MAESA Matters December 2019


Greetings from MAESA!

In this season of Advent, we seek the time and space to wait patiently for the coming of the Christ child. In the Episcopal school community, we know that the practices of Advent are almost counter-cultural to the examples we see around us, as the excitement of Christmas is ratcheted up. May you and your school communities find the time and space for adults and students alike to prepare for the miracle of the Christ child.

In the December edition of MAESA Matters we hope you enjoy hearing from The Rev. Brandt L. Montgomery , newly installed chaplain at Saint James School in Hagerstown, MD, as he reflects on how just one year at an Episcopal school as a young person set him on a path for life. Do you or another member of your school have something to share? We'd love to hear from an adult or an upper school student at your school about why they value being at an Episcopal school. Please contact us at  maesaschools@gmail.com to be included.

Finally, please check out and share with your faculty and leaders two excellent NAES events in our back yard that are open for registration on the NAES website . NAES membership is not required. Register here for the NAES Early Childhood Education Leadership Day , Tuesday, Feb 25, at St. Columba's in Washington, D.C. from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Leadership teams are encouraged to attend: rector, director, board chair, vestry, and school board members . Also r egister here for the NAES Diversity & Inclusion Conference March 4, 3 pm through March 6, at the Maritime Conference Center in Baltimore.

Join MAESA for the 2020 Choral Evensong
Everyone is welcome to join in worship at the MAESA Choral Evensong at Washington National Cathedral on February 9th at 4 pm . Our MAESA Evensong offers a rare chance for MAESA member upper school choirs to gather in fellowship with one another for section rehearsals in the afternoon. They then rehearse with the Cathedral Choir and ultimately sing Evensong together. MAESA is pleased to welcome The Rev. Mark Andrew Jefferson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Virginia Theological Seminary as our homilist at the 2020 MAESA Choral Evensong. We hope to see you on February 9, 2020.

Why I Teach in an Episcopal School
The Rev. Brandt L. Montgomery
Saint James School

Twenty-two years ago, I enrolled as a 7 th grade student at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Day School, opened by the Episcopal parish under the same patron in my hometown of Talladega, Alabama. Unlike most Episcopal schools, most of the students at EDS (which numbered a little over 20) were Episcopalians, with me and several others coming from other Christian traditions. Although it was only in its first year of operation, the school’s academic standards were high and the faculty’s expectations were demanding, all with intentions for growth, both intellectually and for the whole of the person. I only attended EDS for one year, but it is a year I look back on with great fondness, for the academic and personal standards I was exposed to were the beginning of the instilling within me values synonymous with Episcopal school education. 

Spiritually, EDS was my introduction to Anglican Christianity. The liturgy was structured and calm. The music was traditional and stately. The prayers were short, yet heartwarming, coming from this book called “The Book of Common Prayer.” The more that academic year progressed, the more I grew to love Anglican Christian worship. My growing fondness for Anglican Christianity was the impetus of me developing a closer relationship with Jesus and praying more. And even though EDS’s chapel services were compulsory, they became the best and most important time to me, drawing me closer to Jesus and him becoming the best friend I have ever known. Because of those EDS chapels 22 years ago, I embarked on the journey of “intentional Christianity.”

As one of many past students fortunate to receive the benefits of an Episcopal school education, I feel very much humbled, privileged, and honored to now be in my sixth year in such ministry as a priest-educator. What drew me now almost four months ago to my current ministry at Saint James School in Maryland was its foundation as an Episcopal school steeped in the high church, sacramental tradition of the Oxford Movement. As one deeply influenced by the Oxford Movement fathers and mothers and Anglo-Catholicism’s liturgical heritage, I felt God calling me to aid Saint James in its mission to raise up men and women of virtue who can be “leaders for good in the world.” Their mission reflects that of my own to proclaim Jesus Christ in my preaching and teaching, sacramental care, and pastoral care through Anglo-Catholicism’s liturgical heritage. As once described by James Barrett Kerfoot, Saint James School’s first Headmaster from 1842-1864, I feel like I am in “the flower of my years” and look forward to doing God’s work among the faculty and students of Saint James School for hopefully many years to come.

Yet, Saint James’s Anglo-Catholic heritage is  particular expression of the many ways in this world God is praised. Though Episcopal schools should honor the tradition upon which they stand, never should they convey their beliefs upon others in a forceful way. Just as Saint Peter’s Episcopal Day School did for me all those years ago, all Episcopal schools should allow space for each person to discern for themselves what Christianity is about and who Jesus is to them. 

I am an Episcopal priest-educator, firstly, because I share with all Episcopal schools and educators the goal of helping foster environments that are faithful to their Christian heritage, yet also are inclusive, inspiring, and nurturing of people from various backgrounds. I live this out in my life and priestly ministry by engaging with those things that have always been taught by Christians while, leaving space open for those of differing opinions, encouraging open dialogue and respecting the place one is at in his/her life. The call that not only I share as an Episcopal priest, but all engaged in Episcopal education do is to offer safe spaces that are both encouraging and nurturing of all the students we teach and serve.

But the ultimate reason for my priest-educator vocation is Jesus. It was at an Episcopal school that I came to the realization that Jesus loves me and that God’s love is larger than all of that of humanity put together. Through the love and support I was shown as an Episcopal school student 22 years ago, I realized that Jesus Christ came “that [we] may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10.10) This is our God who is, has been, and always will be with us.  

I count myself glad and fortunate to be an Episcopal priest-educator. I pray for all my fellow Episcopal school educators, that through their ministries all who they teach will see the value of doing good in this world. As I pray for all of you engaged in this wonderful work, of your charity, please also pray for me.

2020 MAESA Event Dates
MAESA 2020 Choral Evensong
Sunday, February 9, 2020,  at  Washington National Cathedral  in partnership with  St. Albans School  and  National Cathedral School. This beautiful service allows our upper school student choruses to sing with the Cathedral Choir. The combined MAESA Choir numbers more than 350 voices. MAESA is pleased to welcome The Rev. Mark Andrew Jefferson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Virginia Theological Seminary as our homilist at the 2020 MAESA Evensong.

MAESA Scholars Fair 
Friday, April 17, 2020,  at  St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School  in Washington, D.C. The fair includes a juried art exhibit, science fair, geography and spelling bees, multimedia presentations and a non-competitive design thinking activity for students in 4 th -8 th grade.

MAESA 2019-2020 Membership Renewal: Still need to renew your 2019-2020 membership in MAESA? Visit our website to renew today. Thank you for your continued commitment to MAESA through your support in annual dues as well as participation in our MAESA events.
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director