Centuries ago, the concept of Sunday School was adopted by all kinds of churches. They recognized the need for their members to learn and apply Bible knowledge in their Christian lives. In addition to their weekly worship services, or to their private devotionals alone or in families, many churches began to set aside other hours during the week–early Sunday morning or evening, Wednesday evening or other times to study the Bible in an organized fashion, at all levels of the church. And through the centuries, one task of church leaders and members was to decide what topics they needed to study, and how to apply it.
Most of us have some fond memories of Sunday school teachers who for whatever reason impacted us; often these were people who dedicated decades to teaching hundreds of children or adults, Sunday by Sunday. Who do you remember? What stories do you recall, good or bad?
At UCC, I remember Mrs. Walter Adams teaching us songs and helping us think about the words, not just the music. I remember Cleve Cullers giving a shiny new silver dollar as a prize to any fifth grader who could memorize Psalm 10. I remember Bobby Ricketts talking with us eighth grade boys one Wednesday night about a prediction someone had made that the world would end the next day, and one of the class members going straight to the baptistery after the church and being baptized. I remember Bill Richardson doing a great job with youth discussions in the old Cooner House in high school. I remember film strips and flannel boards and coloring and classes about Paul’s missionary journeys. I remember most the smiles and kindness and earnestness of my teachers to help us all learn.
That spirit still lives on at UCC. As a young adult, young married, young families, friends and families class member, I respect and appreciate all the class coordinators who for many years have assumed the role of leading a class week after week, some for years. For quite a while each coordinator chose the teachers and topics for their class, according to interest and needs.
More recently, one of the committees that has helped choose teachers and topics is the Adult Education Committee, overlapping with what’s also been called the Teaching Committee. This group considers the larger issues and needs of our members regarding what they are studying in our UCC curriculum. Then they prepare series which are then shared with all adult classes at UCC, so that we are all studying the same topics.
Some of the folks who have helped prepare these studies–often 6-13 weeks long–include James Thompson, Samjung Hamilton, MarkHamilton, Wendell Willis, Carisse Berryhill, Chris Willerton and Mac Ice (and if I’ve missed others, please forgive me!). It takes a significant amount of work to conceive of, design, and flesh out the outlines for such a series. In a church like UCC, one goal is to challenge people on all levels to learn something new, from those who’ve studied the Word for 80 years to those who just barely have joined the church. It’s not easy.
For this reason, I appreciate and admire these brothers and sisters who have invested hundreds of hours to provide us with good material. They give outlines that usually have far more than can be covered in a class, but this also lets the teacher tailor the class to his own ability and to the knowledge and needs of the class. Sometimes the course designer teaches the class too; but often they sit in a class and hear their material taught–possibly not always the way they designed or intended it! Thank you for your patience and forgiveness too, then!
UCC is really a unique church in the quality and quantity of these individuals. Let’s appreciate this blessing and invest the attention deserved to learn and grow from these classes. Thanks to all the course designers and teachers!
– Steve Austin