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Anglican Schools Commission

Anglican Communion
Schools Network - A Global First

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The Revd Peter Laurence OAM CEO, Anglican Schools Commission WA

It’s Advent in parishes and Christmas in schools! Each year at this time, as the first Advent candle has just been lit on the wreath in your parish church, our schools are wrapping up for the year, holding carols services and retelling the great story of Jesus’ birth.

In many Anglican churches, we’re used to three or four purple candles (sometimes one Sunday is a pink candle) and a white one in the centre. Hope, love, peace and joy, with Christ at the centre.

The tail end of 2023 sees our nation and world as ever in need of the hope, love, peace and joy that we find in Jesus; the baby in the manger and the saviour on the cross.

With a sense of joy and a true sign of hope, both Archbishop Kay and I recently were involved in a ‘global first’. Under the auspices of the Anglican Consultative Council (describing itself as ‘the most representative body of gathered Anglicans among the Instruments of Communion’), the Anglican Communion Schools Network (ACSN) was launched in late October through a global ‘Zoom room’ of gathered leaders from across the Anglican Provinces. We are thrilled that Archbishop Kay has accepted an invitation to Chair the ACSN, and I am honoured to serve as its Australian representative.

Anglican schools play a vital role in the life, ministry and mission of the Church. Our schools are the main point of contact the Church has with young people across the Communion, not just in Australia. Our hope and prayer is for this network to be an active forum for encouraging one another, learning from and praying for each other. Over the early years, ACSN will be focusing on what it means to be an Anglican school and supporting those who oversee and lead schools across the globe to enhance their Anglican Identity.

Together with the head of Episcopal schools in the USA, I presented the keynote session on how our schools understand and express their Anglican Identity. When I speak on this topic, I always focus on the six common threads which best express our Anglican Identity in schools – faith, reason, worship, inclusion, character and service.

As ACSN helps us globally to focus on matters of common mission, it’s a sign of hope; something well-needed right now across the Communion and in our troubled world. So often our focus in schools rightly is on the hope that is deeply embedded in our Anglican Identity. Being Anglican Christians means we are people of hope, people of love, people of joy. It’s in our DNA to ‘always look on the bright side of life’.

As we enter the final month of 2023, both at home and across the world, people everywhere are calling for peace. Peace between waring people and nations, faiths and cultures.

One of the simple joys of lighting an Advent candle each week is the build-up of light expressing our growing anticipation and expectation of the birth of Jesus, the light of the world, the prince of peace. In schools, teachers are always looking to teach something by illustration. Rather than simply telling a child something is true or right, it’s preferable to demonstrate it in some way. As we grow older, often we forgo the ‘showing’, replacing it with the ‘telling’. A childhood joy of playing one of the wise men in the Nativity Play is replaced by a long sermon. Thankfully, not in schools!

In our schools and parishes, our homes and across the globe, may this Advent and Christmas be seasons of hope, love, peace and joy… with Christ at the centre.

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