By Lance Hickey
Leicester – On the border of West Asheville and Leicester sits a church community dedicated to the well-being of those who call Leicester their home.
Erwin Hills Baptist Church began conducting services in Asheville in the early 1970s. Since that time, this tight-knit congregation has partnered with the Leicester community to help the area’s efforts in creating an enjoyable environment to live in for both adults and students.
For this week’s edition of our Where We Worship series, I attended Erwin Hills Baptist Church. I attended the service on June 2.
While much of the church’s historical data is unclear, according to church officials, Erwin Hills Baptist has continued to focus much of its resources on the Leicester community and abroad. Currently, the church supports 14 missionaries worldwide, including the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Mexico, to name a few. The congregation also helps support Erwin’s local public football teams, providing dinners to the athletes during football season. The church’s gymnasium also serves as a testing facility during the school year.
Pastor Andy McDevitt currently leads Erwin Hills Baptist. McDevitt, who has led the church for eight years, is a 1982 graduate of Erwin High School and a Leicester native. Before taking the role as lead pastor at Erwin Hills, he served as pastor of Meadow Fork Baptist Church in Madison County until 2011. McDevitt is married to wife, Janet, and the couple has two adult children and a grandchild.
The church, located on a steep hill off of New Leicester Highway was easily noticeable with its signage placed at a convenient area of the property where commuters could see. I arrived for the 11am service as the parking lot filled close to its capacity. A large wooden cross stood in front of the brick sanctuary.
As I found my seat, the church pianist began to play the call to worship. Service began promptly as the choir stepped to the back of the stage. They sang “This is My Father’s Word’s” as many in the congregation lifted their hands.
A church leader followed with a welcome to congregants and guests before the church announcements were relayed to the congregation. Background music rang as the choir then sang Road to Calvary.
A time for fellowship followed. Congregants scoured the room greeting one another for the next few minutes, enthusiastically welcoming guests, including me.
Following the weekly offertory, the congregation erupted in another hymnal titled “God Will Take Care of You” before two youth in the church sang a litany of acappella pieces before the time came for McDevitt’s message.
McDevitt, dressed in a gray suit, enthusiastically spoke about the power of becoming a Christian. Animated in his expression, and authentically motivated by his faith, he finished by opening up the altar to the congregation for prayer before service was dismissed.
Service at Erwin Hills Baptist Church proved to be traditional in its presentation, offering a style of service that affords community members the ability to keep to their custom. Congregants from seemingly all walks of life and age groups attended the church. One of the church’s priorities has been to create a welcoming atmosphere for all who attend, according to church officials. As a first-time guest, I can now say people are their first priority.