9 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

Greenpark, and Tai Tapu,

Greenpark, and Tai Tapu, and most had been enlarged to cater for their growing number of adherents. On the other hand, a Press report was much more positive when describing the spirit of co-operation which existed between the denominations when it came to teaching the young at the Broadfield Methodist Sunday School. According to The Press not all the teachers were Methodist, but this did not affect their attitudes towards the students whose welfare was paramount. The Unsectarian Sunday School Like the Roman Catholics, the Wesleyans preferred to control the religious education of their children, but the Presbyterians, the Anglicans, and the Baptists worked together to run what was generally called the Unsectarian Sunday School. Many of the early settlers like the Baptist Thomas Avis Pannett, brought the English tradition of the Sunday School Movement with them. This had its origins in northern England in the late 18th century when Robert Raikes established a school to teach underprivileged children to read and to instruct them in the catechism and thus provide them with some education as well as helping to keep them off the streets. As better opportunities for education became available the Sunday School movement became more and more focused on religious teaching until eventually this was its only function. It has already been mentioned that the first school in Lincoln was run by Mrs Tod at her home, before the Lincoln subdivision. She taught secular and religious subjects and the school was open to any child whose parents cared to use it. It was not long before it was moved to a purpose built schoolroom near the present Union Church which was presided over by Mr Bowie, a paid teacher, who also used the building as his home, but which on Sundays served as a Sunday school and a church. How long this arrangement continued is uncertain, but on 28 September, 1868, the Minutes of the Church, Congregational, and Finance Committee of the Lincoln Presbyterian Church records its resolution that a Sabbath School be commenced in the church and that T.A. Pannett, a member of the committee, be its Superintendent. This was a good choice for Pannett, a devout Baptist, had been associated with Sunday Schools for most of his adult life. At the annual meeting a year later Mr. Pannett was able to report that the Sunday School was well established with a roll of about 30 pupils, a good result considering the short time that the school had been open. 23 At this meeting tea was provided for the children by friends, teachers, 116

ladies and by the bachelors of the parish. After some speeches the Presbyterian choir performed and the gathering then adjourned to the schoolroom where entertainment was presided over by the Revd. Charles Fraser. These anniversary tea meetings, a feature for many years, were usually a great social occasion. The children often entertained with songs and recitations and their efforts were usually complemented by anthems sung by the choir. Thus, at one tea meeting, at which a fee of one shilling was charged for the meal, the programme included hymns, prayers, addresses by visiting clergy, recitations by pupils, e.g. “Destruction of Sennacherib” presented by William Taylor, “Children of Heaven” presented by George Rennie, “City of the Pearl Bright Portal” presented by Annie Dunn, and surprisingly, an address by the controversial Professor Bickerton of Christchurch University College! 24 Sometimes reports and speeches were long-winded and it is not surprising that some the children there to present their items were not a little restless. The Sunday School was well supported and numbers increased rapidly until in 1876 twelve teachers (7 male and 5 female) catered for 97 pupils (52 boys and 45 girls). 25 The following year there were fewer pupils because, as recorded in the minutes of the Unsectarian Sunday School, nineteen children left to join the Episcopalian Sunday School which began when St. Stephen’s was opened. 26 Numbers soon recovered, but they appeared to fluctuate, for there were 85 children on the roll in 1881, but in the following year there were only 68 children being taught. It is difficult to know for how long pupils were enrolled at the school, but some must have attended for many years. The minutes of 4 November 1877, for example, record the decision that Annie Dunn, Maggie McPherson, and Mary Pannett be asked to leave their classes in order to become teachers and that each be given a bible, or if they preferred, some other book, to the value of five shillings. By the end of 1882 the continued existence of the Sunday School was in doubt. The Presbyterians had formed a Band of Hope and it seems this made it difficult for the school to function, presumably because of space limitations. The committee resolved to consider the matter for a week during which time they would consult with the Reverends Blake and Spencer of the Presbyterian and Baptist churches. A week later the decision was taken to disband the ecumenical Sunday school with both churches taking responsibility for the instruction of their children in the coming year. 27 It was agreed that the books used and funds available were to be equally divided 117

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