The efforts of Robert Rakes of England to teach the children Bible stories in a systematic way resulted in the formation of an organization called the “Sunday School” in 1780. Within a few years it had spread to many countries and by 1790 about 3 lakh students had become Sunday school students. The world Sunday school union was formed in 1808 and India Sunday schools union started functioning at Allahabad in 1876.
The early CMS missionaries who came to Kerala began teaching The Bible to children also, and therefore Sunday schools were already functioning in many of the Churches established by these missionaries. Systematic Sunday school work is understood to have been started, in 1880, at Mallappally, by Arch Deacon Oommen Mammen who got in touch with the India Sunday schools union roughly around that time. Hence 1880 is considered to be the year of starting formal Sunday schools in our Diocese.
It took some more years to get this movement well organized in the Diocese. Rev. K.O. Philip was appointed as the first General Secretary of the Diocesan Sunday school in 1924 and Rev. M M John (later became the Bishop of Madhya Kerala Diocese) took up this responsibility in 1934. “Balajanaperunal”, the birthday of the Diocesan Sunday school, was started in 1945. Regular examinations for the children and teachers according to the syllabus of the All India Sunday schools union were held from 1927 onwards. The mission support by the Sunday school children for the work in Nadikooda, one of the villages under the Parkal Mission, started in 1938. Though VBS (Vacation Bible School) ministry was taken up formally and systematically by the Diocesan Sunday school only in 2003, the first VBS in the Diocese was conducted as early as 1954.
Training camps for teachers of the Sunday schools are held by the Diocese from the 1920’s and the annual Sunday school camp at the Diocesan level was started in 1982. Competitions in various disciplines at the Diocesan level are conducted since 1983. “Njanasandesam” the quarterly publication of the Sunday school was commenced in 1998. A correspondence course for Bible study called “Vissuasa prayanam” was started in 2003. Mission Sunday is celebrated from 2001 and the collection of that day is used for the support of a Home Mission field of the Diocese. “Junior Missionary Association” JMA, started functioning in 1986 in order to encourage children for missionary work. It was defunct for a few years but was revived again in 2005.
The following persons served as General Secretaries of the Diocesan Sunday School from 1924 till date:
- Rev. K O Philip
- Rev. M.M. John (Later Bishop of Madhya Kerala Diocese)
- Rev. A J Kurian
- Rev. C K John
- Rev. C T Mathew
- Rev. Jacob Varghese
- Rev. P A. John
- Rev. C H Ittycheriah
- Rev. Thomas Samuel (Later Bishop of Madhya Kerala Diocese)
- Rev. P V Jacob
- Mr. Joseph Mani
- Rev. Dr. K T Kurian
- Rev. Sam Samuel
- Rev. Prof. Itty Mathew (as Director)
- Rev. Jacob Daniel