Chapel: Breaking into the busyness of school life

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Taking chapel into the busyness of the school community can help bring a moment of peace to all who gather. This profile is from the seventh edition of Experiri (Term 3 2014) and was contributed by the Reverend Nicki Colledge, Chaplain at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, Brisbane.

Experiri is a quarterly newsletter presenting stories of innovation in school ministry from Australia and beyond. Each edition provides two or three profiles of  innovative strategies that have been developed in response to challenges or emerging issues for chaplains or others in Anglican Schools, including Heads and Religious Educators. Until now Experiri was an emailed newsletter but in  the coming months some of the previous profiles will be posted here.

 

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What was the need or challenge being addressed?

In her 8th year as Chaplain, Rev Nicki created an idea to respond to the busyness of the school community; “If staff, students and family were ‘too busy’ to make it to morning chapel, I thought there was no reason why we couldn’t bring chapel to them – meet people where they are, being who they are, completely present in the moment”.

What was the response to the need?

On a clear bright Autumn morning, just as the school community was readying themselves for the new day, a service of Holy Communion was held … not in the chapel, not in a classroom, but outdoors surrounded by the morning activities of St Margaret’s. The Reverend Nicki Colledge, School Chaplain, plans on taking Church to the people; “Wherever there are people, there is God. Sacred space is not just confined to a building, but wherever we may find quiet, or peace, or a moment of something special”.

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What was the impact?

“Travelling Church” has also been held around the School’s Dragon (look up the story of St Margaret of Antioch!) and outside the School Tuckshop (Canteen). The Rev Nicki celebrates the sacrament of the Eucharist surrounded by the “noise of that place”. In the rush of a new day a group of staff and students may find a moments’ peace. To celebrate and receive communion or a blessing in “God’s Cathedral” – the great outdoors – is a gift. Rev Nicki plans on bringing “Travelling Church” to a variety of surprising places around the school each month. The Service will follow the ringing of an old school bell that was a gift to the School Chapel in 1958. The first Travelling Church, held in the new Barley Sugar Gardens, created a vital link with past and present, tradition and modernity.

What were the greatest challenges?

One of the greatest challenges in Faith-based schools is offering worship and spiritual experiences that are not only accessible to the community, but are attractive and appealing. Travelling Church was an idea that emerged out of that challenge! Too often chapel is completely compulsory, but by offering a choice means that suddenly the culture is laid bare – is there anybody out there who will willingly come?

Travelling Church’s greatest challenge for me is having the courage and the faith to give it a go…and see who accepts the invitation.

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