to the Anglican Schools Office
The Anglican Schools Office exists to support, resource, provide training opportunities and build fellowship between the Chaplains and Religious Education teachers working in its associated schools in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and encourage interaction between the schools and the church.
Last term we launched our first Anglican Schools’ Leadership Camp for senior students in our Secondary Schools, in partnership with Anglican Youth (Thank you Phil!). It was a wonderful time, and clearly something we are going to have to repeat. It was exhilarating to be surrounded by young people who are mostly relatively “unchurched” and who are, in many cases, just exploring the fringes of faith, and yet are searching in Christianity for something that will make a real, active difference to the way they interact with the world. These are people who want to change their world for the better. They are not tied up primarily with debates over doctrine or liturgy or biblical interpretation. They simply want to know that following Christ will transform themselves and, through them, their world.
The single most powerful moment of the camp for me was after we had all watched a harrowing film on the Syrian refugee camp in the Jordan. The inspirational speaker from World Vision, Britney Marsh, came out and said, “I wasn’t going to say this, but every time I watch that, my heart aches and I find myself crying “Where are you God?’” Each student was invited to respond in some way on a sticky note, and then, if they wanted, read the note to the group and stick it on the board. I was expecting the usual painful agonising over how-a-good-God-allows-suffering, and there was a little of that. But the vast majority of our students said, “But we are supposed to be God’s hands and feet on earth. When there’s suffering, what are we doing about it?” That blew me away. If ever anyone wondered about the impact our chaplains have on students’ lives, that should answer it for them. So, to all you chaplains in our schools, bless you and thank you and well done!
And to all you primary school chaplains, RE teachers and principals: should we think about a primary school leadership camp as well? Let me or Phil Trotter know!
Bless you all. Anne
Some images from the April Leadership Camp