The First New Church Schools
New Church people in Great Britain started the first schools to offer education which looked to the Lord in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Heavenly Doctrine. Some of these were day schools and others were a variation of Sunday School but they all gave children instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic as well as religion. During the 1800s over thirty day schools were operating in England, offering a basic education but most of these closed in the early 1900s. Yet even as these schools were closing, there was a rededication to New Church education among those sympathetic with the goals of the Academy of the New Church. Schools opened in London and Colchester which continued to offer education in the light of New Church teachings for many years. Why did they carry on with New Church education? The answer lies in what was happening in the United States and Canada.
New Church Education in North America
As New Church ideas spread to North America, many congregations in the United States and in Canada started day schools as well as Sunday Schools. But as the quality of public education improved and it became more accessible, most congregations decided to focus on their Sunday School programs as a way to teach children about the Lord and His Word. There were others who felt strongly about the importance of New Church education in the home, in school, and on Sundays. They felt that one of the most effective ways to help the church was to give children their academic education in the light of New Church teachings. They wanted children to hear or read stories from the Lord’s Word each day and have a supportive environment to help them apply these teachings in their lives. Those believing that New Church education plays an essential role in the life of the church rallied around the Academy of the New Church when it was established in 1876. Many congregations opened elementary schools in support of Academy ideals. These schools are affiliated with the General Church of the New Jerusalem, which works closely with the Academy.
The Academy of the New Church
The Academy has been a center for New Church education since its founding in 1876, looking to the Lord in the light of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Heavenly Doctrine. Located in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, the Academy offers secondary school education in the ANC Girls School and the ANC Boys School. These two independent schools for grades 9-12 work collaboratively together to offer a balanced program of academics, arts and athletics.
Bryn Athyn College of the New Church is a coeducational liberal arts college which pairs strong academics with spiritual inquiry. The core program emphasizes critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, public presentation, and experiential education. The College also offers two onsite graduate programs: a Master of Divinity program leading toward ordination into the ministry of the New Church and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies which allows students to study New Church teachings at a deeper level and relate them to various academic, professional and personal areas.
New Church Education Around the World
There are New Church Schools associated with the General Church in in Canada, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Korea, South Africa, and the United States. All of these schools offer a New Christian education, supporting families who want their children to learn in the light of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings.
It is hoped that our existing schools will prosper and new schools will be established around the world to help people benefit from this unique approach to educating the heart and mind for life in this world and the next.