Greetings Brownell Talbot students and families. My name is Father Tony Anderson, and I am starting my second year as your chaplain here at the school. In addition to serving in this part-time role as chaplain at the school, I am also the Rector at Church of the Resurrection Episcopal Church across from Miller Park in North Omaha. Given all the irregularities that we saw last school year due to COVID-19, I still feel like I’m in the process of really getting to know the school and all of you. My hope is that I can be a more active participant on campus this year and get the chance to meet and talk with more of you as the new school year progresses.
So, why chapel? As most of you are aware, Brownell Hall was founded as a girl’s school in 1863 by the Episcopal Church, and was operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska until it became an independent school in 1967. While steeped in the Episcopal Christian tradition, Brownell Talbot is now a place where faculty, staff, students, and their families come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. Yet, the core values of this Christian tradition remain an important part of the identity of the school. It is largely up to me, as the school chaplain, to interpret and relay those values to the school community.
I believe with all my heart that love is central to the message of Jesus Christ. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, is fond of saying, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” So, first and foremost, I aim to teach a message of love. I want students to understand that they are loved at Brownell Talbot, within their families, and their community. And I want them to understand that the love they are given is meant to be shared with those around them. What does that look like in practice? It looks like respecting themselves and one another, it looks like showing compassion and empathy towards others, and it looks like being thankful for all the gifts they’ve been given and sharing those gifts and talents to make the world a better place. Throughout the year, I will talk to students about the importance of love, compassion, empathy, respect, gratitude, balance, and living in harmony with others and the world we are charged with caring for.
I do hope that all students will find something meaningful to take away from their experience with chapel, and I believe that BT’s chapel program and its Episcopalian traditions offer that. I am not here to proselytize or to indoctrinate those whose beliefs are different from mine. I respect the religious traditions and belief systems of all of Brownell Talbot’s students and their families. Religion is a deeply personal matter, and decisions about what to believe and how to worship should be left to students and their families to decide. My hope is that all students will feel welcome in this chapel space, no matter what they believe. All I will ever ask in return is that they respect this space, and all those who gather here.
I feel so blessed to be your chaplain and to be a part of the Brownell Talbot family. Please know that I am here for anyone who needs me. If you ever have any questions or concerns, or need to talk for any reason, don’t hesitate to reach out! Blessings to all of you as we begin this new school year!
The Rev. Tony Anderson
- Cross Divisional