A private page for my 1962 classmates and their friends that asks
  1. Is our Alma Mater really “the best high school in America“?
  2. How might we improve both ourselves and Andover in the time remaining to us?
(best viewed on a full screen – most recent revision October 2020)

Samuel Phillips, Jr.

“…whereas many of the Students in this Seminary may be devoted to the sacred work of the gospel ministry ; that the true and fundamental principles of the Christian Religion may be cultivated, established, and perpetuated in the Christian Church, so far, as this Institution may have influence ; it shall be the duty of the Master, as the age and capacities of the Scholars will admit, not only to instruct and establish them in the truth of Christianity ; but also early and diligently to inculcate upon them the great and important scripture doctrines of the existence of One true GOD, the FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST ; of the fall of man, the depravity of human nature ; the necessity of an atonement, and of our being renewed in the spirit of our minds ; the doctrines of repentance toward God and of faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ ; of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, and of justification by the free grace of God, through the redemption, that is in Jesus Christ, (in opposition to the erroneous and dangerous doctrine of justification by our own merit, or a dependence on self righteousness,) together with the other important doctrines and duties of our HOLY CHRISTIAN RELIGION.”

Founded in 1778

Samuel Phillips Jr and his friend and fellow Harvard College graduate Eliaphet Pearson dreamed of starting a school to preserve and promote piety in the face of what they saw as degeneracy, ignorance, vice, disorder, and wickedness. In April 1778, at 26 years old, Phillips Jr. and Pearson drew up the constitution for Phillips Academy, opening the school to all qualified boys.

The Constitution of Phillips Academy

A SHORT reflection upon the grand design of the great PARENT OF THE UNIVERSE in the creation of mankind, and the improvements, of which the mind is capable, both in knowledge and virtue as well, as upon the prevalence of ignorance and vice, disorder and wickedness, and upon the direct tendency and certain issue of such a course of things, must occasion, in a thoughtful mind, an earnest solicitude to find the source of these evils and their remedy ; and a small acquaintance with the qualities of young minds,—how susceptible and tenacious they are of impressions, evidences that YOUTH is the important period, on the improvement or neglect of which depend the most important consequences to individuals themselves and the community. A serious consideration of the premises and an observation of the growing neglect of youth, have excited in us a painful anxiety for the event, and determined us to make, in the following Conveyance, a humble dedication to our HEAVENLY BENEFACTOR of the ability, wherewith he hath blessed us, to lay the foundation of a public free SCHOOL or ACADEMY for the purpose of instructing YOUTH, not only in English and Latin Grammar, Writing, Arithmetic, and those Sciences, wherein they are commonly taught ; but more especially to learn them the GREAT END AND REAL BUSINESS OF LIVING. Earnestly wishing that this Institution may grow and flourish ; that the advantages of it may be extensive and lasting ; that its usefulness may be so manifest, as to lead the way to other establishments on the same principles ; and that it may finally prove an eminent means of advancing the Interest of the great REDEEMER, to His patronage and blessing we humbly commit it…”

Founder – Samuel Phillips, Jr. 1752-1802

A graduate of  Harvard Law School (LLD, class of 1771) at age nineteen, Samuel Phillips, Jr. married in 1773 and had been named Andover’s town clerk and treasurer by 1774, at which time he headed a committee that drew up a resolution declaring “that no person in this town, who has heretofore been concerned in vending tea, or any other person, may not under any pretense whatever, either sell himself, or be in any way accessory to selling any tea of foreign importation, while it remains burdened with a duty, under penalty of incurring the town’s displeasure.” It would be coffee or chocolate thereafter or nothing, Then in 1775-1776 he was Andover’s delegate to the Provincial Congress at Watertown, Massachusetts, joining such others as Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

During the war Phillips built a powder mill in Andover and sold the product to George Washington’s army. After the war, he gradually transformed the powder mill into a paper mill. He also established a sawmill and a gristmill, and ran two retail establishments, one in Andover, another in the town next door, Methuen. Samuel and his wife Phoebe had two sons, John and Samuel. In addition to his family and entrepreneurial ventures, he engaged in state politics, being elected state senator, then president of the senate after Sam Adams resigned. Later John Hancock appointed him one of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas for Essex County. At the peak of his political career, he was elected Lieutenant Governor on the Federalist ticket; Caleb Strong was Governor. One wonders when he had time to found and maintain Phillips Academy, but he did.

The split from Unitarianism

Andover Theological Seminary traces its roots to the late 18th century and the desire for a well-educated clergy among Congregationalists in the United States. That desire was expressed in the founding of Phillips Academy in 1778 for “the promotion of true Piety and Virtue”. In 1806, a growing split within the Congregational churches, known as the Unitarian Controversy, came to a full boil on the campus of Harvard College. When the Harvard Board of Overseers appointed well-known liberal Henry Ware to the Hollis Chair in 1805, the Calvinists withdrew to organize and establish a new school in 1807, Andover Theological Seminary on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover. This act, covered widely in the national press, was one of the significant events that contributed to the split in the denomination and to the eventual founding of the American Unitarian Association in 1825 which joined the Universalists (founded in 1793) to become the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961.

Prior to the founding of Andover Theological Seminary (later Andover Newton after a merger in 1965), the model for the training of clergy was based on an undergraduate degree (actually the basis for the founding of most of the early colleges in the United States). The graduate model and the three year curriculum with a resident student body and resident faculty pioneered at Andover and Newton has become the standard for almost all of the 140 Protestant theological schools in the country.

Reflecting that zeal, the modern missionary movement began in this country through a group of Andover students known as the Brethren. Both Andover and Newton quickly assumed leadership in the modern mission movement, drawing the two schools into close association of people and ideas. Graduates such as Luther Rice and Hiram Bingham pioneered in Christian missions around the world. Adoniram Judson, an 1810 Andover alumnus, is best known for his work in Burma, where he translated the Bible into Burmese and produced the first Burmese-English dictionary.

Andover now

Over recent years many positive developments have occurred at Phillips Academy, especially pertaining to a part toward the very end of the Constitution that “this Seminary [the Academy] shall be ever equally open to Youth, of requisite qualifications, from every quarter.” This clause took a major leap forward in 1973 when the school merged with Abbott Academy down the street and become coeducational. Subsequently a number of bold moves have been taken with financial management, allowing the implementation of a fully need-blind admissions policy in 2007.

Recently, the school has subscribed to a contemporary articulation of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice that is open to a number of interpretations. However, with the appointment of Dr. Raynard Kington as the incoming Head of School in 2020, the direction and philosophy of the school can be clearly identified for the time being as liberal, progressive, and Unitarian Universalist, which could very easily be interpreted as the very antithesis of its founding belief system.

Perhaps one of the best descriptions of what appears to be Andover’s ideology now was developed and articulated by the sociologist Christian Smith in the book he published with Lundquist Denton in 2005 entitled Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. The term they used to label the prevalent ideology they found among the American adolescents they studied was “moralistic therapeutic deism,” the tenets of which the authors have listed as noted below:

      1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
      2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
      3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
      4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
      5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

The first of these is essentially Unitarianism,; the fifth is essentially Universalism; and two through four when combined with a loose interpretation of the Golden Rule may summarize Andover’s contemporary interpretation of its “non sibi” motto. Overall, “moralistic therapeutic deism” is a philosophy that is profoundly adolescent in its naiveté but has become widespread in today’s world.

The above discussion begs at least three questions about Andover:

      1. Could any of the following words currently apply to Andover: liberal, postmodern, progressive, misguided, unaware, proud, “woke”?
      2. Are there currently any born-again believers in the divinity of Jesus Christ on the Board, Faculty, or Staff of Phillips Academy who understand or have even considered the Constitution the Founder wrote or the source of its values?
      3. Could the current leadership be considered “strict constructionists” in any sense of the term when it comes to how the Constitution that Samuel Phillips, Jr. wrote for his new school in 1778 is being interpreted and manifested in the 21st Century?

Kathleen Taylor is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years of experience in hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning. She currently operates a coaching and consulting practice based in Tampa Bay, FL, primarily serving individuals and organizations in the healthcare, social service and nonprofit sectors. As demonstrated in this 2012 TED talk, Kathleen has sought to foster communication within families, in conference rooms, and in communities throughout her career, where she brings her skills and insight regarding clarity and authenticity to every interaction.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.

Ephesians 6:8

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.

John 9:4

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

2 Peter 1:10

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:11-12

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Phillips Academy’s new Head of School Raynard S. Kington, MD, PhD, P’24 answers questions about a book that changed his life (Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone), cooking, his first few weeks at Andover, and whether students can expect a Head of School Day this year. 

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

Ecclesiastes 11:9

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.

Proverbs 28:26

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.


Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere… like the garden of the Lord. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.

Genesis 13:10-11, 13

Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”

2 Corinthians 6:17

[The Lord] delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.

2 Peter 2:7

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.

Acts 3:19-20

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

Hebrews 12:15-17

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool… So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Isaiah 1:18, Luke 11:9-10

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God…” For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Matthew 19:24, 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

My connection with Andover

My mother emigrated from Norway to the United States as a child with her parents and older sisters, lived in Andover, graduated from Andover High School in 1939, and worked for 3 years as a secretary in the Admissions Office at PA. While there she met my father, a 1939 graduate of nearby Lawrence High School, married in 1942, and I was born the following year. I didn’t get to know my father until he returned from WWII in December 1945 after serving for 3 years in the Army infantry in France, Germany, and Austria.

In the summer of 1960 while we were visiting family in Andover, my mother took us on a tour of the Andover campus where we visited the Admissions Office and discovered one of her former co-workers who had become the administrative assistant to the Dean of Admissions. Then and there my mother revealed that she had always dreamed of having a son who attended Andover. I was a very appealing straight A student at the time and was offered an interview with the admissions officer on the spot, whereupon I was accepted for admission in September as a scholarship student.

Being an academic sort from a lower middle class background, my time at Andover was a mixed experience of middle class vs. wealth culture and identity shock, joy, challenge, and reaching out for a better future. During the fall of my senior year I contracted a serious case of mononucleosis that confined me to the Infirmary for 3 weeks before Christmas. I fell behind in my studies, withdrew, and finished strong in my last semester of high school back home. Subsequently, I went to Brown (my first choice while at Andover) where I graduated in 1966, went on to medical school, specialized in Family Medicine, came to my end trying to serve the poor in my own strength, converted to Christ, and graduated into retirement after 45 years in active practice among the underserved in 2018. I’ve been pondering the influence of my Andover experience on and off throughout my adult life.

Did Andover teach me anything about the “great end and real business of living”? In a word, no. Carrying through on my churched upbringing, I served as an acolyte (altar boy) down the street at Christ Church Episcopal, carried on with non sibi I had learned so well in youth groups and Boy Scouts, went to classes and chapel on campus, and learned nothing about the living faith Samuel Phillips, Jr. had committed his school to imparting and strengthening in its students. I learned to covet Bass Weejuns, Brooks Brothers button down shirts, suave manners, and a bit more about how to be conservative, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient… mostly Boy Scout values, but nothing about Christ or what it really meant to live a life of faith.

How did Andover go off the rails (and possibly even off the path) that it was founded on? When did the “great end and real business of living” get watered down to a secular humanist non sibi (also known as the golden rule), the lowest common denominator of successful interpersonal behavior? When did our school lose sight of what it means to give one’s life to God in humility and any awareness that the Second Commandment (“love your neighbor as yourself”) can’t really be done apart from the First (“love the Lord your God with all your heart…”), especially when the Greek word used for “love” is agape or divine sacrificial love.

Nearly 2,000 years ago there was a prominent man who served on the Sanhedrin, the governing body of Israel. Nicodemus was a devout but open-minded and curious leader who could see that this itinerant preacher, Jesus, was a remarkable man. According to John 3:1-17, he went to Jesus at night and asked him privately,

“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again… no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again…’”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. “

Samuel Phillips, Jr. understood what Jesus told Nicodemus so well that he founded a school on these truths. And where, gentlemen, do we each go from here? Do the words conviction, confession, forgiveness, repentance, forgiveness, or restoration still carry any meaning? Before we die, dead and buried, we need to die to ourselves (genuine non sibi) that we might be born anew to God and His Kingdom. We need to put aside all the bullshit, as Kathleen Taylor so eloquently called it, that we’ve been calling “life” and reach out for the true riches of eternal life. If we wait too long our usefulness here will be over, and there will be no return from the grave for us. Please pray for the God of the universe to touch your life personally and open the eyes of your heart while you still have breath.

Remember also your Creator… before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

 Some relevant items of possible interest:

Current articles on justice and race

3 recent essays about Andover, 2 talks, and 2 personal projects:

  • His Kingdom and Us – website in progress that develops a Biblical worldview – started in 12/18
  • Celebrate Salvation – website about current writing in The Joy of Christian Discipleship Series – started in 3/20

“Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way.” For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

Isaiah 57:14-15

Please let me know what you think

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