"This is the initiation, the maiden voyage," Summerville Pastor Danny Decker said about his church's new garden idea.
A band of about 14 youth and their ringleader Ashley Decker started a community garden plot. Many of the kids were so small, the shovels and garden hoes were taller than them.
But for the little ones, stature didn't stop their ambition as they dug into the freshly ploughed dirt. The plot is just down the road from their church --Calvary Baptist Church, 171 Taylor Street.
"Our church wanted to do some outreach to the kids," Peggy Decker, the pastor's wife said.
The garden plot idea just sprouted and grew. Marty Brown donated a patch of land. The Three Circles Foundation loaned their newly won orange Kubota tractor. And, church members, like Master Gardener Jim Henry, are giving planting advice.
"Church people have just jumped in," Mrs. Decker said.
The community garden is open to anyone to help. Other youth groups are encourage to come out and help.
Food and flowers grown from the plot will go to the homeless shelter and other local organizations.
"One of the goals is to bring in other kids that want to do this," Peggy said.
The community surrounding the church is laced with kids. Across the street several played hide-and-seek while several others raced up Taylor Street on ATVs. Another group of small girls played with a large wired dog pen by flipping it from one side of the street to the other.
Just as the youth group is preparing the earth for an eventual harvest later this summer, the Deckers are keeping their eyes on a soul harvest as well.
"We are starting out with a small nucleus," Peggy said.
About 15 to 18 regulars show up for Sunday evening youth group at 6 p.m. Then the church has another youth group that meets at 7 p.m. each Thursday.
Calvary has a long tradition with the youth of the county. It operated its own academic school from 1970 to 1987, deacon Emory Gilmer said. It was a regular kindergarten through 12th grade school.
The community garden is a way of reconnecting people. One of the helpers, Stephen Collins, says life and work can separate people.
"A community garden is kind of unique because you get to work together . . . talk with each other as you work," Collins said.
Despite being tucked into a residential area off any of the highways, Calvary has attracted some big names. Mega-televangelist and Southern Baptist member Jerry Falwell spoke during one service in December 1969. Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Al Worthington was the guest speaker in Sept. 1970. Worthington autographed baseballs for several local youngsters.
The church is celebrating its 65th year in operation. It started out as a small frame building next to the current location. The first pastor was Sidney Dooley.
Builders started on the current buildings in the mid-1960s, Emory Gilmer said.
The church has a traditional set of hours of worship: 10 a.m. Sunday school, 11 a.m. Sunday worship and 6 p.m. Sunday Bible discussion and study.