Reverend Vanessa Williams-Henke and Reverend Viniana Ravetall
Chaplaincy at MLC School
MLC School is a school of the Uniting Church, and as such we celebrate our Methodist heritage alongside the breadth of tradition and culture of the Uniting Church in Australia. All students at MLC School regularly attend Chapel Services and are invited to participate in leadership of liturgy.
Our Junior School students regularly visit the School Chapel for times of prayer, stillness, singing and learning from the Christian Scriptures. Year 3 to Year 5 attend weekly, while Pre-Kindergarten to Year 2 attend fortnightly. Once per year, families from Kindergarten to Year 5 meet in the Chapel in their House groups for a Family Service led by the Chaplains. Pre-Kindergarten families gather for a Rainbow Chapel Service on a Sunday in Term 4. Each Chapel Service is led by students in collaboration with the Chaplains.
Students from Year 6 to Year 12 attend a Chapel Service weekly either in the School Chapel or a larger venue such as Daphne Line Hall or Potts Hall. Worship music is mostly drawn from the Together in Song hymn book and reflects the great diversity of traditional and modern music of the Uniting Church. We regularly incorporate contemporary and creative elements of worship into these services alongside the traditions and liturgies of the church. In addition to the weekly service with liturgy and reflection, there are opportunities for students to participate in acts of service and experiences of stillness and mindfulness during scheduled times throughout the week.
House Chapel Services
Every year students and their families meet in the Chapel on a Sunday for a House Chapel Service. These services are shaped by students to explore important themes and they follow the Uniting Church liturgical structure. These services are compulsory for students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12.
Students from Year 3 to Year 12 participate in services of Holy Communion at the end of each term. While all students attend these services, in the spirit of the Uniting Church’s open table inclusive style students are invited to consult with their parents about whether they will receive this sacrament or instead use the time communion is distributed as an opportunity for contemplation. Holy Communion is also celebrated before school in the Chapel on a weekly basis for interested staff, students and families.
Students are invited to participate in a weekly lunchtime fellowship group, aimed to explore and grow their faith. In the Junior School, students meet for games, prayer and a bible study in a group called Jesus And Me (JAM). In the Middle and Senior Years, the student-led lunchtime group Jesus In School Time (JIST) is an opportunity for fun and faith development. In addition to weekly meetings, JIST leads Chapel Services and has an annual fellowship camp.
The MLC School Council invites the school community to gather every term for prayer for the school.
Studies of Religion
Religion is a compulsory subject that is studied weekly by students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 10. Studies of Religion is an optional subject for HSC students. Religion at MLC School encompasses the following areas of study:
- Christian Scriptures, Church history, tradition and liturgical practice
- World Religions
- Philosophy of Religion
In the Junior School, the Godly Play program is used as a method for students to learn about Christianity and the bible. Godly Play is a Montessori method of telling bible stories, developed by Jerome Berryman, using parables, sacred stories and liturgical lessons about religious traditions using simple materials. The program encourages a spirit of wondering and contemplating.
In the Senior School, Religion is an academic subject that encourages a rigorous approach to learning.
A Whole School Approach
The teaching of Religion at MLC School comprises of questioning and exploratory approaches to learning and has a focus on personal discovery which upholds a commitment to religious freedom in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding.
The content is arranged using Peter Vardy’s Five Strands approach. These are as follows:
Students learn about the core beliefs of Christianity and what it means to be a Uniting Church school. This includes the history of the Christian tradition, key events and people. In Junior School, the Godly Play program is used to teach students about biblical stories and church traditions.
In this strand, students learn about ethical teachings and different ways people decide ‘What is the right thing to do’. Senior students examine ethical teachings from different religious traditions as well as different schools of ethical thought.
Philosophy of Religion
Here, students examine key questions from the study of philosophy of religion such as: ‘Why do people suffer?’, ‘Does God exist?’, ‘How do we find happiness?’ Students examine the different arguments and ideas presented by a range of religious thinkers and philosophers.
Students study the diversity of the worlds’ religious traditions. They develop a real appreciation and understanding of major world religions and empathy for what it means to belong to these religions. Throughout their studies, students visit local places of worship and hear speakers from a range of traditions.
Experiences of Spirituality
In conjunction with Chapel Services and other events within the classroom, students learn about and experience different ways of practising spirituality and mindfulness. This provides students the opportunity for personal spiritual exploration and growth.
For Pre-K to Year 2 students, the Godly Play program addresses the first and last of these strands (Christianity and experiences of spirituality). From Year 3 to Year 10, all five strands are studied throughout different stages. From Year 7 onwards, Religion is a part of the MYP and from Year 9, the course is endorsed by NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and appears on a student’s Record of Achievement. Students may choose the HSC Studies of Religion course in Year 11 and Year 12.