“Jubilee” More Than Half-Century Strong - TribPapers
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“Jubilee” More Than Half-Century Strong

Pastor Winston Parrish sets behind a desk covered with just some of the event programs from 52 years of the Land of the Sky Jubilee.

Asheville – For over half a century, the Land of the Sky Jubilee annually draws Christians from all over the Southeast to Asheville. The event is sponsored and conducted at Asheville’s Trinity Baptist Church. For the 52nd time since 1969, it will start on July 28.

So what is “Jubilee? When asked, Trinity Baptist Pastor Winston Parrish quoted from his great grandfather, Rev. Ralph Sexton Sr., which the meetings were started under. 

“Jubilee means to bring forth, to carry in, to flow. It means a flowing river…the jubilee that God puts in our souls the Christ, the river of life…the continuing river of jubilee forever flowing, carrying God’s people forth unto the jubilee of praise, adoration and thanksgiving,”  Parrish said.

Anyone who devotes any time at church will tell you that churchgoers have their favorite preachers and singers. It may vary depending on the denomination and area of the country. Still, some of these speakers and singers garnered a following for their delivery style, harmony and personality. 

Take, for example, the late Rev. Billy Kelly of Greenville, SC. For years, Kelly would open the week of worship services by exclaiming, “It’s jubilee time!” The rather prominent evangelist always had a smile. Other notable names in Trinity’s circle that have spoken at Jubilee are Maze Jackson, R.B. Lakin, Adrian Rogers and former Marine turned Evangelist Tim Lee. 

Featured singing groups are best known in the southern and bluegrass gospel community and include Squire Parsons, The Primitives, The McKameys and The Inspirations.

“It’s been an impact for the entire Southeast because it pulls in pastors and evangelists from all over,” said Parrish when asked about the event’s staying power. “It’s a heritage thing in the church circle that people are aware of and has made a name for itself.”

Beginning as a week-long affair lasting from one Sunday morning until the next, people bring their RVs and campers to the Jubilee and stay for an entire week to have their spirits rejuvenated. The services start in the morning with two to three speakers and break in the afternoon. Then, people return in the evenings for more. Attendees are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner free of charge. 

The event is only five days now instead of a full week. “Times have changed,” said Parrish, “People are very busy. People travel a lot more than they use to and five days is a great amount of time, and we’re thankful for the five days we get.”

During the pandemic, Jubilee still took place, but as many online events.  This year, in those five days, nearly 20 preachers and evangelists are scheduled to speak, not including singers and singing groups. The list includes speakers from North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, as well as pastors from the local area. Rev. Kenny Baldwin, a well-known Black pastor from Virginia is one of the featured speakers. Baldwin nearly died from COVID-19.

This year’s event will be held Wednesday, July 28 starting at 10 am through Sunday, August 1, with services at 8 am and 10:30 am. For more information, go to https://tbcasheville.org/jubilee/.

Full Disclosure: The author of this article attends services at Trinity Baptist Church. Trinity is a regular advertiser with the newspaper.

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