Church park a ‘well-kept secret’

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Barb Limbach, minister of word and service at Resurrection Lutheran Church, demonstrates how to use one of the church park’s music stations. LOUIS WYATT

HUNTERTOWN — The Huntertown Family Park and elementary school ballpark have become central hubs when it comes to community activity, and while both have enjoyed use through ball games, festivals and other organized events, another town park remains an unintentionally well-kept secret among community members.

“We’re not trying to be in competition. My dream would be that eventually there would be a walkway between here and (Huntertown Family Park) so people can go back and forth, but there’s a little bit of a thing in the way called Highway 3,” Barb Limbach, minister of word and service at Resurrection Lutheran Church, said.

The park at Resurrection, nestled between the church building, a parcel of farmland and part of what will eventually be the Copper Creek subdivision, isn’t easily noticeable from S.R. 3. And while it belongs to the church, the many activities the park offers are open to the entire community.

“This is definitely a project of love and volunteering,” Limbach said. “We would love for anyone in the community to use it.”

Members of Resurrection began work on the park between 2010 and 2011, adding to the space through grants and gifts from community members. The project began just three years after Resurrection moved into its current home at 14318 Lima Road.

“We had to start somewhere,” Limbach said. “The main thing was we got the trail around the edge and now we’re just building off of that.”

In addition to a walking trail, the park has grown to include horseshoe pits, a kids’ play area with slides and tunnels, a certified butterfly garden, a Little Free Library and a swing set.

The walking path around the park includes music and fitness stations along the way, which visitors can use for both “meditation and exercise,” Limbach said.

One of the most unique additions to the park, however, came in 2015. Near the southeast corner of the property is one of only two outdoor labyrinths in the Fort Wayne area.

“In the early church, there were people who couldn’t make the pilgrimage to Rome, so they built these labyrinths that were reminiscent of that pilgrimage,” Limbach explained.

Labyrinths are utilized across several religious denominations as a form of meditation and to “walk with God and find some peace,” Limbach said.

Resurrection Lutheran Church’s park is home to one of just two outdoor labyrinths in the Fort Wayne area. Labyrinths have been used by many religions for centuries as a tool for meditation and prayer. LOUIS WYATT

The flat, circular, concrete structure is etched with a walking path that winds its way from the outside of the circle to the very center. While there is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth, there is only one way in and one way out. According to the church’s website, the center represents “sacred space and the presence of God.”

“When you reach the center, stay a moment or two and focus on the journey you just made,” the instructions explain. “Leave when it seems appropriate. As you return to the entrance, prepare your mind to re-enter the world. You may wish to say a prayer of thanks as you take the last step.”

While Limbach said community members often visit the labyrinth on their own time, the church also uses it during a six-week bible study as a representation of Jesus’ walk to Jerusalem, death and resurrection. The church also hosts a service on the labyrinth during its annual Worship in the Park.

“We’ve done a couple night walks. The youth love it. We have some people who are members of our church because of it. They were looking for a place to walk a labyrinth and they found this one and now they’re members. That was something we never expected,” Limbach said.

Last spring, church members planted a crop of willow trees along the path leading to the labyrinth’s entrance. Once the trees are tall enough to meet in the middle, they will be tied together at the top to create an archway.

Resurrection’s labyrinth is included in the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator at labyrinthlocator.com, and residents in the Fort Wayne area have also found themselves at the church’s park through geocaching, an outdoor activity in which participants use a mobile device to locate hidden containers called “geocaches” at specific locations marked on a map. Resurrection happens to be one of the coordinates included in the application.

The Resurrection park has been made possible through the dedication of many volunteers over the years. Recently, the church hosted an outdoor workday where 15-20 volunteers lent a hand working around the property, including the park.

“We have a lot of very dedicated people here,” Pastor William Smith said. “We like to give the opportunity to people to take ideas and run with them.”

Despite adding countless amenities to the park over the years, Limbach said the church’s list of future ideas is always expanding. She hopes to one day see an amphitheater, sand volleyball court and pavilion added to the list of attractions.

“I have also been in contact with (Fort Wayne Trails) about getting connected to the trail system. They took pictures and they’re very interested, so we’re on their radar,” Limbach added.

In addition to several memorial trees, the park is home to a community garden. Though it has seen little use recently, Limbach said members of Huntertown’s Burmese community have expressed an interest in revitalizing the space.

The park has no set hours for use, but there are no lights on the property, so Limbach suggested people visit between sunup and sundown.