“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”
(Luke 18: 17)
Jesus certainly knew that we all had a lot to learn from children, not least in how we approach the kingdom of God. In a very real way, our children are the church.
Our school was founded in 1840 to provide a Christian education for local children, and today it really does achieve that through the everyday interactions, care, love and commitment of our teachers, staff, governors and by the children themselves.
The Trust Deed that established the school names the Churchwardens and Parish Priest of St Stephen’s Church as its Trustees, a role they have retained. Today the school is a Voluntary Assisted Church of England school; the church and school are formally bound together, but it is so much more than just a legal contract.
Our churches are deeply committed to playing their part in making St Stephen’s School the incredibly special place that it is, we welcome the opportunities we have to interact both in school and in church, and we cherish the joy, love and laughter our children share with us - like a body with many parts the school and our churches are one.
St Stephen’s church plays a major role in running the school by appointing from its congregations the majority of the school’s governors, including the Chair of Governors.
Members of the church’s congregation go into school to help with reading, singing, pastoral support and collective worship.
The children and staff attend school-specific celebrations for all the major events of the Christian year, plus end-of-term services including the very special end-of-year service for Year 6 leavers. Parents are always welcome to come along.
A parents’ prayer group meets regularly to pray for all aspects of the school’s life.
- Every week, during the 11 o’clock church service, St Stephen’s church welcomes a mass of children to the Sunday Club groups, where we try to make them feel welcome and to enjoy their experience of church. Once a month there is a family service at St Stephen’s when the children lead the worship.
- There is a Friday night youth group that is mainly populated by St Stephen’s School alumni who are now at secondary school, providing a way of staying in touch with old friends.
- St Stephen’s also hosts a Monday morning parent and toddler group, run by parents, with many of the children eventually going on to St Stephen’s school having forged friendships at the group.
- Events such as fetes, concerts, Films on the Hill, visits from Father Christmas are all popular with school families.
- St Stephen’s Centre (below the church) is a popular venue for birthday celebrations.
In 1985 the parishes of Bath, St Stephen’s and St Mary the Virgin, Charlcombe were merged and became a United Benefice, today both churches play a vital role in the life of the school. Our Priest-in-Charge takes care of both parishes and is a ‘living bridge’ between the church and school. The school also benefits from its links with Christ Church, Julian Road, local ministry group partner to St Stephen’s and St Mary’s churches, and from its links via members of the teaching staff with Widcombe Baptist Church.
The Reverend Philip Hawthorn (AKA Reverend Philip), has been Priest in Charge of St Mary's Charlcombe and St Stephen’s Lansdown since 2010. He is married to Lizzie and they have five children, Ted, Annie, Peter, Billy and Ellie.
Before arriving in Bath, Philip was curate in the parish of Hardington Vale near Frome comprising six villages, Norton St Philip, Rode, Hemington, Laverton, Tellisford and Farleigh Hungerford.
Before switching careers, Philip was involved chiefly in children’s media as a writer and producer in television and radio (BBC mostly), and an author of children’s books.
Just as the school welcomes and respects those who come from different denominations, faiths and those who have no faith, so does the church – it is open to all, wherever you are on your journey of faith. We welcome you to join us at one of our weekly services and to become part of our church family.