“The Black Gum Tree”

By Doug Fincher

    In 1984, I moved to the Vinton Big Woods Magnolia Baptist and became their Pastor. I moved into the parsonage ….on a remote dirt road in an almost untraveled part of Southwest Louisiana. I was overjoyed to live in thisquiet community of people.  

    I loved all my surroundings. I was only a mile from beautiful Bearhead Creek—and only 25 miles from Holly Beach, Louisiana on the Gulf.   But there was somethingelse that became one of most treasured surroundings: a backyard Black Gum tree.  This ​ is one of America’s most beautiful native trees, and it is one of our  best shade trees. The one I saw that October day was in striking fall color.   Summer leaves are a dark green with a high-gloss appearance, but the most spectacular part of this tree is the fall foliage with its many shades of yellow, orange, bright red, purple and scarlet. When I saw my tree , I picked up a beautiful fallen leaf,   photographed it, and saved it in my computer.

   Our church grew, and we saved $20,000 toward building an Education Building. My friend Bobby Spross, agreed to bring his team of builders and construct our building--- labor free. So our Building Committee met to make plans.When Lawrence Mitchell said we’d build the wing on the south side, I immediately told him we couldn’t.  His quick reply was, “And why can’t we?”.  “Our black gum is in the way”, I replied. “Then we’ll cut it down”, he barked.  The argument took off and we finally decided to wing off to the north side.  It took a while for Lawrence to accept our plan, but we soon had the building done.

    Last year I went back to Magnolia Baptist to deliver the Homecoming sermon. The old parsonage had been moved, but when I walked to the back…. there it was... ourbeautiful Black Gum tree…still standing tall….

                                           ….and more beautiful than ever.

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