First and foremost, the Chaplaincy offers a ministry of presence. The Chaplain and their team seek to be alongside students and staff, to celebrate with them in times of joy and to comfort and uphold them in times of difficulty.
The Chaplaincy also helps to remind us that we are human beings, not human doings, and that our value is not bound up with our academic successes or struggles, but that we are precious simply because we exist. It is also important to simply be; the world is a busy place and taking time out to nurture the soul is really important.
Our beautiful School Chapel, built in 1956 and dedicated by Archbishop Fisher, lies at the heart of the School.
Refurbished in 2008, it is a very calm and uplifting
place. The main features include a newly commissioned font, made by Canterbury Pottery, a stunning walnut Altar bearing the Latin inscription Ubi caritas et amor, meaning love and charity and the extraordinary window designed by Leonie Seliger of the Canterbury Cathedral Stained Glass Studio; it bears the words Be strong and of good courage, the Lord your God is with you, taken from the School reading from the Book of Joshua. Following the refurbishment, the School Chapel was rededicated by the Bishop of Dover.
The School Chapel is used for some Sunday Services, midweek Services, Confirmation Classes, Bible Studies and much more! As importantly, the School Chapel is always open for pupils, staff and parents to find a quiet place away from the hubbub of daily life. The Chaplain is always on hand to be a listening ear.
Meet the Team
Revd Tracey Bateson
Revd Tracey has worked within the Church since 1996, 16 years of which as an ordained Priest. During this time she has ministered within University Chaplaincy, the Royal Army Chaplaincy Department and a number of parishes in the Dioceses of Winchester and Canterbury. During Revd Tracey’s time in the Army she was deployed to Iraq.Revd Tracey has recently taken some time to write a book, Forever Wrestling. She is now working on her next book.
Revd Jack Bateson
Ordained in 2017, Revd Jack has joined Benenden following a curacy in Canterbury Diocese. Prior to training for ordination he worked in IT in the aviation industry, as well as with the British Army.
Anglican Lay Assistant
Mrs Couldrey joined the School in September 2018 from Repton in Derbyshire, where she was involved in the boarding life there as well as being the Second in Department for English.
The Chaplaincy Week
Prayers and Whole School Services
The whole School gathers two times a week (Monday and Tuesday) at 8:30am for Prayers. Each day, a different speaker from our community delivers an address on the weekly theme and we often offer a prayer and sing a hymn. We cover a wide range of material including current affairs, world faiths and School events. On a Thursday we have Form order. On a Friday we either gather in the morning for a Whole School Service or at 5.45pm. Meeting on a Friday evening gives us an opportunity to worship in a variety of different styles as well as welcoming external speakers.
‘Bread’ meets at 7.00pm on Fridays during term, and is Benenden’s main forum for exploring the Christian faith. The meeting is open to all students, whatever year they are in and of all faiths and none. Following a short talk, there is time for discussion and questions. The group plays games and there are always yummy snacks available.
We meet weekly on a Wednesday at 8.30am, with pastries and fruit juice, exploring different parts of Scripture following a termly programme. This opportunity enables deeper discipleship for those who choose it.
Girls are usually in the Fifth Form when they are confirmed, although girls may choose to be confirmed at any age. Preparation for Anglican Confirmation takes place during the Spring Term on Monday evenings and over the course of one weekend. The Chaplain leads the preparation classes and is ably assisted by other members of staff. The Anglican confirmation takes place during the Summer Term every other year. Preparation for Roman Catholic Confirmation, (in line with the Diocese’ practice), takes place every two years. This is ably led by our two Roman Catholic Lay assistants, supported by our Chaplains.
Parents’ Prayer Meetings
Parents are warmly invited to join the Chaplain once a term to have a cuppa and pray for the School.
BenSen Prayer Meetings
Seniors’ of Benenden School, both students and staff members meet twice a half term to pray for the needs of the School and for each other. This is often on Zoom, but also in person after the BenSen Advent Service or during the Benenden Seniors Day.