The Church of England has told its schools to avoid singing hymns that include explicit Christian rhetoric to ensure collective worship is “inclusive, invitational and inspiring”.
In a new statement addressing its more than 4,000 schools in England and 200 in Wales, The Church of England is encouraging all its school staff to make sure parents, pupils and teachers feel included, regardless of their faith, when taking part in collective worship.
“Music and liturgies used in worship should reflect the best of traditional and modern Anglican worship, it should connect with the theme and explore the sacred to educate and engage. Music used should reflect the diverse worship experience of the wider Christian community.
“Care should be taken to ensure that pupils and adults do not feel compelled to sing strongly confessional lyrics. There should be no assumption of Christian faith in those present,” the statement reads.
The Church of England argues that in the same way that worship is evolving and “being reimagined” in churches, it should also change and be dynamic in church schools and reflect the local context, pupils' cultural background and the faiths of the school communities it serves.
“There should be no compulsion to ‘do anything'. Rather, worship should provide the opportunity to engage whilst allowing the freedom of those of different faiths and those who profess no religious faith to be present and to engage with integrity. The metaphor of ‘warm fires and open doors ’ captures this idea,”
The guidance continues by saying that collective worship should inspire pupils to “become courageous advocates of causes” and “encourage them to think searchingly about their faith, beliefs and/or philosophical convictions”.
It adds that both pupils and parents should feel they have the space to disagree as well as always having the right to stop participating in the activity if they wish to do so.
About one million children attend Church of England schools in England.
You can read the full statement here.