In 2007, Rev. Dr. Shelley Petz spearheaded the creation of a Labyrinth at Grace UMC as a project for her Doctor Of Ministry degree from Drew University. The impetus for the project was to create holy space where the congregation (and community) could walk, pray, and explore their faith journey. The construction of the Labyrinth was completed in August 2007, followed by a program for introducing and educating the congregation about how to walk the Labyrinth as a spiritual discipline.
In the years since the initial construction, the Labyrinth has been used by individuals and groups within the church (confirmation class, Sunday school classes, contemplative prayer group), and by members of the community.
However, recently the Labyrinth has fallen into disrepair and been overtaken by weeds.
So in April, 2019 a “Labyrinth Care Committee” began meeting to explore what it would take to rehabilitate the Labyrinth, hopefully in a way that would prove to be low maintenance. After discussing and exploring various options with landscapers, the committee decided on the following plan:
Just a little history: Labyrinths appear in almost every religious tradition and have been used for at least 4000 years. The earliest known Christian labyrinth was discovered in a 4th century basilica in Algeria. In the Middle Ages, walking the labyrinth became a spiritual practice of the Church, often as an alternative to making a pilgrimage.
In our day, labyrinths have been rediscovered and promoted as a spiritual tool for healing, deepening self-knowledge and creativity. Walking the Labyrinth is a way of connecting to God, centering oneself, focusing one’s mind in prayer. Its circularity and turns to the left and right reinforce an integration of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and help in calming, clarifying, and focusing. In fact, back in the 4th century, St. Augustine noted that “all problems can be solved by a walk” (solvitur ambulando).
Our hope at Grace is that the Labyrinth will be used by church members as a prayer tool in their spiritual life and by the community as a resource for healing, self-knowledge, and creativity.