Since its founding, Grace Church School has integrated ethical consciousness and academic excellence by addressing the moral, personal, and spiritual development of students as naturally as we promote their intellectual and cognitive growth. We believe that leadership, critical thinking, and creativity develop best in tandem with integrity, compassion and care for others.

We are an intentionally inclusive community where reverence for the dignity of each individual informs all aspects of school life. The Episcopal school tradition recognizes the unique, intrinsic worth of every human being, bestowed upon each by a loving God. In this spirit, we welcome, openly and with warmth, families of all faiths and no faith at all. We seek out a rich diversity of students, families, faculty and staff, and strive to instill in our students a deep respect for differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and culture. Our expectation is that Grace Church School students will live these ideals, honoring our common humanity with kindness, respect and love.

In practice, the school’s Episcopal identity is expressed in four key areas of school life:

List of 4 items.

  • Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice

    Episcopal tradition is the pillar on which our inclusive welcome and promise of educational parity rest. Our school commitment to diversity affirms, “. . .  that participation in an inclusive school culture . . .  plants the seeds for positive contributions to a world in which fear and conflict may otherwise threaten to create a false sense of belonging through exclusion.” Our anti-bias and antiracism programs, in which students explore the meaning of an inclusive and just society, pave the way for our graduates to embrace ethical responsibility in a participatory democracy.  

  • Service Learning

    The School’s Episcopal tradition lies at the heart of a long history of community connection and service for the greater good. Whether working on behalf of relief from disaster or displacement, the environment, or justice and equity, Grace Church School students, parents, faculty, and alumni are active members of a “community that serves.” 

  • Chapel & the School Chaplain

    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.

    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 All questions are welcome.
  • Religion and Ethics

    The Religion and Ethics curriculum at Grace Church School  deepens and enhances students’ grasp of recurring themes in history, literature, philosophy, social movements and culture. We teach about all religions, affirming and welcoming the diverse faith and ethical belief systems of our families, while recognizing that a curriculum covering Hebrew scriptures, the New Testament and sacred texts of other faith traditions is fundamental to a thorough education. 

    Religion holds a solid place in the complement of JK-12 studies at Grace Church School. GCS teaches about all religions in ways that make students and families of all faiths feel welcomed and affirmed, with an interdisciplinary approach that includes both specific, dedicated religion courses and integration with units of study in other departments such as English and History.

    Students in JK-2 experience the study of religion and values through chapel. JK and K students also learn about prayer and what it is to pray, with regular discussions that are then incorporated into the Chapel program.

    Third, fourth and fifth graders take Bible class, which meets once a cycle all year in grades three and four, and for a half year in grade five. The third and fourth grades read Hebrew scriptures, and the fifth grade focuses on the New Testament. These sacred texts are taught neither as truth, nor as literature. Rather, they are presented as a body of powerful stories that have moved millions over thousands of years and serve as truth to those for whom they are true.

    In Middle School beyond the fifth grade, the study of religion is integrated into several existing programs--notably history units in world cultures. Ethics and ethical decision making are addressed as part of the Character Education program in Middle School grades.  Additionally, eighth graders complete a ten week special project, the “Worldview Paper,” a five to eight page research paper exploring a specific aspect of each student’s own personal ethics, beliefs, or values.

    The High School program includes a combination of required and elective courses in philosophy and religion. The courses focus not only on descriptions of various religions and belief systems, but they also engage students in discussion and reflection on fundamental questions posed by the great philosophical and religious thinkers of the ages. Students examine traditions and beliefs outside their own that broaden and deepen their understanding of the world spiritually, philosophically and practically. All ninth and tenth grade students take a weekly Philosophy & Religion course. The ninth grade course surveys the world’s religions; the tenth grade course offers a survey of major thinkers and philosophies. The eleventh and twelfth graders are required to take a semester elective in religion, ethics, comparative religion, philosophy or psychology.    
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Grace Church School is a co-educational independent school in downtown Manhattan, New York City providing instruction for nearly 800 students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12.