Highlands, North Carolina
Phone: (828) 526-2968
Fax: (828) 526-9290
Email: Click Here


520 Main Street (corner of 5th Street)
Post Office Box 729
Highlands, NC 28741

Maurice Goldsmith, Interim Rector

Priscilla Wodehouse, Deacon

The Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor
Bishop, Diocese of Western NC

The Most Reverend Michael Curry,

Presiding Bishop


On October 30,1879, the first Episcopal Church service was held in a schoolhouse by the Rev. John A. Deal who had begun his work in Macon County (our county) in 1877 and lived in Franklin, North Carolina, twenty miles away. By 1884, regular services were held in people's homes. Mr. Deal wrote about Highlands, "Here in the land of clouds and evergreens, I established one of my most promising missions, supported in winter by the resident congregation that enlarged as the summer homes and inns filled." Much is the same today.

On September 24, 1894 the Rt. Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire, D. D., Bishop of North Carolina, organized the Mission of the Incarnation in Highlands. In 1896 the original
church, now the chapel, was completed thanks to a generous donation from the Church of the Incarnation in New York City. For many years the church was open primarily in the summer. When roads improved and year round work was possible, a rectory was built in 1941, and the Rev. Frank Bloxham moved in. In 1950 a parish hall was added while the Rev. Dr. A. Rufus Morgan was Missioner.

The Church of the Incarnation remained a mission until 1956 when it became an independent parish and in 1958 a self-supporting parish under the guidance of the Rev. Dr. Herbert Koepp-Baker. Dr. Koepp-Baker was an internationally recognized authority in clinical psychology and speech pathology, teaching in nationally known universities, and his leadership in Highlands was widespread. He was instrumental in reopening the local hospital, founding a hearing clinic and administering the Asheville Orthopedic Hospital. His community involvement was an outreach which Incarnation parishioners still seek in their rectors to this day.

The Reverend Gale D. Webbe, S.T.D.,was our rector from 1960 to 1971. A noted theological author and educator, he greatly strengthened the life and work of the church, and the parish prospered. In 1972 the Rev. Fred Hovey became our rector and a new rectory was built.

The Rev. Charles Bryan arrived in 1979. The number of communicants, summer and year-round, was greatly increasing as more people were finding this summer resort a desirable year-round place to live. During this time, a lovely prayer garden, landscaping, and a beautiful church entrance were created; the "Parish Post" newsletter was begun, the office was computerized, sound and video systems were installed and many other improvements were added. Father Bryan also gave a substantial amount of his time and talent to the community by founding the local Hospice program and spearheading the revitalization of the Highlands Inter-Church organization. He was a leader in the ecumenical cooperation among local ministers and gave strong support to environmental groups, the Highlands Playhouse and the Chamber Music Festival. In 1991 the Rev. Deacon Joseph Ward was assigned to our parish and served as chaplain at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital as well as serving faithfully in the life and services of the parish.

The Rev. Dr. Robert Michael Jones was called in July 1995. When Fr. Mike arrived we were a small town yet a cosmopolitan church whose year round congregation swelled to more than capacity when the summer members returned. The Church of the Incarnation entered the second century of existence in 1996 and a book entitled “The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation First 100 Years” was published. On August 18, 1996, Bishop Robert Johnson and Father Jones officiated at a reenactment of the laying of the cornerstone and consecration of the church. There was much to celebrate. We were growing and, at this time, there were three services with overflow into the Great Hall during the summer season. The Rev. Deacon Alan Hetzel was ordained and was assigned by the Bishop to Incarnation to serve as the Chaplain for Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, Fidelia Eckerd Nursing Home and Hospice; he is a faithful teacher and minister to us all. He retired from Incarnation in 2005.  Our summer Deacon, The Rev. Susan Harrison from Savannah, Georgia, assisted with services and parish life.

new sanctuary

In July 2002, the decision was made to maximize the use of our property. We chose to stay in town and not to disturb our original church which is on the National Register of Historic Places. An addition was designed to create a new sanctuary, (increasing the seating capacity from 100 to 240), new offices, classrooms and meeting rooms, a library, a great hall and a modern kitchen as well as a handicapped access elevator.
In October 2004 we called our new rector The Rev. Brian C. Sullivan. Coming from the Diocese of Atlanta, he brought his young family. Since a day care program had already been established at the church, it was a perfect fit for Fr. Sullivan whose interests in children and young adults had already begun in Atlanta with the Kids4Peace program which brings children of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths together. He became involved with the school’s Parent Teacher Organization and building on the existing pre-school program. His work encouraged younger families to become active in the church. He became a part of the team from Incarnation to go to the mission in Tierra Muscudy, Haiti. After almost six years at Incarnation, Fr. Sullivan accepted a call to be the first Rector of St. Benedicts Church in Smyrna, Georgia.