Chapel Year in Review

Monday 1st July 2024

The end of year Chapel service was held on Friday 28th June and Chaplain-Assistant, Joel Moore, was invited to offer his final thoughts before his departure to ‘pastures new’ at Charterhouse. He emphasised to pupils a commonly heard chord in Chapel, that formulating a ‘World View’ is deeply important to ensure a sense of purpose and direction, whether that be Christian or not, develop one!

But to begin at the beginning of the year, it was a real delight to install the two new Chapel Prefects – Jachin A and Henry S. Both boys set the bar very high in terms of their helpfulness and the seriousness with which they took my offer to make Chapel ‘their own’ and to keep the pupil voice clearly articulated concerning services desirable to the pupils.

A special Memorial Service for Roger Ellis was held on Sunday 17th September with a host of OMs in attendance to remember a dearly loved and respected Master.

Black History Awareness month was observed in the first week of October with services hosted by EDI Prefects, Harlan H, Sophie E, and the two Chapel Prefects. There was a special service for Black History month remembering the legacy of slavery on that Sunday 8th October.

SEN Teacher, Angharad Hughes gave midweek Chapel talks during ADHD Awareness Week and also during that week, there was a special evening solemn gathering for Peace with candle lighting with the Israel/Palestine Conflict very much in our hearts.

On Sunday 29th October, much-loved Beak, Brian Wallis, was remembered to the Community in a Memorial Service.

Early in November, Shell Rotation Activities were hosted in Chapel with special ‘Moving Mindfulness’ classes utilising the Ancient Chinese practice of Qigong in which I am specially trained.

Remembrance was observed in midweek Chapel with a talk from Tom Kiggell, and the Remembrance Sunday Ceremony was fortunate to hear a moving homily from General Mike Elviss.

On the Tuesday 14th November, Beak Andrea Keighley was remembered in a service with huge attendance. The Thanksgiving for her life was profoundly moving and a testament to how much she meant to so many.

Late in November, Deputy Head Pastoral, Ed Nightingale, spoke in both midweek Chapel services about acceptance and tolerance and how they are essential to the fabric of a well-functioning school. Whilst I offered a special talk about the Stanhope paintings throughout the Chapel to the Shell on that Wednesday.

The Advent Carol service was its usual delight to those who attended on Tuesday 26th November.

Our new CCF SSI, Captain Sam Brooks, offered a talk on his Military career at the ‘Sunday Evening Speaker Series’ in the first week of December, to the interest of cadets and those who attended.

The Lessons and Carols services set the tone for the season with the Chapel Choir in full-form on 8th, 9th and 10th December.

There was a very large congregation for the Christmas Day Family service on Christmas Day, and five families lit the Advent Wreath and were invited to speak about what Christmas means to them.

The Lent Term midweek services were hosted by numerous Houses with Summerfield’s being a stand-out concerning, as it did, the importance of multi-faith inclusivity in Chapel.

A new secular initiative saw the light of day in the evening of Sunday 4th February with Zack D and myself offering four brief reflections on the book, The Four Agreements. This is a spiritual classic by Dom Miguel Ruiz, and after each brief address, pupil musical solos allowed time for reflection. Those who attended this encouraged it to be a regular practice as it captured the importance of spiritual wellbeing, whether it is connected to a particular faith or to none, as was the case on this occasion.

Although Ash Wednesday fell during the February half-term break, ‘Team Chapel’ thought it very important to host an Ash Wednesday service of Compline with the Imposition of Ashes on 21st February. The Church of England and Roman Catholic Confirmation classes were in attendance and many commented on the meaningfulness of the sign of the cross being marked on their forehead in ash to remind them of their mortality during the penitential season of Lent.

Gregor McSkimming preached in Chapel on Sunday 25th February, highlighting the importance of hope, service and love, and Edward Twohig gave his yearly talk on the Chapel’s art and architecture in midweek services in early March.

Bishop Andrew Rumsey was the special guest to the Church of England Confirmation class on Tuesday 16th April and was asked some very challenging questions! Perhaps the most tricky was, ‘what do you find most challenging about being a Bishop?’. To which Bishop Andrew responded, ‘when people fail to appreciate the larger picture and get bogged down in trivialities and church politics!’

The Church of England Confirmation service was on Sunday 28th April and 55 pupils enjoyed the day with their families. The Roman Catholic Confirmation service was on Tuesday 14th May, officiated by the newly consecrated Bishop of Clifton, The Rt.Rev. Bosco Macdonald who spoke the College’s praises and immediately wanted to know when next year’s service will be!

Rabbi Jonny Hughes, the College’s new Rabbi Chaplain, offered his life story from playing for Reading Football Club to being a Rabbi at the Sunday Night Talk on 19th May. Rabbi Jonny will be a twice termly regular feature at the College, assisting Jewish pupils in their faith as well as speaking to the wider pupil body. An Imam Chaplain is nearly secured to ensure that Muslim pupils will have the same kind of spiritual provision.

I preached on Speech Day, Saturday 25th May, about the generosity of God’s love even for those who don’t get the prizes!

The Marlburian Club’s Garden Party was opened with a Chapel service on Sunday 23rd June with a goodly representation of OMs from across the generations.

It was a tremendous year and pupils have reflected to me their appreciation for the inclusive and topical nature of services and of how they find it clearly central to the wellbeing and pastoral care of pupils and staff. There is genuine interest in the continued creation of a multi-faith Chaplaincy to ensure the ongoing inspiration and unification of our community.

Reverend Tim Novis
Senior Chaplain

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