Where we Worship

Church leaves mark on community

By Lance Hickey

North Asheville – Mount Carmel Baptist Church was the place of worship I had the opportunity to attend for this week’s segment of places where we worship in Northern Buncombe and Madison Counties.

Located on Mount Carmel Road in Erwin Hills, just North of Erwin High School, Mount Carmel Baptist Church serves the Leicester, Woodfin and North Asheville communities.

I arrived at 10:15 for the church’s 10:30 am service. As I surveyed the property, looking for a parking space, I noticed a few men standing next to a tent. They were in yellow clothing, helping congregants as they walked across the street from the Family Ministries Center located transversely from the main part of the campus where the sanctuary sits.

A sign with the church’s name across it and the words “Revival Begins with Prayer” stood at the front of the campus. The parking lot began to fill as I parked and headed into the sanctuary. As I entered the building, a jubilant man welcomed me to the service and handed me a church bulletin. I looked for a seat and several congregants graciously greeted me.

Service began promptly as a screen, showing the church announcements, at the front of the sanctuary, swiftly glided up the front wall, rolling and closing to reveal the baptismal pool as the congregation’s attention was naturally drawn to watch what was about to happen.

Interim Pastor Reverend Roy Rigdon stood in the baptismal at the back of the stage and welcomed the congregation. Rigdon proceeded to baptize four individuals. The enthusiastic crowd cheered and family members grinned ear-to-ear while they looked on as their loved ones publicly displayed their faith in Jesus. It proved to be a unique and memorable way to begin service.

As the baptismal viewing doors closed and the screen came down, Youth and Family Pastor Cam McLaughlin stepped forward to say a few words before a time of congregational greeting.

The church choir then began to sing the first song of the day. Parishioners stood as the entire room sang in a united voice. The choir then began to sing “Blessed Be Your Name,” by Matt Redman, before a time for the offertory.

As the offering was taken, I began to attentively survey the church sanctuary. Nearly filled to capacity, the room was large. Dashing red carpet with matching red-cushioned wooden pews accented brown and white walls. An American flag stood at the left side of the stage while a North Carolina state flag stood on the right side. It was a beautiful building.

Following the offering, the choir sang two more songs, “God of the Ages” and “Baptized in Water.” Reverend Rigdon, now dressed in his Sunday best following the baptisms, then stepped forward to deliver his sermon.

Rigdon spoke about the significance of baptism. His message proved to be both informative and thought-provoking, with a bit of humor. As Rigdon finished the delivery of his sermon, he opened up a time for prayer. The Hymn of Invitation was then played before service was dismissed.

Established in 1885, Mount Carmel Baptist Church continues to reach the Leicester community, establishing a Family Ministries Center for community and ministry purposes in 2006. Its current church building and sanctuary, across the street from the Family Ministries Center, was built in 1966. Reverend A.I. Justice served as the church’s first minister. Reverend Rigdon has served as interim pastor for six months, following Dr. Ronnie Owen’s retirement. Owen faithfully served as the church’s pastor from 1969 to 2018.

Mount Carmel Baptist Church was mostly traditional in its presentation with some modern musical additions played during its Sunday morning service. Its staff and congregants couldn’t have been more helpful and kind. The church’s mission is to grow, love and serve others. It’s a mission that has impacted the community for more than a hundred years, and one that will continue to leave a lasting impact on a growing community.

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