The overarching statement for the All Souls Rebuild, encompassing St Mary’s and St Matthew’s, was “All humankind around one table stood”. Everything in the design process was measured around that statement. We sought also to have a connection with the community and this is exemplified not only in the facilities in the rebuild but in the huge windows in the worship space which allow those within to look out and passers-by to look in with an implicit invitation, so community flows both ways. There is also a lovely connection with nature as we look out upon huge trees and a lawn which runs down to Papanui Road. There are strong elements of symbolism in the worship space with crosses apparent in the window framing, the wood layout, the acoustic provision in the crosses patterning the wood panels in the ceiling and the recessed sanctuary cross.
The handsome marble baptismal font, placed on a raised river stone platform, came from the demolished St Mary’s along with the stained glass windows “Jesus with the children”. These overlook Church Lane and the colours give great beauty to the surrounding area. Opposite the font is a World War memorial window from St Matthew’s in more sombre colours as reflects the subject of war. Connecting the two areas is a large panel on the back wall of the braided riverbed of the Waimakariri River. A river of life connecting death in war and new life in baptism.
From the worship space we move through a beautiful light-filled foyer with a garden deck and lush plantings amongst which are some of the bells from St Mary’s. The foyer is always full of activity, gathering and often a space for morning tea. Off the foyer is a well-used family room full of games and toys for visiting children.
Also off the foyer is a wonderful conical barrel shaped chapel for worship in the round, beams soar into the air from a flooring with a Canterbury cross inset of a dark and light marble. When you look up there are beautiful ribs and crosses and much glass to let in glorious light. The glass walls are hung with many St Mary’s windows including the Nativity window which was in the sanctuary. “Lift thine eyes” comes readily to mind.
The halls, kitchens, storerooms, gardens and office spaces are well-designed and absolutely fit-for-purpose.
How blessed we are to have this magnificent new church complex.