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Sunday School.

1. Also called Sabbath school, or Sunday ch. school; primary agency of Christian educ. in most N. Am. Prot. chs. today.

2. It has been claimed that Sunday schools were begun in Scot. by J. Knox* ca. 1560. Sunday schools were est. in the 17th c. in Eng. and Am. The modern SS. movement is usually traced to efforts of R. Raikes* 1780, when he opened his 1st SS. (children worked on other days) in hope of preventing vice by educ. His movement originally was not ch.-related and was opposed by ch. leaders; yet it grew and spread.

3. The 1st SS. of the Raikes type in N. Am. was organized in Virginia in the mid-1780s. In course of time more emphasis was placed on religion, adults and small children were included, and volunteer teachers replaced professionals.

4. Local SS. unions formed and crossed denominational lines. The Am. SS. Union formed around some of these groups 1824; a nat. conv. was held Philadelphia 1832.

5. With the development of tax-supported ”free schools“ 1825–50, many Luth. parochial schools were replaced by Sunday schools. The General* Syn. of the Ev. Luth. Ch. in the USA est. a Luth. SS. Union 1830. Sunday schools began to appear in the Mo. Syn. in the 1840s, but the syn. in gen., distrustful of doctrinal laxity often assoc. with Prot. Sunday schools, long continued rather to emphasize parochial schools and Christenlehre (see Parish Education, F 5); the SS. was not officially accepted until ca. the time of WW I.

6. Curricular materials in the first Sunday schools were the Bible, catechisms, and hymnals. A wide assortment of other materials appeared in the early and middle 19th c. Internat.. Uniform Lessons were adopted 1872. In the 20th c. a philos. of child-centered, rather than curriculum-centered, educ. found wide acceptance.

7. Sunday schools spread through the world. In the US, world leader, ca. 90% of the enrollment is Prot. PHP

See also International Council of Religious Education; Parish Education, B 2–4, E; Protestant Education in the United States.

J. D. Butler, Religious Education (New York. 1962); M. A. Haendschke, The Sunday School Story: The History of the Sunday School in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, in Lutheran Education Association 20th Yearbook (River Forest, Illinois, 1963).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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