Guided by the life and ministry of Jesus, we respect the dignity of every human being. As a school in the Episcopal tradition, we welcome students, faculty, and staff from all faith traditions. There is a richness that comes from a community which is inclusive, accepting, and receptive of a wide breadth of faith traditions and other differences.
At ESJ, like all other Christian communities, it is all about relationships – our relationship with God and our relationship with others. As we focus on our relationship with God and with others, we gather together each week for Chapel. Weekly worship is the center of our life together. Our worship is inclusive and creative in the Episcopal tradition. The purpose of Chapel is to center our week, and our lives, on God while growing in our relationship with God. As we center our hearts and minds on God, we are better able to serve others in our own communities as well as in the greater world around us.
Christian and character education are a vital part of the spiritual life on the Lower School campuses, tying directly to the School’s mission of reflecting God's love and our baptismal covenant: respect the dignity of every human being. Students in Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade attend traditional and contemporary chapel services. Beaches Campus students attend Chapel at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and St. Mark’s students attend Chapel at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Both churches are located adjacent to the school campuses. Lower School students participate in Chapel services through liturgical readings, prayer, song, performances, and by serving as acolytes. At the Beaches Campus, in addition to the all-school chapel each week, the Pre-kindergarten through second grade students participate in a special chapel twice each month, led by the second grade students. On the St. Mark’s Campus, even the youngest early learning program students attend Chapel once a week and are exposed to Bible stories and songs through the classroom curriculum.
At the Lower School Campuses, Christian/Character Education starts in the classrooms, helping students develop skills to maintain good relationships with parents, peers, teachers, and members of the community. The curriculum presents concepts related to the biblical and historical doctrines of the Christian faith, as well as fosters a respect for the various traditions of other denominations and faiths. Chapel services, classroom instruction, daily devotions, prayer, scripture memory, and the discussion and teaching of biblical values help students develop an understanding of God’s love.
Student-led Chapel is held once a week for Middle School students. The Middle School Chapel serves as a bridge between Lower School Chapel and the Upper School Chapel. Just as Lower School students participate in Chapel services through liturgical readings, prayer, performances, biblical readings, and by serving as acolytes, Middle school Students have the opportunity to lead Chapels for their peers. The school Chaplains train and prepare Middle School Chapel volunteers during their Bible classes. These opportunities prepare students for more involved planning, preparation, and leading of Chapels in Upper School vestry.
All Middle School students are expected to attend chapel. Students are encouraged to participate in the service as fully as their beliefs allow and they feel comfortable. While chapels are designed in the Christian tradition and in accordance with the Episcopal Church, special attention is taken to be welcoming and inclusive of all people. Regardless of where students are on their faith journey, our hope is that all students are able to grow in their faith which may look different for every student.
All Upper School students are expected to attend Chapel. Students are encouraged to participate in the service as fully as their beliefs allow and they feel comfortable. The purpose of Chapels is to inform and educate students from a Christian perspective about God, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the responsibility of being a Christian. Christian students are encouraged to praise and worship Jesus Christ. Chapels are not designed to evangelize students, and we seek ways to be welcoming to students of all backgrounds and faith traditions.
Many of our students have a mature Christian faith and they wish to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Active participation in Chapel is one opportunity on campus which allows students to grow deeper in their faith. Other opportunities such as prayer and Bible study groups, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and other Christian focused groups and clubs are open to students seeking further Christian formation.
Upper School students actively participate in Chapel, serving as readers, performing in the Worship Band, and serving as acolytes. Students who take the year-long academic course Theological Arts actively participate in the Chapel program. The course prepares them to craft and deliver theologically sound sermons, perform dramatic readings and chapel scenes, and use their artistic talents and gifts for Chapels. Students who are members of the Vestry, with the support of the school’s Chaplains, plan the weekly Chapels. Vestry teams design Chapels around selected scripture and themes, finding innovative and creative ways to engage their peers in important lessons and topics.