Church Welcomes All to Labyrinth

The magnificent medieval gothic structure that is First Congregational Church on S. Fullerton in Montclair just became more architecturally interesting. In August, congregation members created a stained wood labyrinth at the altar directly under the massive ceiling, complementing the stained glass windows. “One of the things that’s most vital these days is a sense of spiritual wholeness throughout our lives,” explained Reverend Ann Ralosky, senior minister. “Our lives are fractured and distracted. This labyrinth is our metaphorical path back to God.”

Labyrinths have always been spiritual tools used across cultures and times, pre-Christianity. “They integrate the body through walking and the soul through meditation,” Ralosky said. She invites everyone from the community to come see it this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. for a special Service of Blessing. Every Wednesday thereafter, FCC doors will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. for all who want to walk the labyrinth or sit in quiet meditation amidst lit candles and Gregorian music. “Approach it with an open heart and an open mind. There are many twists and turns, but it’s an unbroken path to the center.”

Member Jay Richardson spearheaded the creation of the labyrinth that included refinishing, tracing and staining the floor to give it an inlaid look. All materials and labor were donated by members who modeled their work after the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France, built in 1201. Richardson added: “We’re undergoing a growth initiative. We need to thrive or move on. We’re intentionally reaching out to the community to let people know about this place and the ways in which we connect with God.”

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  1. I was married in that church – had no idea it was in danger of being sold.
    You can bet my wife and I will do our part to preserve it.
    If that means walking a labyrinth, so be it.

  2. Ralosky sounds intelligent and thoughtful, and she is right. My life, certainly, is fractured and distracted (this post is merely the latest symptom). I’m not sure about the labyrinth as a path back to God, though. I’m already lost: how does a labyrinth help?

  3. Just for clarification, the church is in NO danger of being sold! WE ARE NOT FOR SALE! We are growing and thriving. The link referred to in the article is an old one and no longer relevant. Come visit and see!

  4. Wallero, like many spiritual practices, a labyrinth is designed to help us gain focus, to intentionally shed the static that fills our minds so often and find the stillness within. Its a metaphor for our spiritual journeys — which are not linear, but are full of twists and turns that pull us toward God if we are willing to walk. By combining movement and meditation it integrates body and soul and can serve to open you up to the divine presence. Of course, its not a formula — like any spiritual practice, we must be open to it, pay attention, and often be patient. You’d be welcome to try it!

  5. Many people would have interpreted my comment as snark (those bastards!) but I appreciate your taking it seriously, annr. Focus, stillness within, integrating body and soul, spiritual practice… You sound like a closet buddhist. Do you actually walk the labyrinth, is it merely a metaphor, or both? And do you do this during mass, or in groups? (I’m asking because I genuinely want to know.) I have to admit, there is something compelling about this. I’m not sure about the patience, though. Do you have a fast track? An executive version?

  6. Walleroo, I’m no “closet Buddhist”, but recognize the similarities in all seekers (for the record, I’m a practicing Christian)and the journey metaphor really resonates with me. I do in fact literally walk the labyrinth, but also just find it a rich symbol to meditate on. The church has a worship service on Sunday mornings and the labyrinth is there (of course), but it is not the focus. However,on Wednesday evenings (starting with this special service this Wednesday), it will be open from 6-8pm for folks to walk. Sometimes there’s one person on it,sometimes there’s a wait while 3 or 4 walk. Sorry about the patience part — there’s no getting around it! You just might find it’s lovely to slow down…

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