EVERYONE HAS A STORY… HERE’S OURS.
After the stock market crash of October 1929, the west side of the French Board River became an active and growing suburb of Asheville. The Rev. Fred M. Dowell saw the need for a church in this growing community. West Asheville Baptist Church met for their first worship service on December 1, 1929, with 113 members present. The church leased a second-story room at what is now Home Furniture on Haywood Road, doubling its membership in 5 months. Just five months later, on May 18, 1930, church members began meeting at 892 Haywood Road in their newly built church. Today, the lot at 892 Haywood Rd is still owned by WABC.
During the 1940’s, with Nane Starnes as Pastor, WABC experienced considerable growth in membership and facilities. God led the church to relocate the original building just 100 yards from its first location and new educational wings were added. In 1947, construction began on a new Sanctuary which opened Sunday, September 19, 1948. Growth continued with additional wings, a preschool/nursery building and various mission projects.
The 1950’s and 1960’s continued to be time of building and growth. The church grounds were continually in a state of change and a sister church was started in the Emma area of Buncombe County, opening in 1960. In 1971, Rev. Nane Starnes announced his retirement and Rev. James Hardy Johnson became the new Pastor.
By the early 1980’s, much of the campus needed renovating and a capital building program was created to fund the remodeling. On May 26, 1982, eight months into the new building program, a fire tragically destroyed the Sanctuary after lightning struck the steeple of the church.
Today, outside the current Sanctuary is a plaque dedicated in memory of the firefighter who lost his life fighting this fire.
After the fire, the church met at Mount Pisgah Seventh-Day Adventist Church until the chapel and remaining structures could be cleaned and ensured safe. Even during this time, God united WABC and moved them forward. On December 19, 1982, the church moved back to Haywood Road, using a small Chapel for services, until the Sanctuary was re-built. The first service in the new Sanctuary was March 3, 1985.
The church experienced much growth throughout the 80’s and 90’s, with church membership reaching over 2000 and Sunday School attendance averaging over 500. In 1996, after 24 years of service, Dr. Johnson announced his retirement. It would take almost 2 years, for the church to call Rev. Ken Lewis as their new Pastor in May, 1998.
With growing membership and the youth and children meeting in classrooms and houses surrounding the main campus, the church made plans to build a 65,624 foot complex that would allow the children and youth to meet in one place. On February 10, 2002, WABC celebrated the exciting ground breaking of our new Family Life Center. On May 25, 2003, the new building was dedicated and opened. In the spring of 2004, the church helped commission and provide initial support for its second church plant, North Point in Weaverville, NC.
In May, 2007, WABC called Dr. Stan Welch as our sixth Pastor. Pastor Stan’s emphasis on evangelism and missions propels our story forward. We continue to reach out into our community and around the world with the life changing message of Jesus Christ.