July 21, 2024

Do not forget


Father Grant administering a blessing during the Eucharist at the Founders Day celebrations.

Our past and heritage remind us we are not orphans, but heirs of a great inheritance.  We have a grand “his-story,”  and we are part of a long, on-going story.  We need to keep the stories alive, for they, in a real sense, keep us alive.  We are what we remember.

Today, it is fitting that we also open our Founders Day celebration with the Eucharist, a statement of our faith and ethos as a church school.  Founders Day is also a time of remembering.  One of the reasons why Old Girls and friends come back to the campus is to reconnect with the past and with friends.  It is a time to be reminded of who we are. 

The theme for this year is very appropriate. Who we are today is because of St Michael’s, its founders, its history.  It is a school where we get not only an education but a life strengthened by the steadfast love of God wherever we roam.

As we start our Founders Day celebrations, I pray that we will not forget what God has done, is doing, and wants to do through us. We are here today to celebrate Founders Day, to celebrate our history and our heritage, to give thanks to our founders for giving and for passing down to us St Michael’s and the many opportunities it has provided us for many years -146 years to be exact. These are broad and strong shoulders upon which we stand.

We have been so blessed. Our founders – a very impressive group indeed – had an idea, a vision, a dream – dream about what could be. But not only did they have a dream, they had the courage, commitment and stamina to move it forward. They had the courage to do a new thing.

So — why did they decide to found a new church, a new school? The answer to the question is to be found in a Divine revelation that came to responsive hearts that in the name of Christ, a church school should be created that would meet the needs of a community as they had never been met before.

The organisation of this school took place because certain people became inspired by a dream. In the fulfilment of this dream there was the necessity for the re-examination of the work of the Christian church; to breach new trails in thought and action.

They wanted a school with a programme of Christian education that would influence every area of life. They dreamed of a school where worship would be pre-eminent and which by its architectural expression would bring the hush of God into human hearts.

They dreamed of a school in which spiritual freedom in Christ would be realised and no one would be coerced into the theological straight-jacket of another’s dogma.

The founders organised a church and school that had a great deal of freedom with the full spectrum of political and religious philosophies. The school has always been a place where people feel free to disagree; to ask questions – a place where members come from different spiritual, educational, and political backgrounds – a place where members have diverse opinions and aspirations.

Yet – it is a place where members have a common bond: a journey of faith, together seeking a relationship with God. It is a place where the members recognise an opportunity for growth toward maturity – a place where members respect and appreciate their differences and welcome the opportunity to grow, to become new creatures,  a new humanity – part of a new creation.

Possessed of that dream we do not find ourselves dreaming of a church edifice, lovely as this is. We do not dream of an institution. We do not dream of a programme. We do not dream of an organisation, but we dream instead of what God might do with each of us in bringing into actuality our unique, unprecedented, never recurring potentialities.

The dream does not belong to me. It does not belong to you. It is God’s rearrangement of all that has entered into our lives, being a beacon, a ray of hope, an example, an inspiration, encouraging us to forge on and continue to be willing to step out and shine the light.

We do indeed have a great history. For the past 146 years, we have had the courage to step out — to shine the light. We have been blessed by outstanding results, outstanding teachers, learners, clergy, and lay leaders.

We, as a school community have worked together through some exciting and challenging times. We have supported one another through the good times and the challenging times. We have stayed true to our founding Covenant and ethos. Our school has made a difference in this community and beyond. We have truly been blessed.

However, as great as our history is and as grateful as we are for all those who have come before us, we can’t or don’t live in the past. We live in the present with hope for the future.

And how about our School? Do we have a purpose? Why are we here? We are so grateful for our rich history and heritage and for our founders who had a dream and the courage to make it happen.

However, as great as our past has been, we know the work is not done. We yearn to be active participants in an on-going creation.

We hear God’s calling on how we, going forward, can best serve Him, one another, our community, and the world.

It is important to remember that this is our School. We, the congregation, as the members of St Michael’s. It is up to us to be engaged and not be inactive spectators who take a wait-and-see attitude.

It is up to us to be active and accept the baton that our founders have passed on to us. Think about what our School can be with our engagement -— with our involvement and by the grace of God. This School can be what God is calling us to be. It is up to us.

Seven score and 6 years ago our founders brought forth a new church school conceived in a dream and dedicated to the proposition that we are a community of faith and an instrument for reconciliation in this world. That dedication and commitment continued on 29 June 1970, 50 years ago, when this chapel, this new school was consecrated to the glory of God for the furthering of His kingdom.

Today we honour our founders — great visionaries. We are so grateful for their dream and for their courage to move forward.

We are so grateful for the opportunity they have given us to stand on their shoulders and to reach out – to reach out to one another, to our community, to the world, and to the future. It is an opportunity to be that beacon, to be that shining light, to be an example, to be an inspiration.

We honour our founders, not by repeating their acts or limiting ourselves to their dreams – for this is a different time -but by finding and acting on our own dreams, our own visions, our own hopes.

We are being called to remember the dream about why our school was founded 146 years ago. What is our calling going forward?

This is a very exciting time – a great opportunity to look at who we are, what we are about, where we have been and where we want to go – to remember the dream.

The question is: Are we ready? Are we willing? Is the dream still alive?
Do we possess the burning desire? Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone and listen for God’s voice and to shine the light? Do we have the courage, commitment and stamina to move it forward? Are we willing to exercise our freedom to become new creatures and our responsibility to be faithful stewards of our lives and of this world?

Are we willing to use our diversity as a blessing and a strength — an opportunity to have meaningful conversations and to learn and grow.
Can we pass the test whether this School so conceived and so dedicated can long endure?

Can we still dream of what God might do with each of us in bringing into actuality our unique, unprecedented, never recurring potentialities?
I look around at you. I see the tremendous dedication of our teachers, our learners and our many volunteers and friends.

The dream is alive; it is calling us out – it is calling us forward. Thank you, to each and every one of you, for taking, for accepting with renewed commitment and vision this remarkable, this wonderful, this extraordinary baton and gift that has been handed to us.

The dream is alive — the dream is alive and flourishing.

Ante Deum Asto.

Thanks be to God!

Amen, Amen and Hallelujah!

Mr Braam van Wyk and Ms Dominique le Riche, Old-Girl representative on the Board of Governors prepare to hand over the Founders-Day bursaries. Photo E Ndwere