Our assemblies across the school tend to be slightly more informal affairs at which a more interactive and sometimes multi-media facilitated talk is melded with contemporary band-led song, and prayer. We’re convinced that exploring the Christian faith should sometimes be profound, and sometimes fun, and sometimes surprising – and very often all of the above! As a result we work hard at these assemblies to harness drama, musical reflection, art, video, game-shows, puppetry and sometimes even dance to serve us as we learn all about the God of the Bible as Life-giver, and the source of all joy.
We plan occasional Chaplaincy Theatre assemblies in the Senior school. In January we hosted a leading Geo-Physicist at one such assembly who spoke about the historicity of Genesis and how he squares scientific endeavour with his faith.
The Prep School enjoys Chaplaincy assemblies twice a week with a shorter service on Tuesday mornings, and a fuller Hall Service on Fridays. Although we’re privileged to be able to provide most speakers from within the Common Room, we also have the occasional visiting speaker. St John’s enjoy a weekly assembly at which we tend to dive into a Bible passage together, with the help of ever-keen volunteers. The Pre-Prep also enjoys a weekly Chaplaincy assembly: this year we have been learning more about the greatest hero ever, as we trace his work and rescue-mission through the pages of the best story ever written. Our Squirrels’ Assemblies often involve fancy-dress, volunteer actors, and of course Wilf, Clarice and Bernie, our puppet friends.
Nurturing Young Faith
We’re convinced that the Bible is shallow enough for a toddler to paddle in, but also deep enough for a teenager to swim in, and therefore we take delight in providing a plethora of opportunities for any pupil of whatever age to dive in as deep as they wish to go into the Christian faith. Sometimes these opportunities are on a larger scale, such as our annual Lent Addresses (Senior School) and Chaplain’s Think Big Week (Prep School), at which a visiting team joins us for 3 full days of events at which many interested pupils come to hear and ask more. More often they are on a smaller scale throughout the year.
Pupils are free to sign up to join us at our weekly Glow Club on a Friday lunchtime to have fun thinking more deeply about the content of the assembly from that week. This is normally a heady mix of craft, games, laughter and deeper questions than one would normally expect from such little people!
Dean Close Prep school
We run three Christian Union groups on a Monday after school, covering every year group at the school. Although the feel of each varies according to the age of the children who come, every week we will play games, open a Bible passage to discuss, apply and pray about, sing (oh… and eat a cookie). A particular annual highlight are our CU trips, with one group heading to Devon for a full weekend in the Trinity Term.
There is also a weekly Bible study group for Years 6-8 for those who want to go deeper still. We also run Prayer Station for the younger years, giving children an opportunity not just to learn about prayer, but to have a go and explore that particular privilege. It is not uncommon for one of the Chaplaincy team to offer evening prayers with boarders during the course of their evening duty: an offer many children love to accept.
Dean Close Senior School
Besides the House Bible studies, which allow for all pupils to get a feel for opening the Bible for themselves in a more intimate environment with friends, some of the pupils enjoy weekly 1:1 discipleship with a Chaplaincy team member as mentor. We hold a Christian Union group during protected time every Wednesday, at which we enjoy some sung worship, a Bible talk from a visiting speaker, and then supper together straight afterwards. We are excited to be building links with the CUs from Kingham Hill and Monkton Combe schools with an annual ‘CU Big Day Out’ event hosted at Dean Close; this year 90 pupils attend.
Twice a term, we hold an ALL IN event in the library, which starts with a talk which may be of particular interest for non-CU members, and continues with an opportunity for Q&A. Finally, we run a biennial school-wide initiative called The Big Conversation, during which each House votes for their most popular question levelled at Christianity. Later in the term, the team lay on a short talk (in partnership with Dominoes Pizza) on a chosen topic, and then host an extended Q&A session.