Once a year, Seymour United Methodist Church held a "Laity Day" in which folks from the pews would handle all the clergy stuff one Sunday -- including the sermon.
The year was 1984, early in the Rev. Charles Maynard's decade at this fledgling congregation near Knoxville, Tenn. He already knew that one active member had a knack for motivational speaking, since she coached the University of Tennessee's Lady Vols basketball team.
"This was before she turned into 'PAT SUMMITT,' you know? For me she was just a lady at church named 'Pat,' " said Maynard, now the district superintendent of the region's Maryville District. "I asked her to speak and she said she didn't feel comfortable doing that sort of thing. …
"But the next year she said, 'Yes.' She talked about teamwork and linked everything to people having their own roles in the Body of Christ. It was all very biblical and she did a great job. I mean, she's Pat Summitt."
Things started changing after she coached the U.S. team to gold at the 1984 Olympics and the "Lady Vols started winning everything in sight," he said.
One thing didn't change. While Summitt's work demanded lots of time and travel, her family stayed as "active at church as the coach of a national powerhouse could possibly be," said Maynard. "It was pretty obvious that she had been raised in a Methodist church in rural Tennessee. It showed. Her faith went down deep."
Summitt's death at age 64, after a five-year fight with Alzheimer's disease, unleashed a national outpouring of tributes.