Milton Hershey School is committed to the spiritual and moral development of each student. Religious programs are an integral and mandatory part of the MHS experience and have been since our school’s founding in 1909. Our programs center on instruction in the Judeo-Christian faith, the heritage of the school’s founders Milton and Catherine Hershey.
Religious programs are part of the MHS student experience in all areas, including:
- The classroom
- Student homes
- Extracurricular student activities
Additionally, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are displayed prominently in each student home. Students participate in daily devotionals and prayer before meals. Chapel/Junior Chapel attendance is a requirement for all students.
What the Deed of Trust Says
The MHS Deed of Trust directs us to be non-sectarian. In the context of its writing in 1909, we interpret that to mean non-denominational within the Judeo-Christian heritage, the tradition of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. It states:
“The school shall be non-sectarian, but the moral and religious training of the scholars shall be properly looked after and cared for by the Managers. No favoritism shall be shown by the Managers to any particular sect or creed.”
From the Vault: Milt Quotes
“We are non-sectarian but insist on religious instruction as a vital part of a boy’s life.”
– Milton S. Hershey, Liberty Magazine (1924)
“One evening, during WWII, while listening to a news broadcast to which Mr. Hershey listened regularly, he said to me, ‘If only people would live by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, we would have no war.’ He then asked me to have copies of the Ten Commandments printed on heavy paper, about 20 by 30 inches, framed and hung above the fireplace of each cottage and farm-home. This I was pleased to have done.”
– Rudisill Dissertation (Interview with W. Allen Hammond, MHS principal, Dec. l8, 1961)
Goals of MHS Religious Programs
MHS stresses the importance of demonstrating respect for others’ beliefs and traditions. We do not permit exclusions of students of other denominations, sects, or creeds. Students can hold their own belief system as long as it does not cause physical or emotional harm to themselves or others.
In keeping with our Judeo-Christian heritage, we believe our institution must:
Help each child explore belief in God, prayer, and their own spirituality as part of a religious tradition. Each student receives their own Bible upon enrollment at MHS and Bibles are available in all student homes.
Build character education into the program so students learn to value themselves and other qualities, including:
- Persistence at hard work
- Courage in the face of difficulties
- Reliable standards of right and wrong
- Habits based on moral standards
- Respect for legitimate authority
- Delaying gratification
- Concern for others
Promote consistent school-wide teaching of our core beliefs, or Sacred Values, by continuing to require all students to participate in a weekly Chapel service on campus.
Expose students to and instruct them in the Judeo-Christian tradition of our founders while enabling each child to participate in the religious tradition of their choice to the extent possible. MHS staff may not use influence of position, threats, or pressure to force a change of faith in others.
Teach and insist that respect be shown for the cultures and traditions of others.
Department of Religious Programs
Milton Hershey School’s Department of Religious Programs is led by the school’s chaplain, Pastor Michael Wagner. This ensures a meaningful and consistent experience for students. As part of the Home Life Division, this department oversees Chapel and Junior Chapel services and religious programs in student homes. It also coordinates off-campus worship opportunities, religious content for school assemblies, and individual and group programs and counseling in student homes and classrooms.