In 1967, Everett Darnell would come home from working at Chatham Manufacturing to build the miniature of a Little Church, doing a little each day. His daughter, Patsy Hooper, remembered Darnell telling her, “I want to do it for the boys.”
Those boys are now the adults who took it out of the garage to refurbish and display for their mom Patsy as a surprise on Thanksgiving Day. “It was in Joel’s garage. We were standing there talking and decided to do it,” explained Ken Hooper, who remembers the church exhibited when he and his brother were children.
After displaying it for a generation, the Little Church was stored for nearly 30 years. “I have had more people tell me (on Facebook) that was the highlight of their Christmas,” stated Patsy.
The Little Church is a miniature version of the original Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where Darnell’s mother Julie was a charter member, holding service in her own home until the church itself was built. The stained glass window on the front of the Little Church is a piece from the original church.
After their maternal grandfather completed the church, Joel and Ken’s paternal grandfather insisted it needed to be as detailed on the inside as on the out and made pews and a pulpit for the Little Church, adding other details such as the carpet, which is a piece of a Chatham manufactured blanket. Joel replicated the miniature Bible and pictures for the walls as well as an appropriately-sized attendance record of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, which now, according to Patsy Hooper, has hundreds of regular parishioners weekly.
The Hooper brothers had to replace several windows and fix part of the steeple, though Ken said it was scraping the old paint off that took most of the time as they and their families worked on the Little Church. Although most of the work was completed in two weekends, from start to finish, it took three months.
“We’ve had more people pull up in the driveway,” said Patsy of her home on Little Elkin Church Road. “We encourage them to get out and walk up to it. You can’t really appreciate the detail without walking close. Next year I’m going to play music like I used to,” explained Patsy, already looking forward to a renewal of this community tradition.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.