I noticed on Twittter the other day that someone had posted “the real deal” concerning a church in Asheville. Just a few days later I was invited to that same church by a friend. I showed up an hour early to see what was going on. When I walked toward the door, there were some people outside talking, drinking hot chocolate, smoking a cigarette and trying to stay warm in this cold weather. I walked into the basement and there was a lunch buffet set up and a bunch of hungry people in line. There were several people sitting around eating, and many workers tending to the needs of others. I sat down with my back to the people and listened for a minute. I heard people talking about life, faith, food, and hope. I had a glass of sweet tea and asked a lady how to get to the sanctuary. She smiled, said “follow me” and we went into the next room. This room was a dining hall where many people were being fed. We raced through that room and into the next. Several rooms full of clothing and lots of people trying stuff on. She took me to a small stairwell in the back corner of the room and said “just go right up here and you are there.” This was the secret back corridor to the church. I waited for a man to come down the stairs as only one person can pass at a time. I then headed up to the next level. I walked into a simple but beautiful sanctuary filled with people of all colors, shapes and sizes. Some looked well off, while others seemed as if they did not have a home or any family outside this church. Either way, they were there to eat, meet, and increase their faith as a collective body. Lots of people were wearing Happy Birthday hats so I believe this is their 1 year anniversary. A man named Brian stands up, introduces himself and the church and then has the congregation introduce others in the group and maybe give some thanks. Lots of smiles and warmth going around the room. Some other parts of the service included: People walk up to the alter, light a candle and say a prayer. A simple outward sign of their prayers going up to God. Prayer requests – some people pray to themselves, others make noise, and the kids loved this part as they could bring instruments etc. They gave a shoutout for Penny, the church dog. Some praise for Chef Ron who cooks at the Church. Prayers for the homeless in Asheville and everywhere, and even a praise for The Dripolator coffee shop. Everyone held hands and said the Lords Prayer “our Father, who art in heaven..” Offering time – people walked up to the table/alter. Message was on Matthew 11:2-11 Doubt and Renewal I sat alone, a little boy sat next me and then a man sat next to him. A lady I had never met before then squeezed in and sat down between me and the boy. The church had a hot chocolate and cookies fellowship time where we got a partner, went up, served each other with theses items (she asked me to be her partner, she poured hot chocolate for me and I did the same for her) and we were supposed to talk about where you are in your faith or share something about yourself. We (Jessica and me) chatted for a few, took the picture above with the church dog “Penny” featured in it, and on the way out Pastor Brian introduced himself and thanked me for coming to the service. I told him a friend of mine, David Bourne, had invited me. I am not a “holy roller” and I have had my share of extreme religious encounters in my time; but this church was different in practicality and personality. Faith without works is dead. At least that is what the Bible says. This is a working congregation! Glad I took an hour to stop by The Haywood Street Congregation for their Wednesday mid-day service.