part lllPart IV, Part V)

“The Encounters”

I heard about a very special meal that was taking place in a Prichard Park near the middle of downtown each Sunday Morning. So, when I woke on Sunday I decided to check it out. II went to A-Hope first and grabbed some coffee and conversation, and maybe a donut or two, but it was good to catch up with some of my friends and hear tales of horror and grandeur before I headed to the park for this breakfast I’d heard about.

I don’t remember but according to my journal notes, it was still a bit nippy outside, but it was a bright sunny day.  I was still a mess, no bath in almost a week, but still excited for my journey.  I arrived at Prichard Park about 8:30 in the morning to see many people gathered waiting on the food to arrive.  When it did it was a hodge podge of food from biscuits to boiled eggs, some self-care items and other stuff, coffee and water, none of which really excited me. Then, however, a group showed up and with them was a preacher lady. In my previous world this was a no-no, so I was excited to hear what she had to say. I would later learn that her name was Shannon Spencer and she was an ordained minister from the United Church of Christ.  She was there to share a few words and pass communion.  I was surely impressed by her words, however, to serve communion in such an open environment like that was what impressed me the most. In my previous world, you would need to have been baptized to recieve communion, and it was rarely given, but this communion was open for everyone, no questions, no regard for gender or social status, just come, receive communion and be blessed.  I remember crying. Dr. Rev Shannon Spencer and I would become lifelong friends along with Sara Robinson (Bryant), whom I also briefly met that day. Both would later contribute to my spiritual development in huge ways.  Yes, this day started out in a great and remarkable way, but in a few short hours I would have an encounter that would forever change me and set me on a course that would heal me, teach me to love again, mainly myself, and come to understand the man from Nazareth in a way that would also heal our relationship. Simply put, it saved my spiritual and physical life.

Later that day, I was searching for a bed. As you can imagine, I had been sleeping under trees, on the wet ground and even some make-shift wicker couches. I really wanted a soft bed. I was at a point that I was going to rent a hotel room, something I promised myself I would not do for at least a year.  This was hard though, harder than I could have imagined on my psyche. My brain was tired.  Gray informed me that if I talked to the rescue mission, they had a program that would allow me to stay inside there building for 7 days at one time!  It sounded good to me, so I headed to the Western North Carolina Rescue Mission to check it out!  When I arrived I was told that they were full, but had some “overflow available” and that if I came back at 4 that afternoon I could get a hot meal and sign up for overflow. So, I agreed, they wrote my name and driver’s license number down, which I thought the driver’s license part was a little weird, but I was asking for some relief, so I handed it over.  I would later work awfully hard to protest this requirement as I later found out that they were turning this number over to the police to check for warrants.  Not cool. I had the same experience at the A-Hope day center, and I vowed that if I ever started my own ministry, we would not practice this objectification. Guess What?  I showed up at 4 as instructed, I do not remember who checked me in, but I do remember the face, and I would later learn that his name was Wayne Blackwell. I was told at the time that I would be sleeping on a mat in the Sanctuary after the evening church service.  I was also told that if I stayed there, I would be required to attend this church service, which sounded strange.  It was clearly going to be a Christian Church Service, with a conservative feel, fine by me, but I remember thinking, what if it wasn’t? Then resources would be withheld unless I participated? Again, I made myself a mental note on my own ministry — if it ever happened, we would not have this requirement. Guess What?  I went in to the dining room, nervously leaving my backpack in the hallway and had dinner. It was not all that, however, I was grateful to receive it. Again, I made a mental note — if God would ever bless me with my own ministry, we would have food available that was over the top, the best that money could buy, Guess What?

I finished my dinner, pizza, and donuts, and returned to my backpack and prepared for the evening service.  I ask one of the attendants, I forget his name, but we still see each other at Haywood Street on occasion, to let me know when the Preacher arrived because I would like to speak with this person, to which he replied, “that’s him right over there”. Wow, this preacher was young, I would guess late 20’s or early 30’s, he certainly did not fit the picture in my mind.  He looked the part of a young Palestinian and was casually dressed and I must admit at first, I did not take him that serious. I introduced myself and briefly told him, I was trying to do something with the Kingdom but I had no Idea what, I also told him I was in a bad place in my life and needed to give him my testimony. I remember asking him if he had been to Seminary or just decided to become a preacher.  He explained to me that he had been to Seminary and was a United Methodist Elder who just started a ministry not far from where we were. He invited me to come the next day to his office to meet with him at 4:00, I agreed.  When I walked away, I was skeptical because the United Methodist in my previous life was explained to me as some kind of cult that was on the fringes of Christianity. I was warned many times by the religious establishment, “Southern Baptist Convention” to stay clear, or face the fires of hell.  I had grown to really disagree with the doctrine of the Southern Baptist Convention, because of its exclusion and misinterpretation of scripture.  When I walked away, I remember thinking, this is exactly why I should get to know this preacher man. Besides, there was something a little different about him — his soft-spoken voice and calm demeanor calmed me a little. I could not tell you what he said during his sermon that night, I was totally focused on the meeting the next day.  I later learned that he was spending the night there with another man whom I briefly met named Dell, who would go on to become one of my greatest mentors.  I remember that I did not sleep well that night on the mat in the sanctuary, the outside was much better, something about sleeping on the ground that soothed me.  I went back into town the next day and went through the normal routine.  I was really looking forward to my meeting with Rev. Combs, I was hoping that somehow, he had all the answers and that my life would change, it was a tall order, but I had hope.