The focus of the Religion program at St. Matthew’s is to provide the children with a foundation for their spiritual lives. From the earliest Preschool days to 8th grade graduation, we hope to foster and nurture growth in each child’s spirituality, responsible conduct, and ability to make ethical decisions.
Working in partnership with the family, the school augments and reinforces the moral and spiritual education begun in the home and developed within the broad context of the practices, precepts and traditions of the Episcopal Church. We believe that the values, virtues and ideals are fostered explicitly through the school’s clearly defined standards of behavior, through the topics and themes explored during Chapel, and through experiences in community service. Striving to become a responsible person working to do the most inclusive good, is an integral part of each child’s St. Matthew’s education.
Religious instruction in the early grades emphasizes helping students understand the traditions of the Christian faith, and how they can carry these practices into their homes and lives. For their Upper School years, students begin a three year study of the Bible, with four main goals: familiarity with the main stories of the Bible; knowledge of how to find their way through the Bible; an understanding of how the Episcopal tradition interprets these stories; and an opportunity to explore how our Biblical heritage might be meaningful in their spiritual lives presently and in the years to come. Throughout the grades, the students reflect on their responsibility to serve in the community as a grateful response to God’s love for them through class service projects.
In addition to regular Religion instruction for Grades 3rd – 7th, all students attend a weekly chapel service, an age appropriate Episcopal Morning Prayer service conducted by the School Chaplain and Parish Ministers. There are three such weekly liturgies for children: one for Early Childhood students; one for Elementary (grades Kindergarten - 4th) students; and one for those in Middle School (grades 5th – 8th). The students participate fully in the prayers and hymns; they also serve as acolytes, lectors or ushers. The School community also comes together for Eucharists and other special services throughout the year.
Awareness that all people are children of a loving God lies at the center of religious education at St. Matthew’s Parish School. Knowledge of Episcopal traditions and learning the basic tenets of the Judeo-Christian tradition are important components in building the information base for such decision-making. Through this knowledge students have an opportunity to establish a broader view, and to grow in an open, non-judgmental atmosphere.