An Actual Living, Breathing Outdoor Church
Barry Cox grew up in New Zealand loving trees and church. After growing up, and coming to the realization that he could never become the Pope, he traveled throughout Europe studying churches large and small, old and new, then came home to New Zealand and started a tree moving business.
Once his business started to take off, he decided his next project would be to build an outdoor church. He says back in 2011 he walked out his back door one morning and thought, "This space needs a church." And so it began.
The walls of the church consist of Australian tea trees with thick, lush foliage. Cox keeps it in shape by trimming it every six weeks. The roof is made from cut-leaf alder, a tree flexible enough to be trained up along the iron frame. It also consists of sparse foliage, which allows light inside. His hope is in a few years, the sides will eventually be able to support themselves so he can remove the iron frame all together.
To top it all off, a rambling rose grows up and across the top of the church, blooming all throughout the summer and filling the space with a wonderful fragrance. The whole structure is surrounded by even more hedges and flowers. Inside, there are pews and a marble altar from Cox's family church where he grew up (and dreamed of being Pope).
Originally, Cox had planned on using the church for his own enjoyment and keeping it private. However, many of his friends and relatives were so curious that he finally opened the "Tree Church", as it's now known, to the public in January 2015. His nephew was the first to be married in it, and soon other couples were following suit.
And Cox says the project isn't even close to being done. He next plans to build a European garden behind the church in order to balance out the labyrinth located in the front of the church, as well as a natural amphitheater for outdoor events. But, as he says, "I don't mind the hard work, it's a labor of love."