St. Barnabas Episcopal Church welcomes the community to its labyrinth and gardens


The labyrinth at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. photo by Lonnie Huhman

For the community and anyone in need, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church is home to a labyrinth, peace garden and vegetable garden that all aim to promote peace, giving and spiritual enlightenment.

The Sun Times News recently paid a visit to the church at 20500 W. Old U.S. Highway 12 in Chelsea to learn more about these and their value.

“In many ways, it’s a place to help you find yourself,” said St. Barnabas Episcopal Church member Alan Jensen while standing in the center of the labyrinth and looking out over to the peace garden.

Fellow church member Jan Varady agreed and said, “Anyone is welcome here to can connect with their spirituality, no matter what their religion or faith is.”

It starts with the vegetable garden, which is situated near the front of the church. It was planted years ago to promote the value of sharing what the church members were blessed with and as a way to help provide fresh food to those in need. The program was originally created to distribute food to the hungry via Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor, and used the slogan “Plant a row for the hungry.”

Then around a decade ago, the church planted its Peace Garden. This had a mission to promote biodiversity on the church property while also creating a habitat for all native species. Jensen said it’s a Native Michigan Plant Garden with over 200 native species.

A view of the peace garden in bloom. photo courtesy of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church

The labyrinth was developed over the past couple of years through the help of a grant and the commitment of the church to match the funds and make it a reality.

The sign at its entrance, in many ways, says it all, “The Labyrinth. A Path for Prayer and Meditation. A Tool for Transformation and Healing. A Walk with your Soul.”

It’s based on an eleven circuit Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth. It’s nestled in a beautiful and serene wooded space next to the church and Peace Garden. Varady and Jensen said it’s not a place to get lost, but rather a place to find oneself.

“We are confident that the labyrinth will help us all by giving us an intentional place to quiet our minds and help us locate our inner peace,” the church’s web page says.

“It’s a resource for our church and our community,” Varady said of the outdoor space that is accessible anytime to everyone as a place of prayer, reflection, healing and discernment.

She said they have reached out to St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Hospital and its mental health program to let them know the labyrinth is available and open. They plan to inform others in the community about it and its value as well, including the school district.

One thing Jensen emphasizes is that all three of these are not the work and dedication of just one individual or a few, but of all of the church members.

The Mission of St Barnabas is: We seek to grow as diverse disciples of Jesus Christ, and to serve Jesus by serving others in the world, guided by the values of Ancient Rites, Open Minds, and Affirming Hearts.

The gardens and labyrinth definitely support their mission and commitment to the community.

Whether opening your heart and mind as you walk the labyrinth or taking in the beauty of the gardens, it’s worth paying a visit to St. Barnabas.

A ray of light shines down on the labyrinth. photo courtesy of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church
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