A chapel for all faiths

Article image - A chapel for all faiths Community members gather outside the Garden Cemetery Chapel.

Alice Springs Town Council in the Northern Territory has constructed a community chapel that accommodates dignified funeral services for all faiths and cultures.

Alice Springs is an increasingly multicultural and multi-faith community. Alongside a significant Indigenous Australian population, 35.5 per cent of the town’s residents were born outside of Australia.
Alice Springs Town Council operates three cemeteries, the largest being Alice Springs Garden Cemetery.

Until recently, bereaved families had no option but to hold memorial services elsewhere, separate to burials.

Council saw there was a need for an on-site chapel.
As a medium-sized local government authority, Alice Springs Town Council often relies on external funding to support major projects, but the importance of this project was such that Council chose to independently fund construction.

“We knew that this was a worthy project,” Mayor Damien Ryan said.  
“We wanted to provide the bereaved members of our community with a dignified place to remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

“For many of us, death is deeply spiritual; so it was essential that this new facility could house an appropriate service for any faith.

“From the outset, we were very clear that this was to be a culturally neutral facility, a blank canvas.

“The chapel interior is a space that can be filled with spiritual symbols, decorations, or items with special significance.”

Planning and development for the Garden Cemetery Chapel was steered by Council’s Cemeteries Advisory Committee, to which representatives from different faiths and cultures contributed.

Catering to the varying needs of community members, the Chapel’s rear walls slide out and open onto an outdoor-area, which allows for both sizable and more intimate funerals.

An adjoining garden provides a place for quiet reflection, with artworks that evoke the universal experience of grieving and loss.
The chapel is thoughtfully decorated with artworks of local flora and birdlife, blending the chapel with the surrounding landscape.

“Council is very proud of this new facility; it’s a strong step in making our town an even more inclusive town, for all communities,” Mayor Ryan said.