“Hill Street, it’s time to break open the doors and take to the street.” This was the message delivered by the former pastor of Hill Street Missionary Baptist Church in Asheville. North Carolina on Oct. 18, 2015. Throughout his fourteen year tenure, Reverend Keith Ogden was a well known advocate of a biblical world view in and around Asheville. Now the church is engaged in the search for a new pastor, one that can “Articulate a clear vision for spiritual growth, Christian Education, and personal development” according to its search committee.
The Church was formed in 1915 moving from Stumptown to the Hill Street location in 1949. These and other neighborhoods would face tumultuous change in the decades to come. Sarah M. Judson with the Department of History at UNCA, wrote in 2010 “urban renewal was a continuous experience for Asheville’s African American community for almost thirty years. Beginning with the Hill Street neighborhood in 1957. ”She continued “The fabric of each of these historic African American communities was torn apart.”
Hill Street Baptist weathered these ravages of time gracefully, just as their faith was informed and reinforced by lessons such as this: “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” — Jesus (Matthew 7:25) Today, when one enters the sanctuary for a Sunday service, the warm reception and the music speaks volumes about a congregation that is steadfast and centered on the Gospel of Jesus.
Music contributes mightily to the congregation’s sense of continuity. Terry Letman, the Minister of Music was originally retained as an interim for three months. That was seven years ago. Speaking of the thirty voice adult choir, Letman said, “They love what they do. And I get truly excited by the fervency.” Letman’s own feathery touch on the keyboards also contributes to an understanding of why the group receives requests to sing at other area churches. He tells us that a city wide choir is in the works and that we can look forward to their first concert in the near future.
Consider the First Source!
When we align our objectives with the Divine will, when we strive for the attainment of a worthy goal, when we begin our work with a well defined plan, and when we have ability to work together with others effectively, we have already achieved the trajectory for success. For we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”