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 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 Middle 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.
A vital part of each child's education is participation in grade level and school-wide community service projects. In fact, the school’s motto – Serve • Lead • Flourish – makes it clear that service to others is a high priority at St. Matthew’s. Through this work, students reflect on their responsibility to serve in the community as a grateful response to God’s love for them and develop the habit of doing something for someone else. The School serves a wide-variety of programs and organizations throughout the Westside of Los Angeles and beyond, making efforts to complement classroom studies and Parish Outreach efforts. Every class participates in community-based service commitment as well as school-wide service activities led by our student government or specific grade levels. Starting young with simple age-appropriate activities like hosting same-age students for a morning of play or beach clean up days with Heal the Bay, to sponsoring food drives and preparing lunches for the homeless at middle school grades, students culminate their experiences with an 8th Grade Service Learning Project done independently at a local organization of their choice. Being of service to others allows students to see themselves as capable helpers and to act upon the empathy we nurture in them.
Details about individual Service Learning projects can be found on the Early Childhood, Lower School and Middle School Program pages.
St. Matthew's Community Outreach Partners
Boys & Girls Club
Episcopal Relief and Development
Episcopal Schools Partnership Program/Haiti
Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA)
Heal the Bay
The Neighborhood Youth Association (NYA)
The People Concern (formerly OPCC)
Saint Anne School in Santa Monica
St. Joseph Center
St. Matthew’s Thrift Shop
We Care Solar
Wells of Life
Westside Food Bank
WISE & Healthy Aging Center