Spirituality and Sexuality: It Matters What We Believe

Join us for Vespers this Wednesday, August 12, 6:30 PM  hosted by Universal Rainbow Unity or URU. URU seeks to promote love, acceptance, compassion, justice, and equality in all areas of sexual and gender identity while providing education, encouraging awareness and nurturing full inclusion in a spiritually diverse community.

The Vespers theme will be “Spirituality & Sexuality” followed by a 7PM program on Sexual Identity and Expression featuring the Gender Unicorn, and a very special guest. Video presentation by Erin Shadle and discussion co-facilitated by Rev. Claudia (correction to previous announcement that it would be Margaret McAllister) and Kim Collins. See you – virtually- there!

Future Programs

Aug 19
Vespers leader: Nancy Bragg 
Theme: Deepening Spirituality & Spiritual Practices
Program, 7PM: TBA 

Aug 26 *NEW
Vespers leader: John Bloomeer
Theme: The Joy of Rituals
Program, 7PM: TED Talk/Discussion- TBA

Vespers + Program, 6:30pm

Our Vespers service will be hosted by Universal Rainbow Unity or URU. The theme will be “Spirituality & Sexuality” followed by a 7PM program on Sexual Identity and Expression featuring the Gender Unicorn, and a very special guest. There will be brief presentation by Erin Shadle, followed by a discussion co-facilitated by Margaret McAllister and Kim Collins. See you – virtually- there!

A Different Story

The story once told of Asheville was that heritage of slavery, so important across most of North Carolina, was never really much of an issue here. Compared with the plantations of the Piedmont, it was said, there was very little in the way of slavery in the mountains. But the deeper we dig into history, the more we learn of how little of the real story is told.

 Attention lately has been focused on Vance Monument, the 65-foot obelisk downtown built a century ago to celebrate to the memory of Zebulon Vance, one-time Confederate officer, governor and then US senator of North Carolina. Vance not only owned slaves but was a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Questioning such a prominent monument celebrating a slave owner, city officials had the monument shrouded as a committee is being chosen to decide what will be done with it.

But Vance, of course, was not alone. Just about every famous name memorialized in Asheville’s streets, villages and neighborhoods was also a slave owner, from James Patton to Augustus Merrimon, Nicholas Woodfin, Samuel Chunn, Michael Weaver, and Leonard Henderson. So was the city’s and county’s namesakes: Samuel Ashe and Edward Buncombe.

(For a fuller treatment of Asheville’s slave history and its legacy check out this recent video: produced by Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church:

All of this is simply evidence of how deeply the legacy of racial oppression is interwoven into our lives in ways that are not immediately apparent to most of us. The fog of history clouds uncomfortable truths, and most of us go on with our lives without giving the past a second thought. But the consequences of that oppression remain in the white supremacy culture we live with today. And without deliberate action to dismantle it, it will remain, continuing the violence it has done to generations of Black people.

It’s been said that the killing of George Floyd and the renewal of the Black Lives Matter movement have offered Americans a “Moment” when real transformation – accountability of the damage done and debt owed to African-Americans – is possible, and room can be made for racial healing.

Our hope as a congregation is that we can be agents of that healing. In the coming year, we plan to offer many ways to help you get engaged in this work, from conversations that ground us, to advocacy for the work before us locally, to connections with others joined in the struggle. Look for opportunities to get involved, to learn and grow and to make your voice heard.

Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister




YWCA Invites You to their 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge

The 21-Day Racial Equity, and Social Justice Challenge provides an opportunity to dive into racial equity and social justice topics where participants will be provided curated resources like articles, podcasts, activities, and more conveniently delivered straight to their inbox. Resource emails will begin Sunday, August 9th, and continue for four weeks.  It’s free.

A 21-day, habit-building series like this helps you discover how racial inequity and social injustice impact our community. This series will allow you to connect with others and identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination.

Registration is now open on our YWCA of Asheville’s website. We will also be facilitating conversation in the 21 Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge Facebook group, where participants can discuss the content and engage with participants taking the challenge.

Register through the link below and begin your journey towards creating equality for all.


Our challenge was inspired by the YWCA of Greater Cleveland, who was inspired by Food Solutions New England. Food Solutions New England was the first to use an exercise from Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. and Debby Irving’s book and adapt it into an interactive 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. The challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits and bring awareness to issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership.