The New Catholic Encyclopedia calls the Sunday-school movement “probably the most far-reaching educational activity in the field of religion since the Reformation.” The Sunday school for factory workers that Robert Raikes established almost 200 years ago in Gloucester, England, soon reproduced itself around the world. Just eleven years later, in 1791, the Philadelphia Sunday School Union began establishing new Sunday schools. Almost everywhere the expansion of the Sunday school was phenomenal; within a century there were more than 100,000. By 1906, in the United States alone, 13 million pupils were enrolled, and by 1960, 37 million.
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the American Sunday-School Union, which sponsors more than 1,600 Sunday schools in thirty-nine states, a panel of Christian leaders recently faced the movement’s present-day difficulties and pointed toward some solutions. Members of the panel were The Honorable John B. Anderson, United States congressman from Illinois, a distinguished layman whose home church in Rockford (First Evangelical Free) sponsored rural Sunday schools that later developed into two growing churches; Dr. Richard C. Halverson, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C., executive director of International Christian Leadership, and one of the speakers at the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin; the Rev. William E. Pannell, Negro evangelist and staff member of Youth for Christ, active in both Detroit and Chicago; and Charles Nagel, vice-president of Provident National Bank in Philadelphia and a member of the Board of Managers of the American Sunday-School Union. Editor Carl F. H. Henry, of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, was moderator. The National Broadcasting Company recently ...1
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