Spiritual Life

Students huddle together at the alter during a blessing service

Spiritual Life at Bryn Athyn

Bryn Athyn College strives to create an environment in which students actively study religious teachings, grapple with spiritual questions, reflect, and develop their own thinking on a spiritual level. The theology of the New Church fuels our campus environment—an academic atmosphere with a spiritual focus. It’s what makes Bryn Athyn a place where all are welcome, regardless of how they got here. Where you’re challenged to think critically about beliefs, and people are good to one another. Where theory is put into practice, actions are subject to reflection, and communities become lifelong support.

What is the New Church?

Swedenborgi-what? The New Church, also referred to as "Swedenborgianism," is a Christian theology based on the writings of 18th-century scholar Emanuel Swedenborg. It is at the core of the New Church faith, which respects all faiths and focuses on helping others.

“All religion is of life, and the life of religion is to do good.”

- Emanuel Swedenborg

Basic Beliefs


We identify the Lord Jesus Christ as the one, all-loving God in human form, who seeks to be united with the human race and is present within all who live a good life.
Scripture We see the Bible as a series of stories that reflect on a spiritual journey. As metaphors, these stories encourage us to think deeply about how they apply to our everyday lives.
The Ten Commandments This set of ethics appears in some form in every religion. The New Church’s interpretation holds that these commandments apply not only to our outward actions, but also carry deeper levels of meaning for our attitudes and intentions. They are central to Swedenborgianism and serve as our spiritual foundation.

Learn more about New Church core beliefs.

About Emanuel Swedenborg

Swedenborg imageEmanuel Swedenborg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on January 29, 1688. He was the son of Jesper Swedberg, a Lutheran bishop.

Swedenborg’s education included studies at the University of Uppsala and work with leading scientists in many countries throughout Western Europe. Swedenborg was a member of the Swedish House of Nobles and the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, as well as a participant in the Swedish government. His publications covered many subjects, from philosophy and theology to anatomy and physiology. In his later life (beginning around 1743), Swedenborg’s writing focused on theology. His works from this period include Biblical exegesis, discussions of the spiritual world, commentary on what it means to be Christian, and how to lead a good and useful life.

Learn more about Swedenborgian theology and thought from our friends at offTheLeftEye, who host a popular YouTube show and supportive community.

Students performing music together

Spirituality on Campus

We have school spirituality. Many schools talk of student life, but for us, it goes deeper. To be a Bryn Athyn student is to connect with your studies, with yourself, and with one another through a focus on spirituality–however you choose to practice it. We believe the path to spirituality is through turning to God, rejecting a life of evil, and loving one another. And Bryn Athyn offers many opportunies to explore these themes in a community setting.

Community Worship

We build time into our schedules to take a break, come together, and reflect. To meet every student’s needs, we offer a formal service on Wednesday mornings, vespers on Wednesday evenings, and a contemporary "Friday Morning Live" worship. Bryn Athyn also hosts larger worship services for the larger college community, such as a candlelight walk at the beginning of the academic year, commissioning services to bless our athletic teams, and periodic convocations for the entire campus.

Out chaplains are always available to provide spiritual guidance to members of our community. They offer a variety of spiritual services, such as video missives, group ceremonies, and one-on-one meetings.

More Spiritual Opportunities

Whether through volunteering, spiritual growth groups, meditation—Bryn Athyn students are encouraged to share their own personal exploration and experiences as active participants in our spiritual community. This includes in the classroom, the New Church is a tradition of intellectual inquiry. We are primed to grapple with profound questions and realize the deeper meaning of our studies.

There are also regular, casual discussions of the Word of God and Swedenborg’s writings. Some are facilitated by ministers, and others are simply spontaneous groups of students.