A Progressive Community of Faith in the Heart of Central Florida

Peace Park and Labyrinth

In the spring of 2007, First Congregational Church of Ocala held a dedication ceremony for its Peace Park and Labyrinth. The idea for the park was the brain-child of George Kelsey, former minister at First Congregational. The park was created to honor 12 people who, during the past 100 years, gave totally of themselves for the advancement of peace throughout the world. When church member, Carl Gustafson, heard about the park he thought it would be a great idea to add a labyrinth. So, the two set out with many volunteers to lay out the design of the park and the labyrinth.

The labyrinth is based on the traditional cathedral-style adapted by the Romans as a decorative floor pattern. Early Christians developed the pattern into a form which is used today as a feature in many cathedrals throughout the world. As a symbol of the Christian way, the labyrinth represents the path of the soul through life. Medieval pilgrims re-enacted this journey, following the path of the labyrinth on their knees as a means of prayer, or to symbolize the journey to Jerusalem, or as a ritual to mark the end of the pilgrimage.  Many walked it during Holy Week and as a illustration both of the life of the Christian and that of Jesus Christ.  To learn more about labyrinths, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth

Our labyrinth is surrounded by 12 trees, with each tree dedicated to someone who has worked toward the advancement of peace, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Helen Keller. Each tree is marked with a placard in dedication of the honoree. At the center of the labyrinth stands a live oak tree, which symbolizes the Tree of Life. The labyrinth is one mile long, with a single path in and out. All are welcome to come out to the park to meditate as they walk the labyrinth.

"The park and labyrinth are a gift to the community and represents our oneness in God's love." -- George Kelsey