Sunday School Conference

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The Sunday School Conference (Convention) is a meeting of Christian workers interested in Sunday-school work, continuing over a day or more, and was a prominent feature of church life in most North American Mennonite groups in the 20th century. The first known such meeting was the Sunday School Convention in the Eastern District Conference (General Conference Mennonite) on 2 October 1876, sponsored by A. B. Shelly, and held annually thereafter for many years.

In the Mennonite Church (MC) the first Sunday School Conference was held at Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario, in 1891, followed by a general Sunday School Conference 5-8 October 1892, held at the Clinton Frame Mennonite Church near Goshen, Indiana This was an epoch-making meeting with unusual influence on missionary development as well as on the growth of the Sunday School movement. After a second general conference, held at the Zion Church, Bluffton, Ohio, in 1893, and a third at the Forks Church near Middlebury, Indiana, in 1894, the general meetings were replaced by district conferences, organized according to the church conference area: Indiana-Michigan (1895), Ohio (1895), Southwestern Pennsylvania (1895), Kansas-Nebraska (1895), Illinois (1896), etc. Ontario operated its annual conferences apparently without interruption from 1891 on. These annual conventions, usually lasting two days and later often held in a tent purchased or rented for the purpose, and attended by large crowds, became great centers of inspiration, stimulus, and progressive influence. In the 1940s the name of most of these conferences was changed to "Christian Workers' Conference" or "Christian Education Conference." In some areas they have been held attached to the annual church conference or the annual district mission board meeting. Beginning in 1952 (at Goshen) national Sunday School conventions were sponsored by the Commission for Christian Education quadrennially. Some local congregations or groups of congregations established quarterly or semiannual S.S. meetings on a Sunday afternoon and evening. Many of these were still running after 50 years, but many died out. In the Lancaster Conference after 1934 annual Sunday School meetings were held with different congregations across the conference, later called Christian Nurture meetings since they were sponsored by the Christian Nurture Committee of the Conference, organized in 1948.

Sunday-school conventions were also popular in the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church, especially in Canada, where district conventions were held annually in the mid-20th century in each province where there was an organized Mennonite Brethren Conference. In the General Conference Mennonite Church, Sunday-school conventions were held particularly in the prairie states and provinces, though not on a permanently organized basis. Other Mennonite groups have also sponsored such conventions, though not always regularly.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Sunday School Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 27 Jul 2021.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Sunday School Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 July 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1128. All rights reserved.

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