On Tuesday, 14 June, the Canberra Girls Grammar School (CGGS) community gathered to celebrate the Commissioning of Reverend Chris Lewis as the new School Chaplain, after he stepped into the role in October 2021 following the retirement of Reverend Jenny Willsher.
Born and raised in Sydney, Father Chris was ordained in 2016 at St Saviour’s Cathedral in Goulburn after receiving his Bachelor of Theology from St Mark’s National Theological Centre at Charles Sturt University. Before joining CGGS, he served in the Royal Australian Navy, where he worked in various capacities that fostered his deep commitment to service and community, including fighting the fires on Kangaroo Island.
As CGGS Chaplain, Chris takes up the 96-year-old legacy in Canberra’s oldest Anglican school. He looks forward to putting down roots and building something new in the community. When asked why Canberra, Chris said that ‘Canberra marks a return to his “home” diocese with his wife and four children, where he’d have the opportunity to put down roots and build something new in the community’.
The School Prayer drew him to the position: ‘I feel that the living faith is something that we truly inhabit. When we have a faith that is a lifeform, it holds everything, and I go back to the School Prayer: “Almighty God, in whom we move and live and have our being.” We are within that.’
CGGS was founded in 1926 by the Community of the Sisters of the Church, an Anglican order led by Mother Emily Ayckbowm. Their pioneering spirit of forward-thinking, fearless leadership continues in Chris’s thoughtful ministries challenging people to consider their faith on their terms and embrace it as a dynamic part of life.
‘Faith is not simply some cognitive exercise in sense-making,’ he says. ‘It is the active, transformational and communal expression of life lived in light of the Gospel.
‘Every footstep, every breath, every heartbeat; our movement, our living, our being – is within God. In this sense, our faith is shared when we share our lives with others in a spirit of openness, genuine dialogue and faith in being.
‘We know that the nature of religion and philosophy is changing. The Chapel at CGGS provides a way to create connection and preserve the School’s spiritual heart, while providing good theology for students.’
Chris’ Commissioning was held at the Senior School Hall and attended by CGGS students from Years 3 to 12. The Right Reverend Carol Wagner, Assistant Bishop at the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, led the ceremonies and formalised his appointment as Chaplain of Canberra Girls Grammar School. Also in attendance at the service were Mr David Holmesby, Chair of the Gabriel Foundation, the Very Reverend Phillip Saunders, Dean of St Saviour’s Cathedral, and members of the School board.
by Reece Cummings
Interim Executive Director (Communications and Engagement)
Photos provided by Canberra Girls Grammar School.