Year 9 students of class 9BD

Chapel service delivered by Year 9 classes

Kia Ora E Te Whanau

One sure way to put the fear of God into a junior school student is to mention the fact that they have to plan, write and deliver a chapel service to the rest of the school as part of their Year 9 experience. Whilst of course some embrace this task wholeheartedly; relishing in the opportunity to speak in front of the gathered school community to deliver a powerful theological punch ... many find themselves breaking out into a nervous sweat, scratching their heads in bewilderment or simply running for the hills! It is a daunting task, but it is now an important spiritual tradition of our school community and one in which students are fully supported and coached in order to deliver.

Many of us are used to writing the occasional speech, but to preach is a very different type of engagement. For a start, it is not a simple case of entertaining the crowds, but one has to make oneself vulnerable in the selection of a heartfelt message and then encouraging and challenging a congregation to also have a level of engagement with the chosen particular theme or themes. Prayers also need to be written, the “story of the day” researched and selected, alongside the equitable distribution of tasks amongst the group from each class chosen to deliver on a particular day.

As a school community, we are now halfway through this current season of Year 9 chapel services and we have been challenged and encouraged by some remarkable messages on topics ranging from contentment, patience, leadership, overcoming disappointment, music, leadership, success and making good choices. You can see some of the messages in this month’s newsletter and also photographs of the class groups on the chapel Facebook page. One of the most remarkable of them all was the message delivered on Thursday, 1st November by student Riley Jones. He preached from the heart and in what was the final whole school chapel service for the year, encouraged and challenged us all in his message about celebrating our differences. His sermon can be read in this cornerstone of the Informer newsletter.

As school chaplain, this season of junior chapel services represents one of the most remarkable and life-giving aspects of my work as a priest and a Christian: to see our young people engage with theology, powerful themes, our Christian Scriptures and then to broadcast these messages to the rest of the school community. I congratulate all of the students involved and encourage you all to enquire about their services.

As the month progresses, we will soon be thinking about Leavers’ Services, Carol Services and many goodbyes. Can I please encourage you all to bring items of non-perishable food and new toys for girls and boys to the Carol Service once again this year? With the Christmas season drawing closer and the build-up of the inevitable excitement that this creates as we think about spending time with our families and sharing so much of the joy of the season together; this annual Christmas celebration, with fine music and liturgy is also an opportunity for us all to share the spirit of Christmas with those around us. Food we gather will go to the local Christian food bank to support those without free provision over the holidays for their families and the toys that we gather will go to the Hamilton Women’s Refuge for distribution to those who often find themselves suddenly not in the family home on Christmas Day.

I’m constantly overwhelmed by the generosity of our students, parents and school community. Thank you in anticipation of your fantastic support for this year’s Christmas Appeal.

With my love and prayers for all those sitting exams, for those preparing to move on to new adventures and may God’s blessing be upon all those whom we love and carry in our hearts.