Episcopalianism at Grace: All Faiths or No Faith
Media provided by Alexander Leddy ’23
Religion at Grace is important to the core of the school’s community. Grace’s Episcopal identity has enabled the school to support the various religions of the student body.
As a community, we go to chapel, and students study Philosophy & Religion once or twice a week. Some may think that the religious identity of Grace Church may negatively impact an individual’s ability to practice their own faith. When applying to Grace, many applicants question the school’s religious freedom when they discover Grace’s Episcopal identity.
The administration suggests that Episcopalianism creates a stronger sense of community. According to the Episcopal identity page on the Grace website: “We welcome, openly and with warmth, families of all faiths and no faith at all. We seek out a rich diversity of students, families, faculty, and staff…”
The Episcopal identity of the school isn’t meant to be forced on the students but is intended to be used in a way to bring students of all beliefs together in one diverse community. The Rev. Mark Hummel, the high school chaplain, explains, “We practice our Episcopal Identity through equity, inclusion, and social justice, service learning, and chapel. Our religion courses aim to teach students how to think about what they believe rather than telling them what to believe. Chapel is a non-denominational Christian observance loosely drawn from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer that neither includes nor excludes a student on the basis of religion.”
The student body at Grace includes individuals who identify as Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, and more. During interviews with the Gazette, eight students of five different religions expressed that their faith has continuously felt supported. Students have shared that their faith has not been altered by the religious practices of the school.
Mason Z. ‘25, a Jewish student at Grace, said, “This school’s non-denominational approach to religious affiliation, while still remaining in its Episcopalian faith, has led me to be more informed about Christianity as a whole while continuing to freely express my faith.”
Grace’s Episcopal identity isn’t something that has just supported the community, but has educated the community on the diversity of different faiths. Religious expression is an important part of being part of a community.
Armann A. ‘25, a Muslim student, said, “I feel free to express my religious identity.”
The ability to share religious beliefs on a day-to-day basis has allowed Grace to have a diverse number of clubs, as well as traditions of all faiths. Grace has welcomed chapels dedicated to sharing different cultural practices such as the yearly Jewish Chapel. A Ramadan-themed chapel, organized by MENAM (the affinity space for Middle Eastern and North African students), is scheduled for March 15.
The weekly Philosophy and Religion Classes have specifically educated the individuals on the variety of religious practices in New York City. A 10th grader, who identifies as an atheist and asked to remain anonymous, said, “I came into the school with very little religious understanding. My Philosophy and Religion class has opened my eyes to the diversity of faith.”
Grace has helped students gain an understanding of the religious beliefs of their peers.
The Episcopal identity at Grace is meant to bring the community together under a common set of principles.
Dana Foote, a member of the admissions team and family coordinator, said, “I think we are a value-centered school, and we have a value-centered curriculum, and that’s inherent in the values of the Episcopal Church. I believe that really comes from the values of the Episcopal Church and that we care about the dignity and worth of every human being.”
Grace’s Episcopal identity has helped build a stronger community. At Grace, a student’s ability to express their faith has not been constrained but rather supported.