Labyrinth & Art Representing “Amen”


Above is an approximate layout of a proposed labyrinth with public art standing on the backside of the labyrinth design. We are asking for permission to gift this to the community to live on the property of First Baptist Church of Walnut Cove at the corner of 4th and Summit Streets. The placement is not based on setback measurements. All of that would be followed to met city codes and the optimal location for future development by First Baptist Church.

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The Layout of the Posts

The posts are an innovative design on C-channel railroad ties made out of coal ash. They will be painted in a variety of solid, bright colors and placed according to the notes on the sheet music of the song, “Amen,” which was composed by Stokes County native Jester Hairston.


The posts will be spaced accordingly, but also in a curve to enhance the view of the Sauratown Mountains, which stands in the background. There are seventeen posts, which equal the number of notes in the introduction of the song, which are the first five “Amens.”

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Jester Hairston was born in Little Egypt on the Hairston Plantation, which was flooded in the early 1970s to create Belews Lake, which provides cooling waters for the power station. Inspired by his grandmother, Jester Hairston collected spirituals through out the US. He also served as a UN Ambassador sharing the spirituals throughout the world and leading mass groups of people in song. The leader of his family, Hairston often spoke about the relationships he fostered between both the black and white side of the proclaimed nation’s largest family.

Seventeen posts were selected prior to the alliance with the sheet music because the number represents victory, perfection and resurrection, also sung about in the song, “Amen.” These words also represent the goals of coal ash impacted community members as they have worked together to solve the situation they have been facing over the last forty years.



The Lilies of the Field is a reference to the movie starring Sidney Poitier, who won the first Oscar as an African-American for his role. Stokes County native, Jester Hairston’s composed the song “Amen,” which is played throughout the movie. Poitier lip-syncs along to Hairston’s voice in the movie. The name of the movie comes from a conversation in the movie that references Matthew 6:28:

Why are you anxious about clothing?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.
They don’t toil, neither do they spin.

The Railroad Tie Design

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The patented c-channel composite railroad tie is a large volume, high value, real-world product, one that repurposes coal ash in a responsible, profitable environmentally sound use. It increases safety, improves RR operations, prevents environmental degradation and saves trees from being consumed to make wood cross ties and saves the CO2 emitted in the production of concrete. Coal Ash Composite RR ties has excellent prospects as a high value export product too.

Railroads and Walnut Cove

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Walnut Cove evolved into a prosperous town because of the railroads. The location of the labyrinth is next door to the home of Captain Robert L. Murphy, who was associated with The Atlantic and Yadkin Railroad. He also served as president of the Walnut Cove Board of Trade in the 1910s.

We hope this project comes full circle with the launch of a new railroad tie manufacturing business that can address numerous environmental and quality issues currently facing our railroad system.



Over the past year, people have consistently asked for more places to walk. Rev. Gregory Hairston requested exercise opportunities for the aging population. Danielle Bailey-Lash practices a daily meditation. All of these requests together evolved into a notion of a concrete labyrinth designed by Chuck Hunner, who is out of Asheville.

The concrete mix will include local coal ash and be poured by a local business. The Granitite application will be applied to the concrete over a ten-day period, leaving a long-lasting gathering space for decades to come.

The benefits of walking a labyrinth were recently highlighted in the Winston-Salem Journal. We believe that the location on Summit Street gives community members an expansive view of the mountains and the entire Stokes County skyline. It is remarkable location to settle and center the person visiting the space. Not only can it serve as a ministry to First Baptist congregants, but also to Christ Episcopal Church and members they are serving with the new Sid Lee Memorial Mental Health Association of Stokes County.

Benches and seating will be placed around the labyrinth. Evidence has shown that even watching someone walking the labyrinth has calming benefits.

The space can also be used as an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and classes.