Intern Update

Hi! I am Patrick Neitzey the Intern from Duke Divinity serving at Haw Creek Commons/Bethesda this summer.  It has been a joy and an honor to be serving alongside, and living within, such a unique and beautiful community!  When I was placed here by the Field Education Department they told me that I would have a slow summer with minimal action…boy were they wrong!  I am so thankful they were wrong, every day is an adventure at HCC/Bethesda, you never know who God is going to put in our midst to surprise us with their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.  Somedays it is as simple as the neighbors lending a helping hand with chores, or the joyous sounds of girl scouts gearing up for summer camp, and other days it’s a theological youth camp, and all of these groups moving in and out for the commons lift up a joyful noise to the Lord.  

This community is unlike any other I have ever been a part of, for the first time in a long time I can again feel the Holy Spirit moving in my daily life and interactions.  I am thankful for the way that this community opened their arms and accepted my wife and me. I hope that I can be as much a blessing to this community as you have already been to me!  

Peace and Blessings,



Haw Creek Commons
Renovation: A Reflection on Season By Luke Lingle

As I write this, I cannot help but be thankful for the morning sun, the chirping birds, and the blooming flowers. It seems like just days ago it was foggy and raining and the world seemed gray and cold. But today reminds me that there are seasons of waiting and seasons of new beginnings. I think that working on a large-scale renovation project is like the passage of time from one season to another.

For many of us it feels like the renovation of the church building at Haw Creek Commons has taken a long time. We are patiently waiting to work in the new co-working space, cook in the kitchen, create with local artisans, and worship in the renovated common space. This anticipation must feel a little bit like the anticipation our world feels right before spring. Green buds are just out of the ground, flowers strain to meet the bright sun, humanity is reenergized by the much-needed vitamin D.

We are in the home stretch of our renovations. We are finishing floors, painting walls, and ordering furniture and kitchen supplies. We are excited that we will be able to open soon, and begin sharing the gift of community through our work, our food, our friends and family, and through our shared interests.

Together, we create community through our shared lives. Together we live through each season. Together we anticipate the life that springs forward while being thankful for the rest we get during waiting seasons. We are leaving a season of waiting, thankful for the pause, and excited about the season ahead.

Haw Creek Commons
The community Garden Corner by Katey Rudd
Chickens and Kids.jpg

Our Chickens Arrived!

Spring has sprung full of all sorts of new life. The newest little lives at Haw Creek Commons are four adorable chicks, soon to be joined by four more adorable chicks for a total of eight ladies (two Rhode Island Reds, two Cinnamon, four Barred Rock).

We decided having chickens made sense on several levels: they lay eggs we can use for food; they produce manure we can use for our garden; we can feed them our compost to reduce our overall waste; they can eat the “bad bugs” from our garden to improve crop health; they are a cute, wonderful way to teach kids and families about caring for the earth and systems.

To fund our chicken palace, we obtained a grant from Partners in Health and Wholeness, a program of the North Carolina Council of Churches. Bethesda United Methodist has also now been designated as a Health and Wholeness site through this  chicken raising program, which is pretty forward thinking creation care if you ask me.

If you’re interested in joining the Chicken Care Team please email

The garden is almost in full swing! We will finish spring planting this week and get into maintenance mode. This week we planted beets, okra, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, onions, snap peas, beans, borage, nasturtiums, broccoli, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, lettuce, and all sorts of herbs with the help of much appreciated volunteers.

If you’d like to help in our garden, please come out Tuesdays from 3–5pm or contact if that date/time doesn’t work with your schedule and you’d like to contribute and reap the harvest another day.

Haw Creek Commons
Easter at Haw Creek by Rev Karen doucette

It was a great day to be outside, and there was a wonderful turnout for the Haw Creek Commons Easter egg hunt.  Lots and lots of smiles-- as many took part in the Easter egg hunt, bouncy house, face painting and water balloon toss.  

A couple weeks before the Easter Egg Hunt I invited the Girl Scouts to come and take part. She explained that they could participate or come and help with the games, egg hunt, bouncy house, prize table, or crafts—thinking it could potentially be a way to earn a badge or part of a badge for a scout. Three or four girls came to the event, and when we announced it was time for face painting, two of the girls stepped up and asked Katey if they could help paint faces. Having the girls take part was especially wonderful for two reasons. First they felt at home at Haw Creek Commons enough to jump right in to help. Second, it was a wonderful opportunity to see the two groups come together to support the work of another activity that was taking place. The girl scouts are also in the midst of taking quilting lessons from the quilters group that meets at Haw Creek Commons.

That’s how we see Haw Creek Commons, a place where people are welcome to jump right in and do things they are excited to do!

It is a joy to see interaction take place between the various groups at Haw Creek Commons. The Easter Egg Hunt provided a way to meet new children and adults while, also, letting familiar faces take the lead in inviting others into a welcoming space.

Haw Creek Commons
Imagining Community by Luke Lingle, Director of Community Development

Is community a place we go or is it something we create? Is community an idea or is being in community a way of life?

For me community is something that people create together. That is idea behind the Commons. We hope to provide space for folks to be in relationship with each other and create community together.

Which brings me to Legos. My children love Legos, so I am not exaggerating when I say that we have thousands of Legos. One of my favorite things to do is to build new Lego sets with my children. It is so gratifying to follow the Lego instructions and, at the end, have a completed project that looks exactly like the picture on the box. But, my children immediately dismantle the completed project and mix all the Lego pieces into the rest of our Lego pieces. Then they begin to create new things out of the Legos that have not existed before.

The process that my children participate in is an imaginative process. Imagination is the ability to create that which we have not seen or experienced before. Imagination is at the core of creating community. When we create community together we are creating something that we have not seen before—a community that is unique to this moment in time. Creating community is an imaginative process that brings together the hopes and dreams of each community member. Haw Creek Commons is a place where we hope folks create community together. Through imagination we participate in an incredible process that does not necessarily look like we expect it to but allows us to create community together.

So, bring your imagination and explore this thing we call community together. What is community?


Haw Creek Commons
Living into It by Karen Doucette, Community Pastor at Bethesda UMC

I was invited to lead a short Bible study and prayer time at a nearby women’s shelter. The length of stay for each woman varies and there are many community resources who partner with the shelter to offer them provision and hope. We have been meeting for the past two months and the group size ranges between four and six women. We begin our time together sharing about last week’s activity and any plans we have for the day. The lovely women, and at times their children, come together from various backgrounds and difficult challenges to have shelter in one community.  


As a community pastor, this time together is allowing me to experience grace. I often wonder how a person who is homeless or without stable shelter goes about the flow of a day. I wonder where they find some semblance of hope and belonging. I wonder about the badly abused runaway girl waiting at a hotel for her parents to come get her, a bus rider who goes dumpster–diving to place something new beside beside her bedroll, the couple who has to make a difficult choice because their dog can't go with them into a hotel room, the man who lives in the woods and uses his car as shelter on especially cold nights, and the old friend who needs reassurance as he tries manage a one day while figuring out long–term solutions.

These brief touches into the lives of others are only snippets of who they are and what they desire. During our time together in the women’s Bible Study, our questions are the same. We are curious, frustrated, sad, confused, happy, and glad. We laugh and cry and share with each other to better understand the strangeness of life. The insights I glean from our conversations are helpful and informative.  When we pray together, it is a humbling experience as I disappear into the deeply rich and powerful prayers from these hearts seeking God. The prayers first speak of thankfulness, then they move to prayers for each other, then they offer a variety of requests such as: places to go after their stay at the shelter, fears, worries, the need for clarity of mind, an impassioned relationship with God, and guidance to repair relationships.

It is difficult to put into words the deep “dependence” and profound needful desire that is being expressed. Metaphor is replaced by real experience when they pray for times of darkness to be replaced with light. Their faith and their talk with God is well beyond shallow talk and offers an invitation to “lean in” to help each of us to see God more abundantly. I have been struck by the healing touch of encouragement and the flow of the Spirit within the room. There is such strength in this shared time together, and it offers ways to live into hopes or dreams still ahead with God.

Come join us April 26th, 2:45 to 4:30 at the Haw Creek Retreat house for a time of making bed mats. Please bring regular plastic grocery bags and crochet needles if you have them.  All ages are welcome and this is a public event open to the community.

Haw Creek Commons
The Power of Diversity by Katey Rudd, Cultivator

This week I saw something beautiful in the garden.

I have worked with various community gardens for over six years in different states with communities ranging from upper-income churches to homeless communities to refugees from all over the world. I consider the myriad lessons I have learned from each of these groups among my most valuable possessions. The lessons are as diverse as the teachers who rendered them.

This week volunteers and I spent time starting seeds, potting up adolescent plants, breaking up winter ground and turning in cover crops. As we worked side by side I was struck by the richness of our work; by how this new group of people offered yet another lesson in listening, awareness—the beauty of assorted humans coming together to sow love and sweat into a singular labor while laughing and sharing their stories in ways linear work scenarios don’t often afford.

There was a moment I stepped back and watched three different generations interact, teaching and helping each other.

I tend to focus on the importance of diversity and relish difference. For some reason as I observed us, I saw similarity in a more substantive and interconnected way than I ever have. I saw how a community garden is a great equalizer. The garden is not a respecter of race, gender, economic status, religious belief, sexual persuasion, species, etc. It is ecology on a spiritual level: soil, invisible microorganisms, plants, animals, insects, water, humans all working together, consciously or unconsciously, to create life in a symbiotic way. In a sense, the garden is a container that grows what’s put into it. Diversity strengthens ecology tremendously and culminates in a shared “sameness” that creates higher health, potential, and beauty.

This week I could see the “sameness” and simply felt grateful that I get to be part of it.

We welcome volunteers every Tuesday from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Come learn, teach, take food home, and grow food for neighbors in need. For more information contact Katey Rudd at

Check out happenings at the Haw Creek Commons this Spring!


Haw Creek Commons
Missional, Naturally by Andrea Lingle

Sometimes in life you know where you are. Right at the feet of your kids. And they have something to teach you.

Last September I saw an invitation for kids in Buncombe County to submit a grant application for a thousand dollars in the name of making where we live more awesome. My eldest son, Laine’s first response was, “let’s make a natural playground at Haw Creek Commons.” Haw Creek Commons is an intentional community space that Missional Wisdom Foundation has been curating for the last few years.

It is about twenty minutes from our house. We drop by there about twice a month.

I asked him why he wanted to do a project there, and he said that there were lots of kids at the elementary school who could play there. Whether or not he understood the theology behind it, he recognized that creating space for people to gather is a step toward grace. That, right there, is missional wisdom.

I wish I could take credit for it. I wish he didn’t fight with his brother. I wish he would eat his vegetables.

I am not sure I could be more proud of being his mother.

I sat down with him in the new meditation circle, a feature of the natural playground, and asked him about this project.

A: Hey, Laine why did you want to have a playground at HCC

L: Well, I wanted one because, well, there’s an elementary school…back, back there: Haw Creek Elementary School. And usually the kids come to play at that playground, and well, and that playground usually gets filled up so, like, if kids want to come here or because they need more space to play or something like that they can just do that because there’s a…there’s a lot of space.

A: What do you think about how it turned out?

L: I think it turned it great! Because, well, I saw the mulch back there. That was awesome.

A: What’s your favorite part?

L: My favorite part is the swing.

A: That’s awesome


Check out the video of Laine's awesome interview. 

Haw Creek Commons
Forming Communities Today by Dr. Larry Duggins

This article includes excerpts from Together: Community as a Means of Grace, a new book by Dr. Larry Duggins, Leader and Executive Director of the Missional Wisdom Foundation, to be released by Cascade Press later this spring.

Popular memory recalls a time when practically everyone in a community attended church on Sunday morning. The question people asked was which denomination a person belonged to rather than if they belonged. Sunday school classes were hubs of friendships, vacation bible school was a highlight of the summer, and Friday fish fries brought the whole neighborhood to the Catholic church. Churches often developed a special fund-raiser that emerged from the church kitchen – homemade noodles, steak dinners, fried chicken, baked pies, spaghetti dinners – and the whole neighborhood looked forward to them. Women worked in the neighborhood, children went to youth groups, and men did community relief work, all through church based organizations.

And then things changed. The television made it unnecessary to seek entertainment outside of the home. Young people rebelled against rules and societal and cultural restrictions on behavior. Family structures shifted as divorce rates grew and as two wage-earner families became common. Programmed activities for children became more popular, squeezing into times that had been previously dedicated to church activities. More recently, the personal computer and the hand-held screen has replaced “friends” and “communities” in a totally unprecedented way.

In less than two generations, the church yielded the focus of neighborhood life. It remains an important focal point for some, but many people have neither the time nor inclination to foster relationships at the local church. Buildings often sit empty, used one or twice weekly for a dwindling membership.

At the Missional Wisdom Foundation, we observed this phenomenon all over the country, and we began to ask ourselves: if people no longer form community though their church, how do they form community? We began asking questions of and observing groups that we encountered or were engaged in. Over time, answers to our questions began to emerge. We are not social scientists, but the stories we were hearing and our own experiences began to fall together with observable consistency.

During our research, we noticed that many people form community within their workplace. People form friendships with their coworkers and clients that extend outside of the workplace itself. It is not uncommon to find groups of coworkers who socialize together after work or who join each other in fitness or enrichment activities. Many workplaces encourage this interaction through gym membership subsidies or by sponsoring general interest seminars or book clubs after work hours or during lunch breaks.

We also noticed the significance of food and table in community formation. Many of the workplace communities we became aware of revolved around shared meals at lunch or dinner and around after work “happy hours.” The pace of daily life and the increasing number of two wage-earner families have resulted in a significant increase in dining out, a phenomenon that has led many to join with others while eating. Scanning a restaurant during a weekday evening will often reveal groups of individuals, couples and families, sharing a meal together.

The restaurant phenomenon has also coincided with a growing interest in the production of fresh, healthy food. Gardening is growing in popularity in a variety of settings. Those concerned with social justice have observed the lack of healthy food options in low income settings, and community gardens have become a popular response. As neighbors work together to produce food and address the needs of the community, friendships are formed. Also, groups that garden together often realize that many of the food preparation skills taken for granted by older generations have not yet been taught to younger generations, so communities arise around food preparation. Growing, preparing, and sharing food draw people together.

People are also drawn together by their children’s school and extracurricular activities. This generation of parents is heavily involved in the daily activities of their children, and the structured organization of children’s activities is at an unprecedented high. Club and school sports require an incredible commitment of time and energy by the children and the parents, and children are enrolled in sports from a very young age. The parents of children involved in these types of activities find themselves forming community as they encounter each other at games and practices and as they work together to coordinate travel and fundraising. Additionally, the advent of two wage-earner families has made after school enrichment activities very important, providing supervision and instruction while the parents finish the workday. Parents often come together into communities in the coordination and implementation of afterschool activities.

Finally, we noticed that people form community through shared recreational and creative activities. Perhaps as a reaction to the increasingly organized structures around children’s sports, we find groups of adults organizing around shared sporting interests like hiking, soccer, and tennis. Many people seem to be looking for groups to share these activities with. One additional benefit to communities formed around shared creative activities like sewing, quilting, woodworking, pottery, and knitting is that these crafts often have specialized equipment that can be shared or require the investment of a significant amount of time that can be more enjoyable with companions.

The traditional role of the church and of church buildings has been to hold church services and to host church gatherings.  At Haw Creek Commons, we are working to preserve those traditional roles while redesigning the building and property to invite people to form friendships and communities around work, food, schools and affinity groups.  We believe that helping people form friendships and connections is a very important role that the church plays today.  Our goal is not to drag people into church services or bible studies, although everyone is certainly welcome to attend those.  We are interested in helping people to connect with us in a way that brings them a personal benefit, and helps them to get to know their neighbors.  We believe that strong friendships – “loving one another” – can lead to deeper spiritual awareness.  That’s what we are up to!

Haw Creek Commons
Natural Playground Highlight

Haw Creek Commons installed a new feature this winter: a Natural Playground. It’s located adjacent to the existing playground behind Bethesda United Methodist Church and trails through the Haw Creek Commons woods.

The project was inspired by eight-year-old Laine Lingle, whose grant proposal made it into the final round of the Awesome Asheville awards. Jarad Barkeim of Coulee Region Ecospaces worked with Laine to design the playground, install many of the features, and managed two volunteer workdays so the community could take part in the creation of the space, including Lane and his family. Coulee Region Ecoscapes donated significantly to make this project possible.
The remaining expense was donated by Missional Wisdom Foundation who is Haw Creek Commons parent organization.

The playground includes a trail system, outdoor kids’ chapel and education space, three tiered platform, a slide embedded in the hill on the trail, a log bordered sandbox, a log balance beam system, four tunnels to grow hops for a local brewery, and two nature tables to inspire children to use nature to make temporary creations.

In addition to the more obvious motivation of inspiring children to explore the natural world, it was important to curate the woods for safety and environmental management. Unsafe trees and thorns were removed and repurposed as playground features if appropriate. Bordered trails will help direct traffic through the woods and reduce erosion.

Children have been playing in the natural playground daily and seem to love their new space. Each day during project implementation they would race over from Haw Creek Elementary to see the next new feature, then run to bring their friends over to watch and ask questions. Kids started to offer suggestions for other projects that could happen in the space. Jarad smiled as he relayed how fun it was to hear their excitement and see them play on something he had just built.

Feel free to bring your family to play!


Haw Creek Commons