With that, scores of residents from several area counties dutifully headed to the porch of the church's new fellowship hall building to dig in. They were in a celebratory mood, having gathered to watch representatives of the Lower Colorado River Authority hand over a $25,000 check.
The money will help the church pay for two new 30,000 water storage tanks on its property, water from a strong well 1,200 feet beneath the church building.
"We're going to have 60,000 gallons on the ground, ready to be pumped to one of our trucks," said Todd Kneese, chief of the nearby Round Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, grinning like a kid on Christmas morning.
"It's going to save possibly houses and a whole lot of pasture land," the chief added.
All of this started a drought or two back, when church members Joe and Marie McShane came up with an idea to help area volunteer fire departments.
"It kind of died," Marie McShane said, "because…we got some good rain; the lakes filled up. The river was running.
"And then last summer I said, 'I wonder whatever happened to the tank project we talked about?' We should have put that in."
You see, last year, three different wildfires roared through pasture land within a 10-mile radius of St. Luke's.
"Firefighters had to go all the way back to Johnson City or Marble Falls," said church Vestry Board member Jim Furber, "or they were throwing pumps into creeks or the small dams down the road here and they were ruining their pumps by sucking up gravel."
Besides destroying equipment, all of that wasted precious time, time that could have been spent bringing the flames under control.
"People in the bigger cities," Kneese said, "they're asking and wondering to themselves, 'Why are you trying to save pasture land; why don't you just let the grass burn?'
"Well, pasture land is what keeps cattle going. It keeps everybody going. That's their livelihood and if we're not able to stop a grass fire from burning off their livelihood, we're not doing any good at all."
The water project will cost just over $90,000 and the church plans to pay for every dime with grants and donations. The water will be offered free of charge to the fire departments.
But area firefighters are not the only ones who will directly benefit from the ready water supply.
"Not only is it here for fire purposes," said Kneese, "but in a drought like this when tanks start drying up, the people are going to be able to come and get water in their trucks and take it to their livestock and keep them fed and watered. So it's just going to be a benefit to the whole community."
Nearby, area resident Floyd Ebeling wandered away from the party and approached the nearly completed tanks on the far side of the church. He paused in front of the huge structures from time to time, and knocked on the metal walls, seeing in them not just a powerful weapon with which to fight fire, but powerful evidence of human potential in the arena of faith.
"It's just a great deal; there's still community involvement out there," Ebeling said. "And this water project is really going to help everybody. This is great! You know, you get to feeling like everything's not all bad anymore."
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