Whether it is part of a United Methodist Church tradition, or a general church tradition taken on by many, for years Central has included altar flowers in its worship experience. The leaders of the ministry have changed over time, but one thing has always remained the same: every Sunday morning, a beautiful gift is offered to the Lord upon the altar by dedicated hands and servant hearts.
The Altar Flower Ministry at Central began many years ago, but today, the ministry has three main arrangers, Ruth Ann Wampler, Sherrian McNeese, and Shirley Freedman. The ladies have picked up the nickname, the Flower Girls from Ruth Ann.
At Central, any individual can sign up to order an arrangement to honor someone on a special occasion, make an announcement, or even memorialize someone who passed. The Flower Girls create two, sometimes three, arrangements each Sunday for the families to take home to enjoy or gift.
"It is an opportunity to remember someone that is loved or missed," Wampler said.
Wampler believes it is important to have altar flowers on Sunday mornings because the arrangements show care for the church.
"I think it gives visitors a sign that we love our church and want it to be beautiful like a home. Just like flowers and a manicured yard outside, clean windows, etc. are all visible signs that our church is just like our home away from home and we love it."
McNeese has always found fresh altar flowers to be an important staple in the church. She said that her childhood Methodist church regularly had arrangements on Sunday mornings.
"I loved seeing the flowers in church and, to me, they are a part of the worship experience," McNeese said. "I think the Lord loves seeing flowers in His church."
The ministry is not all about the end result for these women, though. The process of arranging the flowers is a gift in itself.
"Even though it involves several hours, it is a quiet time for me that I don’t enjoy very often. It seems to take my mind away from troubles and is usually a very peaceful experience," Wampler said. "Notice I said usually," she joked.
The flowers you see on Sunday mornings look like a florist shop arranged them professionally, but the Flower Girls put together every arrangement themselves, including picking out the colors and flower types. In the end, the process becomes art… and sometimes exercise.
"Sometimes it feels when the arrangements don’t suit me, I break them down and start completely over. Sometimes they just fall in place," Wampler said. "I have gone to a friend’s house for flowers or greenery or climbed up a bank on the side of the road for something I needed. Whatever it takes to get the job done!"
The altar flowers add so much beauty to the Worship Center on Sunday mornings. Anyone can purchase flowers for $30 in honor or memory of someone or something. To sign up, please pick an available date outside the church office or call the office at 865-986-7329.
Volunteers arrangers are also welcome! The team hopes that anyone who has an interest will please contact Ruth Ann Wampler or Sherrian McNeese.