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Cultivating a New Culture: St. Philip’s Begins Planning for a Classical Christian School

News--School Announcement

View the full talk––and learn what it means to “get the Gospel across Fifth Avenue”––on our YouTube channel.

In 476 A.D., the great Roman Empire, which had brought peace and security to the world, fell to the Barbarians, marking a turning point in western civilization. The Barbarian invasion was able to succeed because after years of economic volatility, power struggles, religious upheaval, poor leadership, porous borders, gratuitous violence, pandemics, and marked moral decline, Roman society was weak. Do those circumstances seem familiar?

“That is where we are in America today,” said the Rev. Jeffrey S. Miller during the May 5 Rector’s Forum, “and it raises the question: Are we heading in the same direction as Rome?”

Miller shared a quote from Nixon advisor-turned-evangelical Christian Chuck Colson: “Today in the West, and particularly in America, the new barbarians are all around us. They are not hairy Goths and Vandals swilling fermented brew and ravishing maidens; they are not Huns and Visigoths storming our borders or scaling our city walls. No, this time the invaders come from within. We have bred them in our families and trained them in our classrooms. They inhabit our legislatures, our courts, our film studios, our churches. Most of them are attractive and pleasant; their ideas are persuasive and subtle. Yet these men and women threaten our most cherished institutions and our very character as people.” (Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages)

What has gone wrong? What is to be done? We have failed to recognize that cultures cultivate, and our duty as Christians is clear: we need a new culture, one that cultivates a new type of person. “And the only way that happens,” said Miller, “is with the power of the Resurrection.”

St. Philip’s Shine the Light campaign aims to raise $21.5 million. The first $16.5 million raised will be used for a “generational fix,” to make our campus, the buildings that house and sustain our current ministries, this tremendous Gospel asset, into a blessing––not a burden––for the succeeding generations.

Phase Two of the campaign is missional, and a Shine the Light discernment committee, which included Miller, was tasked with identifying how we as a congregation are uniquely gifted to make a difference in the world. 

The discernment committee was presented with three missional opportunities. “What we discovered as we prayed through these,” shared Miller, “is that one by one, God closed the door––except on the last one.”

Miller has long believed that salvation actually begins not in the heart, but in the mind. “Be ye transformed by the renewal of your minds,” said the apostle Paul in Romans 12.

“That has to migrate, that message, down to our hearts, but it begins with our minds, with the way we think, with our worldview, with the way we look at the world around us and understand it and our place in it,” said Miller.

Over several months, the discernment committee worked and prayed and finally submitted their unanimous recommendation to the Vestry, who also thought about it and fervently prayed and ultimately concluded that this was what God was calling us to do: to reach the educational system, “The Academy”––what Miller calls the greatest mission field in the Western world today. “And that means,” said Miller, “that we believe that God is calling us to establish here at St. Philip’s a new school in this community.” The applause that erupted in the Parish Hall after that statement confirmed that our St. Philip’s family agrees with our Vestry.

Our prayer is that this classical Christian school will provide rigorous academic training in an authentically Christian environment and produce young people who understand, according to Miller, that their purpose in life is to be an ambassador for Christ, that the purpose of life is not simply to live “the good life.”

Our State Street office building at the corner of Cumberland, which has functioned as a school in the past, will house our school’s first classrooms. Although much planning still needs to be done, our prayerful hope is to begin with pre-K through 5th grade and add a grade each year through 12th grade.

We will be sharing more information and updates in the coming months, and we thank you for your continued support of the Shine the Light campaign. If you have not yet done so, please prayerfully consider making a pledge or donation to help us complete Phase One, the restoration of our campus, and move on to Phase Two: the establishment of this school.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ––Jeremiah 29:11

Shine the Light Campus Tours

Tuesday, May 21 ~ 6:00–7:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 9 ~ 4:00–5:30 p.m.

To see firsthand the restoration projects already underway and funded by the capital campaign, we invite you to join us for a campus tour on May 21 or June 9. One of the stops on the tour is the State Street building, which will house our school’s first classrooms. This is a unique opportunity to see how your pledges and contributions are making a difference.

Enjoy light hors d’œuvres and refreshments along the way.