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Sunday School (formerly the Deseret Sunday School Union) is an official organization of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that considers itself to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus ...
(LDS Church). All members of the church and any interested nonmembers, age 11 and older, are encouraged to participate in Sunday School.


Purpose

According to the LDS Church, the purposes of its Sunday School program are to: # "Strengthen individuals' and families' faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through teaching, learning, and fellowshipping, and # "Help Church members 'teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom' (D&C 88:77) at church and at home."


History


Early LDS Sunday Schools

Historical records indicate that some form of Sunday School was held by Latter Day Saints in
Kirtland, Ohio Kirtland is a city in Lake County, Ohio, United States. The population was 6,859 at the 2010 census. Kirtland is known for being the early headquarters of the Latter Day Saint movement from 1831 to 1837 and is the site of the first Mormon temple, t ...
, and
Nauvoo, Illinois Nauvoo (; etymology: ) is a small city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States, on the Mississippi River near Fort Madison, Iowa. The population of Nauvoo was 1,149 at the 2010 census. Nauvoo attracts visitors for its historic importance and it ...
, in the 1830s and 1840s. However, the meetings were ad hoc and no formal organization endured the
Mormon exodus The Mormon pioneers were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), also known as Latter-day Saints, who migrated in the mid-1840s across the United States from the Midwest to the Salt Lake Valley in what is today t ...
from Nauvoo. The first formal Sunday school in the LDS Church was held on December 9, 1849, in
Salt Lake City Salt Lake City (often shortened to Salt Lake and abbreviated as SLC) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah, as well as the seat of Salt Lake County, the most populous county in Utah. With an estimated population of 200, ...
under the direction of
Richard Ballantyne Richard Ballantyne (August 26, 1817 – November 8, 1898) was the founder of the Sunday School of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having begun the program in December 1849. He was also a Mormon pioneer and missionary. Ballantyne ...
, a former Sunday school teacher in the Relief
Presbyterian Church Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, which traces its origins to Great Britain, specifically Scotland. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is gove ...
in
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154 km) border with England to the southeast and is otherwis ...
. Lacking a suitable building to hold the meeting in, Ballantyne invited his students into his own home; approximately thirty Latter-day Saint children between the ages of 8 and 13 attended. The local congregation that Ballantyne belonged to—the Salt Lake City Fourteenth
Ward Ward may refer to: Division or unit * Hospital ward, a hospital division, floor, or room set aside for a particular class or group of patients, for example the psychiatric ward * Prison ward, a division of a penal institution such as a prison ...
—quickly adopted Ballantyne's Sunday school program and integrated it with regular Sunday meetings. Other LDS Church congregations followed the Fourteenth Ward's example and adopted Sunday school programs based on the Ballantyne model. At this stage, each Sunday school was completely autonomous and under the sole direction of the local
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian, Anglican, Old Catholic a ...
.


Deseret Sunday School Union

Anxious to bring a standard structure and organization to the over 200 independent Sunday schools that had been created, LDS Church
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese full- ...
Brigham Young Brigham Young (; June 1, 1801August 29, 1877) was an American religious leader, politician, and settler. He was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1847 until his death in 1877. He founded Sal ...

Brigham Young
ordered that a union of the Sunday schools be carried out. On November 11, 1867, Young and church leaders Daniel H. Wells, George A. Smith,
Wilford Woodruff Wilford Woodruff Sr. (March 1, 1807September 2, 1898) was an American religious leader who served as the fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1889 until his death. He ended the public practice of pl ...
, George Q. Cannon, and Brigham Young Jr. met and organized the Parent Sunday School Union. Young appointed Cannon as the first general superintendent of the Sunday School, a position he would hold until his death in 1901. In 1872, the Sunday School organization was renamed the Deseret Sunday School Union. The organized Sunday School addressed lesson topics and source materials, grading, prizes and rewards, use of
hymn A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word ''hymn'' derives from Greek (''hymnos'' ...
s and songs composed by members of the church, recording and increasing the attendance, developing an elementary
catechism A catechism (; from grc, κατηχέω, "to teach orally") is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult conv ...
, and libraries. It also sponsored the publication of administrative guidelines and materials for classroom use, resulting in increased uniformity lesson content. Until the turn of the century, only children were taught by the Sunday School. Eventually, classes were added for the youth of the church; in 1904, an adult Sunday School class was created.


Priesthood Correlation Program changes

The 1970s saw dramatic change within the Sunday School. In 1971, as part of the church
Priesthood Correlation Program In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Priesthood Correlation Program (also called the Correlation Program or simply Correlation) began in 1908 as a program to reform the instruction manuals and curriculum of the differ ...
, the name of the Deseret Sunday School Union was changed to simply Sunday School, and the Sunday School general "superintendent" was renamed the general Sunday School "president". Additionally, curriculum planning and writing became more centralized and coordinated; for the first time, the Sunday School stopped providing unique lesson manuals each year, and the church began a four-year curriculum rotation pattern. In 1979, Hugh W. Pinnock became the general president of the Sunday School, the first
general authority A general authority is a member of the highest levels of leadership within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who has administrative and ecclesiastical authority over the church. A general authority's jurisdiction is church-wide, in con ...
of the church to hold the position since
apostle An apostle (), in its most literal sense, is an emissary, from Greek ἀπόστολος (''apóstolos''), literally "one who is sent off", from the verb ἀποστέλλειν (''apostéllein''), "to send off".Liddell & Scott's Greek-English Lex ...
David O. McKay's
David O. McKay's
tenure ended in 1934. In 1980, the church instructed the Sunday School to stop passing the
sacrament A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, a ...
during Sunday School classes, a practice that
Brigham Young Brigham Young (; June 1, 1801August 29, 1877) was an American religious leader, politician, and settler. He was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1847 until his death in 1877. He founded Sal ...

Brigham Young
had begun in 1877.


Sunday School periodicals

In 1866, just prior to the formal organization of the Sunday School Union, Cannon had begun publishing the ''
Juvenile Instructor ''The Juvenile Instructor'' was a magazine for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It began publication in 1866 as a private publication, but by the late 1860s served as the de facto publication of the LDS Church ...
'' magazine. Although the magazine was owned and edited solely by Cannon, it nevertheless became the de facto official publication of the Deseret Sunday School Union in the late 1860s. On January 1, 1901, the church purchased the magazine from the
Cannon family The Cannon family is a prominent U.S. political family in the states of Utah, Nevada and Idaho which descends from the 19th century marriage of George Cannon and Ann Quayle before their emigration from Peel, Isle of Man. The family's most notable m ...
and the ''Juvenile Instructor'' officially became an organ of the church's Sunday School. In 1930, it was replaced by ''
The Instructor ''The Instructor'' was an official periodical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) between 1930 and 1970, during which time it was the official organ of the LDS Church's Sunday School organization. History ''The Instruct ...
'', which was published until 1970. The Sunday School currently does not have an official periodical, but information that may be used in Sunday School appears in the ''
Ensign An ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern (rear) of the ship while in port. The naval ensign (also known as war ensign), used on warships, may be differe ...
'' and the '' New Era'' magazines.


Chronology of the general superintendency and presidency of the Sunday School


Sunday School in the church today


Curriculum

Sunday School focuses on a study of the
standard works#REDIRECT Standard works#REDIRECT Standard works {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
of the church, which are considered
scripture Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or discussion of beliefs, mythologies, ritual practices, commandments or laws, ethical conduct, spiritual aspirations, and for crea ...
. The main class in Sunday School for those 18 years of age and older is called "Gospel Doctrine". In general, the Gospel Doctrine curriculum follows a four-year cycle: :*Year 1 (most recently, 2018):
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh), a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites belie ...
(and the
Book of Moses The Book of Moses, dictated by Joseph Smith, is part of the scriptural canon for some in the Latter Day Saint movement. The book begins with the "Visions of Moses," a prologue to the story of the creation and the fall of man (Moses chapter 1), and ...
and
Book of Abraham Image:Joseph Smith Papyrus I.jpg, 300px, A portion of the papyri used by Joseph Smith as the source of the Book of Abraham. The difference between Egyptologists' translation and Joseph Smith's interpretations has caused considerable controversy. Th ...
from the Pearl of Great Price) :*Year 2 (most recently, 2019):
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianit ...
:*Year 3 (most recently, 2020):
Book of Mormon The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, which, according to Latter Day Saint theology, contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421. It was first publ ...
:*Year 4 (most recently, 2021):
Doctrine and Covenants The Doctrine and Covenants (sometimes abbreviated and cited as D&C or D. and C.) is a part of the open scriptural canon of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement. Originally published in 1835 as Doctrine and Covenants of the Church ...
and
church history __NOTOC__ Church history or ecclesiastical history as an academic discipline studies the history of Christianity and the way the Christian Church has developed since its inception. Henry Melvill Gwatkin defined church history as "the spiritual s ...
However, there are also a number of "generalist" and "specialist" classes that may be taught in Sunday School. For example,
Gospel Principles ''Gospel Principles'' is a book that sets out some of the basic doctrines and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The book is published by the LDS Church and is provided to its members as a personal study guide ...
is a generalist class that is primarily intended for those new to, or inexperienced, in the church or for those with a calling related to missionary work. It is also common for a local
congregation A congregation is a large gathering of people, often for the purpose of worship. Congregation may also refer to: *Church (congregation), a Christian organization meeting in a particular place for worship *Congregation (Roman Curia), an administrat ...
to offer specialist Sunday School classes in
family history Genealogy (from el, γενεαλογία ' "the making of a pedigree") is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obta ...
,
temples A temple (from the Latin word ) is a building reserved for religious or spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. The term typically used for such buildings belonging to all faiths where a more specific term such as church, ...
,
marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them ...
and family relations, and teacher training. In most church congregations, Sunday School is a 40-minute class which is held either immediately after or immediately prior to
Sacrament meeting Sacrament meeting is the weekly worship service held on Sunday in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). 200px, The chapel in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah">Salt_Lake_City.html" style="text-dec ...
. Everyone 11 years of age and older are encouraged to attend; children under age 11 have Sunday School-style classes taught to them in
Primary Primary or primaries may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Music Groups and labels * Primary (band), from Australia * Primary (musician), hip hop musician and record producer from South Korea * Primary Music, Israeli record label Works * ...
, with those classes administered by the Primary organization.


Structure of Sunday School


Local structure

Each congregation (ward or branch) has an adult male priesthood holder who serves as the local Sunday School president. The president is called by the local
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian, Anglican, Old Catholic a ...
(or
branch president A branch president is a leader of a "branch" congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The calling of branch president is very similar to the calling of bishop, except that instead of presiding over a ward, the ...
) and, under the bishop's direction, he oversees the Sunday School. The Sunday School president may submit names to the bishop who then typically calls two counselors and a secretary to assist the president. Other adults in the congregation will serve as instructors in the various Sunday School classes. A
stake A stake is a strong wooden or metal post with a point at one end, driven into the ground to support a tree, form part of a fence, act as a boundary mark, etc. Stake may also refer to: Entertainment * ''Stake: Fortune Fighters'', a 2003 video gam ...
(or
district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or counties, several municipalities, subdivisions of muni ...
) Sunday School presidency provides support and training to the local Sunday School presidents.


Church-wide responsibility

Under the direction of
general authorities A general authority is a member of the highest levels of leadership within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who has administrative and ecclesiastical authority over the church. A general authority's jurisdiction is church-wide, in con ...
, the church's three-man Sunday School General Presidency oversees the program throughout the church. From 1979 to 2004, members of this presidency were general authority seventies of the church. In the church's April 2004 general conference,
Thomas S. Monson
Thomas S. Monson
of the
First Presidency Among many churches in the Latter Day Saint movement, the First Presidency (also known as the Quorum of the Presidency of the Church) is the highest presiding or governing body. Present-day denominations of the movement led by a First Presidency in ...
, announced that "a recent decision as been madethat members of the Quorums of the Seventy illnot serve in the general presidencies of the Sunday School and Young Men." Since that time, church general authorities have no longer served as members of the presidency. Since April 2019, the following men have comprised the Sunday School General Presidency: Mark L. Pace, President; Milton Camargo, First Counselor; and Jan E. Newman, Second Counselor. The Sunday School General Board also assists in the leadership of the church's Sunday School programs and in the development of guidelines, policies, and materials.


See also

*
Worship services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsWorship services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) include weekly services, held in meetinghouses on Sundays (or another day when local custom or law prohibits Sunday worship, such as in Israel), in geographically based ...
*
Young Men (organization) The Young Men (often referred to as Young Men's) is a youth organization and official program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its purpose is to assist the church's Aaronic priesthood-aged young men in their growth and development ...
*
Young Women (organization) The Young Women (often referred to as Young Women's or Young Woman's) is a youth organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The purpose of the Young Women organization is to help each young woman "be worthy to make ...
*
Relief Society The Relief Society is a philanthropic and educational women's organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It was founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, United States, and has more than 7 million members in over 188 c ...


Notes


References

* William G. Hartley
"Mormon Sundays"
''
Ensign An ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern (rear) of the ship while in port. The naval ensign (also known as war ensign), used on warships, may be differe ...
'', January 1978, p. 19. *Harold G. Hillam
"Sunday School: Oil for Our Lamps"
''
Ensign An ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern (rear) of the ship while in port. The naval ensign (also known as war ensign), used on warships, may be differe ...
'', August 1999, p. 15. *L. Tom Perry
"Teach Them the Word of God with All Diligence"
''
Ensign An ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern (rear) of the ship while in port. The naval ensign (also known as war ensign), used on warships, may be differe ...
'', May 1999, p. 6. *.


External links


Official website of the LDS Church's Sunday School
{{Authority control Sunday School (LDS Church), Religious organizations established in 1867 1849 establishments in the State of Deseret Sunday schools Organizations (LDS Church)