Feb. 17, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Martha Ball makes the Bible come alive for Sunday school students.
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
the tragedy and terror of 9/11, a little girl in New Jersey found
comfort in her Sunday school class because someone taught her, “Jesus
loves you and everything will be all right.”
you tell Harriett Olson, an executive with the United Methodist
Publishing House, that Sunday school is “dead,” she will tell you the
story about that little girl or one of the many other accounts she has
collected in the past year since the launch of “Sunday School:
It’s For Life.”
joint campaign of the United Methodist Publishing House and United
Methodist Board of Discipleship encourages congregations to see Sunday
school as a tool to educate people for faithful living and nurture them
on their spiritual journey. “Sunday School: It’s for Life” was
introduced at the 2004 General Conference.
and Carol Krau, an executive with the Board of Discipleship, have been
attending conferences and gatherings since last May promoting the
school means being in a life-giving relationship with God,” Krau says.
“You find abundance in Sunday school. The world is based on never having
enough, always feeling limited, but with God there is more than
any average Sunday, about 1.6 million people are in Sunday school,
Olson says. She describes the campaign as a grass-roots movement to
reclaim Sunday school for the power it has.
to real life doesn’t necessarily happen when you sit down together, but
it won’t happen if you don’t sit down together,” she says.
school helps people “connect their story with God’s,” Krau says. “It is
important to be in a setting where you can have relationships with
Both Olson and Krau admit that Sunday school works well in some places but not others.
Olson cites reasons for Sunday school attendance declining:
• Quality is not consistent from place to place.
• Teachers need help.
• Congregations need more teachers.
• Plans for learning may be haphazard.
• Participants might not make the connection to their daily lives.
“Sunday school won’t maintain itself,” Olson says. “There must be a connection between faith and daily life.
“Wonderful things happen in Sunday school,” she says. “Children hear the
love of God; youth ask questions and build relationships with God and
each other; adults build relationships and learn to hear God’s call and
learn to love God in their daily lives.”
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
C.J. Shell (rear) leads a class at Hamilton United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
don’t know how you know the Bible if you don’t go to Sunday school,”
says Mary Lou Pitzer, a member of St. Matthias United Methodist Church
in Fredricksburg, Va. She hasn’t missed Sunday school in 51 years.
Sunday school you meet people, hear about their families, hear the
prayer chains and concerns about the community,” she says. “You just
feel a part of God’s work.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.