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Prayer path provides time to reflect, enjoy wildflowers

George Olenic, chairman of the buildings and grounds committee at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church, at the church’s prayer path. The path, set among a field of blooming wildflowers, is open to everyone. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

Those with nowhere to unwind, breathe deeply and consider their life’s trajectory — or those who like wildflowers — are welcome to stroll the prayer path at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church in Franklin Township.

Church member Ken Metrick, who is on the volunteer committee for the prayer path, said this is the natural venue’s fourth year.

He said various species of wildflowers that bloom at different times from spring to fall were planted in a 4-acre plot the church formerly had mowed.

He said Ryan Colteryahn, a church elder, prepared the acreage and planted the wildflowers four years ago.

Church member Tom Huff and his son dug a path that meanders through the wildflowers, and placed stone on the surface.

“It’s rolled in, so you can push a wheelchair or stroller on it,” Metrick said.

He said church members George Olenic and Jim Cooper built a small wooden bridge over a little stream that runs through the property.

A gazebo, benches and inspirational sayings also grace the relaxing outdoor space.

“A lot of people don’t have big backyards,” Metrick said. “This is a place where you can go and walk, sit or just have time alone with your family to collect your thoughts or spend time in prayer.”

He said families who access the prayer path also use the playground or basketball court on the acreage.

Metrick said the wildflowers are cut back to ground level in the fall by church member Ken Laughlin so the seeds from the blooms will fall to the dirt and grow again the next spring.

“That way, it’s several years until we have to reseed it,” he said.

He hopes many people walk the pleasant prayer path this summer.

“It’s open to the public,” Metrick said. “Anybody can go there at anytime.”

Church member Meghann Dunn, of Connoquenessing Township, is the project manager for the prayer path.

She said many high school graduates have their senior pictures or prom photos taken among the wildflowers, which she has seen posted on social media.

Dunn said some people sit on the swings to watch the sunset, others have gotten married at the gazebo, and everyone enjoys watching the various flowers bloom and fade, which bathes the acreage in various colors all summer.

“It’s really fun to see it evolve,” she said of the wildflowers.

Dunn said she appreciates all who have helped develop the prayer path or donated money toward its creation.

“I hope people can enjoy the space however they feel called to enjoy it, and I hope they enjoy God’s creation there,” she said.

“I hope the community will enjoy it for many years to come.”

The prayer path is behind Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church at 727 W. Old Route 422, Butler.

Jim Cooper, a member at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church who helped build a small wooden bridge along the church’s prayer path, takes time to offer a prayer as he enjoys the path’s wildflowers. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Jim Cooper, who helped build a small wooden bridge at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church’s prayer path, prays while enjoying the wildflowers at the path. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Jim Cooper, who helped build a small wooden bridge over a stream at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church’s prayer path, enjoys the wildflowers in the path’s field with a prayer. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Wildflowers were planted a few years ago at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church’s prayer path. The flowers bloom at different times all summer. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church prayer path of wildflowers Friday June 7, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
A bird sits on a birdhouse on a backdrop of blooming wildflowers at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church prayer path. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
In addition to humans, pollinators visit the prayer path at Mt. Chestnut Presbyterian Church. The meandering path, which is full of blooming wildflowers, is open to everyone. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)

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