Growing and Going Chapter 3

Trinity Church – Growing and Going

Chapter 3 – The Sunday School

The first recorded Sunday School meeting took place on 6th February 1934 at the home of Mr. Robinson. Rev. George Parsons presided and 19 members were present. Mr Robinson was elected superintendent. A children’s Choir was to be trained for the opening of the Church Hall four months later and a Mr Stubbs was asked to train them. They would practice every Sunday afternoon from 3:15 until 4:15. Star cards were introduced and marks for regular attendance and punctuality would be recorded. The Minister stressed the necessity of a teacher’s prayer meeting held on the first Wednesday of each month.

At the meeting on May 15th the average weekly attendance had increased to 232 with a corresponding increase of 8 teachers. The treasurer reported a balance in hand of One Pound Ten Shillings and Five Pence! This seemed insufficient for a Sunday School treat, but fortunately a Mr. Jackson of Stockbridge Lane offered the use of his field. Miss Elsie Smith was elected the first Girl Guide Captain and W.A. Yates in charge of Boy Scouts, both to be run in close conjunction with the Church and Sunday School.

The next meeting on 17th July was held in the new premises, and by now the average attendance had risen to 461, the highest being 557! But by 1936 a decrease of 20% was recorded, mainly because of the opening of other Sunday Schools in the area. A further 20% decline resulted in 1937 and again in 1938, and by 1943 attendance had leveled to 134.

Sunday School Beginners department, 1960, West Kirby or Hoylake

One cause in the decline was the irregularity of certain teachers. Moreover in 1938 some personality problems arose with a number of resignations following. The new minister, Rev. W.H. Carter, firmly faced these difficulties and in the minutes for 24th October 1938 it is recorded: “During the whole of his ministerial experience, Mr. Carter said he had never had an unruly meeting and sincerely hoped that this meeting would not spoil that record or experience”. He appealed for the return of true fellowship.

About this time it was felt that a training class for teachers was desperately needed; it was decided to begin in 1939, but by 1942 it still had not got off the ground. Also in this period it was passed that every Sunday Scholar be asked to bring a halfpenny per week as collection! In 1939 one Scout Patrol Leader was awarded the Cornwall Badge for his cheerfulness and courage during a long illness.

World War II began and Mr. Nunley pointed out that the windows in the hall badly needed blackout material; accordingly the Sunday School agreed to pay for this. The Guides and Brownies were knitting comforters for H.M. Forces abroad. During 1940 the Sunday School was closed for a few months because of heavy bombing and lack of air-raid shelters; teachers were asked to hold a class in their own home. The children were urged to bring eggs on Easter Sunday as gifts for children in hospital.

At the meeting in March 1941, Miss Ethel Braley (later Mrs. Ethel Martin) was unable to present her Cradle Roll Report because the Cradle Roll had been destroyed by enemy action!

During the constant wartime bombing, one of our Scouts, Alfy Lee, was commended for rescuing a family from a burning building, digging them out of the rubble at Swanside Avenue. He was awarded the George Medal for bravery, as well as the Scout Silver Cross.

Scouts and Brownies with leaders outside the church

In the post war years the Sunday School continued its important work among young people and as late as 1964 Miss Agnes Lumsden, then Superintendent, reported over 100 children on the Sunday School roll and 27 teachers on the staff. By the late 60’s however, numbers had reduced dramatically and the deterioration continued throughout the 1970’s. Now in our fiftieth year the Sunday School has only 6 teachers and a mere 40 on the roll, a Herculean but not impossible task. Numbers in all four uniformed organisations are remarkably high and our constant aim is to win them into the Sunday School, and teach them the things of God. God himself encourages us in that quest and so the “problem” becomes the “opportunity”.

I have always maintained that the most demanding role within the Church is that of Sunday School teacher. With quiet resolution and renewed faith, our present teachers look forward to the challenge of the years ahead in Trinity Sunday School.