The name "Jesus People" was chosen for our ministry 12 years ago with two significant reasons in mind.
First and foremost, we wanted to create a space that welcomed all people, especially those who have been hurt or marginalized by mainstream churches. We understand that for many, the term "Christian" can be associated with negative experiences, including hate and discrimination. However, we firmly believe that people have a deep love and respect for Jesus and his teachings. Our aim was to establish a safe haven where individuals could encounter the love of Jesus without the burdens of organized religion.
Secondly, we drew inspiration from the historical significance of the "Jesus People Movement" that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the West Coast of the United States. This movement, driven by the Holy Spirit, spread throughout North America, Europe, and Central America. It was a transformative period, where individuals traditionally unwelcome in mainstream churches, such as Hippies and Surfers, found acceptance and a vibrant spiritual community. These individuals were affectionately referred to as Jesus people. We resonated with the inclusive nature and free-spirited approach of this movement, aligning with our mission to be Jesus-focused rather than religion-focused, welcoming people from diverse backgrounds, just as Jesus did.
Jesus People Church of Asheville was established more than twelve years ago in 2011. Initially, it began as a monthly meet-up group initiated by Pastor Tom Cash and his husband, Mike Zukoski, who had recently moved from California. They felt a calling to reach out to those who had been wounded and alienated by the church. Although the first meet-up had no attendees, the second gathering saw a significant turnout of seventeen individuals.
After two years of successful monthly meet-ups, it was evident that the time had come to formalize the ministry, leading to the establishment of Jesus People Church of Asheville. Over the years, the church has held its services in various locations, including the gay nightclub known as Scandals. Currently, our gatherings take place at a local venue called "East-West." Additionally, we proudly host an annual International conference titled "Out to the Nations," which fosters connection and collaboration among diverse communities.
Pastor Tom Cash serves as the Lead Pastor, bringing with him a background rooted in the Charismatic Movement. He himself is a survivor of Reparative Therapy and is passionately committed to ensuring that no LGBTQ+ individual undergoes such harmful practices. Prior to his time in Asheville, Pastor Tom attended Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, led by Sandra Turnbull. After relocating, he became part of Abundant Grace Church in Granite Falls, North Carolina, where he eventually received ordination under Pastor David Thomas.
Our mission is crystal clear: to spread the message that LGBTQ+ people are wholeheartedly accepted and loved by God. We strive to embody this love and acceptance in all that we do, seeking to create a community where everyone can experience the transformative power of Jesus' love without fear or judgment.