On 5th September the Bishop Trevor came to Whitstable St. Alphege in to bless its recently completed prayer garden.
The result of two years planning, hard work and co-operation, the garden has transformed a once invisible and neglected space, into a beautiful ‘bijou’ spiritual garden for anyone and everyone to come and be still, reflect or pray.
The garden is open daily from 9am to 3pm and has been a collaboration between members of the church congregation as well local organisations. These include the Whitstable Improvement Trust who played a vital part in helping with the design and planting, and the homeless charity Porchlight, some of whose clients helped with the physical work of clearing and levelling the ground.
Richard Barnard, Jobs, Education and Training Manager at Porchlight said: “Porchlight service users were delighted to be involved in the clearing of the ground for the prayer garden and it was also apparently great fun! Gardening is one of many positive activities we facilitate to help our service users move on. It can often be the catalyst for significant change in an individual; working with people from all walks of life, on a common project and having the feeling of a job well done can give people the confidence to look for more meaningful ways to spend their time.”
Two members of the congregation who have been particularly instrumental in helping make the project a reality are Mary Kidd and Jocelyn Glanvill. They have been delighted with how the garden has developed and will help maintain it as it grows and matures. Jocelyn said:
“Being involved with the garden has been a real spiritual experience. It has helped inspire friendships, and just being able to sit and pray within the garden is very special.”
The garden includes many plants which have been donated by parishioners themselves, as well as two benches, one of which is dedicated to Mary Kidd’s late husband. These are also numerous herbs which it is hoped will add to the sensory experience of the garden.
At the blessing Bishop Trevor said the garden symbolised God’s plan for us: “This project has reclaimed a piece of land back for God. All gardeners know that a garden is never finished, and that there is always something to attend to. That is what God says to us. He tends us like a garden, and is always working amongst us, planting new things to help us grow and develop.”
There are now plans to develop a neglected area of garden on the other side of the church which will be particularly aimed at children and young people.
The prayer garden can be found behind St Alphege church by the Endowed School gates.