Shared space, shared vision
In Asheville, one church was dying while another was being born.
Land of the Sky is a church that has taken root in Asheville, North Carolina, over the past seven years. Although it’s a United Church of Christ congregation, the church found a surprising partner in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The relationship between the UCC church plant and the Presbytery of Western North Carolina began when pastors Sara Wilcox and Amanda Hendler-Voss realized they needed a worship space for their new church. While many churches begin in coffeehouses or living rooms, Wilcox and Hendler-Voss hoped to grow quickly and needed a larger space for their vision. They wanted plenty of children, so they imagined that the best space for their community would be a church building. The pastors talked with Pete Peery, a pastor who knew of a struggling Presbyterian congregation that needed renters. The conversation led to a partnership between the UCC ministers and the PCUSA denomination.
Land of the Sky began worshiping in rented space at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and the members there welcomed them. “They wanted to see us grow and have more people,” Wilcox said. The Westminster congregation’s longing for the new church to succeed seemed to go beyond a simple landlord and renter’s agreement. The Westminster congregation was aging and members had discussed closing. Yet they now imagined their building used in the future as a space for Christian ministry and believed that their property and their own commitment to loving God and neighbor would thrive through Land of the Sky.