Sunday school
Overview
 
Sunday school is the generic name for many different types of religious education
Religious education
In secular usage, religious education is the teaching of a particular religion and its varied aspects —its beliefs, doctrines, rituals, customs, rites, and personal roles...

 pursued on Sundays by various denominations.
The first Sunday school may have been opened in 1751 in St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
The Church of St Mary the Virgin is the oldest religious foundation in the City of Nottingham, England, the largest church after the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the largest mediæval building in Nottingham....

. Another early start was made by Hannah Ball
Hannah Ball
Hannah Ball was an English Wesleyan methodist and pioneer of the Sunday school.-Life:Ball was born on 13 March 1734. When John Wesley and other methodist preachers visited High Wycombe, where she lived for most of her life, she was attracted by their teaching. In 1766 she began to keep a diary,...

, a native of High Wycombe
High Wycombe
High Wycombe , commonly known as Wycombe and formally called Chepping Wycombe or Chipping Wycombe until 1946,is a large town in Buckinghamshire, England. It is west-north-west of Charing Cross in London; this figure is engraved on the Corn Market building in the centre of the town...

 in Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe....

, who founded a school there in 1769. However, the founding of Sunday schools is more commonly associated with the work of Robert Raikes
Robert Raikes
Robert Raikes was an English philanthropist and Anglican layman, noted for his promotion of Sunday schools...

, editor of the Gloucester Journal, who saw the need to prevent children in the slums descending into crime.

In 18th century England, education was reserved for a minority and was not compulsory
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

.
Encyclopedia
Sunday school is the generic name for many different types of religious education
Religious education
In secular usage, religious education is the teaching of a particular religion and its varied aspects —its beliefs, doctrines, rituals, customs, rites, and personal roles...

 pursued on Sundays by various denominations.

England

The first Sunday school may have been opened in 1751 in St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
The Church of St Mary the Virgin is the oldest religious foundation in the City of Nottingham, England, the largest church after the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the largest mediæval building in Nottingham....

. Another early start was made by Hannah Ball
Hannah Ball
Hannah Ball was an English Wesleyan methodist and pioneer of the Sunday school.-Life:Ball was born on 13 March 1734. When John Wesley and other methodist preachers visited High Wycombe, where she lived for most of her life, she was attracted by their teaching. In 1766 she began to keep a diary,...

, a native of High Wycombe
High Wycombe
High Wycombe , commonly known as Wycombe and formally called Chepping Wycombe or Chipping Wycombe until 1946,is a large town in Buckinghamshire, England. It is west-north-west of Charing Cross in London; this figure is engraved on the Corn Market building in the centre of the town...

 in Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe....

, who founded a school there in 1769. However, the founding of Sunday schools is more commonly associated with the work of Robert Raikes
Robert Raikes
Robert Raikes was an English philanthropist and Anglican layman, noted for his promotion of Sunday schools...

, editor of the Gloucester Journal, who saw the need to prevent children in the slums descending into crime.

In 18th century England, education was reserved for a minority and was not compulsory
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

. The wealthy educated their children privately, i.e. at home, with a hired governess
Governess
A governess is a girl or woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny or a babysitter, she concentrates on teaching children, not on meeting their physical needs...

, or possibly tutors once they were older; boys of that class were often sent away to boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

, hence these fee-based educational establishments were known, confusingly, as public schools. The town-based middle class may have sent their sons to grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

; daughters were left to learn what they could from their mothers or from their father's library. The children of factory workers got no formal education, typically working alongside their parents six days a week, sometimes more than 13 hours a day.

In 1781, Raikes saw the plight of children living in the Gloucester slums. In the home of Mrs. Meredith, he opened the first school on Sunday, the only day these boys and girls living in the slums and working in the factories could attend. Using the Bible as their textbook, he taught them to read and write.

Within four years over 250,000 children were attending schools on Sunday throughout England. 1784 was an important year, with many new schools opening, including the interdenominational Stockport Sunday School
Stockport Sunday School
The Stockport Sunday school was founded in 1784, and became the largest Sunday school in the world. It was situated on London Square, Wellington Street behind the town hall...

, which financed and constructed a school for 5000 scholars in 1805; in the late nineteenth century this was accepted as being the largest in the world. By 1831 it was reported that attendance at Sunday Schools had grown to 1.2 million. Robert Raikes’ schools were seen as the first schools of the English state system.

The first Sunday school in London opened at Surrey Chapel
Surrey Chapel
The Surrey Chapel was an independent Methodist and Congregational church established in Blackfriars Road, Southwark, London on 8 June 1783 by the Rev. Rowland Hill. His work was continued in 1833 by the Congregational pastor Rev. James Sherman, and in 1854 by Rev. Newman Hall. The chapel's design...

 under Rowland Hill
Rowland Hill (preacher)
Rowland Hill A.M. , was a popular English preacher, enthusiastic evangelical and an influential advocate of small-pox vaccination. He was founder and resident pastor of a wholly independent chapel, the Surrey Chapel, London; chairman of the Religious Tract Society; and a keen supporter of the...

. By 1831, Sunday schools in Great Britain were attended weekly by 1,250,000 children, approximately 25 percent of the population. They provided basic literacy education alongside religious instruction. In 1833, "for the unification and progress of the work of religious education among the young", the Unitarians
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 founded their Sunday School Association, as "junior partner" to the British and Foreign Unitarian Association
British and Foreign Unitarian Association
The British and Foreign Unitarian Association was the major Unitarian body in Britain from 1825. The BFUA was founded as an amalgamation of three older societies: the Unitarian Book Society for literature , The Unitarian Fund for mission work , and the Unitarian Association for civil rights...

, with whom it eventually set up offices at Essex Hall in central London
Central London
Central London is the innermost part of London, England. There is no official or commonly accepted definition of its area, but its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally,...

.

The work of Sunday schools in the industrial cities was increasingly supplemented by ragged schools (charitable provision for the industrial poor), and eventually by publicly funded education under the late nineteenth century school boards. Sunday schools continued alongside such increasing educational provision, and new forms also developed such as the Socialist Sunday Schools
Socialist Sunday Schools
Socialist Sunday Schools were set up as an alternative to Christian Sunday Schools in the United Kingdom. They arose in response to a feeling as to the inadequacy of the orthodox Sunday Schools as a training ground for the children of socialists and of the need for some organised and systematic...

 movement which began in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in the late 19th century.

USA

The American Sunday School system was first begun by Samuel Slater
Samuel Slater
Samuel Slater was an early English-American industrialist known as the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution", or the "Father of the American Factory System" because he brought British textile technology to America. He learned textile machinery as an apprentice to a pioneer in the British...

 in his textile mills in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in the 1790s. Other notable leaders in the American Sunday School movement include: Clarence Herbert Benson, Dr. Henrietta Mears
Henrietta Mears
Henrietta Cornelia Mears was a Christian educator and author who had a significant impact on evangelical Christianity in the 20th century....

, founder of Gospel Light, Gene A. Getz, Howard Hendricks
Howard Hendricks
Howard G. Hendricks is a longtime professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and speaker for Promise Keepers. Upon his graduation from Dallas, Hendricks accepted the pastorate at Calvary Independent Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas. An opening on the seminary staff led Hendricks to begin...

, Lois E. LeBar and Elmer Towns.

Form

Sunday schools, contrary to the name, are virtually never recognized educational institutions; rather than offering formal grades or transcripts, Sunday schools simply attempt to offer meaningful instruction concerning Christian doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 and keep little or no record of performance for any given week. Attendance is often tracked as a means of encouraging children to attend regularly, and awards are frequently given for reaching attendance milestones.

Sunday school often takes the form of a one hour or longer Bible study
Bible study (Christian)
In Christianity, Bible study is the study of the Bible by ordinary people as a personal religious or spiritual practice. Some denominations may call this devotion or devotional acts; however in other denominations devotion has other meanings...

 which can occur before, during, or after a church service
Church service
In Christianity, a church service is a term used to describe a formalized period of communal worship, often but not exclusively occurring on Sunday, or Saturday in the case of those churches practicing seventh-day Sabbatarianism. The church service is the gathering together of Christians to be...

. While many Sunday schools are focused on providing instruction for children (especially those occurring during service times), adult Sunday school classes are also popular and widespread (see RCIA.) In some traditions, Sunday school is too strongly associated with children and alternate terms such as "Adult Electives" or "religious education" are used instead of "Adult Sunday school". Some churches only run Sunday school for children concurrently with the adult worship service. In this case there is typically no adult Sunday school.

There are number of traditional children's hymns or "Sunday school songs", such as "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock," "Jesus Bids us Shine
Jesus Bids us Shine
"Jesus Bids Us Shine" is a children's hymn with words by Susan Bogert Warner and music by Edwin Othello Excell . It was first published in the children's magazine The Little Corporal in 1868....

", and "Jesus Loves Me
Jesus Loves Me
Jesus Loves Me is a Christian hymn set to words by Anna Bartlett Warner. The lyrics first appeared as a poem in the context of a novel called Say and Seal, written by Susan Warner and published in 1860. The tune was added in 1862 by William Batchelder Bradbury who found the text of "Jesus Loves Me"...

" that have frequently been used in Sunday school settings.

Today

Today many different expressions of Sunday schools exist. They range from traditional methods of teaching, using small groups, Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

-based teaching, familiar songs etc. to the more contemporary. Sunday school is often part of a larger Christian Formation
Spiritual formation
Spiritual formation is the growth and development of the whole person by an intentional focus on one’s* spiritual and interior life* interactions with others in ordinary life...

 program in many churches.

Postal Sunday schools conduct religious education via correspondence for children in sparsely populated areas.

Some Roman Catholic church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

es operate Sunday schools, though Catholics commonly refer to Sunday school as "catechism
Catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

 class".

In 1986 a new kind of Sunday school started out of a ministry of Bill Wilson
Bill Wilson (pastor)
Bill Wilson is the founder and Sr Pastor of Metro Ministries, America’s largest ministry to children with branches in various nations. He is a well-known speaker, author, pastor and advocate for poor, inner city children all over the world.-Childhood:Wilson's mother abandoned him on a streetcorner...

 in the inner city of Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York, called Sidewalk Sunday School
Metro Ministries
Metro Ministries is currently the World’s largest Sunday School weekly reaching over 21,000 children in New York City and an additional 22,000 in The Philippines, Africa and Romania. Each Saturday there are Sunday School services and they use school buses to go to pick up the children at their...

. With little delivery trucks that can be converted to stages, project areas and parks are being served Sunday school programs. Metro Ministries is now in many major cities in the U.S. and has branches in eight other countries.

Teachers

Sunday school teachers are usually lay people
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 who are selected for their role in the church by a designated coordinator, board, or a committee. Normally, the selection is based on a perception of character and ability to teach the Bible rather than formal training in education. Some Sunday school teachers, however, do have a background in education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 as a result of their occupations. Some churches require Sunday school teachers and catechists to attend courses to ensure that they have a sufficient understanding of the faith and of the teaching process to educate others. Other churches allow volunteers to teach without training; a profession of faith and a desire to teach is all that is required in such cases.

It is also not uncommon for Roman Catholic priests
Priesthood (Catholic Church)
The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

 or Protestant pastors (church ministers
Minister of religion
In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community...

) to teach such classes themselves. Some well-known public figures who teach or have taught Sunday school include astronaut Ron Garan, comedian Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.Colbert originally studied to be an...

, novelist John Grisham
John Grisham
John Ray Grisham, Jr. is an American lawyer and author, best known for his popular legal thrillers.John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981 and practiced criminal law for about a decade...

, and former U.S. president
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

.

See also

  • Bible study (Christian)
    Bible study (Christian)
    In Christianity, Bible study is the study of the Bible by ordinary people as a personal religious or spiritual practice. Some denominations may call this devotion or devotional acts; however in other denominations devotion has other meanings...

  • Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
    Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
    The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was an association established at Rome in 1562 for the purpose of giving religious education. Its modern usage, often abbreviated CCD or C.C.D., is a religious education program of the Catholic Church, normally designed for children.-History:Until the...

     (a form of Catholic
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

     religious education)
  • Hebrew school
    Hebrew school
    Hebrew school can be either the Jewish equivalent of Sunday school - an educational regimen separate from secular education, focusing on topics of Jewish history and learning the Hebrew language, or a primary, secondary or college level educational institution where some or all of the classes are...

     (also called "Sunday school" by Reform Judaism
    Reform Judaism
    Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

    )
  • Religious ministry (Christian)
  • Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults
  • Sabbath School
    Sabbath School
    Sabbath School is a function of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Seventh Day Baptist and some other sabbatarian denominations.-Program Context:...

  • Socialist Sunday Schools
    Socialist Sunday Schools
    Socialist Sunday Schools were set up as an alternative to Christian Sunday Schools in the United Kingdom. They arose in response to a feeling as to the inadequacy of the orthodox Sunday Schools as a training ground for the children of socialists and of the need for some organised and systematic...

  • Sunday School (LDS Church)
    Sunday School (LDS Church)
    Sunday School is an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . All members of the church and any interested nonmembers, age 12 and older, are encouraged to participate in Sunday School.-Purpose:...

     : an auxiliary
    Auxiliary organization (LDS Church)
    An auxiliary organization is a secondary body of church government within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is "established for moral, educational, and benevolent purposes." As their name suggests, LDS Church auxiliary organizations are ancillary to the governing power of the...

     of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Vacation Bible School
    Vacation Bible School
    Vacation Bible School is a specialized form of religious education which focuses on children. Churches usually hold the week long events during the summer, though the lengths of such programs may vary, and they are sometimes held during other times of the year.-History:The origins of Vacation...

  • Youth Ministry
    Youth ministry
    Youth ministry, also commonly referred to as Youth group, is an age-specific religious ministry and is the way in which a faith group, or other religious organization involves and engages with the young people who attend its place of worship, or live in its community...


Further reading

  • Broadbent, Arnold. The First 100 Years of the Sunday School Association: 1833-1933. A centenary booklet issued by the Lindsey Press of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
    General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
    The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches is the umbrella organisation for Unitarian, Free Christian and other liberal religious congregations in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1928, with denominational roots going back to the Great Ejection of 1662...

    .

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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