Student Life

Spiritual Life

Begin Your Spiritual Journey Here!

Founded in the Episcopal tradition to meet the educational needs of the sons of clergymen, the guiding principles of the Holderness chapel program are steeped in a Christian tradition of inclusion and open inquiry.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is the center of this tradition. Twice weekly the community gathers there to worship and reflect on all things spiritual. In addition to inquiries about scripture, chapel talks often focus on honesty, community engagement, leadership, and what it means to live life to its fullest. And while many services follow the Episcopal litany, other services borrow from other traditions including Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism.
Our spiritual sense of place extends beyond the main campus. About once a month—sometimes even in winter—we climb the hillside to our Outdoor Chapel, a beautiful amphitheater shaded by towering oak trees and overlooking the hills west of campus. Services are also held in Trinity Church—the simple 18th century wood frame building that was the school’s original chapel—and on Chocorua Island, or as many of us call it, “Church Island.” This 100-year-old outdoor chapel on Squam Lake dates to the earliest days of Holderness School and maintains it connections to the school through many alumni and friends.

List of 8 items.

  • Our Program

    Holderness School was founded in 1879 as an Episcopal school, and it remains loyal to that heritage. At the same time, Holderness supports, encourages, and nurtures a variety of religious beliefs and levels of commitment. Regardless of where students may begin or where they may end up, the chapel program guides them on their individual spiritual journeys, helping them to understand that which is not tangible or readily explained.  The chapel program also emphasizes the connections we have to one another and the responsibility we each have to support and care for one another.
  • Weekly Services

    Students attend two required chapel services each week. The Monday morning service is a formal celebration in the Episcopal tradition that seeks to cultivate an open and ecumenical sense of community spirituality. The Thursday evening services are dedicated to topics of a broader spiritual, ethical, and moral nature and often feature student, faculty, and guest speakers.
  • Additional Worship Opportunities

    Transportation to Catholic services is provided on Sunday mornings, and opportunities to observe the Jewish holy holidays are provided in partnership with local Jewish congregations.
  • The Vestry

    The Holderness Vestry program emphasizes service and spiritual growth through fellowship and action. Members volunteer at Holderness Central School, make care packages for service members on active duty, organize blood drives and fundraisers, and assist faith-based groups who share campus facilities. Weekly meetings in the home of the chaplain provide a chance for fellowship and discussion.
  • Places of Worship

    In addition to the twice-weekly services held in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, students and faculty gather in several other places of worship throughout the year. Trinity Chapel, the 18th century landmark that was the school’s original place of worship, is used for welcoming new students and faculty, and again for saying farewell to each year’s graduating class as they depart in the spring. On Mondays in the spring and fall, when the weather is fair, the community gathers in the Outdoor Chapel often reflecting on the peace of the woods and our responsibility for protecting the natural world. Lastly, the ninth grade makes an annual trip to Squam Lake’s Chocorua Island, an outdoor chapel founded by the same donor who also made the original land grant to Holderness School. These services also serve to remind us of our close connections to the natural world.
  • Episcopal Confirmation

    Each year students are offered the chance to follow the traditional confirmation program of the Episcopal Church, undertaking a study of its beliefs and practices with the goal of making a public affirmation of personal faith and practices at the end of the year. Coursework includes lessons about the sacraments, the history of the Episcopal Church, creeds and belief statements, the Bible as a moral framework, and other matters of faith. The course is open to all students; some choose to attend as a learning journey that does not lead to formal confirmation.
  • Roman Catholic Confirmation

    For interested students there is a two-year Catholic confirmation program in which students meet weekly to study the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church with the goal of a public affirmation of personal faith and practices in communion with the Roman Catholic Bishop of New Hampshire.
  • Pastoral Care

    The chaplains at Holderness offer pastoral care to the students and adults of the community, sometimes working in partnership with the Counseling office to listen, provide guidance, and assist wherever possible. For some members of the alumni community, Holderness School is their home parish, and our chaplain regularly presides over marriages, baptisms, and funerals, celebrating the chance to reconnect alumni with each other and with the beloved sacred spaces on campus. The doors of the Chapel of the Holy Cross are always open.

Chapel Leaders

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Abby VanderBrug

    Abby VanderBrug 

    Theology and Religious Studies Faculty & Interim Chaplain
  • Photo of Robert Hirschfeld

    Robert Hirschfeld 


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Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness, NH 03245

MAIL P.O. Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
PHONE (603) 536-1257