St Peter's Prep Schools - The Seven Signs That Show God’s Presence
Often when asked, “Where do you go to school?” we simply answer, “St Peter’s”. So most people would think, “Oh, a private school” but is it only that? No, St Peter’s is proud to say we are a Christian school which also really does not tell the whole story because we are a church school and part of the Anglican Diocese. We are not a school which teaches Christian principles but we are the church which practises and lives the church life. This is the soul of our school. This means, like every congregation, that we are the family of God. Every child, teacher and parent is loved, belongs and is a child of God. Our Rector, Heads and Chaplain therefore carry out the Bishop’s ministry in our school and are thus licensed and given permission by him to be part of this incredible family.
So, if we claim to be different, which we are, we need to ensure that the evidence of our campus life shows the evidence of these differences. Thus the Anglican Board of Education believes there are seven signs that show God’s presence in every one of their church schools.
We will be putting up posters around the campus to remind us of who we are and the evidence we should be reflecting on the St Peter’s campus. I would like, briefly, to introduce these seven signs to you so that you will understand the conversations that might transpire as we focus on them in chapel, divinity and in all aspects of school life.
1) Our educational philosophy is fundamentally Christian
Life is a gift from God therefore we must live it. This not only refers to our free time or weekend activities but includes our academics, our sports, our music and cultural activities, our jobs and our spiritual lives. The bible teaches us that Jesus came not so that we may simply exist, but so that our lives will be lived in abundance. The implication for us is that we don’t only give 80% not even 99% but always 100% whether we are in the classroom or at work, living it up or simply relaxing, we live the moment to the fullest.
2) There is regular worship
We acknowledge God as our creator and source of life. Every day, we as a school, stop, pray and remember that God loves us and this prompts us to remember how we need to respond to God. Most days this takes place in the chapel. We also regularly celebrate the Eucharist together and remember our need to receive communion as the family of God. We as a school, therefore, focus on developing a rhythm of worship in our lives which teaches us the necessity of thanksgiving, devotion, prayer and reflection.
3) The Christian faith is taught
We are a Christian school and we teach about Christ. The world has become very diverse and we don’t want to offend anyone, thus people often hide their lamps, their beliefs under a bowl, out of sight. At St Peter’s we respect everyone’s beliefs, however, we are not ashamed to follow the Christian faith. We create a Christian worldview and encourage all to explore and identify with it.
4) School life reflects the beauty, truth and goodness of God
If we claim to be Christians, then we need to be reflecting Christ. Our actions should support our faith. I always believe that if guests come to our campus and do not know that we are a Christian church school, they will know soon because of the way we greet, care, and nurture each other. Discipleship is identifiable and our mission as commanded by Jesus is to go and make disciples.
5) There is a generosity of Spirit
St Peter’s will be known for its kindness, compassion and respect for all people. We are a diverse school but fundamentally we are all children of God. Thus we accept that we are different and we do not disrespect the differences of others. We are a family and so we have compassion for each other but we also realise our divine calling to have compassion for those outside of the St Peter’s community. We strive to teach that we are privileged and that we need to be caring for those who are not as privileged as we are. It is our calling to be Christ to all and thus we show kindness, offer compassion and always respect everyone as they too are created and loved by God. We can do this through our acts of charity and love.
6) The school’s Christian character is reflected in its governance and leadership
The Bishop is the Visitor, the ultimate authority. As a church school we have to constantly subscribe to the laws and disciplines of the Anglican Church. Our Council, Exco, Exec’s and departments will always ensure that any decision made is Christian and subscribes to the rules of the church. Like any Anglican parish in South Africa, or for that matter in the world, we are connected to the Anglican Communion and thus we will live according to the rules of the church. With this in mind anybody who joins our family automatically knows the benefits they can expect from us.
7) There are signs and symbols
If I was to speak of a forest you would picture trees with rays of sun peeping through the branches. You would not think of raging rivers with vast sand banks. In exactly the same manner when you think of a church school you expect certain signs and symbols to be evident. These signs and symbols are created and lived by the St Peter’s community. They are a source of inspiration to other communities around us and reminds them to live by faith and to experience the benefits that God offers.
God’s spirit brings light, life and love and this is the foundation of our school. We will be focusing on these seven aspects so that we may better our lives and the lives of the community in which we live.
May God bless us as we strive to be the image of Christ and may He give us the strength to do as He did; to heal and change a broken world.