by Rev. Christopher Potter, Vicar
Amid curiosity about the nexus of St. John’s Episcopal Church and School, it may be time to consider again how deeply we Episcopalians value a strong, value-ladened education.
• There are more than 1,200 Episcopal Schools (pre-K through 12th grade) in the United States. This does not include Episcopal Schools outside the U.S.
• There are nine Episcopal Colleges and Universities in the United States, and seven more who were previously affiliated, Columbia University being the oldest.
• There are 10 Episcopal seminaries in the country, three in California.
• At one point, the Episcopal Church supported 11 Historically Black colleges and universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
• From the earliest foundations of this country, Episcopal schools [then “Anglican”] were established to offer education for people who could not afford or were excluded from school settings – even public schools.
When I think about Episcopal Schools, I remember how the Gospel describes the Reign of God – God’s plan for the earth – as a time on this planet when all people will be cared for, fed, housed, and loved. According to the example of Jesus, this plan will be fulfilled when we cooperate with that vision of the Reign of God by extending love and care and justice to those who need it. We celebrate that vision by our worship, in our baptismal covenant, in our preaching and teaching, and in our ‘sending out’ to the world (“Go in peace to love and serve one another in the name of Christ”).
Committed to this vision of God, we have sought for centuries ways we might do more to hasten its outcome. One sure way is sharing this vision with children and young adults by fixing in them the lifelong values of courage, integrity, kindness, justice, responsibility, and curiosity. Fostering an atmosphere of academic excellence while defining and practicing these extraordinary values, children coming out of Episcopal Schools become the seeds of God’s Reign – seeds cast in the fields of a greater number of neighborhoods, countries, and nations than we could reach on our own.
This is NOT proselytizing. We are not trying, nor do we intend to make more Episcopalians, or to fill our pews with unwitting families from the school. In fact, one of the primary obligations of Episcopal schools is to honor and respect the unique religious traditions of every student, even those who claim, “no religion.” In this way, Episcopal schools retain their legacy of inclusion, and make known God’s love for all human beings – no exceptions – in every setting, at every opportunity.
St. John’s participates in this rich legacy supporting development of individual faith, spirituality, morals, and ethics in the school. The church’s role is to share these values with the Head of School, the School Committee, and the teachers. Then, the school develops a creative and nurturing educational environment in which these values will be well-integrated. It is in context of a trusting and loving relationship between Church and School that we keep in regular dialogue with each other; the church verifying that the values of courage, integrity, kindness, justice, responsibility, and curiosity (Episcopal identity) are upheld, and the school is encouraged and supported in its hard work providing excellence in education for all students.
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We’ll see you at St. John’s this weekend:
• Saturday worship at 5 p.m. in the Chapel
• Sunday worship at 8 a.m. (in-person only)
• Sunday worship at 10 a.m.
(in-person and ZOOM)
• Godly Play and Nursery at 10 a.m.
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Saturday night worship service includes potluck supper each week! We’ll see you tonight on the Learning Commons Courtyard after the service for a meal together. Bring your favorite dish to share.
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