What Distinguishes a School as an Episcopal School?

 

This question, perhaps more than any other, is asked by those who wish to understand more about who we are and our distinctive identity as Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School. The answer, as affirmed by the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) is that Episcopal schools are Christian communities whose missions integrate spiritual life into all aspects of the educational experience.

 

At Saint Stephen’s, the way we approach faith and spiritual education revolves around inclusion, understanding, compassion, personal character and ethics. We are proud of the diversity of religious faiths represented here and all families and children are welcomed without question. This diversity is a strength. Our mission as a school involves creating an environment where “spiritual awareness” is valued.

 

Through our chapel program, and the encouragement of our school chaplain, faculty, staff and administrators, we enjoy an atmosphere where people of diverse faiths find freedom of expression and the chance amid studies to pause, wonder, learn, experience quiet, worship God, and gain perspective on matters of ultimate concern.


From NAES “Principles of Good Practice for Chapel and Worship in Episcopal Schools”:

 

Episcopal Schools are created to be communities that honor, celebrate, and worship God as the center of life. Episcopal school worship embodies the conviction that Christian life is lived out and practiced in community; through corporate prayer and thanksgiving we are reconciled and renewed…

Episcopal schools have been established, however, not solely as communities for Christians but as diverse ministries of educational and human formation for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Much as Jesus spoke to all present before him, both followers, non-believers (and believers who practiced other faiths) Episcopal school worship embraces the breadth of the human family.

Chapel

 

Each week, in age-appropriate ways, students gather in their respective divisions (once in the Lower, Intermediate, and Middle Schools, and twice for the Upper School) for approximately 30-minute chapel services. Upper School students take further responsibility by planning their own services through their Student Vestry with guidance from the School Chaplain (an Episcopal priest).

Chapel is where student musicians perform, where Scripture is read, prayer and thanksgiving are offered, students speak and share their stories, drama is shared, students and faculty encourage through inspiring messages, and quiet silence is observed. Chapel is for our entire school community – Christians, Hindu, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews — to come together and encourage one another on our journeys of faith and spirit.