History of Sabbath School Department
First appointed offices
The work of the Sabbath School began in the West around between 1897-1898 in the State of Kansas.
- Prophet Williams Saunders Crowdy (PWSC) had members in twenty-nine cities and towns of the state of Kansas. Gospel spread over the state of Kansas but each church had its officers as was seemingly well organized. (Life and works pages 13-14)
- June 24, 1898- First General Annual Assembly of the Church of God and Saints of Christ called in Emporia, Kansas. The Sabbath Schools of the church were represented with chairmen and secretaries.
- Appointments made at this First General Annual Assembly for the Sabbath School included:
- A General Sabbath School Organizer and Superintendent of the State.
- A general Bible Teacher of the State. (an office which seems to have been discontinued, unknown today.
- While names were not mentioned the appointments were included in the minutes. (Life and Works of W. S. Crowdy, p.15)
Other General and Assistant General Sabbath School Superintendents and General officer appointments
- Elder William Henry Plummer – appointed local Sabbath School Superintendent by PWSC in Philadelphia in 1902. Love of knowledge.
- Elder Howard Zebulon Plummer – appointed GSSS by Bishop William H. Plummer, Grand Father Abraham (GFA) at the Annual Assembly August 26, 1917. Enjoyed Sabbath School discussions that stimulated and stirred his curiosity providing him with greater knowledge and appreciation for doctrine and church history.
- Elder Preston Jackson – 1930-44? Appointed by Rabbi H. Z. Plummer, GFA – presided over the 1940, ninth General Assembly in Philadelphia, in November.
- Elder Levi Solomon Plummer – 1933 given the name the “Librarian”-appointed GSSS by Rabbi H.Z. Plummer, GFA. in August 1944. He succeeded Elder Preston Jackson. Excelled in Sabbath School. Confounding young and old with questions of an esoteric nature. Under his Leadership historical information was given as we received interpretations and explanation for the “Seven Keys.”
- Elder Ezra C. Brent – appointed GSSS in 1957 by Rabbi Levi Solomon Plummer GFA. Held the office of GSSS Emeritus in 1977.
- Elder John H. Eaves Sr. – appointed GSSS in 1977 by Rabbi Levi Solomon Plummer, GFA.Instrumental in implementing in the Sabbath School curriculum – Annuals of lessons for the scholars
- *Elder Dr. Phillip E. McNeil – 1977/8 appointed Asst GSSS by Rabbi Levi Solomon Plummer, GFA. Did an article in 1977 where later presented it as a lecture at the 1983 Passover Memorial on “Our Doctrine May Seem Strange.”
- Elder Andrew R. Love – appointed GSSS by Rabbi L.S. Plummer, GFA in 1983. Began referring to the Sabbath School Department as the “Department of Religious Education.
- *Elder Jesse Brown – appointed Asst. GSSS by Rabbi Levi S. Plummer.
- *Elder John Eaves Jr. – appointed Asst. GSSS in 2000 by Rabbi L. S. Plummer and became appointed GSSS in 2002 by Rabbi Jehu A. Crowdy Jr., GFA.
- *St. Charmaine Ringwood – appointed Asst. Gen. SSS by Rabbi Jehu Crowdy Jr., GFA in 2002 and later appointed the GSSS by Rabbi Jehu A Crowdy Jr., GFA. St. Charmaine is the first female General Sabbath School Superintendent appointed and continues to serve in this capacity under our current Leader, Chief Rabbi Phillip E. McNeil in 2018.
Other General Officers Past and Present
General SS Secretaries
- St. Lillian Brabson,
- St. Wanda Alexander
General SS Treasurer –
*Asst General Officers
- St. Anita Bradson
- St. Doreatha Monroe
What was the structure of the Sabbath School?
- The Sabbath School Department now known as the Department Religious Education always had several main objectives; to study the Bible, scholars to learn and rehearse the keys and the (law) commandments,and the doctrinal teachings of Prophet William S. Crowdy.
- Besides the Prayer and Blessing,and the Keys and Commandments, The books of the bible, and other basic lessons were learned during the Sabbath School to include; watch times, Hebrew months with Scriptures, Hebrew times, and the Bible Story Revealed. (Seven Key lessons with scripture memorization)
- Much of the lessons came by way of the Weekly Prophet which would include letters, and Epistles sent by the Prophet, and later the Leaders that came after him.
- The Keys and Commandments were always placed in the publication and sometimes open topics like the keeping of the Sabbath, lessons from the Bible Story Revealed, History of the Bible and other pertinent topics were available.
- It was the responsibility of The secretary of the local Sabbath Schools to send a weekly report of the activity of the Sabbath Day and the Sabbath Schools in their local Tabernacles and the record of the lessons passed by members and attendance of the scholars. **(refer to articles in 1940, 1952, and 1953 Weekly Prophets.)
- Sabbath Schools during the early 1900’s were conducted in the afternoon and followed a format of a devotional service. The Local Superintendent would open Sabbath School a song, there was scripture readings, another song and the rehearsal of the keys and commandments, **(recitation was with the law in front and the superintendent pointed to each word and scholars read and recited) after the rehearsal, another song, then testimonials in the Spirit of Prophecy, if time permitted then scholars went to their respective classes to study the basic lessons that all members were expected to learn, memorize and pass.
- Classes were broken down into age groups and lessons. Prayer and Blessing and Keys and commandments were children and youth. Books of the Bible, Hebrew Months and Scriptures were the Teens, Seven Key mainly Adults.
- Many scholars would create a precept book when studying the scriptures that appeared in the Bible Story Revealed because there were so many and scholars not only gave the scripture but had to memorize and quote verbatim when they attempted to pass a lesson.
- Passing of lessons was very common and there was much study in Sabbath school classes as scholars progressively move through the lessons.
- *Vacation Bible Schools and later Hebrew Schools were developed to help the growth of Sabbath School. Also scholars from the local community could attend and participate in receiving a certificate when completed.
- As the Sabbath School evolved more study of the scriptures occurred and more lessons were created as they became enlightened on the doctrinal beliefs of the Church of God and Saints of Christ. Emphasis on the Sabbath, Passover holy days and other biblically mandated observances, and This We Believe.
Key Special Conferences and Events
- Ninth General Assembly held in Philadelphia, PA under the Leadership of Rabbi Howard Z.Plummer, GFA. November 1940. The Sabbath School was conducted by GSSS Elder Preston Jackson, who gave the introduction address with focus on the Seven Keys which was expounded upon by 7 different presenters.
- Northeastern Regional Sabbath School in Boston, MA, December 1963.
- General Sabbath School Conference convened in Philadelphia with Rabbi.S. Plummer as a guest speaker in July 1976.
- Western District Sabbath School Conference held in 1983, Elder Andrew Love.
Reorganization and gradual changes
- Some reorganization began in the late 1970’s as we evolved in practicing some tenets of biblical and prophetic Judaism.
- Sabbath School switched to the mornings after we began to implement the worship service and the Siddur; that we began reading during the worship services in the late 1960’s early 70’s.
- Also Sabbath School Annuals were created that included lessons on This We Believe, the Bible story revealed, holiday lessons, biblical prophets and other characters and stories that addressed spiritual, social and moral issues.
- Sabbath School Department becomes the Department of Religious Education in the 1980’s
- Layman’s guide for members was created in support to the local Tabernacles and the new members who join the congregation. Late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
- Youth curriculum was developed and Annuals were tailored for young memberswhich included Young People’s Guide and Activity books.
- Annuals became The Trumpet publications in the early 2000’s.
- District Superintendents were able to attend the William Henry Plummer Seminary.
- Training for facilitators, and writers workshops for curriculum were offered to local Sabbath School Superintendents and Assistants.
- Women as local Sabbath school superintendents. About 40% of superintendents are women.
- Spiritual growth and development for a community of faith. A way of life. More lessons take on the holistic approach and Study Guides and workbooks have been created.
- And it keeps on growing…