Archive for Congregational Life

How Will the Labyrinth be Built

There are two threads to the “how” of the labyrinth. The first has to do with the desire to build a labyrinth at College Avenue. The interest in labyrinths and the seed of a desire for one at our church started in the 1990s, with several members of the church learning about labyrinths, visiting several together and even building a “guerilla” labyrinth at Downey High School.

Two of those members, Sandy Sample and Ken Schroeder are now on the Labyrinth Committee which also includes Melinda Kopp (Committee Chair), Erin King, Tami Bennett, Samantha Bennett, Pastor Michael, Mitchell Mesimer, Rickie Jean Langerman and Robert Nicholas. We are all focused on using Memorial Funds designated for this purpose to build a labyrinth that is well-suited for our property, incorporates a design we are drawn to and will be used by the congregation as well as the community.

The other “how” is the actual construction of the labyrinth. We have, after visiting and experiencing a good number of labyrinths in proximity, settled on the design and materials that we feel will work best for our site and will accommodate constant use by a variety of mobilities. We have made contact with one of the best known and respected labyrinth facilitators, Lars Howlett, who happens to be based in the Bay Area. Our hope is to have his invaluable, expert guidance and assistance as we plan for construction.

We have also connected with a well-regarded landscape architect (and former member), Dennis Dahlin, who will also be available to advise us. Committee member Samantha Bennett has professional knowledge that will lend itself to proper preparation of the site to support the construction.
The funds that have been earmarked for the Labyrinth will also help with landscaping and other features such as explanatory/descriptive signage and other enhancements. We feel we are well-positioned to move forward with construction occurring in mid to late Spring 2015.

Q&A With the Labyrinth Team

The Labyrinth Committee responds to questions you may be wondering about:

Where will our labyrinth be located?
Our plan is to build the labyrinth near our beloved cork oak tree, 
which many of us already experience as having its own sacred spirit.

Why there instead of someplace else?
It is on the corner of College and Orangeburg that our church is most 
visible to the community.  That has been “our corner” since the 
original grape vineyard and farmhouse were
developed into our church campus.

Won’t people driving by wonder why people are walking in a strange 
circuitous pattern?
Our labyrinth will be what is called an “urban style” labyrinth, open 
to the world and visible to the community: to cars passing through the 
intersection and to families picking up school children. If those we 
don’t know see someone walking the winding path, they might wonder 
what it’s all about, and stop to try it out another day.

Won’t those who are walking the labyrinth feel uncomfortable being so 
exposed  to anyone going by?  It is a noisy, busy  corner!
Those who are walking the labyrinth may be aware of the noise of “the 
world around us” at first. But as the path winds them toward the 
center,  they’ll find it possible to lay aside
distractions and preoccupations, and allow the sacredness of the 
space to connect them to their own quiet center, where God awaits.

Will there be some landscaping around the labyrinth to beautify the 
We hope to eventually develop some landscaping that can provide some 
soft separation from the busyness of that corner — but walking the 
labyrinth will always invite us to learn how to let the noise around 
us carry us to the center, not only of the labyrinth, but of the 
stillness of our own heart as well.

We hope you will allow our labyrinth to lead you deeper into God’s 
loving embrace.

Labyrinth Team Update


The Labyrinth Committee is meeting regularly and making definite progress on bringing a labyrinth to our campus by summer of 2015. In an effort to inform you of their work and purpose, committee member Erin King, who is especially knowledgeable about labyrinths, would like to share this information.

Why does the labyrinth attract people? Because it is a tool to guide healing, deepen self-knowledge, and empower creativity.

Walking the labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the spiritual journey. It urges action. It calms people in the throes of life transitions.

To those of us who feel we have untapped gifts to offer, it stirs the creative fires within. To others who are in deep sorrow, the walk gives solace and peace.

The experience is different for everyone.

1. The labyrinth is a tool for meditation. By following the path to the center, the seeker can use the labyrinth to quiet the mind and find peace and illumination at the center of his or her being. As soon as one enters the labyrinth, one realizes that the path serves as a metaphor for one’s spiritual journey.

2. The labyrinth is a path of prayer. seekers can go in, allow their minds to quiet, and then begin to pray for whatever they need in their lives.

3. The labyrinth is a place of release or renewal. A seeker can release the feelings as they arise and ask for guidance, forgiveness, or whatever is needed for healing.

Festival of Gifts: 2014

Sunday, December 7, 11:30am – 1:15pm, Fellowship Hall

We invite you to participate in College Avenue’s Festival of Gifts 2014–a seasonal event for children/youth ages 3 – 15 to create handmade gifts for people they love.

The Festival of Gifts will begin soon after worship with a simple lunch for children in a secret on-site location,  After all have eaten, Fellowship Hall will be open to children, offering a variety of gift projects geared to a variety of ages, as well as a gift-wrapping station.

How you can help:

Creative adults and older youth are needed to:

  • Set up and staff a gift project table with enough supplies for 20 children
  • Set up and help staff the gift-wrapping station
  • Help a child who needs assistance with gift projects, or be a “floater”
  • Help with set-up (during worship) or clean-up (after 1:15 pm)

To join the fun by volunteering, please sign up on November 23, or call Patti Canoles (521-1080) or Judy Brown (239-7011).

Parents will need to sign their children in and out, and provide a phone number at which they can be reached, and then make themselves scarce, so surprises can be kept secret.  Pick-up time is 1:15 pm — please be prompt! Advance registration by November 30 will help us plan for lunch.

Festival of Gifts is a long-standing College Avenue tradition, revived by Women of Wonder (WOW), with new participants each year.

Labyrinth Update

The interest in and possibility of a labyrinth at our church actually began around 2000, when members Sandy Sample, Ken Schroeder, and Doris Scanlon (among others) began information gathering, learning about, and visiting labyrinths near and far.

There are several factors contributing to the reinvigorated interest and goal of realizing a labyrinth on our property at this particular time: Doris’s daughters, Lucinda and Melinda, contributed seed money from her estate; the corner property, now devoid of lawn, offers the space necessary to accommodate a labyrinth and the labyrinth itself provides an actual practice of release, meditative insight, renewal and empowerment for whomever is open to its path; as our Year of Unity begins we see the labyrinth project as one worthy of focus that will connect us to the wider community.

We have had five meetings to date and are already making significant progress toward educating ourselves about labyrinths (Erin King is extremely knowledgeable); field trips to see a variety of styles and materials used in labyrinths that are fairly close to us; access to information about a similar project nearing completion at Church of the Brethren (Ken Schroeder); understanding what our grounds will accommodate and the preparation necessary (Samantha and Tami Bennett’s expertise). Along the way we plan to contact a labyrinth consultant who can give us more guidance and expert assistance.

We will keep the congregation fully informed about our direction and progress. We are all available to hear your ideas and thoughts and answer questions. We are very excited about bringing this project to fruition for all to experience and share.

Formed in late Spring 2014, the Labyrinth Committee is working toward the goal of installing a Chartres-type labyrinth on College Avenue’s grounds. The committee members are: Samantha Bennett, Tami Bennett, Erin King, Melinda Kopp (Chair), Rickie Jean Langerman, Mitchell Mesimer, Sandy Sample, Pastor Michael Schiefelbein, and Ken Schroeder.

Helen Ingham Memorial

Long-time College Avenue member Helen Ingham has passed away. A memorial will be held at Allen Mortuary at noon on Saturday, July 12 to honor and remember her life. 

Art Gifford’s Memorial Service

Our Friend Art Gifford passed away on April 8 in Denver Colorado.  A celebration of Art’s life will be held at College Avenue Congregational Church at 11am, on Saturday, Jue 14.  A potluck luncheon will follow.   A sign up sheet will be available in the back of the Sanctuary.

Sharing our Stories of Doris

Wednesday, February 5, 7pm Sanctuary

Join this informal gathering to remember Doris Scanlon, who died on January 23. We’ll share our mutual support in this time of loss, as we share our prayers and our stories of Doris.

Advent Suppers

Advent Suppers
All are welcome to share soup and friendship, and to light Advent candles. Please bring a beverage of your choice.

December 1
Margaret Ritchey’s Home
1114 Notre Dame, Modesto

December 8
Brian Gibbs & Michael McCarren’s Home
326 Las Palmas, Modesto 

December 15
Host TBA

Festival of Gifts!


Children/youth ages 3 – 15 are invited to create handmade gifts for people they love!

Following a simple lunch (in a surprise location), a variety of gift projects will be available as well as a gift-wrapping station.

Families need to sign their children in, leave the scene so secrets can stay secret, and pick children up promptly at 1:15.

To volunteer to offer a gift project, assist in another way, help with set-up or clean-up, or to have your questions answered, check in after worship on 11/27 or 12/4, or call Patti Canoles or Judy Brown (call office at 522-7244 for home phone numbers).

Fellowship Hall
December 8, 2013
11:15am – 1:15pm