As a Church of England school, pupils at Shiplake are gently encouraged to lead an active spiritual life throughout their time at the College.
The College neighbours the Shiplake Parish Church, which provides an ideal venue for regular periods of reflection and worship. The College Chaplain is Reverend Stephen Cousins. “The Rev”, as he is known to everyone, is responsible for leading the weekly chapel services which are held in the morning before the start of academic lessons. Chapels are split into senior and junior services, with pupils attending one per week. Weekly assemblies are also held in the Parish Church.
The Rev aims to keep services reasonably short, informal and interactive, as we believe it is important for pupils to come together for this act of collective worship. Other special services are organised throughout the year such as Harvest Festival, Remembrance Day, Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day and many more. An optional communion takes place on Friday mornings and on Wednesday evenings there is House Communion, which operates on a rotation basis.
Informal prayers take place every Thursday after games in the Pavilion. Each House sends their House prayer book with a representative but it is open to anyone who wishes to attend. This gives pupils and staff the opportunity to pray for anyone they are concerned about and also for world or local events. A student-led Alpha style group also meet weekly, with visiting speakers often invited along.
The Rev is fully involved in the life of the College and is on hand to support all pupils, staff and parents. This takes many forms such as comforting those worried about a family member who is unwell, helping with bereavement or easing examination worries. Often it may just be an informal chat or advice on a problem. The Rev is in College every day and takes the opportunity to visit each House regularly. Pupils always know where to find him at break and lunchtimes.
A team of Sixth Form Chapel Wardens also play a part in pastoral support at Shiplake. As well as assisting the Rev and undertaking tasks such as distributing hymnbooks, they have a special role in helping, listening and supporting the rest of the College community. For the 2016-2017 academic year, the Head Chapel Warden is Austin Burnand and Ben Tressider is the Deputy Head.
Visiting preachers this year are:
- Bishop Colin
- The Reverend John Cook, Vicar of Wargrave
- Mr Peter Butterworth from Combat Stress
- The Very Reverend Canon Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford
- The Reverend Robert Thewsey, Rector of Shiplake, Harpsden and Dunsden