A holy place

The sun was shining, a gentle breeze waved through the trees and birds pranced around, busy making nests among the branches overhead. It was the perfect Spring day for the St Stephen’s School Carramar community to bless their new Bush Chapel – a space for all to reflect, set amongst the flora and fauna of the nature play space.

“You could really tell that God was amongst us on this beautiful day,” Donella Beare, St Stephen’s School Principal, said.

“It was so lovely to bring members of our community together as we consecrated the Bush Chapel as a special place – one for all to meet, pray, learn, rest and connect with God amongst the beauty of his creations.”

Donella was joined by Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, Brett Roberts, Head of Carramar Campus, deputies, teaching and administration staff, members of the School Council and a group of parents and students, with all encouraged to use the space.

They sat on natural log benches facing the central feature of the space, a great timber cross bound with rope standing tall at the head of the clearing. The cross can be seen from around the campus, with a particularly striking view down a wooded promenade into the Bush Chapel.

Steve Francis opened the service with a prayer.

“It is a great honour to share in today’s service to celebrate the space and dedicate it to God’s purpose,” he said.

The sound of the student choir resounded through the Chapel as Steve Meagher, Secondary Deputy of Care, presented the Homily before Rev Narelle Collas, Minister at Carramar Uniting Church bestowed the Blessing of the Cross.

“As we walk around the school, we look here and we see the space and the cross and it shows that we invite God to be a part of who we are and in all of our interactions with students, staff and the community,” Steve Meagher said. “It shows that the invitation to God and our community is always open.”

Brett said the idea for the Bush Chapel came several years ago yet it took a long time for the dream to become a reality.

“I was naïve to the entirety of the process of constructing a permanent structure and am very thankful to all of those who played their part in bringing our idea to fruition,” he said.

“I remember we went down to the timber yard and we were spoilt for choice with numerous lengths to choose from but we were really after something that would look as natural as possible – we wanted the cross to look almost like a tree, like it has always belonged here.”

Once they had chosen the pieces, Daniel Leighton, St Stephen’s Carramar Design Technician, worked hard on shaping, painting and fashioning the cross over many months. He also worked his way through the compliance and installation, even lovingly digging the hole for it to sit by hand. Brett said the Bush Chapel was a true testament to Daniel and the commitment and passion of staff involved in its progress.

“It is a space we are proud of and a space we treasure together,” he said.

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