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Article written by Alec Barber, Ruishton

We may assume that the Sunday School work would have been very important from the earliest days of the Baptist witness because in those days most people had no other opportunity for schooling. The Sunday School was a problem in the 1840’s. We read that the Superintendent wished the members to co-operate in teaching: in 1842 more teachers were wanted; in 1844 the church was requested to pay more attention to the Sabbath School. Not until 1856 did the church take over the running of the Sunday School. The Revival of 1859 resulted in a rapid growth of the Sunday School and in the commencement of the Sunday School library. A list of the books obtained for this is amongst the documents of the period. We also know that in the mid-1880’s there were 130 children and 10 teachers in the Sunday School.

In 1879 it was decided to grant the use of one of the classrooms to the Drum and Fife Band, presumably the band which was still in existence after the first World War. A charge was made to the Gospel Temperance Total Abstinence Society of 1/- per quarter for a room. This did not last long but 1894 a Band of Hope was commenced. In 1891 it was resolved to commence a “Dorcas Meeting” for the benefit of the Sunday School; at the end of the same year, a clothing club commenced, “also a juvenile club”. The most notable organisation which was associeted with the chapel was the Ancient Order of Shepherds, but there seems to be no reference to it in the records.

A very active Young People’s Guild formed early in 1915 proposed at one time to take over Ham Methodist Chapel and on one occasion had n attendance of 120. It seems to have been a war casualty, however. The Sunday School registers for 1924 show about 80 names, some of them erratic attenders, of course. In 1938 there were rather more than 50 “good” names and nine teachers.

Article copyright Alec Barber of Ruishton, May 2011