An Edwardian Sunday School

I've been sniffing about our archive again; this time I procured the Sunday School Minutes book covering the years 1907-1919. The Sunday School was then quite a busy aspect of church life, warranting its own AGM, ‘held at the Chapel on Tuesday evening, November 19th, 1907, at 8 o’clock’. I was struck by the number of ‘officers’ elected, excluding the actual teachers:

Superintendent: W.R. Giddings

Assistant Superintendent: R.W. Bulcock

Secretary: H. Grimshaw

Assistant Secretary: C. Green

Librarian: Miss Heaton

Treasurer of Library: R.W. Watson

Secretary of Band of Hope: C. Green

Treasurer of Band of Hope: J. Stott

Secretary of International Bible Reading Association: Miss Porter

Chimney Sweeps: R.W. Bulcock & H. Grimshaw. 

One supposes there may not have been too much competition for the last role, seeing as it was filled by the Assistant Superintendent and Secretary. The teachers seemingly were not elected, but Mesdames Stott, Watson, Heaton and Porter are all mentioned.

It should be noted that what we now call the upper room was originally an extension to house the Sunday School, but this was constructed the year after these minutes were taken. Numbers must have been such that having all those children in the chapel proved impractical. The most important discussion of the evening, however, was who should preach at the year’s Sunday School anniversary. ‘Rev. Mr Forster of Blackburn’ was the officers’ first choice, but they asked the secretary to ‘at once write to other gentlemen should Mr Forster not accept the invitation’. Another five names were given, which the secretary was to write to in that order, until the invitation was finally accepted. Whether poor Mr G.P. Elsson (?) of Leeds realised he was only sixth choice, I do not know. Perhaps someone higher up the rankings accepted the invitation, saving the secretary the trouble of asking him. 

What they taught in the lessons, the book does not say. We do know that the Band of Hope was active, which was a national temperance organisation, aiming to deter young people from a life of drink. The International Bible Reading Association I had never heard of, but I am delighted to report that it is still going:

Band of Hope:

The International Bible Reading Association

Edwardian Sunday Schools might be very different to modern children’s work and youth groups, but they addressed two essential issues still facing young Christians today: the need to regularly read the Bible and to avoid intoxication and drug use.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6