Update 25 July 2018:
Plans to rebuild the temple at New Lands are progressing well. We have appointed the design team, led by James Gorst Architects and are working with them to refine the initial design ideas. As soon as they are ready we will share them with members; prior to approaching the planning authorities later this year.
In April 2018, as part of an ongoing consultation process, we asked our worldwide membership to tell us their feelings regarding the plans to rebuild the temple. Some of the responses received have been shared with the architects to help inform the design process and to describe some of the more intangible elements of this sacred space.
A sample of the responses are included here:
‘I think the temple is an essential focal point for the White Eagle work, not only locally and for the UK, but around the world. It is a point of reference for sending out light, for meditation, and for aspiration, even if visits to it are few and far between.
On the rare occasions we have visited the temple we have been inspired and uplifted, both by its serene location and the architecture, and by the activities in which we have participated.
A replacement temple needs to be a real feature on its sacred hilltop site. Spiritual edifices around the world impress and inspire by their beauty, whether blatant or subtle, and by their architects’ use of sacred geometry and other essential references which result in a building being wholesome, and appealing not only to the eye but to the heart and to the mind in the heart…’
‘I have to say I feel disappointed and uncomfortable that the Lodge will be spending a significant amount of money on a building that will be used mainly by the ‘privileged few’. In a time when so many people are struggling financially, it seems to be an indulgence to completely replace the temple when a small, simple building – in keeping with the philosophy of our Teachings – would be sufficient; literally, a domed temple for worship….. With regards to fundraising, I would like to know whether the Lodge as an organisation will be contributing or whether it will be relying solely on its members to raise funds?’
We have carefully considered what the Lodge’s future requirements might be and have specified a building to meet these. The bulk of the money required is coming from Lodge funds; arising from the sale of the St Mary Abbots Place building in 2014. We will be launching an appeal later this year; raising additional funds to help ease budgetary pressures; please be assured no-one is obliged to contribute financially, but all can contribute through the power of visualisation and prayer.
‘I feel the inevitable and perhaps shared ‘mixed bag of emotions’, especially at the thought of such a beautiful Temple being demolished and never being quite so large and fabulously-domed again!...However, I also feel spiritually accepting of the necessary change and hopeful about all the new incorporations and visions for the new Temple that will be built, hopefully for many generations to enjoy. I am happy to support the temple fundraising.’
‘Instead of building a new temple, could the hallowed space of New Lands Chapel be extended to meet the current need/s? Could this be an interim measure till an increase in membership, attendances at services and festivals etc. justify a rebuild?’
‘… May the temple be beautiful. May it be a centre of peace. May it be a place of welcome, a resource, an inspiration and a meeting place for true brotherhood in the White Eagle community and for the local and wider community, near and afar. May it offer deep nourishment, quiet, wisdom and healing to all. Every blessing, trust and support to all concerned in this exciting project.’
‘I feel the new temple should be smaller, not only would it feel cosier as the chapel does, but would cost less to heat.’
‘Initially I was very upset, however I am now getting used to the idea and feel that we must all trust. It is an integral part of our work in the Lodge. I know in my heart that we are all being guided and this is a test of our faith and commitment.’
‘Whilst I shall be sad to see the temple, as it is now, go I fully understand the reasons…. I would like to see the new inside of the temple as similar as possible to the existing one and, importantly, of the same size….’
‘Thank God you rejected the idea of not having a temple – that I feel would be a total betrayal of White Eagle’s vision!... A place where truly the veil can be drawn aside and where angels can reside undisturbed…’
‘As a member of the London Lodge I feel concern; firstly that the building of a new temple will be funded by those monies formerly promised for a building in London, and secondly the costs incurred may lead to underfunding for suitable rented premises for the work in London. For me, the Temple and the London Lodge are inextricably linked in the White Eagle work. You state, ‘we want to feel that we are in this together’. I very much regret I can’t share this sentiment in the present situation of the London Lodge…’
Prior to, and during, the sale of the London Lodge it was the trustees’ intention to purchase a new home in London. The Lodge Mother, trustees, and ministers asked representatives most involved with the London Lodge to look for suitable properties to purchase; but nothing suitable came onto the market. During this time it also became apparent that the Temple required a far greater level of investment than originally envisaged. Therefore it was decided to put the search for a new London home on hold. We are committed to working with the London Lodge community to ensure there continues to be access to suitable premises in which to hold regular activities.
‘My feelings about this plan for the temple are that it is exactly the right thing to do. My reason for saying this is due to a meditation I had a few years ago in which I quite unexpectedly and spontaneously saw the temple at New Lands disappearing from the top down and then immediately being built up again. I was very surprised and dismayed to see the first part of this, but then realised it was being built anew – a new temple for a New Age and a new phase of the work.’
‘I think the way we have all been consulted during every stage of this project is commendable. A new Temple on the site of the old one, using the central altar as the ‘dot within the circle’ is just beautiful. The sadness of seeing the existing Temple in its present state is upsetting for everyone. To know a new build is on its way is deeply satisfying….’
‘The plans and visions of beauty to create a new temple at New Lands is in perfect harmony with the energy of these times. A new world is fast emerging from the prayers, hopes, dreams and visions of millions of light workers all over the world.’
‘We really need to think deeply about whether we are putting up a new building as an iconic image for personality needs or desires, or whether that money would be better used to advance the Teaching through other forms. Here I am thinking of the groups and centres run by volunteers who have put so much in the work…. Perhaps the money could be better utilised to provide more support to the groups and centres.’
‘…The world is changing, people tend to use the internet, facetime and Facebook for more. They can participate from their own homes, at a convenient time. So perhaps what we require are the means to put White Eagle Teachings online with activities also online to allow for discussion.’
We wish to reassure the above two writers, in particular, that alongside the temple project we are also implementing new ways of making the Teachings available. A searchable online database of the Inner Teachings will be available in 2019 – more information to follow in due course. Also, we would greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to better support our volunteers and groups.
‘The fact that a building is to be destroyed and replaced does not bother me… it is the flame that is eternal; not the candle.’
‘… like an old friend, I feel I must let go. Our lives go through so many chapters, some very difficult and challenging, but all have a lesson to teach us. We don’t like losing friends, but it is better to have had them and enjoy every moment, than not to have known them at all, and that is how I feel with regards to our beautiful temple on the Hill.’
‘…Perhaps we can look at this through the eyes of nature. As a snake grows, it sheds its old skin. As a chrysalis develops into a butterfly, it sheds its pupal case. As our Brotherhood work on earth matures, so the time has come to shed our former temple “skin” and embrace a new temple form.’
‘Although it is often hard to relinquish our hold on ‘things’ whether a building or smaller objects, there comes a time when new needs to replace the old. With the greatest care undertaken to demolish the existing temple and a new one on the same site is the vision for the furthering of White Eagle’s teaching…’
‘How will feedback from this consultation be given to the membership?’
There will be regular updates on this webpage, and in the Stella Polaris magazine, as the Temple project unfolds. We hope that the article in August/September Stella Polaris and the above comments give you a flavour of the wide ranging and thoughtful responses we have received, read and contemplated upon. Many, many thanks for your time, effort and goodwill.