When Pat Anderegg strolls through a wholesale florist on most Fridays, she's on a mission.
She imagines how she will fit the different colors of roses, stargazer lilies and other flowers into an arrangement for First Presbyterian Church's Sunday services.
The flowers from California, Holland and South America are destined for a floral display that will span nearly 50 inches and be about as tall.
"When I choose them and while I am doing them, I want elegance, and I want them to glorify God. That is the purpose of the ministry," she said.
Mrs. Anderegg, a trained florist, takes the flowers home and trims and prepares them before she stores them in a garage cooler. On Saturday mornings she hauls them to the church's kitchen and builds the display, a job that takes about an hour and a half.
"God gives everybody a special gift or talent. We are supposed to return that talent through service, so the whole purpose is to glorify God," she said.
Mrs. Anderegg said she discovered her talent about 15 years ago when she was catering a wedding for a missionary.
The bride had a modest wedding and asked the caterer if she could pull a centerpiece together. Mrs. Anderegg used yard roses. "Several people asked me if I was a florist," she said. "So many years out of my life I had no idea I could do anything with flowers. Think what I missed! God knew I needed something to do."
She got some instruction, worked with a florist in Greenville, S.C., where she was living at the time, then opened her own shop. When her husband, Jim, took a job in the Augusta area about three years ago, she decided she was tired of the long hours and wanted out of the business.
For about six weeks, she poured herself into making curtains for her new home, but her resolution evaporated a couple of days after the curtains were hung. She missed working with flowers too much.
The west Augusta woman offered to take on First Presbyterian's Sunday arrangement as a ministry. If the church would cover the cost of the flowers, Mrs. Anderegg would do the rest.
She estimates her arrangements cost one-third what a retail florist would charge.
"When she is not there, people notice the difference. When she comes back, they tell her they are so glad she is back," said Mr. Anderegg, who helps move the materials and the arrangements for his wife. He also combs woody thickets for smilax and other greenery.
When she works on the display for First Presbyterian, she tries to cover the front of the pulpit with the arrangement. She uses all white blooms for communion Sundays, but "that church can carry most any color combination," she said.
She feels a bit guilty about the ministry because she likes working with flowers so much, she said. "I love creating beautiful things."
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.