Somerset College was founded with a strong Christian ethos, which remains central to the life of the College. The College forms an association with the member churches of the Church Unity Commission (CUC), which comprises the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. In March 2006, the College accepted the Statement of Faith which the CUC churches adopted in 1974:
We recognise the Holy Scriptures as the supreme rule of faith and life, we share the apostolic faith confessed in the ancient Creeds of the Church and we observe Baptism and Holy Communion as Sacraments of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ.
The Chaplain sees every Grade 8 and 9 class for a weekly Chaplain’s lesson in the Senior school and oversees a fortnightly Bible Education lesson for children in Grades 1 to 7 in the Preparatory school, which is taken by the Assistant Chaplain. A time for Bible teaching and prayer is set aside in the Pre-preparatory school by their teachers.
Both schools have an active Christian group (known as Crossfire in the Senior school), which is supervised by members of staff (although very much student-led in the Senior school), meets on a regular basis and goes on an annual camp. This provides an opportunity for students to explore Christianity and grow in their own faith through the teaching, fellowship, and prayer that is offered. In addition to this, a weekly Bible study is run in the boarding houses by some of the Boarding House Assistants.
Every year, the Chaplain runs the Youth Alpha course in the second and third terms. This is an informal ten-week course designed to explore the claims of the Christian faith and is open to students in Grades 10-12.
Every five years, the College holds a “Christian Focus Week”, when a team from Scripture Union Independent Schools (SUIS) is invited to visit every class in both schools and take part in the spiritual activities of the College. The purpose is to give every student the opportunity to explore, or re-examine the claims of the Christian faith.
The most natural way of living out our Christian ethos and expressing the extent of God’s love for us is, as Jesus commands us in the Bible, to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ (Mark 12:31). The work of the Social Responsibility Portfolio is a crucial outworking of the Christian ethos of the College, and students are encouraged to get involved, not only to help those who are in need, but also to expose them to the society with which they will be interacting in the future.
Mr Patrick Cordery has been at the College since 2002 and Chaplain since 2005. He is available to students, staff, parents and Old Oaks for spiritual guidance, counselling, prayer and support.