Welcome‎ > ‎

Religious Life

This Statement concerning the religious environment of All Saints’ Episcopal School comes out of the work of the Religious Life Committee. This is a permanent committee, established by the Board of Trustees, and its expressed purpose is that of defining, upholding and promoting the “Christian environment” of the school.  To download a printable version of this document, please use the attachment at the bottom of the page.

Part I: Welcoming Students from other Faith traditions

Parent Question: Will it be a problem to me or for my child if we belong to another faith tradition, either Christian or non-Christian? 

The All Saints’ Episcopal School mission statement indicates that this school seeks to provide excellence in education “in a Christian environment.”

Episcopalians, like all Christians, believe that our life is grounded in the life of Jesus Christ. We believe that, as Christians, we are called to offer the redeeming love of Christ to all people and that God calls us to love all God's children. We think and hope that this open, welcoming, loving attitude toward people of all faith traditions should free parents of any concern about whether or not their child will be welcome here.

In the way that we are unapologetic about being Christian, we are also unapologetic about being an Episcopal school. What this means to parents and students is that the school reflects a certain style, temperament and bias, the character of which is found in the next section of this document.

There are certain norms in Episcopal schools that are historic and which make Episcopal Schools open atmospheres for having religiously diverse student and faculty bodies. Of primary concern in Episcopal schools is excellence in education and the building of character.

Here are five marks of Episcopal education that guide and shape our religious environment:
  1. An Episcopal school is comprehensive and inclusive. 
  2. An Episcopal school values individual freedom and diversity of belief, and authority is exercised loosely. 
  3. The unity of an Episcopal School is based on ritual and tradition rather than doctrine. 
  4. An Episcopal school values reason as a way to true understanding and personal character as a quality to be admired. 
  5. An Episcopal school has a concern for the well being of society. 

Being an Episcopal school means that All Saints’ has a certain organizational accountability to the larger Episcopal Church, a factor that does not impact parents or students at all, but which does require that the school provide records and make certain reports to the Diocese of East Tennessee. It also means that the school welcomes the visits of the Bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee on occasion. This is a festive time for the entire school, but contains no implication for students other than understanding that this is someone important to the school.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church established all Saints’ Episcopal School as a concrete expression of care and concern for young people and their families. The school is now completely independent, distinct and separate from the church, but the original intentions of the founders of the school provide a legacy that we cherish.

We publish these things so that parents understand that All Saints’ Episcopal School, though independent in mission, operation and governance, does not exist in an isolated bubble. Its linkage to the larger Episcopal Church brings with it certain benefits. First, the school stands within a specific, four-hundred year tradition of providing excellence in education. In other words, there are models and standards for the school. Second, the school’s linkage to a larger, non-invasive body provides a kind of permanent organizational stability and grounding to the school that other, non-linked private schools may lack.

Part II: Religion in Curriculum and Practice

Parent Question: How will my child be exposed to religious shaping or teaching? What is the religious nature of All Saints’ Episcopal School?

There is a distinct difference between religious studies as an academic feature of the school and the sharing of a devotional life which respects our diversity and which we can share in common.

This school like all other Episcopal schools strives for student awareness of religions, but not for student acceptance of one religion.

While chapel attendance is mandatory, Episcopal schools do not practice indoctrination. Our temperament is to be respectful of other’s religious beliefs and to seek to find ways to worship together comfortably. Evangelism, or seeking to lead others to Christ, is part of many religious traditions, but it is not the mission of this school.

Another way of saying this is that the policy of this school, as stated in the non-discriminatory clause of the mission statement, is that we expose but do not impose. Therefore, what is taught in religious studies is designed to inform, not conform.

Very young children at All Saints’ are shaped by the love, care and trust they have in their teachers. They hear the foundational stories of the Christian tradition told in a variety of ways and they learn about the religious customs of people around the world, especially in regard to religious holidays.

Ċ
Laura Jo Anderson,
Dec 11, 2011, 8:05 PM