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The birth and growth of Sunday School Department in Christ Apostolic Church

Sunday School Director, CAC Worldwide, Pastor S.O. Aluko



The birth and growth of the Sunday School Department in Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide has been an established concept from inception. At the dawning of the industrial era in the late 1700s (about the time of the United States’ Revolutionary War), England had a large racticed of poor people who had moved from the countryside to the city to work in factories. There was at least one factory in Gloucester that manufactured pins. Children, as young as eight years old, worked six days a week, in gruesome surroundings, for a pittance. When their tiny hands (which helped them as workers) got caught in the machinery and got cut off, the children were simply dumped on the streets and new workers were hired. There was no free schooling at this time. Education was considered a family (not a communal) purchase – if you had enough money, you send your children to school. If you were poor, your children did not learn to read and write and were probably destined to a life of poverty. So, they could not even read. In the growing factory society, the poor never seemed able to rise out of their abject poverty.



Sunday was the one these children got off. Many blew off steam, wandering around the town, breaking windows and robbing homes, while the upscale parishioners attended church. The street urchins of the day survived miserable conditions at work and learned how to be pickpockets and thieves at a young age. There was no way out of the poverty cycle for these children.



These gangs of street urchins sparked a vision and burden in Robert Raikes who was at that time the editor of the Gloucester Journal. He saw their lack of education, their dead end life of poverty, and their turning to crime as something Christian folks should be concerned about. So, he got an idea. His idea was simple: Why not start a school on Sundays for these poor children where good Christian people would teach them to read and write, teach them the Ten Commandments, and instruct them in moral living? Maybe with a basic education they might be able to escape their dreadful life.



So Raikes started a Sunday School for these poor children. Their parents could not pay for school like other better-off people could, so Raikes paid for the first school himself and recruited others to contribute. He became obsessed with reforming the morals of the poor children and the lower class. In 1780, he started this first Sunday School and paid the teacher himself. She (the teacher) quit soon after but he hired others. Since he was a printer, Raikes published large sheets with the Ten Commandments and other scripture verses on them so the children could use them for his double-duty aim of learning to read and write, and at the same time learning moral principles to live by. These printed sheets were in a sense the first Sunday School curriculum. Raikes was a devout member of the Church of England.





The Pre to 1977 Era

  
Although, much writing is not available on the movement of Sunday school in Christ Apostolic Church. However, Sunday school is not new in the mission. It has been part of the church since its inception. It was established by the progenitors of the church. Sunday was regarded as the Lord’s Day, a day when all true worshippers of our Lord Jesus Christ should devote for serving the Lord and studying His Word. There were morning and evening services on Sundays. In the afternoons, like 2 or 3pm, the congregation was expected to return to the church for the Sunday school programme. The programme would dovetail into the evening service which usually started by 4pm, and lasted for about one hour. Each minister decided where and what to study in the Bible.


Also, some assemblies and individuals had been racticed Sunday School as early as the 50s and 70s. Sunday School had been operating in some local assemblies in Christ Apostolic Church such as Mushin and Olorunsogo, in Lagos State, Oniyanrin and Olugbode, both in Ibadan, Oyo State, and in some other places that might not have been immediately known to others, through the individual efforts of some well-meaning brethren/ministers and groups that had tasted of the beauty of the programme, and who wanted the joy extended to others.  It was also in existence in such places as Christ Apostolic Church Ikosi-Ketu assembly, where Sunday School started as early as the commencement of the church in 1974, with Brother F.O. Ojuolape (now pastor), Brother Joseph Ola Osunkoya (now pastor), late Evangelist Kayode, Brother Ebenezer Owodunni (now pastor), Brother Leke Obasoyin (now pastor), Brother John Agbaje (visiting teacher), Brother Dodo, Mrs Oni, Sister Jumoke, Mrs Fakoyejo (now midwife), and Elder Adeleke as the pioneer teachers.



CAC Oke Isegun, Taiwo Road, Ilorin, started by the hands of the Faith Tabernacle founding fathers, from Oyan in the year 1946, started a form of Sunday school as the educative arm of the Church as early as the 1950s. The Sunday School cclasses were by 3:30 pm, before the commencement of the evening service, by 5.00 pm. The catechists taught the classes. In CAC Ogbomoso land, Sunday school was racticed on Sunday evenings, like bible study before 1971 and before it was changed to Sunday morning under the leadership of late Pastor J.O. Amoo in CAC Oke-Ayo Assembly.



These assemblies and individuals and many other unmentioned ones were independent of themselves in the preparation and dissemination of their respective Sunday School lessons. Most of them made use of Sunday School materials from the Assemblies of God, Baptist Church and others. Notable men of God like Pastor M.O. Yusuf and Pastor John Oyebanji are trailblazers in this respect. They took charge of their different assemblies, getting Sunday School pamphlets from other denominations to teach their congregations on Sundays.




Sunday School Programmes

·          
     Annual Sunday Rally



The founding fathers of the Church had laid the solid foundation on the Bible and on this the Sunday School department, in furtherance of Sunday School activities, continued since then with some Holy Spirit-inspired additions and modifications.



The Annual Sunday School Rally was started in April 1978, it held from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd, and aimed at educating participants and the church at large on how to treat the Sunday School lessons. Pastor Olusheye said that when they saw that Sunday School programme was not yet what it supposed to be, being a newly introduced programme, himself and his assistant, Pastor Akinsulure, decided to organise a national rally to stimulate the interest of the people in the programme. The Rally was designed to equip its target audience with the techniques for handling Sunday School lessons, so as to enlist and sustain the church members in the Sunday School programme. According to Olusheye (2006), “This was in line with the vision of outstanding Christian Education leaders who started the Sunday School Rally in 1945.”



The decentralisation of the Rally started in 2003. Yearly, the annual rally is now held in five centres usually recommended by the General Christian Education Committee (GCEC) but approved by the Authority of the Church. This decentralisation was done, partly to enhance grassroots participation, and to encourage brethren in rural/remote and distanced areas, who for several reasons cannot make it down to the church’s sacred and highly esteemed international miracle campground.



The Rally normally brings all teachers and lovers of the Word together, and holds between March/April. Rally time is usually a period of appreciation to God, celebration with brethren, re-examination of life and ministries, and renewal for the journeys ahead. Initially, the target audience was the Sunday School teachers. It has subsequently grown in leaps and bounds to include all categories of the Church members.



·          
     Sunday School Rallies Since 1978



Children Worker Seminar



The children worker seminar normally comes up in July/August. It started in 1993 and has always been a period of togetherness for the children workers. It is usually a forum for children teachers to rub minds, share experience and get equipped with the latest educational/spiritual tips and technology on children ministry. It has always been a period of blessings to the participants. This is also a decentralised programme being held in about five centres approved by the authority of the church.



The children arm of the department is witnessing tremendous and unstoppable achievements and the entire church has begun to position it properly, thanks be unto God for those who were there when it started and those who have just began to wholeheartedly identify with them.





State Sunday School Rallies

In furtherance of Sunday School at the state levels, each state has been encouraged to organise state rallies and the performances in some states have been wonderful to the point of stimulating and provoking other states to follow suit.





Annual National Sunday School Examination



The Annual National Sunday School Examination is held in the third week of January. The exam which covers lessons learnt from January to December (24 lessons in all) is aimed at helping Sunday School readers and students to be more diligent in studying, retaining and practising that which they have read and learnt from the series of lessons in the year. It has reached a point where the best 10 candidates nationwide are rewarded during the following annual national rally.



Christ Apostolic Church Sunday School On Air



Sunday School teaching and learning in Christ Apostolic Church is not limited to book form and classroom environment alone. To the glory of God, Christ Apostolic Church Sunday School content, with the approval of the authority of the church, is also being aired in some Radio Stations in Nigeria. The Sunday School department, being assisted by some individuals, families, and state Sunday School teachers has consistently, through the grace of God, been bringing the Sunday School lessons to uncountable multi-religious and multi-ethnic listeners on radio.





The Sunday School Office



Sunday School work in Christ Apostolic Church has a functional office from where the mixing, cooking, serving and administrative aspects is carried out. This place is called the Sunday School Department, and situated at 12A, Irekari Street, Off Oyemekun Road, Akure, Ondo State. It was initially a three-bedroom flat converted for office use but in 2011, the Lord engineered the authority of the church, then, under the leadership of our erstwhile president, late Pastor E.H.L. Olusheye to erect a befitting 22-room storey building office complex on the same landed property that housed the original small office.



Today, the office has the following divisions: Administrative Section, Writers’ Unit, Translators’ Unit, Children Unit, Editorial Unit, Accounts Unit, Computer Pool, Library, Recording Studio, Sales Section, and the Power House.





Sunday School Personnel



Sunday School cannot really develop without some people at the desk, working assiduously to bring the God-given visions and revelations into reality. These people work at the different units/sections within the Sunday School Department; mixing, cooking and serving the meal to the church. The authority of the church keeps equipping the department with a team of teachable, humble, formidable and dependable workers in order to ensure continued availability of the Sunday School content.



Change in Nomenclature: Superintendent to Director



The director was formerly addressed as the National Sunday School Superintendent until year 2008 when the authority of the church changed the title to director. The first Sunday School Superintendent was the erstwhile president of the church, Pastor E.H.L. Olusheye, followed by Pastor S.O. Akinsulure. Pastor S.O. Meroyi took over from Pastor Akinsulure and later handed over the mantle of leadership to Pastor S.O. Aluko, the incumbent director of Sunday School, during whose tenure the title was changed from superintendent to director. He is the first director of Sunday School.



The General Christian Education Committee



In 1982, the General Christian Education Committee (GCEC) was inaugurated to oversee the affairs of everything that constitute Christian Education in the church, including Sunday School. This step has consistently aided the development of Sunday School in this great mission.



The chairmen of the committee till date are:



1. Pastor J.B. Orogun, President and Trustee (first patron).



2. Pastor A.O. Ade Olutimehin, General Superintendent and Trustee (first Chairman for Sunday School Board).



3. Pastor D.O.A. Oloye (1995 – 1998).

4. Pastor S.A.O. Babawemi (1998 – 2007).



5. Pastor G.O.E. Okafor (August 2007 – December 2011).



6. Pastor Olufemi Akeju (2012 – 2014).



7. Pastor C.S.A. Balogun (8 October 2014 to date).





Sunday School Day



The Sunday School Day is another annual programme, birthed to further Sunday School work in Christ Apostolic Church. It has been a day when all lovers of The Word specially appreciate God’s work done through the Sunday School Department. It is done via the practice of coming together at the feet of Jesus Christ for three inspirational and stimulating Bible-based lectures during the second week of February of every year. Sunday School Day in Christ Apostolic Church has continued to post encouraging results.



Establishment of The Printing Press



It is worthy of note that Christ Apostolic Church established its Printing Press in 1987 at the Odubanjo Memorial Hall, 5, Shiaba Street, Agege, Lagos because it saw the need to handle the production of its Sunday School materials as well as other publications by itself.









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