Erwin Hills – In our Where We Worship series over the past nearly two years, we have uncovered some of the religious churches that influence our communities in significant ways, many offering a sense of hope to those in need in the area.
We have covered churches more than a century old and some in their infancy. For this week’s edition of our Where We Worship series, I had the opportunity to attend Vertical Church Asheville, a church plant meeting on the border of Asheville and Leicester in the Erwin Hills area. The congregation currently meets in Erwin Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church on Mount Carmel Road, close to Erwin High School.
Founded in February of 2017, Vertical Church Asheville, formerly known as Renown Church, rebranded to its current name in August of 2018. When the organization rebranded, the congregation joined the Vertical Church Network, according to church leadership. Vertical Church Network was implemented to help church planters succeed in creating thriving local churches. The network was originated out of Harvest Bible Chapel in Elgin, Illinois and comprises more than 200 churches in the network across the globe.
Michael Hurst serves as pastor and founder at Vertical Church Asheville. Married to wife, Tara, the couple has three children. Originally from Weaverville, Michael Hurst is a graduate of North Buncombe High School and would later attend Fruitland Baptist Bible College and Lancaster Bible College.
I attended the service on Sunday, December 8.
Arriving at the church campus, signs with Vertical Church’s name stood across the parking lot. Service was scheduled to begin at 10:30. Walking into the church foyer, I was subsequently greeted by several congregants. They offered some complementary light refreshments and coffee to those in attendance. I found a seat in a back pew.
Hurst stepped forward to welcome the congregation as the service began and parishioners found their seats. Hurst said a prayer before a time for worship and singing. The congregation, still in its growing stage, didn’t have a live band, so contemporary Christian music played through the speakers from different worship albums and notable Christian artists. The words to each song were illuminated on a large screen at center stage.
The first song of the day, titled “Open up the Heavens” by Vertical Church Band, a popularized contemporary Christian band based out of Harvest Bible Chapel, echoed through the speakers as congregants lifted up their hands and some clapped in anticipation. Parishioners next sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” in a united melody.
The time came for the weekly church offering before Hurst stepped forward stage right to deliver his Sunday morning message. As he began to speak, I glanced around the room. Filled with green pews and traditional chandeliers, the sanctuary seemed to be built for a more traditional church setting. Vertical Church was not traditional, but leasing the property on Sunday mornings.
Hurst spoke on the hope in Jesus. Energetic and passionate, the Weaverville native used humor and unique examples to illustrate his message and help keep the flock captivated with his words.
When Hurst completed his message, he opened up a time for prayer before dismissing service.
Service at Vertical Church Asheville was contemporary in its presentation. The congregation’s desire is to eventually relocate closer into Asheville while still serving as a place of worship for residents in Leicester, according to church leadership. Another goal of the congregation is to plant 10 churches in 10 years to help spread its message. With its desire to expand and reach the community, look for Vertical Church to continue in its reach to those in our area.