Early History of our Sunday School
Here we will consider the early history of our Sunday School. You may not realize that the Sunday School is older than our church, having been established at the first worship service held on June 23, 1907, some four months before the church was formally organized. The Sunday School, originally called “ Sabbath School” or “ Bible School,” began with T. Edward Ross serving as its first Superintendent, a position he would hold for over forty years. The first session of the Sunday school was held on June 30, 1907 with eleven persons in attendance. By the end of the following year, the school had grown to 66 students and 11 teachers.
Much like today, the first Sunday School was staffed by volunteers from the congregation, teaching in classes assigned according to age. The original classes included Cradle Roll, Beginner’s Class, Primary Class, Junior Class and “the Main School” for children over 10.
One of the distinctive characteristics of the early Sunday School was its emphasis in mission. The School hosted missionary speakers, took up offerings, and provided financial support for national and oversees missionary projects, as well as for local causes such as the Christ’s Home for Children and the Presbyterian Orphanage. The Sunday School also contributed to projects here at our church. The baptismal font to my left is inscribed with the words “Gift of the Primary Department.”
One of the interesting features of the early Sunday School was its bus ministry. Free bus transportation was provided to children who lived beyond walking distance. Each Sunday two buses were chartered from the Red Arrow Transit Company to transport an average of 60 Sunday schoolers to their classes at church. This service continued until 1939, when increased costs caused it to be replaced with carpools.
The one Sunday School event that has continued from the early years through the present is the Sunday School Picnic. The first Sunday School picnic was held at Broomall Woods on July 3, 1009. By 1913, and for a number of years afterward, the picnic was held at Lenape Park, with transportation provided by a chartered street trolley that ran from Lancaster Ave here in Ardmore, all the way to the park grounds in West Chester. In the 1930’s the picnic moved to Valley Forge Park, and in the 1950’s to the Gladwyne Park, before moving to its present location (as of 2007 – Since then we have had the picnic at Gladwyne Park) at South Ardmore Park.
Throughout the years the Sunday School continued to grow, increasing in numbers and sponsoring new programs such as the Vacation Bible School, Weekday Kindergarten, and Adult Bible Classes.