For many people school is a spiritual home and an ideal place to belong to church. Schools around the country are planting churches or partnering with the local parish to do so. This profile is from the sixth edition of Experiri Term 2 2014 and was contributed by the Rev’d Stephen Edwards, Chaplain at the King’s School.
What was the need or challenge being addressed?
In my early days at King’s I met many people from the School community who called the Chapel their church. They seemed quite content that we only met once a year (Christmas Day)! Our historic Chapel is ideal for weddings, baptisms and funerals and my attempt to encourage people into their local parish after their service was usually met with lethargy from both sides. Students were coming to faith through the school ministry and some struggled to find a church (especially the Boarders who live on campus). We needed to provide a spiritual home for these people!
What was the response to the need?
We continued with our successful Christmas Day Service then organised an Easter Sunday Service which was well attended. A Thanksgiving Service was organised on a random Sunday and people came. A team of five met together to pray and plan and we launched a morning service on 27 February, 2005 in the School’s new auditorium. Many who attended were supporters from other churches and the real issue was to see who would turn up the next week. Through God’s grace a small congregation (30 adults and 20 children) began meeting under the leadership of the Chaplain who was answerable to the Headmaster.
Church@Kings is celebrating our 10th year of ministry this year (60 adults/ 30 children each week). The ministry includes Sunday School, youth groups, Bible studies, evangelism courses, marriage and baptism seminars. It has greatly broadened the Christian ministry in the School. Many found it easier to join us rather than their local church because they know the School and they know the people. A Contemporary Night Service (Church@theChapel) began three years ago (35 people each week). We collect an offertory and employ part time staff to minister.
What were the greatest challenges?
The extra workload was a challenge. Starting the Church five years into my appointment at King’s was necessary for relationships and time management. School issues have occasionally dribbled over into our Church family but the inclusion of people from outside the School has helped. Schools are transient places and people can come and go quickly, although many old boys and their families remain with us. Some Christian staff and families simply see school as a place of work and education and are keen to get away once the bell goes.
Experiri was a quarterly newsletter presenting stories of innovation in school ministry from Australia and beyond. Each edition provided two or three profiles of innovative strategies that had been developed in response to challenges or emerging issues for chaplains or others in Anglican Schools, including Heads and Religious Educators.