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Group Title: Study of religious education in the Evangelical denomination
Title: A study of religious education in the Evangelical denomination ..
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Title: A study of religious education in the Evangelical denomination ..
Physical Description: 1 p.l., 42 p. : ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Riebel, Elmer Detweiler, 1887-
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Place of Publication: Chicago Ill
Publication Date: 1933
Subject: Religious education -- United States   ( lcsh )
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Table of Contents
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Full Text

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The history of religious education in American Protes-
tantism during the nineteenth century is chiefly confined to the

activities within the various denominations. With the opening of

the twentieth century, there are indications of a breaking away

from the exclusively denominational emphasis toward the broader

field of inter-denominational cooperation.

The present period may therefore be considered as that of
a transition stage in the development of religious education. Pro-

cedures for inter-denominational cooperation are as yet in their

formative stage. Community enterprises in religious education are

still highly experimental.

The time seems opportune for a thorough and careful analy-
sis of the development of religious education within any of the

denominations in order that the values achieved and experience
gained may be conserved as a source of historical data for future

enterprises in religious education.

The Evangelical denomination, along with other Protes-

tant communions, undertook the stimulation and direction of its

own program of religious education during the greater part of the

nineteenth century. In 1832, the first Sunday School of the de-

nomination was founded at Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

This study is undertaken with the conviction that a thor-
ough review of the historical development of religious education



in this communion, and a survey and careful analysis of signifi-

cant trends together with an evaluation of these trends, will not

only conserve the values achieved in the past but, we trust, make

a positive contribution toward the future religious educational

policy of the denomination.

Part I

Beginnings of the Evangelical Denomination

The religious conditions out of which the denomination

arose play an important part in the future development of relig-

ious education within the communion, so far as its policies and

emphases are concerned. The Evangelical denomination, numbering

260,852 adherents, (1930), had its beginning at the opening of

the nineteenth century in eastern Pennsylvania. The population

of this section of the state was made up chiefly of German-speak-.

ing peoples. It was this national group which furnished the ra-

cial background through which the denomination began and contin-

ued its work.

The beginnings of denominational consciousness center a-

round the personality of Jacob Albright, the founder of the Evan-

gelical denomination. Through his personal ministry among the

German-speaking peoples, he perfected an organization of the new

converts in the year 1800. Being familiar with the polity of the

Methodist Episcopal Church, he developed a similar type of church

life, so far as organization and discipline were concerned. The

class meeting and the circuit system formed the nucleus of church


"~i~.-"~-r~..--~~~xn-r --- a~w\xn~r~~- -*-l--i-----i--------------- - - --

While meagre provision was made for the religious instruc-

tion of children, the home was the',cnter of religious interest.

All of the general meetings of the group were held in the homes,

until the year 1816, when the first church building was erected

in New Berlin, Pennsylvania. The first provision for the formal

instruction of children was made in 1809 when a translation of an

English catechism was authorized for use by the ministers.

The significance for religious education of this early

period from 1800 to 1832 is in the emphasis upon family life; the

home as the center of religious activity; the early religious

background of the membership; and the contribution which the re-

lationship between other religious bodies made to the development

of the Evangelical denomination

In its historical analysis of the development of religious

education within this communion, this study gives consideration to

definite trends in the following areas of religious education,

namely, (1) organization; (2) curriculum; (3) procedures of wor-

ship, teaching, leadership training, service and recreation; (4)

objectives, concluding with an evaluation of these trends.

Part II

Trends in the Organization of Religious Education

The study of the development of the organizational proced-

ure for religious education is a study, for the most part, of the

growth of the agencies of religious education, concluding with the

attempts at the correlation of these agencies, by means of boards




of religious education.

Before considering the development within the Evangelical

denomination, it is necessary to observe the trends in religious

education elsewhere, during this period, beginning with 1830.

While religious education developed in denominational molds, there

is no question, but that the experience of one denomination in-

fluenced the procedure of another. There were two developments

outside the Evangelical denomination which had a direct bearing

upon the program of religious education within the church. These

were the influence of the Methodist Episcopal Church in its ac-

tive program of Sunday School development, and the work conducted

by the American Sunday School Union.

Regarding the influence of the Methodist church, while

there is not sufficient historical data available to draw any

positive conclusion as to the degree of influence, there is basis

for believing that the organizing of Sunday Schools within the

Evangelical Church was stimulated by the activity of the Metho-

dist group. An editorial in the first issue of the denomination-

al paper per Christliche Botachafter, (1836), gives a significant

insight. The writer is urging the church to become active in the

organizing of Sunday Schools, and continues as follows 'Other

denominations are very active in this work, and some have made

remarkable progress. The Methodists have Sunday Schools every-

where.* The fact that "the Methodists have Sunday Schools every-

where" may have served as an impetus to a similar movement within

the Evangelical body.

So far as the undenominational activities in religious

-5- *

education are concerned, the American Sunday School Union stands

out as the predominant organization. Organized in the city of

Philadelphia,- Pennsylvania, in 1824, it was able, through its

missionary and promotional program, to make itself vitally felt

in the religious educational activities of the period. Since

this organization was most active in the state of Pennsylvania

and since this also was the state in which the Evangelical denom-

ination had its beginning and the major'proportion of its member-

ship, it is obvious that it would stimulate organization of Sun-

day Schools within all denominations, including the Evangelical.

Organization of Sunday Schools

The first Sunday School of the Evangelical Church was or-

ganized in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in October, 1832. Disciplinary

provision for the introduction of Sunday Schools in local churches

throughout the denomination was made by the general conference of

the church in the year 1835. The subsequent history of the Sun-

day School movement within the denomination is divided into two

periods,- first, the period from 1832 to 1875 during which Sunday

Schools were organized in local churches without denominational

oversight, and second, the period after 1875, in which the church

through its general conference and the delegation of responsi-

bility to the local pastor assumed control of the movement.

Since there were no definite provisions regarding methods

of organization or types of materials, local churches and pastors

hesitated in the matter of organizing Sunday Schools, not so

much from indifference as a lack of information how to go about




it. No one board or individual in th, denomination was assigned

the responsibility for sponsoring toe Sunday School movement.

Therefore such leadership as was developed was purely voluntary.

The principal voice and worker for the cause of religious educa-

tion during the period from 1832 to 1875 was William W. Orwig.

Not only a most active supporter of the Sunday School, but as.an

author of catechisms, writer and compiler of Sunday School song

books, writer of numerous articles appearing in the denomination-

al publications, pertaining to every phase of religious education

as it was then known, the name of Orwig holds first rank in the

early development of religious education within the denomination.

It was in his capacity as editor of the Christiliche Botschafter

that we discover the important place which he occupied. Were it

not for his early writings, the available source material cover-

ing this period would be very limited. A resume of the editor-

ials and general articles reveals the deep concern he had for the

successful outcome of the Sunday School and other educational

movements, as well as a revelation of some of the problems which

came up for consideration.

The period during which Orwig was writing these articles

is characterized by the usual difficulties which arise in the de-

velopment of any new movement. First, there is the lack of under-

standing and a fear lest a successful outcome is not possible.

Second, there was a lack of effective pastoral and lay leadership.

Third, inadequate provision was made for materials to be used in

connection with the work of the school. So far as building and

equipment are concerned, the churhces were not erected with a view



to their educational usefulness, but rather/were one-room struck

tures, planned to meet'what were considered the needs of adult

worship service.

The principal type. of activity in this early period was

the meeting and solving of difficulties as they arose. One of the

values which arise in a consideration of the historical back-

ground is that many of the problems which arose earlier still

face the modern worker in religious education. Problems of objec-

tives, curriculum, procedures and organization are present today..

The advantage which the modern worker in the field of religious

education has is that there is available for him an increasing

literature of historical data which may be relied upon as a re-

source in meeting the issues as they arise. The first Sunday

Schools in the Evangelical denomination had a minimum of organi-

zation. They were primarily schools, one of whose purposes was

instruction in the German language. The Sunday School was organ-

ized by adults in behalf of the children. The age of the children

'ranged from six to fourteen. There were no young people ot adult

classes. It was a common practice not to hold Sunday Schools dur-

ing the winter months.

The policy of including other age groups was gradually

introduced. With the inclusion of classes for young people, and

then in the emphasis placed upon the adult Bible class movement

in the latter part of the nineteenth century, provision was ulti-

mately made for all ages. In the Sunday Schools as organized at

the present time, the larger schools have adopted the department-

al method of Children's, Young People's and Adult Divisions, while


the smaller schools usually provide separate groupings of the

smaller children.

A very significant development of the early Sunday School

movement in the Evangelical denomination was the placing of the

management of the school in a local "Union* or "Society," (called

in the German language "Verein"). This Union had supervision of

the local Sunday School. It was composed of adult members of the

church or community who were interested in the religious instruc-

tion of the children of the community. Monthly or quarterly dues

were required of each member of the *Union. The funds thus col-

lected provided the materials incidental to the school. This

Union was organized with a roll of officers, apart from those in

positions of responsibility in the conduct of the Sunday School

itself. One'of the essential items of business of this Union was

the selecting of those who were to conduct the school.

This organization created certain distinctive problems,

one of which was that of a competing organization with the church,

as such. Instances have been known where the official leadership

of the school was placed in the hands of those who were not mem-

bers of the church. This made for a rivalry and confusion in the

conduct of the school. One of the reasons for the antipathy of

certain pastors toward the development of the Sunday School was

because they felt it infringed upon their responsibility as min-

isters of the congregation.

In spite of repeated attempts at some sort of reorgani-

zation, the Sunday School Union was ultimately discovered to be

an unnecessary organization, and the supervision of the school


*-a~lw~Brn st I -


placed directly in the" control of the pastor of the church. The

General Conference of 1875 adopted a new section in its disci-

pline, entitled, "Concerning Sunday Schools* by means of which

the pastor was made the responsible officer in charge of the

school and the local church made responsible for its operation.

In the organization of Sunday School unions, a principle

is involved which gives some merit to the organization. It plac-

ed the responsibility for the conduct of a Sunday School upon a

group of people who were sufficiently interested in the religious

education of children to become identified with an organization

especially created for that purpose. It was unfortunate that the

church group, as an organization, did not of itself assume direct

responsibility for this task, that is, provide the leadership and

furnish sufficient financial support, out of its .own treasury.

Today, the churches are endeavoring, through the local boards of

religious education, to secure the interest and support of the

church, as a church, to be responsible for the total program of

religious education. It cannot be carried out through an agency

exclusively. The purpose now is to correlate all agencies and

to regard religious education as the church's "most fundamental


Regarding the numerical growth of membership in the Sun-

day School, the growth at first was very slow. Beginning with

the year 1875, however, a noticeable increase in enrollment is

observed. The first statistics available, covering the total

enrollment of the-Sunday School is for the year 1859, at which

time the Sunday School enrollment was 18,473, and the church

L 'I*I

I Aw.

membership, 38,310. That is(i there were twice as many members of

the church as.pupils enrolled in the Sunday School. During the

next twenty years, or from 1859 to 1879, there was a rapid in-

crease in the Sunday School enrollment, so that it surpassed that

of the church membership, until at the present time (1930) there

are 100,000 more Sunday School pupils than church members, that

is, the enrollment of the Sunday School is 361,210 while the mem-

bership of the Evangelical denomination is 260,852. These com-

parative figures are available in the chart on the following page.

This increase in the enrollment of the Sunday School is

accounted for as follower (1) by the gradual introduction of Sun-

day Schools into every local congregation of the church; (2) by

the inclusion of all age groups.as members of' the school; (3) the

numerical growth of the denomination.

Differences of opinion regarding matters of church polity

and control resulted in a division within the denomination in

1891,.so that for a period of thirty years, or until 1922, the

Evangelical denomination was divided into two bodies known as the

"Evangelical Association" and the "United Evangelical Church." A

merger of the two groups was successfully consummated In 1922, in

Detroit, Michigan, at which time the denomination officially se-

lected the name of "Evangelical Church."

A study of the comparative enrollments of Sunday Schools

reveals that out of a total of 2,062 schools in the denomination

the largest number, or 570 schools, have an enrollment between 51

and 100; that there are 368 schools with an enrollment of 101-150

and 304 schools having less than 50 enrolled. In other words,

- 4 - ---






181, 215

1930 260,852

Sunday School
Increase BEnrollment

6,308. 5,603 (1849)
10,600 18,473
9,304 26,483
13,727 41,395
18,315 68,196
16,537 90,090
14,520 118,640
10,458 135,795
18,437 162,837
11,566 177,639
30,981 191,224
3,350 220,180
2, 601 237,465
13,317 257,580
13,948 288,578
19,425 316,905
14, 725 335,141
10,836 419,245
7,713 (Loss) 388,826

9,148 361,219




- ---------

nearly two-thirds or 1,242 schools have an enrollment of 150 or

less. Only 7 schools have an enrollment of 500 or over.

Enrollment No. of Schools

1- 50 304
51-100 570
101-150 568
151-200 228
201-300 237
501-400 135
401-500 54
501-600 29
601-700 15
701-800 7
801-900 7
901-1000 1
1000 and over 8
This comparative classification in which it is discovered

that nearly one-half the schools in the denomination have enroll-

ments of less than one hundred has a distinct bearing upon the

type of organization, curriculum and building which ought to be

stressed. That is, the proposals for religious educational pro-

cedure which includes a highly departmentalized type of programs

for schools with enrollments of five hundred and over affects on-

ly three percent of the schools or sixty-seven schools in the

Evangelical denomination. It means that so far as the Evangeli-

cal Church is concerned, a careful analysis must be made of the

needs of the schools in terms of their ability to put into prac-

tice the suggestions which may be educationally sound but which

are impracticable in many of the schools of the denomination.

So far as the present standards of organization of Sunday

Schools is concerned, the Board of Religious Education, at its

session in 1929, adopted, for experimental use, the International


Standards for the Church School.

Regarding the denominational setup of the administration

of Sunday Schools, the first beginnings' are recognized in the

steps leading to the organization of the "Sunday School and Tract

Union.* The first annual meeting was held in Cleveland, Ohio,

May 2, 1861, Bishop J. Long, Chairman. An interesting develop-

ment which.arose as the work of the Sunday School and Tract Union

progressed was the attempt to secure a full-time worker for the

task of promoting its work. The duties of this *traveling agent,t

as he was called, would be to gather funds for the Union, circu-

late Sunday School papers, organize Sunday Schools, and thus pro-

mote the interests of the Union in the best possible manner. No

action in this direction was taken, however. This hesitancy to

follow the practice of other denominations in the matter of pro-

viding for full-time direction of religious education is rather

significant. There has always been a minimum amount of overheada

direction* of the activities of religious education in the Evan-

gelical denomination. The work of denominational direction has

usually been left to a board of managers, made up of members who

were pastors, editors, and other officials and laymen of the

church. The secretaryship of the Board was usually assigned to

one of the editors of the denominational literature.

In 1891, after the division into two Evangelical bodies,

so far as the United Evangelical branch was concerned, no full-

time official in religious education was ever elected, with the

exception for a brief period of the services of Dr. Daniel A.

Poling, as a field secretary for young people's work. In the

~11*. _

_ iL1


Evangelical Association, a General Secretary for Young People's

Alliance and 'Sunday School work,('in the person of Rev. F. C.

Berger, was elected in 1907, *ho/ continued in office until 1919,

when Dr. 3. W. Praetorius was elected. At the time of the merg-

er of the two groups, Dr. E. W. Praetorius was continued in of-

fice. Where other denominations maintain a staff of workers, as-

signed to specific tasks, such as Children's, Young People's and

Adult specialists, the Evangelical denomination has only one em-

ployed officer, namely, the General Secretary, who gives general

oversight to all promotional activities of religious education.

In 1911, the General Conference of the Evangelical Asso-

ciation made provisions for the organization of Sunday School

boards, which were to function, first, as a general denomination-

al board; second, as a conference board; and third, as a local

board at work in the local church. These boards made more effec-

tive the management of the Sunday School, as well as a closer

linking up of the schools of a conference, and, through the de-

nominational board, a closer affiliation with the schools of the

church. In the United Evangelical Church, while no provision

had been made for a Sunday School board, its work was linked up,

denominationally, in 1914, with the Board of Managers of the Key-

stone League of Christian Endeavor. After the merger of the two

groups in 1922, the plan of Sunday School boards became effective

in the reunited church.

One of the most effective means for the promotion of the

Sunday School work in the Evangelical denomination was the Sun-

day School convention. The First Convention of the church was



held in 1868 by the New York Conference in the,/city of Buffalo,

New York. Subsequent conventions were held, in all parts of the

denomination. The problems considered at these conventions had

to do with methods of teaching, increase in enrollment, objec-

tives, recreation, and organization of Sunday Schools.

Organization of Young People's Societies

It is interesting to observe that a little while previous

to the time that Dr. Francis E. Clark was organizing the first

Christian Endeavor Society in the Williston Congregational Church

of Portland, Maine, on February 2, 1881, the Evangelical denomi-

nation had organized a society for young people. The first young

people's society in the Evangelical denomination was organized in

Dayton, Ohio, September 15, 1880, by Rev. C. F. Hansing, Dayton,

Ohio, thus preceding Dr. Clark's organization by a few months.

Following this young people's societies began to be organized in

various sections of the church.

Among the reasons for the spread of this young people's

movement within the denomination areas first, the influence of the

movement in other denominations; second, a real necessity for

some sort of expressional activity. The Sunday School had not as

yet expanded its procedure to include the expressional and train-

ing feature of its program. These early societies of young peo-

ple were primarily opportunities for Bible study and group prayer

services. The desire to provide adequate guidance in Christian

living was one of the motives back of the movement.

Inasmuch as there had been no denominational provision,


- -----

/ -16-
from the period covered .by the years 1880 to 1891, societies

sprang up throughout the church according to the interested di-

rection of some one concerned about young people. Individual

constitutions were drawn up. Names for the groups were chosen in

accordance with the decisions of the individual societies. One

is impressed by the fact that a similar procedure developed in

the organization of the Sunday School in the local church. At

first, they were organized without any denominational supervision

or guidance. Then, when there were a sufficient number, so that

they had achieved some degree of significance in the life of the

denomination, a General Conference provision was made, whereby

general supervision and direction was provided.

Denominational direction of young people's societies be-
gan in the year 1891. Since this was the year of the unfortunate

division of the denomination into two groups, each branch made

provisions for the carrying forward of young people's work. The

General Conference of the United Evangelical Church authorized

the organisation of the Keystone League, which later was affil-

iated with Christian Endeavor. The Evangelical Association or-

ganized the *Young People's Alliance* with no affiliation with

the United Society of Christian Endeavor. Both denominational

groups made rapid progress in the organization of young people's

societies in local churches. The age group was expanded so as

to include not only young people but Junior and Intermediate ages

as well. In 1922, at the time of the merger of the United Evan-

gelical and Evangelical Association groups, the name of"Evangel-

ical League of Christian Endeavor" was adopted.

Mf T


There are at the present tilm (1930) five types of Lea-

gues, which are graded as follows

Junior League for ages 9, 10, 11

Intermediate League, for ages 12, 13, 14

Senior League, for ages 15, 16, 17

Young People's League, for ages 18 to 24

Adult Leagues, for ages 25 and over.

Just as in the development of the Sunday School movement,

conventions held an important place in the development of young

people's societies, and furnished an avenue of inspiration and

guidance. They provided excellent opportunities for the sharing

of methods of work as well as stimulating denominational interest

in young people's work. Each conference and the various dis-

tricts also held annual conventions.

Up to 1950, the work of the League had been carried on

through eight departments with corresponding committees, namely,

Lookout, Christian Work, quiet Hour and Bible Study, Steward-

ship, Missions, Literary and Social Culture, Sympathy and Ser-

vice, and Christian Citizenship. In order to simplify the organ-

ization, all of these activities were in 1930 included in four

departments, namely, Worship, Instruction, Service and Recrea-

tion. Provision was also made at the General Conference of 1930

for the organization of a conference young people's union, made

up of members between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, whose

purpose is to unify and promote the denominational program of

religious education. This union is in charge of the Young Peo-

ple's Council, consisting of the President, Vice-President, Sec-

I~ _


retary and Treasurer of theUnion, together with the Adult Coun-

selor, 6he Conference Director of Religious Education, the Secre-

taries of Promotion, and not more than six members at large of

the Conference Union who are chosen annually. Through this or-

ganization ample provision is made for youth participation.

Organization of the Woman's
Missionary Society

Because the activities of this organization also include

the various age groups of the church, it is necessary to make

reference to this organization in any study of religious educa-

tion of the denomination. After some difficulty in securing of-

ficial permission from denominational authorities for the organ-

ization of Woman's Missionary Societies in local churches, the

Board of Missions, at its session in October, 1880, granted the

request. At once local societies sprang up, the first two being

organized at Lindsey, Ohio, and South Chicago, Illinois, on the

same day, October 27, 1880.

While it was the purpose of the organization to stimulate

missionary interest among the women of the church, its work soon

extended to other age groups. Work was first begun among the

smaller children, which subsequently became known as the "Mission

Band." A few years later, as these children grew older, the need

was felt for a continuation of the work of missionary activity

among the older boys and girls, which resulted in an organiza-

tion, now known as the "Young People's Missionary Circle." Pro-

vision was also made for the organization of babies and pre-

school children, which is called the "Little Heralds."

...... ....


Thus, in thip expansion of program, we observe a trend

similar to that taken by the Sunday School and the Young People's

Society. The Sunday School began as an organization for children

and then expanded its organization to include all age groups. The

Young People's Society began as an organization, exclusively, for

young people, and now has five age group departments. The Woman's

Missionary Society began as an organization for the women of the

church, and now includes other age groups of both sexes as well.

Through its program of mission study and extensive mis-

sionary giving, the Woman's Missionary Society and its auxiliar-

ies has made a distinct contribution to the life of the denomina-


Other Agencies of Religious Education

There are a number of additional organizations which have

contributed to the development of religious education within the

Evangelical denomination. The work among men has been carried on

chiefly through the Adult Bible Class and Adult Leagues. In 1926

special provision was made for the organization of Men's Brother-

hoods, whose work is being carried on through four major depart-

ments, namely, Devotional Life and Evangelism, Stewardship and

Missions, Training and Fellowship, and Social Service.

Other agencies supplementing the work of religious educa-

tion within the denomination are the Vacation Schools, Week-Day

Schools, Boys' and Girls' Camps, and various extra-church organ-

izations, such as the Y. M. C. A., Boy Scouts, and other similar


_I _


Trends Toward Correlation of Agencies
of Religious Education

As one reviews the development of the various agencies of

religious education, as they have found their place in the pro-

gram of the denomination, an indisputable fact is most evident,

namely, the multiplicity of organizations working within the lo-

cal church. There is evidence that this danger of overlapping

was recognized by some of the early leaders of the church, some-

times for fear that the organization in which they were especial-

ly interested might suffer, and, frequently, because of the con-

viction that religious education should be considered an integral

part of the total program of the church rather than allocated to

some specific agency.

The Mission Band of the Woman's Missionary Society and
the Junior League of the Young People's Society minister to prac-

tically the same age group; the Mission Band from six to thirteen,

the Junior League from nine to eleven. As the Sunday Schools and

the Young People's Societies expanded their individual types of

organization to include the various age-groups, the discovery was

made that oftimes they were in reality in competition for the

time of the same group. Local churches attempted to readjust

their programs to solve the situation. There were various sug-

gestions offered, when the duplication of activity first became

apparent, to provide for a closer cooperation between these a-

gencies. Not only in local congregations but in the conference

and general denominational activity there was conflict in the

carrying forward of the program of religious education.

r _I


Because of this confusion and misunderstanding caused

through unrelated agencies, as well aj the lack of coordination

of program in the local churches, the General Conference, meet-

ing in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in October, 1926, made provi-

sion for the creation of a Board of Religious Education, the pur-

pose of which is foster, promote, correlate, supervise and make

effective the work of religious education as done in and by the

local church. Three classes of Boards were provided, namely:

The General Board of Religious Education, which has the general

supervision of religious education in the denomination; the Con-

ference Board of Religious Education, which provides the medium

for conference supervision; the Local Board of Religious Educa-

tion, which directs the work of religious education in the local

church, the function of this board being regulative rather than

executive. Thus it is observed that the Evangelical denomina-

tion,in the development of its organization of religious educa-

tion, has worked out its program in three distinct areas first,

in the church at large; second, in the annual conferences; and

third, in the local church.

Provision is also made for the appointment of a Director

of Religious Education in the local church. Either paid or vol-

unteer workers may serve. When it is recalled that according to

the figures of the enrollment in the Sunday Schools, only 67 have

an enrollment of 500 or more, it is obvious that the employment

of a paid director of religious education in the local churches

of this denomination will be the exception rather than the rule.

The pastor of the church may, under certain circumstances, serve




very acceptably as a director.

Regarding the effectiveness of the Board, experience is

demonstrating that so far as the general and conference boards

are concerned, it has simplified and coordinated the total pro-

gram of religious education. In the local churches, the period

of time is too short to form an adequate judgment. Those churches

which have reorganized their local programs on this basis have

discovered the organization of a Board of Religious Education to

be a great help in the solution of their difficulties in that an

adequate basis of correlation has been found. There is another

angle from which to view the work of the board of religious edu-

cation in the local church, and that is that this radical read-

justment was made, not on the basis of much past experience with

this type of organization, but in order to obviate future confu-

sion and difficulty. This differs from previous methods of a-

dopting new procedures when it is recalled that in the Evangeli-

cal denomination Sunday Schools were being organized from 1832

to 1875, a period of over forty years, and that young people's

societies were being set up from 1880 to 1891, a period of over

ten years, before any denominational supervision was given.

The recent readjustment of the religious educational pro-

gram of the Evangelical Church is the result of the anticipated

needs of the local church. It was primarily due to the intelli-

gent foresight of certain denominational leaders in religious

education, notably, Dr. E. W. Praetorius, General Secretary of

the Board of Religious Education. His intelligent grasp of the

situation as it applied to the needs of the church has made poe-

sible these forward steps in the religi t. educational program of
the denomination. he purpose has been to anticipate the needs
of the local churches, rather than wait until the damage result-
ing from confusion and misunderstanding through lack of any pro-
gram of correlation had reached too great proportions.

Part III

Trends in Curriculum of Religious Education

Informal guidance in religious living characterized the
early period of the development of the church. There was a min-
imum amount of formal instruction. The fact that all religious
meetings were held in the homes gave an opportunity for the
children and young people to share in the religious experiences
of the older people. The parents assumed direct responsibility

for the religious education of their children. Morning and
evening prayers, singing, and opportunities for religious fellow-

ship were daily features of the home life of the early Evangeli-
cal families. The atmosphere of the home was preeminently relig-

The first reference to instruction of children was a re-
solution passed by the conference of the church, in 1811, re-

questing "that all preachers should hold instruction of children
regularly." A small catechism, which had been translated by Rev.
John Dreisbach, had been ordered published in 1809. The first

formal method of instruction in the denomination was the cate-

chetical method. In 1847, William W. Orwig published a catechism



in the German language. In 1852 this was translated into English

and continued in use until 1882 when it was replaced by a cate-

chism written by Bishop J. J. Esher. Bishop Esher was one of the

outstanding advocates of the catechetical method of instruction.

He believed that instruction limited to the Sunday School did not

accomplish the results that a personal contact between the min-

ister and the children accomplished. So keenly did he feel the

need of more carefully planned instruction that, in 1865, as

chairman of the Committee on Education at the General Conference,

he sponsored a resolution endorsing the establishment of paro-

chial schools in connection with the congregations. Nothing was

done about it, however, principally because of the desire to a-

void the danger of making the church too formalistic.

Following 1926 the Board of Religious Education of the
Evangelical Church undertook a revision of the whole catechetical

procedure by making provisions for the grading of texts in cate-

chism. There are now three grades of catechism available The

Junior Catechism, which is written in simple language and for use

of children between the ages of nine and twelve; The Handbook of

Religion which is designed for use with youth; That Evangeli-

cala Believe, by Bishop S. P. Spring, which is a doctrinal state-

ment of belief intended for use with groups of young people. An-

other book, Seeking Admission by V. E. Peffley, serves the pastor

in classes designed to prepare for church membership.

The Development of Curriculum
in the Sunday School

with the organization of the first Sunday School in



Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1832, and the authorization by the Gen-

eral Conference of 1835 for the establishing of Sunday Schools

throughout the denomination we have the beginnings of a curricu-

lum problem which perplexed the early leaders in the movement and

which persists to the present time.. A demand for some sort of

literary material arose throughout the church where Sunday Schools

were being organized, other churches refusing to organize because

of lack of materials.

The fact that the Sunday Schools were conducted in the

German language augmented the practical difficulties which faced

these early pioneers in curriculum building. There were no

German Sunday School books to be purchased on the market. The

Methodist Episcopal Church had made considerable progress in its

program of providing materials for use in its Sunday Schools.

These books, however, were printed in the English language. The

American Sunday School Union likewise was busily preparing ma-

terials for use in Sunday Schools, but these also were entirely

English. The Lutheran Church, which was confining its work a-

mong the German-speaking peoples, did not begin the active pro-

motion of Sunday Schools until after 1860. Through the method

of parochial schools, cateohetical instruction leading up to con-

firmation, this communion was meeting the demands for the relig-

ious education of its children.

Because of this situation the Evangelical denomination

was left to its own devices in the preparation of the material

for use in the Sunday Schools. The Bible became the primary type

of material. Church periodicals and church hymnals were also


used. While there was a great lack of printed materials, the

fact that the classes were held i 'the homes, and the further

fact that this was a cooperative enterprise on the part of the

families, made of this procedure a share experience which has

certain values that are not obtainable even in the best equipped

buildings for religious education.

Memorization of verses of the Bible and hymns was the

principal method of teaching. A part of each class session was

taken up with the hearing of verses which had been committed to

memory. This memorization emphasis reached its most important

stage beginning with the year 1850 and continuing until 1870, al-

though in individual schools the method has continued to the

present time. Many of the older members recall this period of

instruction in their early experience in Sunday Schools. The re-

ports as they appeared in the denominational periodicals are very

revealing as to the extent of this practice. When the startling

number of verses which were reported as having been memorized by

individual pupils, ranging occasionally from fifty to one hundred

verses per pupil per Sunday, it is to be wondered how all of

these verses could have been recited even during the class period

of one hour.

In order to stimulate memorization an elaborate award

system was introduced. The child was handed a blue ticket if it

memorized a certain number of verses, and as soon as the number

of blue rickets were increased to six, the child would be given

a red ricket. This would be negotiable for the securing of some

prize, usually a Bible or a new book out of the Sunday School



The Sunday School library held an important place in the

early organization of the Sunday School in the Evangelical denom-

ination. Because the publishing house had not yet begun to is-

sue materials for use in the Sunday School in the form of lesson

helps, this material was purchased in the form of books. This

library contained books which were not only used in the class

sessions, but also books of a general nature which could be with-

drawn for one week and returned the following Sunday.

Another of the practical problems which faced the early

workers in the field of religious education in the Evangelical

denomination was the teaching of the German language during the

regular sessions of the Sunday School. For the younger children,

and older ones unable to read the German, this German language

instruction was the principal type of procedure. There are many

members of the church living today who recall the method by which

they were taught the German language during the regular sessions

of the Sunday School. The publishing house printed many volumes

of books suitable for the teaching of the German language. Spec-

ial wall charts, displaying the letters of the German alphabet

both in printing and writing, were distributed among the churches.

Various reasons are given for this emphasis upon the

German language, one being that the early pioneers believed their

principal responsibility lay among the German-speaking peoples.

The General Conference of 1830 adopted a resolution which order-

ed the ministry to confine its work among the German portion of

the population. This action was not repealed until the General



Conference of 1843, at which time a resolution was adopted that

hereafter, the denomination shall laior both for the English and

the German portion of.our population.* From this time forward

every provision for worship in the English language was made,

English conferences were organized, and English periodical was

begun, and translations of disciplines and hymn-books were made

for use in English-speaking congregations.

The first strictly Sunday School publication was the

Christliche Kinderfreund which began in 1855. This was a reading

paper for children. In 1860 an English reading paper appeared

entitled The Evangelical Sunday School Messenger. In 1872 Das

Evangelische Xagazin, a German publication, made its appearance.

This was a family and Sunday School magazine and quite an effec-

tive means of dissemination of Sunday School and Normal class

information. In 1875 the English Sunday School Teacher began

publication. With the formation of the Sunday School and Tract

Union in 1860 the distribution as well as preparation of Sunday

School materials was anticipated. The materials were not forth-

coming, however. In spite of the assurance that they would, con-

fusion and lack of materials persisted. The Sunday Schools were

"shopping around" for materials. One issue of the Botschafter

in its editorial columns recommended the use of the "National"

series being published in Chicago, Illinois.

It was not until the International Uniform Lesson System

made its appearance in 1872 that a consecutive series of lesson

materials was available. Just as soon as they appeared they were

described in the publications of the Evangelical Church. Official


recognition of the Uniform System was authorized by the General

Conference of 1875. YSince a considerable proportion of the Sun-

day Schools in the denomination were still being conducted in

the German language it was necessary to translate these materials.

As was the case with other denominations, a feeling of

dissatisfaction gradually arose regarding the Uniform System, es-

pecially in its use with younger children. It was felt that it

was too material centered and the treatment of the lesson mater-

ials too largely exegetical. By a slow process of change the

Uniform Series as applied to-the Children's Division has been

dropped and the Group Graded Series substituted. The Group Grad-

ed material is provided for the Intermediate Department. The Im-

proved Uniform Lessons are printed for use in the Senior, Young

People's and Adult Departments.

Part IV

Trends in Procedures of Religious Education

In this study of religious education in the Evangelical

denomination we turn now to a consideration of the development of

various procedures, namely, those of worship, teaching, leader-

ship training, service and recreation.


One of the most fruitful sources for the discovering of

the denominational trends in the content and procedure of worship

arises out of a careful study of the changing types of hymnology.

So far as the Evangelical denomination is concerned, the singing


of hymns has always been an integral part of its church life. In-

spirational congregational singing has occupied an important place

in the worship services. Throughout the history of the denomina-

tion, camp meetings and evangelistic services have been signifi-

cant features of its life, and these make abundant use of the

technique of song. Not only in public worship was the singing of

hymns emphasized, but in the family circle as well. Admonitions

regarding the regular holding of family periods of worship, both

in the morning and evening, were repeatedly stressed by the min-
isters and the denominational papers.

The development of hymnology in the Evangelical Church
took place along two general directions. First, hymn-books were

prepared for general use in the services of public worship, and

second, for use in the Sunday School and other services.

A small book of songs was prepared in the year 1810 by

John Walter, one of the first ministers of the denomination. Up

to this time Lutheran and Reformed Church hymn-books had been

used. Because this book was more or less of a private venture

on the part of John Walter, and rather limited in size and number

of hymns, the General Conference of 1816 authorized the publish-

ing of another hymn-book to be known as Das Geistliche Saiten-

spiel (The Spiritual Psalter).

The first Sunday School hymn-book was published in 1840.

This book underwent many revisions. The first book with musical

notations was the German Sunday School book Juebeltoene, which

was published in 1871. A number of other books have.appeared,

the latest being The Evangelical Church School Hymnal, published

in 1930.

A comparison of the themes of the various divisions of

the hymns as used in the Sunday School hymn-books of 1843, 1871

and 1930 reveals an interesting study in.the changing character

of the hymnology for use in religious education in the Evangeli-

cal denomination. Certain distinct trends in hymn themes are in

evidence. One noticeable trend is from the concept of God as a

stern Judge to God as a loving Father. One observes also a de-

velopment from a solely personal and individualistic emphasis

toward the inclusion of a group or social responsibility as well.

In the early hymns the element of fear played a strong part,

whereas in the 1930 hymnal love and loyalty receive the emphasis.

Gloom and forebodings of the future, especially in the next world,

are stressed in the earlier songs whereas in the last hymnal

hymns descriptive of "the virility and cheerfulness of a whose-

some Christian experience" are selected.

In considering the historical development of the services

of worship in the religious educational program of the church,

one must bear in mind the type of organization which character-

ized the early schools. They were chiefly for children and in

control of adults. The only adults present in the session were

officers and .teachers. Services of worship were not definitely

planned. There was no thought of the school as an opportunity

for training in worship. Any opening hymns or scripture readings

were considered "preliminary" to the real purpose of the school.

As the years pass a more formal procedure for the conduct of the

worship period is developed, until at the present time there is


a distinct trend toward the inclusion of liturgical elements in

the services of worship.


It is difficult to separate the subject matter of the cur-

riculum from the method. Some elements of content under the term

"Curriculum* have been considered. We now turn to the method of

using this material. Both content and method are very intimately

woven together in practice. The sources reveal the following

types of teaching in use in the early period:

First, because memorization was the principal method of

class procedure, the type of teaching was that of the recitation.

The time of the class period taken up in the reciting of verses

previously committed to memory.

Second, since the Bible was the only material available,
most of the definite instructions regarding methods of teaching

have to do with the proper use of the Bible.

Third, cne of the popular earlier methods was the use of
the blackboard. Designs and pictures illustrating the lesson

were used.

In a study of the literature dealing with recent teach-

ing procedure in the Evangelical denomination one discovers that

it is more or less the result of scientific studies in the field

of general and religions education. Those who contribute to the

thinking of teaching technique write from the basis of education-

al and technical experience. Among the methods in practice are

the following lecture, discussion, story telling, pageantry and

dramatization, and project. Recent references to experience-

centered teaching indicate significant trends away from the pure-

ly material-centered curriculum.

So far as teaching procedures in young people's societies

is concerned, where the society is properly conducted, the adult-

controlled type of group procedure is at a minimum, owing to the

provision for the presence of only one adult who acts in the ca-

pacity of a counsellor, and an opportunity for cooperative inves-

tigation on the part of the members of the group is oftentimes

made possible.

Leadership Training

The early attempts providing for adequate preparation of

workers in religious education in the local church dealt primar-

ily with the teacher in the Sunday School. One of the first sug-

gestions making provision for the training of the teacher app-ars

in the denominational paper, the Botsohafter of 1868, in a report

of the first denominational Sunday School convention. In 1874

the findings of the Chicago District Convention, held at Barring-

ton, Illinois, took steps in providing trained teachers and sug-

gesting a program for a teachers' meeting. In 1879 the General

Conference adopted a resolution urging the organizing of normal

classes in every local church. Textbooks were prepared, the

Evangelical Church being one of the earliest among the denomina-

tions to make definite provisions for the training of teachers.

New series of texts were prepared until 1922 when the denomina-

tion began its cooperation with the International Council of Re-

ligious Education in its program of Leadership Training. The

full outline of the General and Specialization units, together



with suggested textbooks is described in a booklet *Leadership

Training* issued by the General Board of Religious Education of

the church, and generously distributed throughout the denomina-


Aside from the regular classes, local, group and district

institutes provide a helpful means for the development of leader-

ship efficiency in the local church. One of the important ele-

ments of any conference program of religious education is the

regular holding of one- and two-day institutes in various sec-

tions of the state. Two specialists are usually present and a

consideration of actual problems on the field forms' the' basis of

the conference. These institutes provide opportunity for the

sharing of experiences and the formulation of adequate procedures

which the worker may adapt to his particular field. The various

educational institutions of the denomination have established

departments of religious education and offer standard courses in

Bible and religious education.


Very early in the organization of the local Sunday School

opportunities for service acts by the pupils formed a part of the

procedure. These usually took the form of special programs at

New Years, the occasions being called "New Years' Festivals."

Children participated in the programs, and an offering for mis-

sionary purposes was received. In other schools the practice of

receiving regular missionary offerings during the Sunday School

sessions was followed. An outstanding day in the Evangelical

program of religious education is that of Children's Day which


_ i'

has been developed as an annual day of missionary inspiration and

giving. The day was first observed in 1880 as a Sunday School

Jubilee Day in commemoration of the founding of the first Sunday

School by Robert Raikes in England, just one hundred years prev-

ious. The General Conference of 1883, however, authorized that

the day should be observed as a Missionary Day and the offerings

devoted to missionary purposes.


The negative attitude of the early leaders of religious

education toward the social and recreational life of the group

is only a reflection of the spirit of the religious population

as a whole. This was due to the theological conceptions of human

nature which prevailed at the time, resulting in an emphasis upon

the "other worldly* objectives, rather than in the development of

the child for a-well-rounded, effective Christian personality.

The influence of the Puritan type of behavior of early American

church life is too familiar to require further comment.

One is not surprised, therefore, to discover in the Evan-

gelical denomination an indifferent attitude toward any special

provisions for the social development of children. Warnings are

frequently uttered by ministers and leaders of the church regard-

ing the dangers to their spiritual development if children and

young people are allowed too much freedom in social and recrea-

tional activities. The church buildings made no provision for

recreational procedures. There were certain forms of recreation,

however, which gradually developed. Outdoor celebrations, pic-
nics, and various kinds of programs in the churches were the

principal types of earlier forms of social expression.

Since 1900 there has been a distinct trend in the direc-

tion of adequate provision for a wholesome social and recreation-

al program. The various organizations appoint committees to su-

pervise recreational activities. There is a trend toward coop-

erative direction. Instead of an arbitrary adult control of the

social and recreational program, there are indications of a co-

operative type of endeavor. Recreational procedures are arrived

at by the results of a shared experience of young and old, and

through the process of cooperative investigation the program be-

comes the expression of the best thinking and highest ideals of

the group. The change in type of church architecture with its

provision for social rooms is an indication of the recognition

which the.denomination is beginning to give to a wholesome re-

creational program.

Part V

Trends in Objectives of Religious Education

This study of religious education in the Evangelical de-

nomination has revealed'the fact that it has been principally a-

long empirical lines that religious education has developed. There

was consequently no definite formulation of aims, and those which

have developed have grown up more or less informally as experi-

ence widened and needs demanded.

There are certain specific factors which enter into the
building up of objectives in the Evangelical program of religious

education which may not be so apparent in other religious groups.

r -- ---

One factor is the early religious educational experience of the

first members of the denomination. Many of them had previously

come through a process of indoctrination by means of the cate-

chetical and confirmation techniques in other communions. In these

communions after confirmation the young people usually became ac-

tive participants in the life and worship of the church. Those

who became members of the Evangelical denomination, however, had

only become members after they had passed through an intense con-

version experience. As a consequence, in the minds of some of

the early members this vital experience seemed to make unneces-

sary any provision for development through the processes of re-

ligious education.

This problem of harmonizing the conversion technique with
the oateehetical method proved a persistent issue. Persons were

to become members of the Evangelical denomination, not through

the confirmation technique but rather through the process of con-

version. Consequently, these two alternatives needed constantly

to be faced. Too much emphasis could not be placed upon the

catechetical method for fear that religion would become too for-
mal; on the other hand, it was felt there could be no fundamen-
tal basis for a vital religious experience without a thorough

grounding in the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Another determining factor in early objectives of relig-

ious education was the influence of the German language. Since
in the majority of cases the worship services were conducted in

this language, and since the community did not provide adequate

instruction in that language, if growing children were to parti-

cipate in the life of the church, instruction in language must be

provided and therefore became one of the aims of the Sunday School

in its early stages.

With reference to the historical aims of the Sunday School

in order to encourage the movement for their organization it was

necessary that attention be called to the values of the organiza-

tion, and statements of purpose were therefore frequent. It is

to be observed that these aims indicate the intimate relationship

between the instructional and evangelistic objectives.

Trends in objectives are also available in the Episcopal

messages which were delivered to the General Conferences every

four years since 1863. A comparison of the messages of 1863,

1887, 1926 and 1930 reveals a significant trend away from the

exclusively denominational interests to the inclusion of the in-
terests of society at large. The church is concerned in the

building of a better social order as well as stimulating individ-

ual living. While in the first message, reference was made to

the Civil War, it was principally in relation to the effect which

the war had upon the progress of the church. In the last message

comprehensive statements with reference to the various social

problems were made, and the membership of the church urged to

support all movements looking toward the solution of these prob-


In reference to religious education, the 1930 message

differs from the previous messages in that the various agencies

are not mentioned specifically. The local church was made cen-

tral. The statement of this Episcopal message dealing with re-


ligious education opens with the sentence "Rvery church must be

a school in Christian living." Thus it is observed that relig-

ious education has come to be viewed as being a primary function

of the church. This 1930 message also contains the first defi-

nite formulation of objectives of religious education.

Part VI

The meaning of the Trends

Through the process of digging deep into the rich mind of

over one hundred years of past experience in religious education-

al development of the Ivangelical Church, it has become possible

to uncover certain outstanding trends.

The Reaning of Trends in Organisation

Tracing the development of organization one discovers a

movement, first, which seeks to function through the establishing

of agencies. These are organized to meet the needs of a particu-

lar age group. The second step is the expansion of the work of

this agency to include other age groups. The third aspect arises

when these agencies seek to allocate various activities to each

other. The next step is the provision for a Board of Religious

Education which places the responsibility of religious education

directly upon the local church. The church thus finally assumes

its fundamental function of religious education.

The leaning of Trends in Curriculum

The study of the development of curriculum procedures has

__l-an~r ----rr--~*~n~--------


centered attention upon the complex problem of supplying materials

for use in local church situations. As one reads of the attempts

which were made by the Evangelical denomination to provide its

own materials, how committees were authorized to provide "Sunday

School Books,* how pastors were urged to submit manuscripts for

books which might be used in classes and how meagre the response,

all of this makes almost pathetic reading because of the sincere

efforts which were put forth to meet the urgent need. The church-

es were encouraged to organize schools and when they were organ-

ized, had difficulty in maintaining the organization because of

limited materials. From 1836 to 1872 the denominational period-

icals repeatedly called attention to the lack of adequate guid-

ance in curriculum procedure.

As soon as the International Uniform Lessons made their

appearance in 1872 the Evangelical Church adopted them as a part

of its own curriculum procedure. Thus began a gradual movement

toward interdenominational cooperation in curriculum building.

So far as trends in curriculum are concerned, they point conclu-

sively to the fact that leadership in this activity extends be-

yond the borders of the denomination into the broader field of

interdenominational effort, where the results of scientific re-

search are made available.

As one surveys this period of struggle on the part of

the early leaders to provide adequate materials, it is to be re-

gretted, even though it could not be helped, that these leaders

did not sense the opportunity which each teacher had, even with-

out available lesson materials. The emphasis was then, as it is



now in many instances, upon a material-centered curriculum. If,

however, "the content of religious education is the experience

of the learner as it undergoes enrichment, interpretation and con-

trol in terms of Christian ideals and purposes," these early work-

ers had all the material necessary and were not aware of it. The

churches, furthermore, were supporting the maintenance of Sunday

School libraries which might have been used as source materials.

The Meaning of Trends in the Development
of Procedures

Tracing the development of hymnology, there is a notice-

able trend in the theological content of the hymns. The Chris-

tian life is viewed not only from the angle of its individual re-

sponsibility to God but also from the side of its corporate re-

sponsibility as well. There is also a distinct trend toward the

more elaborate services of worship which is in harmony with a

general movement toward the inclusion of a larger degree of the

ritualistic content in orders of service.

So far as the teaching procedure is concerned, the ear-

liest types emphasized their citation. Recent developments indi-

oate a trend toward greater pupil participation, although this

would need to be verified by records made from actual observa-

tions of teaching procedure. Supervision is still in its begin-

nings as a procedure in the religious educational development of

the Evangelical denomination.

The trend in social and recreational procedures has de-

veloped from that of a more or less negative attitude to one
which recognizes the contribution which a wholesome approach to

~~c ---- -- -s ""

this activity mly make. As much as possible the tendency appears

to be to provide for community direction and a type of program

worked out which shall be conducted in cooperation with the home,

the school, and other community agencies.

The Meaning of Trends in Objectives

This historical survey reveals that the early suggestions

dealing with objectives were concerned more with the specific

aims of the various agencies of religious education. The question

usually stated was "*What is the purpose of the Sunday School;

the Young People's Society?* As experience has proceeded there

has emerged a desire to state these objectives in terms of the

total function of the church rather than in terms of agencies.

The content of the objectives has been widened so as to

culminate in the achieving of a Christian personality, thus mak-

ing the purposes of evangelism and instruction a unit rather than

separate methods. This Christian personality is to function

through the institutionalized expression of the Christian relig-

ion, the church, and become an aware and effective member of the

various groups in our society.

This study of trends in objectives in the Evangelical de-

nomination indicates that the immediate steps are the providing

of specific objectives in local church situations. For it is in

the local church that the program of religious education suc-

ceeds or fails. These specific and concrete objectives are need-

ed to provide adequate incentives as well as affording the means

by which measurement of progress may be scientifically determined.


IIs a~lilm 1111111

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