GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Christmas season can be a time when both practicing Christians as well as those who may be less comfortable with regular worship, but still want to experience a spiritual release, are looking for something more.
So, in an effort to reach out to a broader community, the oldest church in Glenwood Springs has begun offering a new opportunity for worship and reflection that draws from both ancient and modern traditions.
The Sunday evening 1016 Labyrinth Walk at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Glenwood Springs began on the first Sunday of Advent on Dec. 1.
Called “1016” after the church’s physical address at 1016 Cooper Avenue, the special gathering takes place at 5:30 p.m. continuing this evening and again on Dec. 22 and 29. A light dinner and hot drinks will follow at 6 p.m.
“There’s nothing wrong with the traditional way of doing Sunday morning church but it doesn’t work for everyone,” First Presbyterian pastor Charis Caldwell points out. “Many people are looking for a place to really talk and think rather than only listening to what the pastor or a few church leaders have to say.”
In this case, the spiral-shaped labyrinth is a series of small candles set up on the floor with different stations within and places outside the circle for worshipers to take part in quiet reflection.
The circle is set up each week in the church’s lower-level fellowship hall, and involved knocking out a wall into an under-utilized storage space that has been transformed with new paint and furniture.
“It’s somewhat of a humble space, but it’s a great place for reflection and quiet,” Caldwell said.
In determining what to do with the reclaimed downstairs space, 1016 worship director and church member Amelia Richardson Dress said the common themes expressed by parishioners were “less noise, more involvement from the ‘people in the pews,’ and just a time to connect with others.”
“Walking the labyrinth is an ancient practice in Christian tradition,” Dress said. “It gives us a chance to center ourselves and rest with everything that’s going on in our lives. It’s also designed to be a friendly place for kids and adults of all ages.”
Pastor Caldwell said the first Labyrinth service drew about 17 people, and she expects the number to grow as word spread from church members to friends and others in the community.
It’s more an “experience” than a worship service, she said.
“The idea was to create a space where people can come and be quiet and participate in their own spiritual life and relationship with God,” Caldwell said. “In this way, we can speak to folks who don’t find traditional or even contemporary forms of worship to be authentic.
“There are a huge number of people who may need to draw from a different well,” she added. “The church as an institution has something vital to say to people, but we also need to be able to conform to more of a shared conversation.”
Caldwell said the evening worship will take a break in January but will resume as a monthly service on the first Sunday of each month starting in February. The labyrinth walk will also be offered each Sunday during the Lenten season leading up to Easter, which falls on April 20, 2014.