The Chapel program serves children of all faiths and no faith. Students are not asked to diverge from their personal or family beliefs, but rather to reflect on them more deeply. Chapel exposes all present to the beauty and transcendence that lie beyond the commonplace and the everyday. The physical grace and beauty embodied in the architecture of Grace Church, and the ethical steadiness nourished by the School’s Episcopal tradition, provide both a powerful counterpoint to the concentrated energy of the city, and a strong spiritual and ethical compass, for students from Junior Kindergarten through grade 12.
Chapel provides a space apart, a still point in the day where all may slow down, reflect, relax, think, feel or pray. It is also the one central gathering place for the entire school community.
Junior Kindergarten through Grade 8 students attend chapel once a week while High School students attend chapel once every other week. Chapel is a non-denominational Christian observance, loosely drawn from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, that neither includes nor excludes a student on the basis of religion. Each chapel service includes a reading from both the Hebrew scriptures and New Testament, an invitation to the Lord’s Prayer, song and hymns, and a themed chapel talk.
Chapel talks are built around a range of topics; they may address ethical issues or social justice themes (such as an annual Martin Luther King Peace Chapel) or be used to mark the holy days of a diverse list of faith traditions. Students, staff and faculty of all faiths or no faith are invited to reflect on philosophical questions about human existence, the meaning behind various world religious traditions, and the complexities involved in developing ethical and moral leadership. The core requirement in chapel is to sit quietly and with respect, observing the rule that “one behaves courteously in another person’s house.”
Early Childhood chapel is held in the chantry. Chapel services are in a storytelling format. They focus on ethics and values, and include prayers written by the children. Lower School chapel is organized around the ten key virtues that center Lower School life: respect, citizenship, responsibility, kindness, courage, honesty, generosity, harmony, empathy and grace. Middle School and High School Chapel involves student participation in music, presentations, readings and prayers. Parents are invited to attend Early Childhood and Lower School chapels, and many regularly do. In addition, there are four all-school chapels per year, which many families attend.
Finally, Chapel offers a sacred space to reflect or seek peace in times of tragedy or difficulty. Chapel gatherings may mark a local, national or international crisis; the loss of a community member; or any notable event that causes people to wish to come together. At these times, the sanctuary of Grace Church becomes a source of comfort to the entire school community, providing a place for all to find solace in shared experience.THE SCHOOL CHAPLAIN
Chapel services are led by the School’s chaplain. The chaplain, an ordained Episcopal priest, holds a Masters of Divinity and Ordination as well as a degree in counseling. In addition to leading chapel, the chaplain serves on the School’s administrative leadership team. The chaplain is a full-time member of the faculty, teaching courses in ethics, religion and psychology; serving as an advisor; and leading student groups focused on service learning and diversity.
The chaplain provides crucial leadership in times of crisis, serves as a resource for all members of the Grace Church School community in times of personal or community need, and functions as a bridge between the School and Grace Church.
The School is a member of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES). The chaplain represents the School at the NAES conference, webinars and local Episcopal and interfaith forums.
For further information about chapel services at GCS, or the role of the chaplain at Grace Church School, please contact the chaplain at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are welcome.