• Kim-Cherie Davidson

Breathing new Life into Historical Site


For more than 100 years, St David’s in Teralba was a place of community worship. When it was recently deconsecrated, put up for sale then passed in at auction, its future became uncertain.

Enter local businesswoman, Kym McDonald, who had a vision for the region’s first centre for universal spiritual teachings, and the foresight to purchase the historically significant property. Now the little church in Teralba will travel full-circle and come back to life as a community spiritual space.

For more than seven years, Kym had run a successful yoga and meditation business, Yogic Wisdom at Boolaroo. Through her students, she saw a need for a community space where they could further explore spiritual paths.

When she saw St David’s Parish of Cockle Creek with its wooden church, hall and grounds, she knew it was the perfect site for Wisdom by the Lake.

“St David’s will continue to be a spiritual home to the community. Wisdom by the Lake is a meeting place for anyone on a spiritual path – as it is a multi-faith and non-denominational centre – we welcome people of all paths,” Kym said.

With the lease nearly up at Boolaroo, Kym had been looking to buy premises to accommodate meditation and yoga classes and teacher training. She also toyed with the idea of space for community events and spiritual teaching.

“A spiritual school had always been in my heart. In the past five years, it had grown stronger as students expressed a desire to study deeper on the spiritual path across all traditions. After recent pilgrimages to Israel and India, I was ready to make this my next step.” In February, she started her search for a site. It was while inspecting a property in Minmi that the real estate agent suggested St David’s. It was zoned commercial, on 1009 square metres and had been passed in at auction the previous day. With only four days to place a submission with the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, Kym explained her vision to repurpose the church and its surrounds as a meeting place that included a centre for universal spiritual teachings, meditation, yoga and community activities. Her offer was accepted. Within six weeks, she had the hall and gardens renovated to house Yogic Wisdom’s classes and teacher training. This stage also included building a deck, planting an orchard and establishing a grassed area as a community space. At the end of May the hall and gardens were opened with an Abundance community day. “There has been a lot of interest from the local community. They are very excited and keep saying Teralba needs this community space,” said Kym. The next stage is the church’s renovation, which will include a new roof and guttering, refurbishing inside and painting the outside. “We will also put glass in the boarded altar windows. It will be matched to the colour of the existing church windows, in line with Lake Macquarie City Councils’ heritage requirements.”

Kym is aiming to have the church ready by August 21 – it’s a significant day for the church as it’s also the anniversary of St David’s dedication in 1915. She said it was a tight deadline though achievable, especially with volunteer support on drop-in days to help paint the church and work in the gardens. When finished, the church will house the spiritual school and expanded meditation program.

The spiritual school will be a multi-faith centre sharing teachings from Eastern philosophies, Sufi, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Indigenous cultures as well as modern mystics.

To celebrate the school’s opening the first training program The Way – The Inward Journey: A Study of Spiritual Masters will also commence on August 21. It will be taught both at the school and also online in six-week blocks. It will explore all teachers of the inward journey through their parables, lives and teachings.

“The first block will be about Christian spiritual teachers, and in line with the opening of Wisdom by the Lake’s next stage, it seemed only fitting to start with St David of Wales,” said Kym.

For more than 17 years, Kym has also been a meditation teacher, and she intends to expand the meditation program to help students connect within the community.

“It is easier to find your way and flow with other like-minded people around you.”

She has seen this happen in her weekly meditation classes that have spearheaded her fundraising efforts for Ashraya – an Indian orphanage and school for children with disabilities and living in slums – for the past decade.

With the larger venue, she hopes to able to give Ashraya more assistance.

Once the church is finished, Kym will start planning Wisdom by the Lake’s grand opening for September 21 to coincide with the Spring Equinox – a time of new light and life; new beginnings, seeds and path.

“After the opening, we will see where we go from there, though it will be up to the community. I have already had requests for fire twirling, yoga dance and wedding ceremonies! I’m sure there will be loads of other opportunities.”

While Kym is renovating the Teralba site, she is also building Wisdom by the Lake’s website and social media presence. Until they are online, you can email admin@wisdombythelake.com.au to find out more about upcoming events.

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