In Emanuel, religious observance – the collective reflection on ultimate questions and consideration of moral issues – is as relevant now as in the past and draws not only upon the rich resources of Britain’s Christian heritage but also from other traditions and perspectives. Pupils and staff from faiths other than Christianity or with no faith commitment are supported in their own spiritual development. In practice, Emanuel School today continues a policy of Elizabethan comprehensiveness rather than religious exclusivism.
Under the care and ministry of the chaplains, chapel life in Emanuel is liberal, inclusive, themed and gently Anglican to give due honour and respect to the foundation of the school. There has always been a chaplain to the Foundation and the role of the two chaplains today is to provide spiritual leadership and pastoral support to all members of the school as well as teaching. Emanuel recognises that all members of the community are on a spiritual pilgrimage towards an ever-deepening self-awareness of who they are and of their place in the world.
The present chapel stands at the physical centre of the school and pupils attend once each week in years 6-9 and fortnightly in all other years. Services usually consist of a hymn, an address by one of the chaplains, prayers, an anthem sung by the chapel choir and a blessing. The address is accessible to pupils of all faiths and of none and is educational and reflective rather than homiletic or evangelical.
Holy Communion, at which attendance is voluntary, is celebrated approximately eight times per year on significant days in the school and church’s calendar. Major occasions in the school’s life are marked by special services, using Westminster Abbey (every five years), St Luke’s Clapham, and St Mark’s Battersea at key points in the school year. The school chapel is also available for the occasional offices.