Mountain Synagogue: Jewish community growing in WNC

There aren’t many synagogues in Western North Carolina, just one west of Asheville. Mountain Synagogue in Franklin is a community of Jews practicing their faith in the All Saints Episcopal Church of Franklin. And as with most Jewish communities around the world, safety is top priority.

The Creative Thought Center: For many, the final step on a spiritual journey

On Sunday morning, silence falls in the Creative Thought Center, save the voice of Kim May as she leads her congregation through a meditation. This week she’s brought in a pad of sticky notes for each member containing 16 different affirmations. Members are directed to flip to one at random and ruminate on the affirmation during meditation. 

‘One brotherhood’: Asheville mosque offers rare prayer center for mountain Muslims

In the Muslim faith, corporate prayer is a pillar of the practice — and in Western North Carolina, there’s only one place to observe that rite. 

East meets west at the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church

In a small room tucked away in the corner of a nondescript strip mall in the heart of Waynesville, spindly wisps of smoke waft from an incense burner adorned with bells and suspended by chains from the hand of a deacon slinging it rhythmically, back and forth.

Resident debate: Student, professor field death threats amid debate on diversity training

Since a Western Carolina University student took to national news this month to air her concerns about the school’s gender and racial diversity training for resident assistants, a discussion about inclusivity, tolerance and how to interact with people of differing worldviews has been swirling through the Catamount community. 

Honking for Jesus: Churches adapt, ponder reopening after lawsuit

On May 17, a typical sunny spring Sunday in this community of churches, congregants gathered for religious services all across Haywood County much as they’d done hundreds or thousands of times before. 

Choirs warmed up. Pianos tinkled in the background. Pastors shuffled papers and pamphlets at podiums, testing the microphones and speakers and projectors. Worshipers parked themselves in place and prepared for the sermon.

Confession is good for the soul

Some bare their souls to priests and ministers. Some seek out therapists and counselors. Some look for help from friends and family members.

And some write books. 

My church embraces LGBTQ members

By Nina Dove • Guest Columnist

When I walked into a Reconciling Ministries meeting at my church (First United Methodist Church of Waynesville) four years ago, I had very few expectations. The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is an organization devoted to promoting the inclusion and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ persons in the church. Having been raised in a church with a large percentage of retired ministers, and retirees in general, I was cautious about our chapter of RMN; I assumed, walking in to the room, I would see primarily young and middle-aged adults, and perhaps one or two crotchety homophobic elders only there to voice their dissent. Not that I thought that people over 65 were incapable of being open-minded, but to some extent I believed the stereotype that older people, especially religious ones, would refuse to accept gay people. 

Acknowledging differences and embracing brotherhood

For many years, I thought of myself as one of Flannery O’Connor’s “Christ-haunted” characters, living my life in a kind of perpetual spiritual limbo, unable to turn my back on religion altogether, equally unable to fully embrace it. I sometimes felt that Christ was chasing me back to church, and Christians were chasing me right back out of it.

A life stranger than fiction: Local author releases novel of true-life confessions

As Royal Phillips packs up her belongings that signify the last 20 years she’s spent in Waynesville and prepares for her next chapter in Palm Springs, California, she can’t help but to feel like her life has come full circle — and what a crazy circle it has been. 

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