HOPE ACADEMY FAITH & LIFE COVENANT
The mission of Hope Academy is to foster hope in God within the inner city neighborhoods of Minneapolis by providing youth with a remarkable, God-centered education. In order to best live out this mission together, the board, faculty, and staff of Hope Academy embrace the provisions in this faith and life covenant as our holy obligations as forgiven sinners. We are called to humility, justice, truth, and purity because these are the perfections of our Savior himself, as he has demonstrated in giving us salvation.
While Hope Academy is not a church, we are a community of Christians who seek to live according to biblical standards laid down by Jesus Christ for his body, the church. And while Hope Academy is not a religious order, it demonstrates some features that are similar to religious orders, communities wherein, for the sake of fulfilling the community’s purposes, its members voluntarily enter into a social compact. At Hope Academy we call this social compact our faith and life covenant.
For this covenant to serve its stated purpose, it is crucial that members of the Hope Academy family understand it clearly and embrace it sincerely. In joining this covenant we are, before the Lord, joining in a compact with other members of the Hope Academy community. If we do not wish to live under the provisions of this covenant, we should not agree to it. But if we do agree to it, it should be with the full intention of living with integrity under its provisions.
Our Faith & Life Covenant
The goal of life at Hope Academy is to know and love the beauty and glory of God, and to live, work, serve, and worship together as an educational community centered around the Lord Jesus Christ. Our mission as an academic community is not merely the transmission of information; it is the development of God-cherishing “Kingdom citizens who work for justice, economic opportunity, racial harmony, hope for the family, and joy in the community.” Along with the privileges and blessings of membership in such a community, there are responsibilities. The Bible has clear warnings about the high calling of those called to teach children in the path of righteousness (cf. James 3:1, Matt 18:6). The members of the Hope Academy board and staff take these responsibilities seriously.
The biblical foundation of Christian community is expressed in Jesus’ two great commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-40). Jesus perfectly demonstrated the pattern: love for God and obedience to God’s Word acted out in love for others. Acknowledging our dependence on the power and grace of God, the board, faculty, and staff of Hope Academy humbly covenant to live according to this ideal.
The purposes of this faith and life covenant are as follows:
- To cultivate a school-wide culture that encourages spiritual, moral and intellectual growth.
- To integrate our lives around Christian principles and devotion to Jesus Christ.
- To remove whatever may hinder us from our calling as a Christ-exalting educational community.
- To encourage one another to see that living for Christ involves dependence on God’s Spirit and obedience to his Word, rather than a passive acceptance of prevailing practices.
- To encourage one another in our mission of fostering hope in God in the students and families that we serve in the inner city.
Affirming Biblical Standards
Our covenant is based on these non-negotiable biblical standards for godly Christian character and behavior. We understand that our collective calling includes the following:
- To acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over all of life and thought. This involves a wholehearted obedience to Jesus and careful stewardship in all dimensions of life: our time, our possessions, our God-given capacities, and our opportunities (Deut. 6:5-6;1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 1:18; 3:17);
- To love God with our whole being, including our minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Christ-like love should be the motive in all decisions, actions, and relationships (Matt. 22:37-40; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 John 4:7-12);
- To pursue holiness in every aspect of our thought and behavior (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:7; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:15-16);
- To exercise our Christian freedom responsibly within the framework of God’s Word, humbly submitting ourselves to one another (1 Pet. 5:5; Eph. 5:21) with loving regard for the needs of others (Phil. 2:3-11; Rom. 14:1-23; 1 Thess. 4:9);
- To treat our own bodies, and those of others, with the honor due the very temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17-20);
- To participate in regular, corporate worship and be an active member of—or actively seeking membership in—a local church, which forms the basic biblically-mandated context for Christian living (Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:25; 1 Tim. 3:14-15);
Living the Christian Life
We believe these non-negotiable biblical standards will show themselves in a distinctly Christian way of life, an approach to living we expect of ourselves and of one another. This lifestyle involves practicing those attitudes and actions the Bible teaches as virtues and avoiding those the Bible teaches to be sinful.
According to the Scriptures, followers of Jesus Christ will:
- Show evidence of the Holy Spirit who lives within them, such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23);
- “Put on” compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and supremely, love (Col. 3:12-14);
- Seek righteousness, mercy and justice, particularly for the helpless and oppressed (Prov. 21:3; 31:8-9; Micah 6:8; Matt. 23:23; Gal. 6:10);
- Love and side with what is good in God’s eyes, and abhor what is evil in God’s eyes (Amos 5:15; Rom. 12:9, 16:19);
- Uphold and promote the God-given worth of human beings, from conception to death, as the unique image-bearers of God (Gen. 1:27; Psalm 8:3-8; 139:13-16)
- Uphold chastity among the unmarried (1 Cor. 6:18); and the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman (Heb. 13:4); See Hope Academy’s statement on Biblical Marriage, Sexuality, and Gender.
- Be people of integrity whose word can be fully trusted (Psalm 15:4; Matt. 5:33-37);
- Watch over one another in brotherly love; remember one another in prayer; aid one another in sickness and distress; be slow to take offense, and always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay (Matt. 18:15-17; Col 3:16-17; 2 Tim 3:16).
- Give faithful witness to the Gospel (Acts 1:8; 1 Pet. 3:15), practice good works toward all (Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:10; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 2:11), and live lives of prayer and thanksgiving (1 Thess. 5:17-18; James 5:16; Titus 2:7-8).
By contrast, Scripture condemns the following:
- Pride, dishonesty (such as stealing and lying, of which plagiarism is one form), injustice, prejudice, immodesty in dress or behavior, slander, gossip, vulgar or obscene language, blasphemy, greed and materialism (which may manifest themselves in gambling), covetousness, the taking of innocent life, and illegal activities (Prov. 16:18; 1 Cor. 6:10; Exod. 20:7; Rom. 13:9; Col. 3:8-9; James 2:1-13; Gal. 3:26-29; Rom. 13:1-2; 1 Tim. 2:8-10; Heb. 13:5-6);
- Hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and legalism, understood as the imposition of extra-biblical standards of godliness by one person or group upon another (Acts 15:5-11; Matt. 16:6; 23:13-36);
- Sinful attitudes and behaviors such as “impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Gal. 5:19-21);
- Sexual immorality, such as the use of pornography (Matt. 5:27-28), pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage between a man and woman (Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31).
- The dissolution of marriage in divorce, except in the cases of adultery (Matt. 19:9) and abandonment (I Cor. 7:15)
Hope Academy Institutional Value
The school has also adopted the following institutional value, out of respect for one another and the families we serve.
- Substance-Abuse Free Facilities: All Hope Academy-related functions or activities held within school facilities, on school grounds, or in student-oriented school activities off site will be alcohol-free and tobacco-free. This means that the possession or consumption of alcohol or the use of tobacco in any form will be prohibited in, on, or around campus.
Hope Academy Theological Values
To foster a Christ-exalting community, Hope Academy embraces and promotes the following values. Besides our Head of School, staff, faculty, and board members are not required to personally subscribe to these secondary values as a matter of conscience. Thoughtful and loving discussion is encouraged on these issues among faculty, staff, as well as among students in class, however those with different convictions are discouraged from publicly promoting them within the school. As a school, we believe these values are important to our gospel witness, yet we hold them with sensitivity to the heritage and practices of many of our Christian brothers and sisters
- Reformed: While all staff must subscribe to our Statement of Faith, as a member school of Christian Schools International, we trust wholly in the sovereign grace of God in and over all things. We hold that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the infallible Word of God and we embrace and uphold the Christian faith as “interpreted in the historic Reformed confessions: The Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Cannons of Dort.”
- Christian Community Development: We embrace a special call to the gospel restoration of urban families in the inner city neighborhoods of Minneapolis, with a special priority for serving the poor and marginalized and therein to “seek the welfare of the city” (Jeremiah 29:5-7). We are a member of the Christian Community Development Association, and embrace the three Rs of Relocation, Racial reconciliation, and the charitable Redistribution of God’s resources through his people. Whether or not we live near the school, we embrace the value of geographic proximity to the school, as well as being in community outside of school with the students and families we serve.
- Complementarian: We embrace and uphold the God-ordained goodness of the complementarity of men and women (Genesis 1:26-31; Eph. 5:22-33). To this end, we embrace the Danvers Statement. Two representative statements included there are that: “1. Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood ( Gen. 1:26-27, 2:18). 2) Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen. 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor. 11:7-9; 1. Tim. 2:12-14)… 5) Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community (Gen 2:18; Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Tim 2:11-15).” The Danvers Statement can be read in its entirety at https://www.cbmw.org/core-beliefs/.
Exercising Responsible Freedom
Beyond these explicit biblical issues and core values, the Hope Academy community seeks to foster the practice of responsible Christian freedom (Gal. 5:13-14; 1 Pet. 2:16-17). This requires a wise stewardship of mind, body, time, abilities and resources on the part of every member of the community. Responsible freedom also requires thoughtful, biblically-guided choices in matters of behavior, entertainment, interpersonal relationships, and observance of the Lord’s Day.
Of particular concern are issues related to alcohol, illegal drugs, and tobacco. While the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of legal drugs is by definition illicit, the situation regarding beverage alcohol is more complex. The Bible requires moderation in the use of alcohol, not abstinence. The abuse of alcohol constitutes by far our society’s greatest substance abuse problem, not to mention the fact that many Christians avoid it as a matter of conscience. Thus the question of alcohol consumption represents a prime opportunity for Christians to exercise their freedom responsibly, carefully, and in Christ-like love.
Board members, faculty, and staff therefore embrace responsible freedom in the use of alcohol. They will take care in the serving or consumption of alcohol, especially in situations where there are families, students, or others present for whom alcohol abuse has been or continues to be a significant struggle. This care is so that our Christian freedom does not “somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (I Cor. 8:9).
The Hope Academy board, faculty, and staff also embrace responsible freedom in matters of entertainment, including the places where staff may seek it, such as television, movies, video, theater, concerts, dances and the Internet. Hope Academy community members are encouraged to be guided in their entertainment choices by the godly wisdom of Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”
We, the Hope Academy community, desire to be a covenant community of Christians serving the youth and families of the inner city, whose life together is marked by integrity, responsible freedom, dynamic, Christ-like love, and where the name of Jesus Christ is honored in all we do.
This requires that each of us keeps his or her word by taking the commitment to this covenant seriously as covenant keepers, whatever pressures we may face to do otherwise. The issue of keeping one’s word is for a Christian an important one. Being faithful to one’s word is a matter of simple integrity and godliness. “Lord, who may live on your holy hill?” asks the Psalmist. “He who keeps his oath, even when it hurts” (15:4), comes the reply. Christian integrity dictates that if we have voluntarily placed ourselves under Hope Academy’s faith and life covenant, we must make every effort to fulfill our commitment by living accordingly.
Keeping our covenant may also on occasion require that we take steps to hold one another accountable, confronting one another in love as we work together to live in faithfulness both to God’s Word and to our own word. Such loving acts of confrontation are at times difficult, but when performed in the right spirit (Gal. 6:1), they serve to build godly character for both the individuals involved and the community as a whole (Matt. 18:15-17). Only in this way, as we are willing to speak the truth in love, will we “grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Eph. 4:15).
When significant accountability is needed within our community, the board, faculty and staff will follow these additional policies from our Policy Manual: 139.2 Release of Staff; 331 Conduct; 332.2 Discipline; 332.3 Grievances; 410 Lines of Authority.
Note: Some of the language in this covenant is used with permission from Wheaton College (IL).