The Dunkards - 

Pioneers in

Christian Education

It's hard to imagine that our early Dunkards put so little importance on education. Many of the early Dunkards could not read or write. They were afraid of what might happen to their way of life if they started to become too advanced. However with all groups of people, there are some who see the world differently and are willing to take a chance. These out-spoken Dunkards said that the children needed to learn more about the scriptures and that having Sabbath–schools taught by Brethren was a beginning. There was much discussion among the members of the early congregations about the advantages and disadvantages of Sunday Schools. Some thought it was a good thing, and others were afraid of how it would change its members. This argument went on for many years. We would be the first group to introduce Sunday Schools in the United States. In the 1850s several churches in Middle District started Sunday Schools. At first they had Sunday Schools in their homes. As attendance increased and people enjoyed the time to study the Bible, they moved the Sunday Schools into the churches. Clover Creek was one of the first to start a Sunday School. New Enterprise was not far behind in starting its own schools. It was decided at Sunday School Conventions what materials would be used to teach in the new schools. They did not want to use any material that was not written by a Brethren person. It also had to pertain to Scriptures or our doctrines. The main purpose of the Conventions was to have open discussion and training on what should be taught and how Sunday Schools should be conducted. It was decided that all Sunday Schools should start with prayer and song and should then end with prayer and song. Each church had a Sunday School Superintendent who was in charge of the program and led the worship at the beginning of Sunday School. The first Superintendent for New Enterprise was Daniel Snowberger whose home was used for the first Sunday School in 1866. Over time the school was moved to the church and had over a hundred students who gave an offering each Sunday. This offering became the beginning of another new adventure for the Brethren. By putting the offerings together from all the churches in Middle District they were able to send missionaries to India. Sara Replogle, from our church, became one of those missionaries. Later some of that money was used to build a special home in Huntingdon. This became a place to use for those missionaries who were on furlough. Sabbath-schools have come a long way to the present Sunday Schools. If you would like to learn more about the trials of the early schools, then check out the old green Middle District book on Brethren History, or you can just talk to me!