JUBILEE! ASHEVILLE MINISTERS
Laura’s family roots in Asheville go back to the 1800s, but she didn’t get to live here until 2006 when on her first Sunday in town she headed to Jubilee! Community to get some Creation Spirituality love. Little did she know that many of her deepest friendships would begin at 46 Wall Street. As a minister on the margins of her own denomination and a daughter of a minister, she quickly bonded with Howard and his similar story. Laura served as minister of three congregations between 1990 and 2004. She also has worked in hospice and trauma chaplaincy, prison ministry, retreat ministries, and nonprofit communications and fundraising. Twice she was brought into churches in transition, once to rebuild a deeply wounded congregation and once to provide a bridge for a congregation grieving the death of its minister. Laura has a son in graduate school at Chapel Hill and a mother in Assisted Living in Black Mountain. She lives in West Asheville with the Zoey the Dog. If she’s not at home, she’s probably hiking.
After decades spent in social work, applied social research, video production and political activism, Daniel returned to music and soon found himself bringing a wide array of music into Jubilee! celebrations in 2001. In addition to accompanying services with the incredible Howard Hanger for 19 years, he has facilitated numerous Cosmic Mass rituals and extended Vision Quest encampments. For over 10 years he led an events band and did improv music and acting for Asheville Playback Theatre. In 2015, he created I Am Sound LLC to help people who feel stuck and out of tune to inhabit their authentic, creative selves on piano and elsewhere in their lives in the midst of reality. He loves witnessing when somebody else “gets” that they’re naturally musical too.
Here is what Jay has to say about his role as Minister of Ritual, Teaching & Counseling: "There's a lot of words in the title, and wordiness is something I try to avoid in ritual. Ritual does not need to be filled with activity...it needs space for listening. I find that listening and reflecting back is essential in any aspect of ministry. As a Qualified Mental Health Professional with most of my career focused in trauma and crisis, and a Board Certified Addictions Counselor, I've been most informed by working 'in the trenches' of the Holy. As a child, I had an insatiable curiosity to learn about belief systems, perhaps to fuel my imagination. That's where creation comes in. If we're making it up as we go along, perhaps the Divine is as well. That's what excites me about Jubilee!. We've been making it up as we go along, just like the Universe. As above, so below, after all."
A full-blooded Cherokee Wisdom Keeper and Ceremonialist, Yona is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokees. He was born and raised on the Qualla Indian Boundary in the Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, NC. He is the great, great grandson of YonaGuska, Cherokee chief during the Trail of Tears (1824-1839). Yona, who is fluent in the Cherokee language, grew up learning the songs and stories of his people. To keep these traditions alive, he is honored to bridge the ancient past to the ancient future, which is in constant need of support. Yona shares the meaning of traditional ceremonies as a way of life as it was shared with him by his Grandfather. He is a spiritual advisor, and offers pastoral care, weddings, birthing ceremonies, Native American sweat lodge, memorials, funerals, land/home blessings, motivational speaking, team building and climate justice awareness. Yona invites Ancestral Presence to Jubilee!’s Sunday Celebrations by calling in the Sacred Directions.
Howard Hanger, Founder & Minister Emeritus
A graduate of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Howard relocated from Detroit to Asheville and joined the staff of Central United Methodist Church in Asheville, where he formed a nondenominational worship service that he called “experimental ministry." This is where he planted the first seeds for what was to become Jubilee! Community in 1984. Attendance grew rapidly, prompting Howard to leave the Methodist church and form the independent Jubilee! Community in 1989. He also founded the Hanger Hall for Girls middle school in Asheville. Howard retired in August 2019, but officiates (by request) at baptisms, marriages and other ceremonies – and is often seen (in plainclothes) at Jubilee! celebrations. Howard once formed a band that toured nationally. He has a thing for bananas.
Patrick Fitzsimmons, Administrator of Community Life
Patrick Fitzsimmons is a long time Jubilant and now the Administrator at Jubilee!. He is the guy behind the scenes tracking the money, managing the building, and pretending to lead the staff! He learned to do this stuff while directing other non-profits like the WNC Red Cross and Mountain BizWorks. He gets his spark for his work from knowing he is helping nurture the spiritual community that inspires him and gives him hope and sometimes chokes him up on Sundays.
Teri suspected that choral singing was in her future when, as a child, she used the vacuum cleaner as a drone while vacuuming and made some very fun and interesting harmonies. She has been involved in many different kind of vocal ensembles, including doo wop, barbershop, a classic rock band, and the select group of the Juilliard Choral Union. She was the Music Director of the Holston Valley UU Church in Johnson City, TN before her move to Asheville, and is also currently the Music Director of the Asheville Threshold Choir. Teri loves to put together music that supports people's spiritual growth, and is glad to be part of the Jubilee! Community where music is valued so highly.
Michele Bernhardt, Communications Manager
When Michele Bernhardt moved to Asheville from San Francisco, she expected to continue her work as a Healing Touch practitioner, but it turned out the mountains already had plenty of energy healers. So she decided to return to her previous career...communications...with the caveat that her new job would make her heart sing and serve the community. Which is exactly what she has found as Jubilee!’s communications manager. Now she is using her 30 years of public relations and marketing communications experience to spread Jubilee!’s joy filled message through its website, newsletter, social media and more.
From 2008 until COVID-19 safety precautions temporarily closed the Nurture Program for Youth, Vicki served as the Nurture Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist at Jubilee! With a strong background in childhood development and education, she received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Brown University and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. She previously taught a variety of courses at Warren Wilson College, where she served as chair of the Psychology Department. Vicki is also the author of "We All Have Sacred Spaces," a children's book exploring the sacred sites from seven of the world's major faith traditions.
OTHER JUBILEE! MINISTERS
Jackie is a beloved holistic health educator, wise woman practitioner, yoga therapist, and author. She has mentored with some of the world's preeminent teachers, scholars and visionaries in mystical traditions, weaving together wisdom from around the world. She has taught regionally at universities, hospitals, studios, businesses, national conferences and festivals, passing on tools that empower individuals in their own health, transformation and evolution. When not at Jubilee! or running workshops on herbs, yoga, women's empowerment or transformation, she directs Community Outreach and Education for Ram Dass' Love, Serve, Remember Foundation. She is also a teacher and writer for Yoga International. In her free time, you can find her riding up mountains on bikes or horses, jumping into cool mountain streams, or digging in her medicinal herb garden.
Candace is a leader of celebration and ritual, songwriter and author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (2008, Jossey-Bass). A graduate of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, she leads workshops on writing, spirituality and metaphysical topics such as A Course in Miracles. She is active in the fight for LGBTQ rights and other progressive causes. A former journalist with over 30 years experience, including a six-year stint at CNN, Candace is the founder and editor emeritus of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for LGBT Christians, which began in 1996 and is back online with new leadership and vision. She enjoys time with her dogs, Pax and The Lord (a German Shepherd, so yes...“The Lord is my shepherd”) and her three cats, George, Salix and Rumi.
Chris is leader of the Jubilee! Pioneers, the Jubilee! community in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A community activitist, he is executive director of Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge (RTBR), a non-profit with the mission of helping elderly homeowners remain in their homes and age in place. RTBR addresses safety, access, and efficiency issues that impact the quality of life of the homeowner.
Justin is an an ordained Jubilee! minister and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, who is currently keeping the main thing, the main thing at Caldwell Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. He was a student at Wesley Theological Seminary and studied World Religion at Warren Wilson College. He has an amazing wife who is busily saving the world as an environmental attorney, and three rambunctious children.
Alba is a Queer Evangelical Femme who lives and loves in la Lucha with QTPOC folks as a Spiritual Healer and Bruja Troublemaker to combat spiritual terrorism, reclaim the Divine, and eradicate shame and fear wherever they are found. The Spiritual Strategist for Soulforce and a Co-founder of the Sexual Liberation Collective, Reverend Sex works with individuals and small groups to decode white Christian Supremacy, heal internalized religious-based trauma, rebuild our ethics, and reclaim our sacred desires and spiritual practices.
Based in Charleston, SC, Cathryn leads guided movement and dance as a living embodiment of prayer. She is co-founder of The Joyful Revolution, an effort to highlight people, planet and pleasure with singing, dancing, parading and connecting for justice. Catherine serves as a celebrant for weddings, funerals and sacred rituals.
With a strong belief in “One God, Many Paths," Barbara has been on a spiritual growth path for the past 25 years, and has studied Christianity, Buddhism, Sukyo Mahikari, Metaphysics, Creation Spirituality, what she likes to call “Jesusism” (separate from religious dogma), meditation and symbolism. Ordained as an Interfaith Minister, Barbara is a Celebrant Leader, Transformational Coach, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, writer, painter, Jubilant, and much more.