Some of her mother’s flowers still come up at Fran Anthony’s home but that’s not the only place benefitting from her green thumb.
For the last seven years, Anthony and her Garden Team have celebrated God by nurturing His creation at Triad Baptist Church: pansies, tulips, and a variety of other trees and plants on the Kernersville, N.C., campus.
Each Sunday, members walk past the pots and beds planted and maintained by Garden Team members in front of the Worship Center and other Triad Baptist buildings.
“Our goal has always been to glorify God with the beautiful plans He’s given us to enjoy,” said Anthony who said she found her place to belong at Triad in 2006 after relocating from King, N.C., in 2005.
“Our motto has always been, ‘We plant and God makes them grow,’ ” she said. “We want to witness to His majesty by adding beauty to the places He’s given us to come together and worship.
“Our hope is that members and visitors see God’s beauty even in the flowers He’s given us to enjoy.”
Birth of a new team
It’s a mission that began in 2014 when the church opened its current Worship Center/Gym and Anthony approached Lead Pastor Rob Decker with an idea.
“I asked about planting as there were only the bushes planted by the landscapers,” Anthony recalled, “and he asked what I had in mind and a cost estimate. I provided that cost, he presented to the deacon board, it was approved and the Garden Team was born!”
Member Susan Shields was the first member to approach Anthony and offer to help and Shields’ husband, Donnie (who put in a watering system), and others soon followed.
‘We all love flowers’
Along with Anthony and the Shields, the Garden Team is Ann and Bob Gentry, Norman and DJ Hamilton, Fred and Jeanne Mark, Mike and Marilyn Sheerer, and CD and Frances McGee.
“We all do what we can do,” Donnie Shields said.
“We all love flowers and making the church beautiful and the fellowship we enjoy with one another as we work and server,” DJ Hamilton said.
In addition to the pots directly in front of the Worship Center and flower beds on the front and side, Anthony said the Shields maintain the bed in front of the Children’s Building.
She added that the McGees care for the pots in front of the Awake Café coffee shop.
“We plant and decorate according to the season and the holiday,” Anthony said. “Someone of our team is there watering, trimming and checking on all plants two to three times per week. Someone always goes by on Friday or Saturday to ensure plants are at their best before the service on Sunday.”
As the Garden Team’s work has grown — in 2019 it received its own line item in the church budget — prospective new members like Karen Hall have followed. She helped dig up old plants and plant new ones Oct. 9 during the annual Fall Work Day. A similar day is held each spring to give the landscape its biggest makeover.
Trial and error planting
“After planting for many years, you learn what grows well and what it takes to give them a good start,” Anthony said. “From then it takes watering, feeding, pruning and talking to them a little!
“It’s all seasonal and what grows in that season,” she added. “It has also taken time to see what grows well at the church in the pots and ground. For the summer, it’s clearly the Mandevilla and DragonWing Begonias in the main pots. We have tried to plant as many perennials as possible in the beds.
“For Christmas, we first bought live bushes for the pots and decorated them and then planted them in the spring,” Anthony said. “As we were running out of ground, Susan Shields found the artificial trees that we now use. Our goal is to always be conscious of the budget and not to waste the Lord’s and the church monies.”
For Hall, who joined Triad in 2020, working with the team allowed her to serve God and remember her husband.
“He was always a big vegetable gardener, and I always helped him,” she said. “I enjoyed being outside helping and doing something I knew I could do to help the church.
“It was wonderful.”