The Chapel nestles near the food court
The shopping chapel
Located amongst the hustle and bustle of one of the country's busiest shopping centres, The Chapel at Lakeside provides a small 'oasis of prayer' amongst the bargain hunters.
It may be one of the liveliest shopping malls in Britain, but can Lakeside Shopping Centre in West Thurrock also be a place for people to find spiritual solace?
Tucked away on the third floor, just off of the food court, the Lakeside Chapel is one of the few places in the complex where there is peace and quiet.
The chapel holds occasional services
The Chapel was opened 10-years-ago by Jill Edwards, who now has a team of chaplains who provide counselling and spiritual guidance for both shoppers and shop-workers as and when they need it.
"I believe this is the only chapel in a shopping centre, although there are places of quiet," says Chaplain Colin Phillips.
"It's mainly to support the staff because we visit every shop and each chaplain is allocated to a different store. But the shoppers also come to the chapel because they can find a real peace and a quiet place."
"It's a place that we call an oasis, an oasis of prayer.
Colin Phillips is one of the many chaplains
"All Christian faiths or denominations use the chapel, but also people of other faiths and we particularly have Muslims that come and pray every day."
With retail going through a rough time at the moment, it would be natural to assume the chapel would be receiving a few more visits than normal. But Colin says this hasn't been the case so far.
"We've offered our services to the people in some of the shops that have made folk redundant, particularly at Woolworths. Obviously we can't contact every member of staff, but we do try to make ourselves available," he explains.
"But a lot of shops are doing very well, so it's not all doom and gloom."
An unusual place for reflection?
Unlike most other places of worship, the Lakeside chapel doesn't hold regular services, but they do hold occasional ceremonies.
"We have services on special occasions," Colin explains. "We have carol services, we have harvest services and also we have memorial services.
"But in the main we don't have regular Sunday services, but we do have regular mother's prayers and the ladies meet for prayer every month here in the Chapel."
So amongst the theatre of consumerism, does Colin see his small haven of calm as a sacred space?
"It is a sacred space and a very special place," he replies. "Where we find God and certainly many people have found Jesus Christ here in this chapel."
last updated: 15/04/2009 at 11:51
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