Church to Install an Outdoor Labyrinth

Date Posted: 5/4/2011

After years of utilizing a canvas labyrinth on the gym floor, St. Paul’s UMC, Houston, soon will have an outdoor labyrinth that also will be available to the public.


“A labyrinth is a path that has been used by people of many different cultures over the centuries to find focus in life and grow closer to that which we call God,” explained Rev. Gail Williford, St. Paul’s Minister for Spiritual Formation and Discipleship.


The St. Paul’s labyrinth will be constructed of pavers on the lawn of the church, nestled between the Christ statue and the entrance to the Sanctuary building near the bell tower, immediately south of the modified Gothic Sanctuary. 


“Some people find walking the path helps them grow quieter and become aware of their interior space,” explained Rev. Williford. “Some can simply be intrigued with the intricate design of the labyrinth. Others who walk in the area will have the opportunity to acknowledge sacred space whether or not they take the disciplined journey of the full labyrinth path. There is no right or wrong way to ‘walk’ a labyrinth.”


Christians have used the labyrinth as a tool for centering prayer and meditation certainly since the middle ages. The best known labyrinth, which dates back to the 13th century, is that found inlaid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France. As Chartes was a pilgrim church, the labyrinth was walked by pilgrims who were prevented by circumstances from journeying to the Holy Land. The St. Paul’s labyrinth design will replicate the labyrinth of Chartres.


Due to its location, St. Paul’s labyrinth will be open for anyone to walk at any time. “We hope to have modern day pilgrims walk the labyrinth as they visit this popular area of the city,” said Rev. Williford. “We also have long felt that a medieval-style building such as ours would be complemented by a 13th century labyrinth.


“We at St. Paul’s look forward to planned walks, retreats, and festivals that will feature the labyrinth. Perhaps in the future, it will be the site of weddings, receptions, or other similar activities. While not all is known about how it will be utilized, it is exciting to contemplate,” she concluded.


The St. Paul’s outdoor labyrinth should be completed this summer. Individuals have already pledged $60,000 toward the $90,000 project. Contributions are welcome from the community.  To contribute, contact Dr. L. James (Jim) Bankston, senior minister, at 713-528-0527.