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Christ Lutheran Church Unveils New Labyrinth Garden

Labyrinth Garden

Christ Lutheran Church on Main Street in Hellertown recently added a beautiful labyrinth garden to its grounds, which is now open for members of the community to enjoy.

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Labyrinth Garden

A labyrinth garden built on the grounds of Christ Lutheran Church in Hellertown is open for the public to enjoy.

Christ Lutheran Church on Main Street in Hellertown recently added a beautiful labyrinth garden to its grounds, which is now open for members of the community to enjoy.

Church member Angela Drake received the idea for the project last summer from a fellow parishioner, who wanted a spot in which to sit and pray for her late husband. After spending some time thinking about it, Drake, who helped build the church’s main garden in 2013, decided a labyrinth with garden features would be perfect.

“It has several garden beds in it, because, well, I’m a gardener, so I guess I couldn’t help myself with that,” Drake joked.

Drake and the church’s pastor, Phil Spohn, decided the best spot for the project would be next to the cemetery at the edge of the parking lot. With an idea and a location decided on, Drake began working with a committee of other church members on designing the layout of the labyrinth.

“People threw in their ideas, and I just kept adding to it and building on it,” Drake said.

Drake decided a classic sevenfold labyrinth would work nicely in the space. She also chose to design a lawn labyrinth, because there is less maintenance and ground digging involved in its construction.

“I wanted a permanent labyrinth, but one that was lower maintenance,” Drake said.

She also commissioned the help of local landscape designer, Lori Metz, who owns Carriage House Landscape Design.

“She knows how things grow and what works well, so she gave lots of technical advice to us,” Drake said.

Metz and Drake also had to take careful consideration of the local habitat when deciding on the garden’s features.

“Every plant, every tree and every shrub is on the list of highly deer-resistant (species),” Drake said. Even so, she still catches fawns nibbling on the garden’s shrubs from time to time.

The church council approved the committee’s plan for the project last August, and following months of fundraising, Drake and her volunteers were ready to begin work on the labyrinth in March. Unfortunately, the outbreak of COVID-19 halted Drake’s original construction plans.

“Because of COVID we couldn’t have a big building party like I had originally envisioned,” she said.

Instead, the project was primarily built over the course of multiple work sessions conducted by one family at a time. Drake was fortunate to have so many volunteers willing to donate their time and effort to see the project through to its completion.

“What we came up with was all volunteer-built,” she said. “Nobody was paid a single penny for any of their work.”

The labyrinth itself is furnished with a variety of plant life including viburnum, Hummingbird Clethra, Snowflake Deutzia, and Yellow Wood and Sourwood trees. Calycanthus shrubs were planted in between the labyrinth and Rt. 412, and they will serve as a privacy barrier once they grow to their mature height of eight to 10 feet. Six flower beds surround the labyrinth, with each anchored by Dutch irises, coreopsis and different herbs, including lavender, cat mint, false indigo and Russian sage.

Instead of hosting a few big group work days, the COVID-19 pandemic forced volunteers to work one family at a time as they built the labyrinth. In the photo above, volunteers are seen planting one of the Yellow Wood trees surrounding the labyrinth.

Most of the plants were in the ground by the end of May, and the labyrinth’s pavers were installed in June. The garden is now open and fully functioning for the public to visit and enjoy, although Drake and her volunteers still need to plant bulbs and install a sign instructing visitors how to move through the labyrinth.

Although it was planned well before anyone knew what the coronavirus was, the church’s labyrinth is not the only one to appear since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The opportunity to mindlessly stroll through a labyrinth has become appealing to people during this uncertain time, which has made labyrinth gardens suddenly popular again.

Drake notes that walking the labyrinth’s path gives visitors an opportunity to think about nature, reflect on their day or perhaps cherish the memory of a lost loved one.

Drake and church council are currently in the process of scheduling the labyrinth’s dedication, which they hope can be done by the end of October.

A sign near the entrance to the labyrinth garden encourages visitors to walk, sit, rest and pray. Another sign instructing visitors on how to move through the labyrinth’s path will be added soon.


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Jonny Hart

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