In the foyer of the Chapel at Westminster is a plaque that honours Sir Shirley Jeffries, after whom our Chapel is named. It reads, “Dedicated to the memory of Sir Shirley Jeffries who, because he believed that Christian faith is the basis of a true education, worked tirelessly for the establishment of Westminster School”. Head of Senior School David Wallage reminded staff of the same spirit at the opening staff meeting of the year, quoting then Prime Minister Robert Menzies at the opening of Westminster in 1961: “The function of the school is to produce character; not a lot of clever men [then!] with destructive minds, with no conception of their duty to God, but people of character, of high morality, framed with a background of religion, able to understand right through their lives that it is a good thing to be able to do this or this; but it is a better thing to be a fine person – a better thing to be a fine citizen.”
Much has changed in the 60 years since, but it remains that a full education, one directed to character of the individual, will give place to consideration of faith and values in the development of rounded humans. This is seen in our school values of being kind, curious, courageous, inclusive, mindful and resilient - attributes of character which are learnt by doing.
In Chapel this week we are noting the significance of consideration of the ‘spiritual’; what gives meaning and purpose to our lives. That is not to say that we will provide doctrinaire answers, but will allow space for reflection upon faith, which is the end of our ultimate trust. We might, even at our School in 2020 echo Irenaeus of second century Roman Gaul, “The Glory of God is a person fully alive”.
Rev Phil Hoffmann