The garden itself is the entirety of the space bounded by the church buildings, the low seating wall and simple plantings.
The burial area immediately adjacent to the sanctuary is a serene area of evergreen ground cover. In addition to looking good all year, this area will now allow easy access for burials with minimum disturbance to the plantings. Family members will have simplified access to the burial process with no worries about unsure footing. Additionally, the evergreen quality of the ground cover symbolizes life eternal in the Holy Spirit. A circular walkway brushes past this consecrated ground. This circle represents the hope of resurrection and is depicted in subtle Celtic motifs in the church sanctuary on the baptismal font and the lectern. The circular walkway is wide enough to permit two people to walk side by side around the circle and will also accommodate groups for services or other gatherings.
The design for the St. Francis Memorial Garden is a representation of a way in which God’s love for us connects us to each other through the Holy Spirit. Starting at the parking lot, a wide, comfortable walkway, enhanced by welcoming curves, leads to the garden itself. This walkway supplies universal access while providing a sense of comfortable enclosure as it passes between the building and the retaining wall at the base of the slope under the trees. The gentle curve at the end of the walk, glimpses of plantings and a low wall draws one around the corner where the garden is revealed.
St. Clare House is an integral component of the wider mission of St. Francis Church. Here, in a place which is both set apart from the busy activity of parish business yet intimately connected to all the hopes of parish life, we seek to offer, uphold and provide a space for small group learning, Church School classes, Bible Study, and discussion groups for all ages which contribute to a deeper understanding of what it means to be called to serve as God’s people in the world.
St. Clare House also provides a space for twelve-step meetings such as Alanon and Alateen on Wednesday evenings and also a site for Girl Scout Troop meetings. It is also available to governing boards such as vestries and church councils from other Episcopal and ecumenical congregations who seek an off-site retreat setting to do planning and other work in a prayerful setting.
We, the people of St. Francis Church, resting in the assurance that God has called us to grow continually in the knowledge and love of Jesus, believe the St. Clare House to be a vital enhancement of this wider mission in the world. As stewards of such kindness and grace we shall prayerfully proceed to follow the Light of Christ, both in the world and in our lives.
Adopted: September 13, 2000 – St. Francis Vestry
A Labyrinth is a path that represents our life’s journey, and for those on a Christian path our journey with God. Sometimes we feel very close to God and other times very far away, but as long as we keep struggling on the path we will find our way into God’s arms.
Walking the Labyrinth is an ancient practice that dates so far back we cannot even be completely certain of its origins. But, the practice is always the same… with a Labyrinth we can pray and think and reconnect with our own spiritual journey.
During the summer of 2011 the youth of St. Francis and Immanuel Lutheran built a Chartres Labyrinth (the most popular Labyrinth design) in the backyard of St. Clare house. They used the stones from the Bement Camp Labyrinth as a reminder of the tradition and fellowship involved in walking. They also understood the project as a way to cover all of their local volunteering in prayer. With the completion of this project the community has a chance to join them in the walk by reflecting on each individual’s journey and prayer time with God and at the same time covering the community in prayer. Perhaps it is the biggest “walk for a cause” in history. Walk for you, walk for God, walk because prayer and reflection make a difference.