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Sep 28, 2017 | Christian Erben

Producing Amazing People

I think the most rewarding part of Episcopal practice is the way we are able to integrate religion into education in a way that is still inclusive of people of all different backgrounds, cultures and even other religions. Throughout my twelve years at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, I never really stopped to consider that I was getting an Episcopal education. Essentially what I have been taught is how to treat people with respect, and taught how to be a loving, kind neighbor to everyone I meet. I was taught how to embrace that God loves me and to give that love to the people around me. Episcopalian or not, St. Andrew’s strives to teach all of their students these basic morals.

I have gone to daily Chapel at St. Andrew’s every day from ages 7 to 18. I have served on the Chapel Advisory Board all four years of high school, and my senior year served as its president. The most amazing thing about Chapel and what we are taught there is how that time can be whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to be an intensely Christian person to appreciate these 30 minutes set aside each day. I know people who are deeply religious and use the time in Chapel to pray and contemplate. I know people who practice other world religions and use their time to think about and further their own faith, despite how different Episcopalian Christianity is to theirs. I know people who do not identify with any sort of faith, who still enjoy the time in the Chapel to meditate and express themselves. Our Chapel is a very open space where anyone, despite religious preferences, can share. At the beginning of every week we have a “Contemplative Monday”, where any student or faculty member is able to share a talent in Chapel with the community. While usually something musical, like a singing a song or playing an instrument, we have also had slam poetry, dance, acting scenes, and even magic shows. Similarly, on most Fridays, seniors have the opportunity to share about their lives in something we call “Senior Homilies”.

In addition to Chapel, all students are required to take a trimester of religious studies. We have one class called “Religion in Art and Technology”, discussing modern day religion and Christian iconography, and another class that compares sin in Buddhism to that of sin in Christianity in a class called “Sin and Redemption”.

I think when you get to the bare bones of a Episcopal education, it’s basically teaching to love and embrace each other, and give basic human respect. Whether you wish to identify that God is involved in this is up to whoever absorbing it, but I think St. Andrew’s does an amazing job of producing not only amazing scholars and servants, but amazing people, with good morals. I am happy I can recognize my “Episcopal Education” and that I am such a better, more well-rounded person because of it.

Erben graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Austin, May, 2017.