Three tiny prefabricated chapels, measuring 1.2 metres square, have been erected on an area of lawn between the parish’s hall and the out-of-commission church building. They will be there for one week, until Pentecost.
“We wanted to do something for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, the week of prayer suggested by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York,” says curate Harry Newton, who organised the pod landings.
“The chapels are open 24/7 for anyone to sit in. There’s bean bags, pictures, prayers and other stuff inside each one, to help people take time out to reflect and pray.”
The pods, made of corflute and wood, were designed by Christchurch artist Pete Majendie, who created the 185 Empty Chairs memorial for the 2011 earthquake victims.
A small team from the parish, including 12-year old Hanan Fokkens and junior youth leader Tom Coulson, helped to paint the chapels, furnish them and add finishing touches.
“I like the idea that the chapels are temporary and don’t require a lot of people power to operate or manage them,” says Harry.
“This morning we had a line of people wanting to go in. Last night at about 6pm I noticed a man – not a parishioner – was standing in one having a bit of a pray.”
Each pod has a different interior: one has a comfortable armchair covered in a bright orange throw, surrounded by multicoloured paper lanterns and prayer posters; another offers a brightly coloured squishy cube to sit on while contemplating images of planet earth and New Zealand bush. The third pod offers a postcard-style blackboard, coloured pens and other materials that can be used to write messages to God.
Thy Kingdom Come was originally a UK-based event for the period leading up to Pentecost, the ‘birthday’ of the Church.The prayer initiative has proved popular and has been adopted by Anglican churches in other parts of the world, as well as other denominations.
Christians are being encouraged to pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that we can share the gospel message and talk about the importance of our relationship with Jesus.
Photo caption: Hanan Fokkens finishes off the waterproofing of the roof of a ‘pod’ in preparation for the prayer week.