As the students of Bethany School leave campus for the summer and head back to communities throughout Greater Cincinnati, we hope that they take some things with them. We hope that they take all that they have learned and experienced in our classrooms. We hope that they take good memories of fun and friendship. We hope that they take that one green shoe that has been in the lost and found since August! But most of all, we hope that they take with them a sense of God’s love made real in this special community.
As the only Episcopal School in the state of Ohio and one of the few in the Midwest, Bethany School faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities as we attempt to witness to the Good News of God’s love in a way that is authentically rooted in our Episcopal identity, yet also honors the religious, cultural, and socio-economic diversity of our community. The academic study of religion is part of this process, as is the witness of the Sisters of the Transfiguration, who founded the school as a place of hope and continues to be a visible presence on our campus.
Perhaps most of all it is in the daily practices of prayer, worship, service and care for each other, especially in the midst of the challenges of a school day, that our individual and collective identity is formed. This means that when conflicts arise, when individuals fall short of goals or when successes are celebrated, we seek to approach these moments with a commitment to the Gospel values of forgiveness, reconciliation, encouragement and humility.
As an Episcopal school, we attempt to teach not to but rather out of our tradition. This means that whatever the religious or spiritual background of our students, while they are with us they will hear and hopefully experience the powerful truth that each of us is a creation of a loving, empowering God. Knowing this helps shape what we believe about ourselves, and how we treat others. We attempt to teach this lesson for the sake of our students, but not for theirs alone. Our hope is that they will leave our campus having experienced authentic Christian community and will be able to respond to that experience by serving as witnesses to the good news of God’s love wherever their summer journeys take them.
Joe Snavely serves as Chaplain at Bethany School. Contact him at email@example.com.