By LEE PECK
SEMMES, Alabama (WALA) — You’ve heard of tiny houses — but what about tiny churches? They’re a thing and just over the hill of Loblolly Farm in Semmes, nestled against the pines is what owner Gary Smith calls the “Smallest Church on Earth.”
“The little church you see behind me is called Chapel Des Champs — it means Chapel of the Fields in French. And when were looking for an actual place to put her — these are our actual fields,” explained Smith. “It’s 4 feet wide, 5 feet deep on the outside… 40 inches by 52 inches on the inside… and 19 feet from the ground up to the steeple.”
Built in the last three weeks, the design is modeled after the style of churches 150 years ago. Gary is now aiming to be among the world’s ultimate record breakers.
“As a small child — they handed me a Guinness Book of World Records and something about that book told me I wanted to be in it. As I grew up I understood I wasn’t going to be fast or large or the things that some people — heavy weight lifter, a great football player… I wasn’t going to be any of those things. And I would look occasionally for things I was interested in to see how the records were looking… And I never expected it would be a tiny church,” said Gary.
A research historian by trade — Gary says he has what was the smallest church in Spain now beat by 7 feet — about the size of a suitcase.
“We went with this cedar… This dry cedar right here keeps bugs out, slow to deteriorate. It holds up in the weather out here,” explained Gary.
He’s has already made application with Guinness and even submitted it to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
On the inside — the church is lined with pine on the walls and floor. The windows are 200-year-old leaded glass from a warehouse building in Charleston, South Carolina. The eye-catching doorknob an antique replica blue glass.
The tiny church is big enough for at least three people to fit inside — Gary jokes — big enough for a bride, groom, and preacher as he shows us around. The property, which doubles as a tree farm and wedding venue, already has couples lining up to take pictures.
As Gary’s grandkids see it for the first time — he hopes it becomes a place of peace for others to visit.
“In a chaotic time — it seemed like a little hope would work. Know that there is more to the world than the politics, and the chaos, and the pandemic… There’s people still being people still,” said Gary.
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