RAVENEL -- The church is ageless yellow pine, with wood panels, cross sills and lumbered pews worked by hand more than a century ago. It echoes with the past.

On Thanksgiving Eve, the Sauldam Baptist Church congregation goes back into the old sanctuary under the live oaks for a night of skits, readings, songs and worship that opens with recitations like Rudyard Kipling's "If" and closes with timeless hymns such as "How Great Thou Art."

The service is a throwback to another time, a sort of harvest celebration that isn't as common these days.

The church families in the farming community near Rantowles Creek have been celebrating this way for almost 30 years. Kin who have moved away come home for it.

A lot of these families go back to when the church was founded in 1841.

"It's the closest place to everybody's heart. I know my great-great-grandparents have been in this church celebrating the same service we are," said deacon Buck Dukes.

This is Thanksgiving. Ask Mable Hill, the church secretary and historian, who can recall the days she walked barefoot as a child through the old baptismal pool in a spring behind the sanctuary.

"We bring people together, have a special program and thank the Lord for all he has given us in abundance," she said.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bopete.