Rise of the Sunday school movement

The steady improvement of secular schools made it imperative that Sunday schools should be improved if they were to truly help their pupils, and by the end of the nineteenth century it was evident that extensive modifications must be made. A particularly valuable experiment was the instruction of teachers at summer assemblies and by means of local study classes. The Chautauqua Movement for popular education grew out of a summer assembly for the better training of Sunday school teachers. It outlined a system of reading courses that were adopted widely by local groups of teachers and other interested persons, with an annual gathering at Chautauqua, New York. These assemblies lasted for several weeks with lectures and intensive study. In 1903 the Religious Education Association was organized to put religious education on a broader basis than the Sunday school. Composed mainly of ministers and educators, it was organized into expert commissions that investigated conditions, planned improvements, and published useful aids for religious education. This group was not only active in the Sunday schools but they also worked with colleges, Young Men’s Christian Associations, and young people’s societies.

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