Creative prayer spaces can engage cautious but curious students. In this innovation profile Susan Crothers-Robertson from St John’s Anglican College, Forest Lake shares her experience of Prayer Spaces.
What was the need or challenge being addressed?
In the last week of the school year the year six cohort spends two days of orientation at the secondary school, the purpose of which is to assist them transition to secondary more smoothly. As part of that process we use a time of reflection and prayer. For some students the idea of prayer can be ‘off putting’. We wanted to reveal to the students that prayer can be done in many different ways, rather than the usual way of closing eyes, kneeling and holding hands in a certain way.
What was the response to the need?
Inspired by a website called “Prayer Spaces in Schools” I contacted creators Phil Togwell and his team in England. They supported me with ideas and prayer. There were four prayer stations.
Sorry Station: Students washed dirty rocks and laid them at the foot of the cross. This represented leaving behind those things they may have regretted doing.
Thank You Station: Students created pipe cleaner people. This represented the people they wish to thank for their time in primary school.
Please Station: Students wrote on paper hands expressing their concerns about moving into secondary school.
Wow Station: Students expressed their “Wow” moments in primary school and hopes for secondary school using paper flags.
What was the impact?
Our first prayer space was fantastic! From the moment we opened the doors of the Chapel, the look on the students’ faces and the “wow” on their lips said it all. There was this amazing peace that seem to descend upon the whole space. Students appeared to collectively sigh as they let go of the past few busy days of the school year. We will be holding more prayer space events in 2015.
What were the greatest challenges?
Sharing this new and strange idea to staff was the first step. Gathering the equipment needed to create the Prayer Spaces was the second. As the Prayer Spaces are like a wonderland, gathering the, although everyday, equipment also required work. Many resources were needed.
St John’s Anglican College—Brisbane