Haywood Street Congregation Moves Forward Fresco Project


For additional information & interviews, contact: Pam Siekman, Fresco Steering Committee 828.335.6680

For high resolution photos & video, contact: Brook van der Linde, Communications/PR


                                 John Warner, Warner Photography In frame: Principal Artist, Christopher Holt & Charles Burns

ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA (November 19, 2018) – The Haywood Street Congregation announced today that they have begun installation of the 9’ x 23’ frame that will hold a fresco portraying the scripture known as the Beatitudes, featuring faces from the community and scenes from its urban ministry.

Earlier this year Haywood Street made the decision not to engage with the Freedom From Religion Foundation that contested the $72,500 grant gifted to the church by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (TDA), in 2017. Instead, the church moved forward with their original plans and raised the funds necessary to begin the work. The Haywood Street Congregation, best known for providing over 1,000 meals a week at their Downtown Welcome Table, is preparing to highlight the beauty and blessedness within all people through the enduring art of fresco.

The Haywood Street Fresco is being designed by both Rev. Brian Combs, founding Pastor of the church, and local artist Christopher Holt. The Fresco will portray the Beatitudes, Jesus’ most enduring sermon, through the faces of the region’s most marginalized citizens – our neighbors who suffer from poverty, addiction, mental illness, and in many cases, the homeless, living on the streets.

For nine years Haywood Street has not only been providing meals, clothing, and respite care for those discharged from the hospital, they have created a sense of family, a place for all people to belong. On any given Wednesday or Sunday that spirit of family is palpable, as people from all walks of life gather around a table to share a meal together often prepared by a local Asheville restaurant. There’s talking, storytelling, and plenty of food to satisfy their hunger and feed their souls.

Molly Milroy, Chai Pani In frame: Founder Pastor, Rev. Brian Combs and Molly Irani of Chai Pani Restaurant Group

Liz Button, of the Katie Button Restaurant Group, manages the Chefs @ Downtown Welcome Table coalition. “The restaurateurs of Asheville have really stepped up” states Button. “We are currently serving almost 40 Downtown Welcome Table meals a year, for upwards of 400 people each time.” The

remaining meals on Wednesdays and Sundays are prepared and served by the Haywood Street team, which receives food and donations from Manna Foodbank, retail and corporate partners, and many generous individuals.

If you attend lunch at Haywood Street any Wednesday or Sunday, you’ll partake in a great meal, have an encounter with a neighbor you’ve most likely never met, and you’ll see artist Christopher Holt with his sketch pad, working to capture the very essence of the challenges of life, written on the faces of our neighbors.

Holt, a Waynesville native, has extensive fresco experience, having worked as apprentice to renowned fresco artist Ben Long. Holt worked with Long on frescoes throughout North Carolina including in Ashe County, and Morganton. The two also worked together on frescoes in Italy.

Holt’s fresco design for Haywood Street captures the pain of poverty yet shines a light on grace and dignity. Portraying the Beatitudes without a Jesus or God image is unusual, however the characters in the painting are represented as God-bearers. Holt captures the love and the best of our human values throughout his design.

“What I hear most from our friends who visit Haywood Street is the desire to be recognized, to be seen in this world” states Rev. Combs. “Too often we drive right by the person asking for money at the stop light, afraid to look in their eyes, making them invisible in our city. I firmly believe that the Haywood Street Fresco will help shed light on their story. As Christopher draws our friends, he is capturing the truths that they face every day.”

Rev. Brian Combs is a United Methodist pastor who responded to a call to reach out to men and women living on the margins with a message of acceptance and belonging. Rev. Combs and Christopher Holt began discussing and envisioning the fresco project nearly 5 years ago.

“Once the plaster is laid in the frame for the fresco, the wall will need to cure for about 5 months. During that time, I’ll continue to draw the models, all homeless and formerly homeless individuals, that will be featured in the painting” says Christopher Holt. The frame is installed on the central wall of the church’s sanctuary.

Haywood Street hosts a worship service twice a week on Wednesdays at 12:30 and on Sundays at 3:15. The artist is at Haywood Street often, drawing models and speaking to visitors about the fresco project.

“We have a fresco steering committee in place, made up of volunteers from the community, who are working hard on fundraising, marketing, community engagement, implementation plans, and all aspects of what it will take for this project to be successful” states Executive Director, Laura Kirby. “We’re looking forward to welcoming guests from the community to observe when painting begins in April of 2019, until the expected unveiling of the finished product next summer.”

To learn more about the Haywood Street Fresco or to donate please visit


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