All Souls is a eucharistically centered Cathedral whose life is shaped by Scripture, the Baptismal Covenant, and our engagement with the world about us. It is a community where all are welcome, trust is present, risks are taken, and where our gifts and graces enable us to be who God knows us to be.
On November 8, 1896, All Souls Episcopal Church was consecrated. Its name and geography have formed and shaped its life for over 100 years. The church is situated in the hub of a fan shaped group of streets that is Biltmore Village. Built by George Vanderbilt as the parish church for the village adjacent to the Biltmore House, it was seen by Vanderbilt as the connecting piece for the daily life of all persons, all souls, in the region.
This mission, connecting faith and life in the region, is seen throughout the life of All Souls. In its early days it sponsored a school for mountain children and in later decades was the home for Asheville’s first school designed for children with special needs. In its early days it supported the establishment of a nearby hospital, and in recent years has established a therapeutic counseling center for non-insured and under-insured persons. Education, hunger, literacy, housing, health care, economic opportunity are among the issues that have been and are engaged by the people of All Souls to address the well being of all persons in Western North Carolina and beyond.
This work has been immersed in a deeply rich tradition of worship and the sacred. Attention to music, artistic expression of many types, preaching and a profound appreciation of mystery has shaped our worship life for generations. Evensongs, patronal day requiems, contemplative prayer groups, spiritual retreats, artistic festivals and performances complement the weekly Eucharistic offerings of All Souls and are a source for our connection to God, each other, ourselves and the world about us.
On January 1, 1995, All Souls became the first Cathedral for The Diocese of Western North Carolina. A Cathedral is a parish in which the Bishop, the chief pastor and leader of a diocese, has their seat, ‘cathedra’ in Latin. As a Cathedral, All Souls serves as a gathering place for the diocese, a house of prayer for all persons and a symbol for God’s desire to gather all persons around one table.
The interplay of our engagement with the world about us and gathering for worship has deepened the experience of both for the generations of people connected to All Souls.
Our future will be a continuation of our past: being a place for spiritual searching and gathering, a place for refuge and inspiration, a place of imagination and proclamation, a place for all souls.