Students in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department’s Blood of Abraham course sat down recently with the Bishop of New Hampshire and WMS Chaplain Paul Higginson to learn more about the School’s connection to the Episcopal faith.
Last Saturday, students in Jim Norton’s “Blood of Abraham” class had the unique opportunity to spend a three-hour project block interviewing Bishop A. Robert Hirschfeld of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire. In addition to learning more about the Bishop’s role in the Episcopal Church and understanding how the beliefs and practices are implemented in 21st century society; the students, Jim Norton and the Bishop sought to better understand the line in the school’s mission which states we are “grounded in Episcopal Heritage.”
The conversation focused on aspects of the School’s beginning and how it was founded, along with Holderness and St. Paul’s (New Hampshire’s other Episcopal boarding schools), by the Episcopal Diocese. In trying to get a better understanding of how the beliefs of the Episcopal Church impact the WMS community, the group drew concrete connections between the church’s work and the school’s belief in the ideas of curiosity, compassion and courage. These examples included Field Course trips to the Dominican Republic reflecting the church’s missionary work in certain parts of the world, as well as the accepting and open nature of the WMS community, as being in line with church’s views on issues of gender and sexuality.
Beyond understanding the religious implications of the school’s history, the day was also meant to provide students with an opportunity for authentic inquiry. The design of the class was such that students were free to ask the Bishop and the Chaplain questions that they held, while Jim Norton guided the discussion. The goal was for students to gain an understanding of the subject. Senior Rachael Moss stated, “I was so involved with the conversation. I took the fastest notes I’ve ever written in my life! It was a very objective conversation. This was the most pure form of inquiry that I have felt.”
The exercise concluded with the students presenting their findings to the school community in a Morning Meeting later that week. Their conclusion was that although it may not be conspicuous, the values and beliefs of the Episcopal Church are to this day very present in The White Mountain School community.