Sunday School at Maple Grove

By Marilyn Kettering Badger

November 28, 2016

   Maple Grove had one of the first organized Sunday School programs in Northern Ohio.  The date is not officially preserved (since written records did not start until 1876), but in an account written in 1874 for the Young Disciple, the church publication at the time, it says it occurred on the first Sunday in May 1873.

     Sunday Schools at the time were considered worldly and therefore were not popular.  For the first ten years, there was no Sunday School literature published nor were there classes for special ages.  Sometimes a class consisted of ages ten to mature adults.  Chapters were read from the New Testament.  This Sunday School (Maple Grove’s), in all its history has been known to have a good, up-to-date school.  (NEO, 1914, page 125)

     The Sunday school program at first was only held in the summer months, but in 1879, it was made evergreen.  This meant that Sunday School was held year round and not just in the summer. 

       An addition was added at the back of the church house near the 1880's.  This gave more room for Sunday School classes along with adding an indoor baptistry and space to be used for love feasts previously held in the horse sheds. 

      On March 31,1889, the Sunday School was organized with different age classes.  Eleven teachers had classes at this organization: six men and five women.  All money collected went into the church treasury and Sunday School supplies were paid from that.  (MG, 1960, page 12)

     In 1900 a request was made for a Sunday School teacher’s meeting at church council and it was granted.This may have been another first with teachers sharing ideas and learning how to better teach. In 1922, Maple Grove entertained the Sunday School convention for the district.

     A history of northeastern Ohio written in 1914 says this about Maple Grove:  “The present Sunday-school, under the superintendency of W.H.Gerber, supports a Home Department numbering seventy members; Cradle Roll, thirty-three; officers and teachers, sixteen; pupils in the main school, 175; average attendance, 140.  This is the second largest Sunday school in the District.  The school has been evergreen for years.”

     In 1923, the Sunday School fiscal year was changed by the church from January 1 to October 1. (Approved Oct. 27, 1923 Council meeting)

     In 1941, a basement was built under the church building and this made for more classroom space.

     From an Ashland Times-Gazette interview of Glenn and Billie Watring in June, 2004: “A former Sunday school teacher, the Ashland resident said poor health prevents her from attending the church where she once enjoyed fellowship with her fellow members.  “Sunday school classes,” she said, ”were the best. You grow closer to each other in a small situation like that … We had fun times together.”

     “I just remember my Sunday school teachers.  I loved my Sunday school teachers.  I guess I’m sentimental because of the memories we had, and it connects a little to the building.”  Billie said, “But it isn’t the building, it’s the people, and the love we have as a church family.” (Ashland TG, 06/05/2004)

     Sunday School is a time of learning and sharing ideas for adults, youth, and children.  Are you a part of this valuable learning experience?  Let’s join together to learn scriptures, share with each other what they say to us and learn about applying them to everyday life.  

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