Garden gives hope in Lantzville

 on April 2, 2024

The current St Philip by-the-Sea church building was completed in 2000. When it first opened, its unique architecture and beautiful garden were clearly visible from Lantzville Road — a major road through the Lantzville area. The church grounds became an attraction for the local community. A stream flowed through the property via a pond where a small willow tree grew. Bridges were built over the stream and benches dotted the area. The area was so picturesque that it quite literally became a popular spot for graduation and wedding photos.  

The church made good use of this space too, with garden parties, barbecues, and a farmer’s market.  

Sadly, over time, and as the church’s congregation shrank, the garden and the area around the church became overgrown. The local area surrounding the church also changed. A forested area behind the church property was cleared for development, and the stream no longer flowed. Hedges and trees planted along the front of the property had become overgrown, obscuring the church from the road.  


While members of the church had been maintaining the church’s flower beds, to give more prominence to the parish and provide the local community with a beautiful nature area to enjoy, in 2022 volunteers from the church began to clear the overgrown area at the back of the church property. This area has been named the Garden of Hope.

However, the hedges and trees at the front of the property required expert attention. So, last year, Maureen Lawrence, people’s warden at St Philip by-the-Sea, in collaboration with the parish council, submitted an application to the Anglican Foundation of Canada for a grant to cover the expense of hiring a company to remove the hedges and trees. The proposal was successful and the church was awarded $4,000 to complete the work and put up a sign to advertise the space. 

Maureen shared photos with Faith Tides showing the view of the church from the road before and after the hedges and trees were removed: 

The view of St Philip by-the-Sea from Lantzville Road before the hedges and trees were removed. Image supplied by Maureen Lawrence.
The view of St Philip by-the-Sea from Lantzville Road after the hedges and trees had been removed. Image supplied by Maureen Lawrence.

The grant application was submitted in response to the Anglican Foundation’s 2023 request for proposals under the theme “Viriditas — God’s Greening Power.” Scott Brubacher, executive director of the Anglican Foundation of Canada, says the goals of the request for proposals were to “emphasize creation care — but also the broader theme of newness, of God’s greening or regenerative power at work in the church.”  

A sense of that newness and regeneration comes across when talking to Maureen about the church and its property. People have begun to use the church grounds again, sitting on the benches to relax or read. Maureen is hopeful that as the weather warms up, more people will start to use it, and that outdoor events will once again be hosted on the church grounds — including a garden party to celebrate the rejuvenation of the church garden and grounds. The church has also started to host a coffee morning for local seniors on the last Wednesday of the month, which could become an outdoor event during the summer months.  

St Philip by-the-Sea has long been an active supporter of the Anglican Foundation of Canada and the congregation, parish council and Maureen are all grateful for the grant.  

Commenting on St Philip’s grant proposal, Scott Brubacher had this to say: “It is wonderful to support a church in restoring a green space that can be shared with the community. The Viriditas RFP was able to fund numerous community-centred garden projects across Canada, which is a trend we have seen at AFC as more and more Canadian Anglicans find ways to go outside their walls and use their green spaces creatively to grow community and connection.”

  • Naomi Racz

    Naomi is the editor of Faith Tides and writes creative non-fiction with a focus on nature, the environment, sense of place and parenting.

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