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Sunday School was part of many children's lives. In the early ‘60s, one in seven children under 14 went every Sunday to listen to Bible stories, talk about God and learn Christian values. We put on our best clothes and headed off to join our friends in fellowship and safety. And in a place of love.

Sunday school began in the 18th century, when Englishman Robert Raikes created the idea of Sunday school for child workers of the Industrial Revolution. It was to give basic literary education to the children that worked in the mills and the factories and the mines, because the only day they had off work was Sunday. They wanted these children to read the Bible, but before they could read the Bible, they had to teach them how to read. So they created Sunday School. 

 

Robert Raikes(1735-1811) English philanthropist and founder of the Sunday School movement. A printer from Gloucester, he opened his first Sunday School in 1780.

After becoming frustrated with inefficient jail reforms, Raikes was convinced “vice could be better prevented than cured.” While visiting in the slum section of the city, he was distressed with the corruption of children. Raikes shared the problem with Reverend Thomas Stock in the village of Ashbury, Berkshire. They conceived of a school to be taught on the best available time – Sunday. They decided to use the available manpower – laymen. The curriculum would be the Word of God and they aimed at reaching the children of the street, not just the children of church members.

The movement began in July, 1780 when Mrs. Meredith conducted a school in her home on Souty Alley. Only boys attended and she heard the lessons of the older boys who coached the younger. Raikes wrote four of the textbooks, but the Bible was the core of the Sunday School. Later, girls were allowed to attend. Raikes shouldered most of the financial burden in those early years.

Within two years, several schools opened in and around Gloucester. On November 3, 1783, Raikes published an account of Sunday School in the columns of his paper. Excitement spread. Next, publicity was given the Sunday School in Gentlemen’s Magazine and a year later, Raikes wrote a letter to the Armenian Magazine.

Raikes died in 1811, but by 1831 Sunday School in Great Britain was ministering weekly to 1.25 million children, approximately 25 percent of the population.

source: https://christianhof.org/raikes/

 When I was a child, Sunday School had become part of everyday family life.

In 1961, nearly 90% of Australians identified as Christian. Sending children to Sunday school had become part of our routine.

We learned about Life. Respect. Honour. Decency.

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 When I was a kid, all those decades ago, I trundled off along the gravel road to my Church on Sunday morning. It was part of my life. It just happened. I got dressed, put on my " Sunday best " and my gumboots and carried my shoes and my threepence and headed off for Sunday School.

My Sunday School teacher was the mother of one of my friends. She played the organ in the Church and taught us to worship the Bible, the Gospels and the Might of Jesus Christ and God Almighty.

Our reward? Coming home to Mum and the smell of hot pikelets and telling Mum and Dad what we LEARNED in SUNDAY SCHOOL.

Sunday School was a wonderful part of my life.

 

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Do children have this joy anymore? Or, in my Methodist Church, terror at seeing the Minister preach the hellfire and the brimstone and the fury that God could reign down upon us if we were naughty?

We used to sit in the front pew ( the " Sunday Schoolers " ) and look at each other and wonder if our Minister would explode, such was the fury of his passion and the veins in his neck would stick out and we would sit and wonder, aghast, at how his head did not explode and his brains did not fall upon us from high.

Ahh, the good old days.

We " Sunday Schoolers " were part of a club. A wonderful club.

Life was a journey of discovery, learning and happiness. We read about loss, to be sure. We read and LEARNED about sorrow, healing and all kinds of things.

But Sunday School to me, was so much more.

We sat. we listened. We prayed. 

And went home to a warm hearth and a united family and, after a hearty morning tea of home baking, headed off to get into mischief and enjoy all that God and our Minister told us was ours to have and enjoy.

The fishing in the creek under the willow tree; the bike ride or the baked potato on a hike to a mysterious mountain.

Our Sunday School allowed us to realise that the choice is ours: Heaven or Hell.

I spoke with Redhead about this and she sent me the following:

I remember when … I know it isn't Saturday but  I do remember when..... Our Undenominational  Church was about half a mile from our farm,   Our School was about a mile from the farm and we as kids walked .. rain hail or shine. We were glad we weren't like some kids 5 miles away and they rode their horses every day to and from school.

We loved Sunday we had a lovely teacher, a Miss Blythe  an older lady who lived with her old brother.   I often wondered why there seemed to be so many old ladies that weren't married.   Maybe their boy friends were killed in the First World War.      The same later on in life , their husbands or boy friends were killed in the Second World War.

 

 Sunday...   It was a lovely morning we would get dressed in our special clothes ,  go off to an interesting morning of singing  and stories.    The old organ would play and everyone would sing those lovely old hymns ..   All Things Bright and Beautiful, Abide with me,  Away in a Manger,  Shall we gather at the River, and the all time favourite Onward Christian Soldiers.

Today I have just checked up and they don't have Sunday school anymore, only the Catholics have a room where the kids go for a lesson.    Why?   Is it because Day Care and Play Centre is on all week and by the week end the working Mothers have had enough and just want  no routine,  except as the child gets older and  Sports feature in their lives.   Perhaps Dad takes them to the footie ground or the tennis court.

I wonder if this lack of love that Sunday School brings into a life is the reason for cruelty and an uncaring behaviour towards animals and even people .   Where is the love and the  consideration toward living beings that we were taught.   The only time we see anything like  "caring"  is at Christmas and you see the little kids around little baby Jesus in the cradle. 

 

  How do we get Sunday School  back into our children's life or has it gone forever. Very sad if that is the case.
 

 And sad it is. We need to get back to teaching our children the value of Life. Honesty. Decency. Caring.  If we do not, the idea that “vice could be better prevented than cured.” will be lost and Hell will be little different to life on earth.

 

 

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