By Lance Hickey
Woodfin – As we continue covering local churches in our area in our Where We Worship series, a constant remains. Local churches and religious organizations are vastly important to the community and many times serve as aid for local communities.
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, which was the place of worship we had the opportunity to cover for this week’s edition of Where We Worship, just north of Woodfin’s town limit, is not the exception.
Founded on June 13, 1879, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church has helped influence many generations of individuals living in both the North Asheville and Weaverville areas. The congregation completed the most recent phase of its current building in 2002, while recently completing updates of its worship center.
Rev. Keith Watkins has served the church as lead pastor for 17 years. Originally from West Asheville, Watkins became a Christ-follower, devoting his life to serving the community. Community, according to Watkins, is the church’s focus.
A unique way the congregation gives to the local community is through missions. Rather than a new building fund or more expansion, Pleasant Hill devotes significant resources to missions and outreach to the Weaverville and Asheville areas, according to church leadership. Outreach has become a primary focus. In 2020, the congregation plans to commit to outreach in a unique way each month, focusing on a different aspect of outreach all 12 months of the year.
One way Pleasant Hill reaches out to the community is through giving large Ziploc bags of water, food and socks to those in the community. Boxes of these bags sit in the front of the worship center for the congregation to distribute to their community. I had the opportunity to see these first hand during my visit to the church on November 10.
Service began at 11 am as parking became sparse and the worship center filled to the brim. The prelude played through the speakers as parishioners found their seats.
The congregation stood and sang “Victory In Jesus,” a traditional hymn. Pastor Watkins followed with a prayer before the church offering was collected.
Following the church announcements from Watkins, the church choir walked to the stage to recite “I Got Saved” before a woman stepped to the microphone to sing a solo. The choir joined in the melody.
As music and singing came to an end, the church choir headed back to the pews to join the congregation. Watkins, sitting stage right, stepped forward to deliver his Sunday morning sermon. The audience took in every word in Pleasant Hill’s large auditorium. Watkins spoke on the importance of outreach. Speaking with passion, he presented his case on why each parishioner should be reaching their neighborhood and their respective communities.
As Watkins completed his message, he opened time for prayer before service was dismissed.
Service at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church proved to be traditional in its presentation with an uplifting, yet challenging message. The congregation was filled with people from seemingly every age group. Pleasant Hill’s drive to serve the community proved to be thought-provoking and should serve the congregation and the community well as they continue to fill the needs of the North Asheville and Weaverville communities.