Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Girls
ST JOHN’S D.S.G.: END-OF-TERM NEWSLETTER
Defining and clarifying spirituality at St John’s D.S.G.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22 vs 37 – 40
Following recent discussion relating to race issues, gender violence and more recently LGBT matters, as well as school stress related to performance in different areas or Covid-19 matters, I feel that it is a good time to clarify some points regarding how I see our position as an Anglican Church School. It is important to consider our context as a base from which to formulate opinions. We should keep in mind that, as stated in the scripture above, our faith is based on love. As mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
In line with our school constitution, we follow the Christian doctrine (the words of the Bible) for guidance in attitudes and decisions. We are bound by our constitution, which allows us the freedom to flourish knowing who we are and what we stand for. We stand against prejudice against others based on who they are (race, age, gender, culture or sexuality) as this violates Christian doctrine. Jesus censured behaviour that contradicted God’s ways, but spoke of love and acceptance of people, created in the image of God. Jesus taught us to take responsibility for our actions and choices.
As stated in the scriptures above, we are to love all people for who they are, but distance ourselves from sin and wrongdoing. As love ‘rejoices in the truth’ this implies that we need to understand truth in a Christian context, and to stand against that which is wrong. As Principal of an Anglican school, taking responsibility for spirituality falls under my authority. I take this honour very seriously. I delegate this role to our Chaplain, Reverend Di for practical purposes. She has my full support, as well as that of the Board and the Bishop. Her mandate is to love and care for all girls and staff, and to teach them truth through the words of the Bible. She is required to speak this truth in the face of a secular worldview, where the focus is on self-gratification, individual choice and where any truth is treated with suspicion.
We therefore accept the Word of God as truth. It is this truth, I believe, that ultimately distinguishes and defines us. We should therefore accept, love and care for all people, irrespective of their race, age or gender. This implies that we must engage meaningfully with each other and stand against behaviours and cultivating opinions which oppose our Christian ethos. So how does this impact practically on our school? It does not imply that we should all be practicing Christians. However, most families that I interview choose this school because they either follow and believe in our Christian ethos, or that they support our values and ethos, which are based on Christian principles, e.g. our Muslim and Hindu families ascribe to our core values. These include universal principles accepted in healthy societies, relating to trust, honesty, empathy and giving of our best in what we do.
As we face challenges and diverse opinions in society, I believe that it is imperative that we speak truth, which is only possible if can train ourselves to be consistently honest. Too often, we try to please others by telling them what we think that they want to hear (out of fear of offending them), so we manipulate the truth. In his bestseller book 12 Rules for Life: An antidote to Chaos, Jordan B. Peterson states the following regarding the importance of honesty: “If you betray yourself, if you say untrue things, if you act out a lie, you weaken your character. If you have a weak character, then adversity will mow you down when it appears, as it will, inevitably. You will hide, but there will be no place left to hide. And then you will find yourself doing terrible things. Only the most cynical, hopeless philosophy insists that reality could be improved through falsification. Such a philosophy judges Being and becoming alike, and deems them flawed. It denounces truth as insufficient and the honest man as deluded. It is a philosophy that both brings about and then justifies the endemic corruption of the world.”
I encourage all to support the school in the context of our faith and to treat others with love and respect. If we learn to be honest and kind (and not judgmental), we will overcome our differences. We can achieve this without accepting actions or behaviour that goes against our values or faith. Should you wish to discuss any aspect of this message with me, please feel free to email me, or phone me if you prefer.
Sadly, Mrs Danielle Ashton from the Marketing Department is leaving us at the end of this year. She is relocating with her family to the U.K. We will miss her creative flair, gentle humour and tenacity.
Due to some reshuffling of roles in the Sports Department, I am pleased to inform you that an Old Girl, Miss Natalie Esteves, will be joining our staff next year. She will bring energy and drive to us as an English and History teacher, as well as a top Hockey player and coach. We have recently appointed two other Sports Co-Ordinators who will assist in taking sport to an even higher level, and assist in developing a High-Performance Programme for our top sporting girls. I will announce their names soon.
Our Matric Prize-giving will take place on 9 October. Due to the fact that we will be on Level 1 of lockdown, the Grade 12 girls and their parents will be able to attend in person. (Please see Mr Tyson’s letter on the School App.) The rest of the Senior School will watch online in their classrooms.
Covid-19 virus update
With the change to Level 1, we will have some flexibility with regard to certain school events. We will, however, continue to be cautious and conservative in our approach and adhere to health protocols.
Our new building is still on track to be completed by the end of the year. We look forward to the finishing touches being applied and developing the new entrance and gardens. Thank you for your patience.
I wish you all a most relaxing and enjoyable holiday, as we take a break before the final term of this year in which we have learned so much about life, each other and ourselves.