Does Sunday School Still Exist in the UK?

Sunday school is an educational institution, usually of a Christian character, that has been around for centuries. Other religions, such as Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, have also organized Sunday schools in their temples and mosques, particularly in the West. Despite the fact that Sunday school is no longer as popular as it once was, it still has many benefits. The main Sunday service of Anglicans focuses on the gospel and the Eucharist.

Readings of Old Testament stories, prophecies, epistles and Apocalypse without context or explanation are included. For those familiar with the metanarrative of the Christian faith, these connections are clear. For example, Isaiah's prophecies were heard throughout Advent and their role in the minds of the people of Israel exiled in Babylon and the symbolism of their images of the coming of Christ was understood. Sunday school has been an essential part of the growth of well-educated British children for more than 200 years.

Generations of British children spent their Sunday mornings in the company of a strict woman and a Bible. However, nowadays divorced families find it difficult to attend church on Sundays and adults are less willing to be Sunday school teachers, which is why fewer children attend Sunday school. The first Sunday schools in Finland were run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and were founded in 1807. The doctrine of Sunday Sabbatarianism encourages practices such as Sunday school attendance since it teaches that the entire Day of the Lord should be dedicated to God. Therefore, many children and adolescents usually return to church in the late afternoon to go to a youth group before attending an evening worship service.

Sunday school teachers are usually lay people who are selected for their role in the church by a designated coordinator, board or committee. The Sunday School Society was founded by Baptist deacon William Fox on September 7th 1785 at Prescott Street Baptist Church in London. The Philadelphia Sunday School Union was organized in 1791 and was the first interdenominational Sunday school association in the United States. By 1831, 1,250,000 children in Great Britain or about 25 percent of the eligible population were attending Sunday school weekly. However, some Sunday school teachers have experience in education as a result of their occupations. The concept of Sunday school in Sweden began in the early and middle of the 19th century and at first experienced some criticism before becoming widespread since it was often intertwined with the growth (and eventually legalization) of free churches.

Jacobs devised a system to encourage Sunday school work and a committee was established to provide an international uniform curriculum also known as the uniform lesson plan. The American Sunday school system was first initiated by Samuel Slater at his textile factories in Pawtucket Rhode Island in the 1790s. Whether it is made deliberately or out of necessity many leaders believe that replacing Sunday school with worship for all ages is a powerful and effective way to educate children as Christians.

Terence Wedgeworth
Terence Wedgeworth

I love the Bible and love sharing God's truth with others! I dream of being a full-time evangelist, but for now it's Bible college and blogging for me. I also teach 4th grade Sunday School at my church. Click here to see my kids Bible lessons.