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The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia


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Sunday-schools were originated in the Church of England by one of its clergy, the Rev. Thomas Steck, who afterwards, in 1780, called in Mr. Robert Raikes, a layman, to assist him. Such schools gradually spread and increased, until to-day it is said that the Sunday-schools of the world number three millions of teachers and over thirty millions of scholars. Of late years especially the Sunday-school has become a most important factor in our Church life, and yet notwithstanding its very manifest purpose it is ever presenting problems very difficult to solve. These perplexing problems no doubt arise from two main causes, (1) a practical, though oftentimes unconscious, ignoring of the Church's own order and method and (2) from the mixed conditions of the religious world of to-day "by reason of our unhappy divisions." As far as can be seen, all that has been written, published and preached on this subject seems to resolve itself into simply this—Try to do the best you can with the material you have, the short time allotted to this work, usually one hour a week, and the absolute voluntaryism of the whole undertaking. And yet in spite of this discouraging outlook, there can be no doubt that the Sunday-school offers one of the very best fields for genuine Church work and is "worth while," as has been fully demonstrated in many places of earnest toil for God. This work is far-reaching in its influence and no estimate can be given of the possible good it may do in moulding lives. The Rev. G. W. Shinn, D.D., speaking of the Sunday-school sets forth its object as follows: "It offers to aid parents, sponsors and pastors in developing the religious life of the young, in filling their minds with the Truths of our most holy Faith, and in training them to serve God faithfully in their day and generation. Whatever its defects of administration, this is its aim."

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Sunday-Schools'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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