Charter Day

Charter Day

In 1917, we find this report in New Church Life, announcing the celebration of the granting of the Academy Charter on November 3, 1877:

“BRYN ATHYN, PA. Saturday, Nov. 3rd, was ‘Charter Day,’ a newly instituted annual celebration of the anniversary of the granting of a Charter to the Academy, in the year 1877. The preceding Friday was a holiday wherein the pupils of the Academy Schools did their Saturday work. On Saturday morning, as a fitting beginning to the day, opening services were held in the Chapel in the usual manner, the President giving an address on the significance of Charter Day. Following this there was a parade of the Faculties, the Schools, and the Alumni, ending with a Flag-raising… At noon, the schools had a picnic lunch in the Gymnasium, and in the afternoon, field sports, followed by an entertainment in the Auditorium. An enjoyable dance was held in the evening. The whole program was in the hands of the students, who were thus given an opportunity to plan and carry out the order of the day for the sake of their own experience, as well as for the enjoyment of others.”

By 1921, the celebration had changed somewhat:

“The program of this year's Charter Day Celebration included events on that day, November 3rd, and on the two days following. It was, accordingly, a more elaborate observance of this important date in our annals than any of the previous commemorations since the custom was inaugurated in 1917. The opening service on Thursday at 11 a.m. was held in the Cathedral, to which the Academy officials, students, and graduates marched in procession from the school buildings on the campus. Led by the little ones of the first grade, the stately line filled the intervening distance. The student body and the ex-students of many past years carried their class banners and sang appropriate songs as they went. Lastly came the Members of the Faculty, the Board of Directors, the Consistory, the Bishop, and the Bishop Emeritus, all suitably robed, and the clergy wearing birettas made especially for this occasion, those for the Bishops being red, the others dark blue. The service was conducted by Bishop N.D. Pendleton, assisted by the Rev. C. E. Doering, who read the lessons; and the address was delivered by the Bishop Emeritus, his subject being "The Founding of the Academy," in which he spoke of the vision of the Lord in the Writings that was vouchsafed by the founders of the Academy, as the real beginning of the movement.”

The New Church Life article goes on to describe a banquet, a football game against Radnor, and a President’s Reception Dance. In 1926, Charter Day was moved to October because of better weather, and it has continued to be marked in a remarkably similar way ever since. It has been celebrated not only by those who have attended the Academy Schools, but by everyone in the General Church, since the Academy was begun as a movement within Convention, which became the General Church.