Diversity. Living Tradition. Union of faith and reason. These are marks of both St. Stephen’s Church and School.
I was reminded of this as I gazed out over the faculty this week as we gathered for in serve, under the leadership of our interim Head of School, David Coe. Men and women spanning a wide age range, coming from a variety of socio-economic, cultural and religious backgrounds, holding a variety of faiths and none at all, our faculty share a love of students, a commitment to critical thinking, and integrity.
One of the new developments this year is the addition of a chaplain to their ranks. St. Stephen’s Church and School have collaborated to create this new part-time position to lead worship, teach, research religion curriculum, and organize community service. Chapel in an Episcopal school setting is not conceived of in the same way as worship in the parish. According to the National Association of Episcopal Schools’ Guidelines of Good Practices,
- The school has a fundamental commitment to be an inclusive community grounded in respect for each of its members. The religious pluralism of the school community provides a magnificent opportunity to foster the religious and spiritual formation of people from a variety of religious backgrounds…
- 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 and non-believers, Episcopal school worship embraces the full breadth of the human family.
The Rector, Head of School, and Chaplain work together to steward to school’s spiritual life and to develop its Episcopal identity.
I have called Ryan Beaty, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, to serve as chaplain this school year. He will work with me to create meaningful worship, to serve our school community pastorally, to begin to cultivate the service learning and world religion classes at our school. Ryan has extensive experience working with children and youth, writing curricula, and leading worship. He also brings experience in innovation and technology in church contexts. While Ryan will guide the day to day spiritual life at our School, I will be responsible for insuring the Episcopal identity of our offerings.
I am excited about this new partnership and the school year and I welcome Ryan into our community of faith and learning.