In western North Carolina, progressive thought coupled with mountain culture continues to call outsiders to resettle in the beauty of this region. After serving in associate and interim ministry positions, Sara Wilcox and Amanda Hendler-Voss met in Asheville, through a shared passion for the United Church of Christ. The increasing demand for vibrant communities of faith that offer an extravagant welcome to all led them to envision a new UCC church plant. Both discerned God’s call to the exciting task of co-pastoring Land of the Sky United Church of Christ. As co-pastors of this congregation, Amanda and Sara sought to offer a unique model of shared leadership that fosters collaboration (rather than hierarchy) in which each person’s gifts are used for the common good. In the fall of 2008, Amanda and Sara gathered of a small core group with the purpose of discerning the vision, mission statement, and location of Land of the Sky UCC.
Throughout the summer of 2009, the community began worshiping monthly, while offering other monthly events to draw in folks and families who might be interested in this new church. Worship services were held at our first nesting location at 15 Overbrook Place, the home of Westminster Presbyterian Church. In August of 2009, we launched our first weekly worship service, and, in 2010, added weekly Sunday school classes. In 2012, we welcomed our 100th member and moved to a new location, sharing space with Kenilworth Presbyterian Church. In 2013, we were warmly welcomed as a congregation with full standing in the UCC. In 2014, we expanded our worship music to include the use of the guitar, then eventually the banjo.
In 2015, Westminster Presbyterian Church held its last worship service. In conversation with the Western North Carolina Presbytery, our community collaborated to ensure that the property at 15 Overbrook Place continued to live into the vision and hope of the wider church. On Palm Sunday in 2016, the congregation of Land of the Sky UCC returned to its original location. That Sunday, the congregation gathered in the Fellowship Hall where Land of the Sky UCC had held its first service and together processed into the sanctuary for our first service in four years at 15 Overbrook Place.
Today, Land of the Sky UCC continues to work toward a vision of partnering with other ministries and agencies to ensure that 15 Overbrook Place aligns with our values to live justly, love abundantly, and walk humbly in the ways of Jesus. Our sister church, Circle of Mercy, meets on Sunday evenings in the Fellowship Hall of 15 Overbrook Place. A variety of other partners make good use of the building and its space to bring greater goodness and justice to the world.
As we celebrated our 8th birthday on Pentecost Sunday in 2017, Land of the Sky UCC blessed and released co-founding pastor, Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss, as she relocated to Northern Virginia with her family. This served as the first transition of pastoral leadership at Land of the Sky UCC. The vision Amanda and Sara set forth over 9 years ago continues to break forth in this Beloved Community that more than 300 partners and friends call home. Young and old, gay and straight and across the spectrum, happy and sad, confused and inspired, street-smart and college-educated, those who can’t pay their bills and those who have more than enough to share . . . our story continues to unfold.