On 16 May, shop owners and residents in Rowley Regis, West Midlands, came to the streets to view a historic scene. A Sunday school parade, made up of nearly 250 adults and children from the local area and throughout England, converged on Blackheath.
The day’s events began with a service of thanksgiving at 11.30am at Beeches Road Baptist Chapel. Several years ago, the chapel had fallen into disuse, until an outreach Sunday school was started, enabling a church plant to begin.
Resilient and fruitful
Many today believe the evangelistic Sunday school to be a relic of the past, but it has proven resilient and, even in difficult times, remains a fruitful work. The purpose of the day was to bring this great outreach back to the forefront, as one of the most effective evangelistic arms of the local church.
During the service, the children sang hymns that they had been practising. Special recognition was made of each of the ten Sunday schools participating, with their faithful workers. Chris Cooper gave a clear gospel message, with colourful visual aids. The children, young and old, listened intently to the message from Proverbs about the urgency of trusting Christ in one’s youth.
At the conclusion of the service, each Sunday school, many with beautiful banners to represent them, gathered with anticipation in the car park to organise for the parade. The route would take them through residential areas and along the High Street, to the local park where a picnic lunch awaited them.
Police officers led the way, to ensure safety and to close off the parade route to traffic. A marching band, organised by Pastor Roland Burrows, struck off the rousing notes to ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’. The Sunday schools lifted their banners, fluttering in the spring breeze, and fell in step behind the band, marching as they went, many volunteering to pass gospel leaflets to onlookers along the way.
Many spectators watched along the parade route, the older ones commenting that they were happy to see this event taking place again. ‘We did this often when I was a lad, but I had thought I’d never see another [Sunday school parade]’, said one interested onlooker.
Though many Sunday schools have closed in recent years, I believe they are making a comeback. There is a revival of evangelistic Sunday schools that truly give the gospel. We have seen many begin this past year.
‘The Sunday school parade is coming back, because the Sunday school itself is coming back into its own’, said one of the many parade volunteers. The Crown Christian Heritage Trust plans to hold this event each year, not only in the Black Country, but in various other regions throughout England as well.
God blessed the day with glorious weather and protection. Upon reaching the park, everyone gathered for a picnic and then an exciting sports competition. Traditional games such as the egg and spoon race, sack race, tug-of-war and others, allowed the children to try for their own gold, silver or bronze medal. The day concluded with an award ceremony. Top athletes received their medals with broad smiles. After a parting prayer, everyone was on their way by 3.00pm.
Organisers were encouraged to see many more children and workers in attendance than last year. What a blessing to see a reviving of Sunday schools in churches!
During May 2016, the Crown Christian Heritage Trust, which planned the Sunday school day, would like to see the same event take place in additional areas of the country as well.