Woodland's Prayer Labyrinth reveals an outpouring of Lenten Love

By Bob James

What started as a congregation’s response to a 40-day Lenten devotional calendar became an elaborate Prayer Labyrinth lined with food filling more than half a basketball court—and then became an outreach to those in need in the Rock Hill area.

This Lenten season, Woodland United Methodist Church, Rock Hill, used a Lenten devotional calendar to provide the congregation a way to observe the 40 days of Lent. Included with the daily Scripture and devotion was a request to set aside each day a food item for use with the church’s Blessing Box Pantry. Collections were then brought to the church during Lent, up until Palm Sunday.

Items such as peanut butter, pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese boxes, cereals, apple sauce, canned veggies, pasta and bottled waters were gathered. The outpouring of donated food was much larger than anticipated.

During Passion Week, a larger-than-expected Prayer Labyrinth was built using the donated food items to line the path. The labyrinth was made available for anyone to walk from Maundy Thursday until midday Saturday. Participants prayerfully followed the food-lined path, which led to a large, handmade cross at the center. Once there, the path continued, taking the participant eventually back out of the labyrinth.

On Easter Monday, church members gathered, sorted and organized the food items into boxes. Once finished, they stocked storage shelves with food for the pantry. An additional 21 boxes of food were taken to Pilgrim’s Inn, a facility that provides food, resources and holistic care for those in need.

Donated packages of bottled water were also stored for Woodland’s once-a-month Sunday to provide for Hunger Outreach, a service that provides meals to more than 150 families in need throughout the Rock Hill area.

Coupling the personal observance of the Lenten and Easter season with an opportunity to provide for those in need in our community gave those who participated a meaningful experience in spiritual growth.

James is a lay member of Woodland UMC, Rock Hill.

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