Our aim, II
AMONG contemporary Episcopal schools, it is rare to find a full-throated commitment to the Christian faith incorporated into any mission or statement of purpose. In our multicultural age, this is perhaps understandable, but indeed we find it rather weak. Bearing in mind Frederick the Great’s dictum that “Generals with little experience wish to save everything… He who attempts to defend too much defends nothing,”1 we are suspicious of those church schools where a “diversity statement” stands in for a creed.
Not so at Michaelhouse, the South African boys’ school. While we recognize that what follows might be too strong for many an American school, we nevertheless admire Michaelhouse’s well articulated belief: that the power of Christian witness is central to forming men of confidence, character, and passion.
THE CHAPEL and the spiritual life of the school are seen to be central to the education Michaelhouse seeks to provide. We believe it is fundamental that each boy who passes through this school should have had the opportunity to be exposed to Christian worship and values, and to come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. For some this will occur during their time here, whilst for others we trust that the seeds which are planted in their lives will germinate in later life. However this occurs, it is our hope that young men of Michaelhouse will acquire a spiritual foundation which will not only equip them to live whole and fulfilled lives, but which will also enable them to practice a life of Christian service in the world.
Whilst being a Christian foundation school, the necessity for religious tolerance is recognised and the boys are taught to respect the beliefs of other world religions and philosophies.
Divinity is taught to all boys from E Block through to C Block. In their first year at Michaelhouse we teach the contents of the Old Testament. The following year we are concerned with the New Testament, focussing particularly on the life of Jesus and the Acts of the Apostles. Then in the third year we teach Christian principles, morals and ethics as they apply to modern life.
All boys and Academic Staff attend a twenty minute service on Wednesday mornings and either the Morning Eucharist or Evening Worship on Sundays. Various members of staff as well as the boys themselves participate in the leading and giving of short inspirational talks at some of these services.
Every Wednesday evening the boys hold a “Christian Fellowship Meeting”. This is an opportunity for them to grow in their faith in an informal environment. Usually there is a time of worship followed by a talk and discussion on some aspect of practical Christian living. Cell Groups for Bible study and support also meet each week in the boarding houses.
A course of preparation for Confirmation is offered each year. This takes the form of a four day camp, during term time, at a beautiful retreat in the Drakensberg. The Staff from Scripture Union in Independent Schools assist the Chaplain in facilitating the programme. The Confirmation Service is held in the Memorial Chapel and is conducted by the Bishop of Natal.2
1. Frederick II, King of Prussia, Frederick the Great on the Art of War, trans. and comp. Jay Luvaas (New York : Free Press, 1966), 210.
2. “Admissions Information, Spiritual Programme,” Michaelhouse, accessed April 29, 2014, http://www.michaelhouse.org/Admissions_Information/spiritual_programme.aspx.