The Mission of Annapolis: A Grandparent’s Testimony

My name is Diane Carter.  I’m a teacher here in the upper schools as a science and Bible teacher and have been for most of the years since the doors opened over 20 years ago.  I’m also a parent here–my four children having passed through the halls of Annapolis with my last one sitting here today, a junior.  I’m also a grandparent with a grandson here in kindergarten.  I’ve been asked to address you this morning to share my heart as to why I have such a deep and long participation as a teacher in Classical and Christian education. I also hope to communicate with you why my husband and I have made such a long-term investment in Annapolis as our choice to help us educate our own children and why our children are now choosing Annapolis for the grandchildren.

Many years ago, I read an article by a pastor out of New York City named Steve Schlissel which has in part shaped my thinking from early on about this choice.  He persuasively made the case to me that the faithful and successful transmission from one generation to the next of a vibrant Christian culture, with all of its Christ-honoring orthodox beliefs, its rich traditions and its wise practices, has three vital components which make this transmission of Christian culture successful.  These three components can be compared to a three-legged stool, and the three legs of this stool are

  1. the teaching of the family,
  2. the teaching of the local church, and
  3. the teaching of the local school.

When all three of these legs speak to the children the same message of the gospel of our Lord as found in the Scriptures, and when they all train the children in the same practices of the faith, in their homes, at their local churches and at their Christian schools, this three-legged yet unified voice, this trinity of communities, lays for the children a firm foundation upon which to seat their lives in such a way that their cultural identity is assured.

As each of these three communities sees it as one of its primary duties to transmit this cultural identity to the children, many far-reaching positive effects are established:

  • First of all, the children themselves are now securely prepared to find shelter in Christ during the storms of life which threaten to prevail against them.
  • They are also protected from the winds of worldly philosophies which stand opposed to the knowledge of God and which as Christians we are called upon to recognize and resist.
  • Furthermore, each individual institution is thereby strengthened as the children grow up to take their places in them as responsible citizens–fathers and mothers, congregants and Sunday school teachers, maybe school teachers or administrators or parents of students, assuring each institution’s perpetuation and relevance into the future.

The ripples of this successful transmission have an even farther-reaching effect on the wider community with its government and laws, businesses and arts.  It can now be more securely held together and influenced and flavored by a tightly woven fabric of truth, goodness and beauty which is the intended contribution of these three salty and light-filled faithful Christian communities populated by us and our children.

However, if we remove any one of the legs from under the child’s seat as they are developing–maybe family life breaks down, or maybe there’s weak or no church attendance by the family, or maybe the child attends secular school that is teaching by neglect (or nowadays more intentionally) a disdain for Christ’s authority– we then run the danger of transmitting a confusion of message, a kind of cultural schizophrenia, lodged in the heart and mind of the child, interrupting that unified transmission of a robust Christian culture.  If any one leg is removed, the child’s ability to receive intact this flourishing Christian cultural life totters; remove a second leg and his position becomes even more precarious; if the third leg goes then, but for the grace of God, we have cast our pearls to the swine of this world’s system, we are trampled underfoot, and our civilization as a whole suffers.

There is another way the transmission to the child can be thwarted and that of course is if those three communities neglect their responsibility to guard the doors by letting in the teachings of the world system which will have Christ crucified, and whose doctrines are taught primarily by the pop culture media. I think we can see that today this problem is prevalent in all three of our child-rearing institutions and I suspect that until we bar the doors, it will continue to be the primary eroding force which seeks to abort the passing on to them of a vibrant Christian culture.

Annapolis Christian Academy sees its role clearly as the third leg of the stool, necessary for this transmission of Christian culture in Corpus Christi, to the children of Christian families, who belong to the broader church community. It does this self-consciously by educating them in a historically tried and true way, what we call Classical and Christian.  Christian, for the purpose of fashioning each child’s heart, mind, and body to have one affection–the love of God in Christ Jesus.  And Classical, by exposing them to a rich Liberal Arts curriculum that has been in use for centuries and is in our day being revived here at Annapolis and in many schools like ours across the country. This kind of Classical education works to instill a passion for learning and habits of the intellect which can set willing students free to reach their full flourishing humanity.

But Annapolis also realizes its boundaries.  It cannot do for the parents what they must do at home to create a Christian culture there.  Nor can our school replace the function of the church for the children and what they must experience of Christ for themselves within the hallowed walls of that community.  But we do seek to faithfully uphold our end of the stool by providing a rigorous Christian education in support of the other two legs.

Scripture says, “Without a vision, the people perish.”  This vision of cultural transmission for my children and yours is at its heart Christ-centered.  Jesus by His authority commanded us to make disciples of the nations–this work is being done here at Annapolis.  He who taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” that kingdom is coming here within these walls.  He who said that His kingdom was like yeast in dough that would spread through the whole lump, or like a mustard seed whose tree would become the largest in the garden harboring all the birds of the air, or like a stone from heaven that grows into a mountain that fills the whole earth, we’re seeking to do our little part to further that growth here at Annapolis.

And that, dear people, is why I as a teacher, why my husband and I with our children, and now why our children’s children are here at Annapolis.

I’d like to end with a reading from Ps. 145

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 

Amen!

God bless you, God bless your families, God bless your churches and God bless Annapolis Christian Academy.  Thank you.