Anglican Children and Youth Ministries Commission
My Time at School
William Kail, Member of the Anglican Children and Youth Ministries Commission (ACYMC)
As a fairly recent graduate of one of the Anglican schools in the Diocese, it is fitting that I get to write on behalf of the Children and Youth Ministries Committee in this special schools’ edition of the Messenger.
As a student at an Anglican school, whether in a classroom or a pew, I was called to think deeply about the purpose of my life and what it meant to love my neighbour.
There are not many better opportunities for the church to explain the Gospel and Christian teaching to new people than in schools. The responsibilities of working life limit one’s time for the kind of in-depth study we have the privilege of in youth (I am becoming keenly aware of this as my university graduation looms closer). Thereby, it was a blessing to have time set aside in the week to ask questions and develop informed beliefs through the academic study of religion and philosophy. Alongside the three Rs, social studies and science, studying religion in a classroom was a pillar of my high school education and I look back on it as a catalyst for my faith as an adult. In this sense it is the subject that gifted me the most.
Yet despite never being taught by a chaplain in a classroom, the mentorship and pastoral care of school chaplains is the aspect of my Anglican schooling which I most value, and the aspect that has the greatest impact on my outlook on life today. They were incredibly present around the school, so by their leadership of religious life in the school, many sermons and discussions around campus, I came to know my chaplains as incredibly well-read, devout men. We admired the chaplains for their wealth of knowledge and willingness to share it with us students, who clearly had a fraction of their life experience. They were also respected for having the patience and dry wit to reckon with swathes of cunning teenagers.
Earlier in the year a friend gave me a book by John Dickson on Christian history. In it I discovered my newest Anglican hero: Saint Alcuin of York. Alcuin directed Charlemagne’s schools, where he promoted the education of both boys and girls from a variety of social backgrounds. Lessons spanned a range of different disciplines including grammar, logic, music and arithmetic. Alcuin believed firmly in the value of education, writing to the king that ‘the beauty of wisdom, the praise of learning and the advantages of scholarship’ are of utmost importance for life and leadership. I can speak first-hand that the schools are still fantastic grounds for sharing these gifts today. Equipping students with skills they can use to serve their communities, teaching Christian truth and instilling the value of community and giving, should never be overlooked as a good work that we can do as a church.