Celebrating 200 years of church school

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A village church Sunday School is celebrating its bicentenary year with a trip down memory lane.

The school at Gomersal Moravian Church, on Quarry Road, was formed in 1816, under the ministry of Reverend Richard Grimes.

In his diary, Revd Grimes records it was a “harsh year” of famine, illness and poverty for local families.

And members of the Sunday School came to their aid.

He wrote: “It has been a pleasure for us to be able to come to the assistance of many of our little girls by establishing a Sunday School for them, in which some of the teachers and scholars in our Boarding School have been particularly active.”

Like the church’s popular boarding school, the Sunday School was initially for girls. But a boys addition was created in 1820.

It provided an important opportunity for children in the area to learn how to read and write.

The Sunday School grew in strength and popularity and by 1866, it moved from existing church rooms to a dedicated building, which remained in use for more than 100 years.

It later moved to its current premises at the end of the twentieth century.

The school suffered during the First World War due to a lack of scholars and teachers.

But it contributed to the war effort by making parcels to send to members of the armed forces.

And it blossomed again once the war period was over.

Church archivist Chris Shorten said: “From those humble beginnings in 1816, the Sunday School has seen generations of children grow into adults, who in turn have introduced their own children to the Sunday School, and witnessed them grow up within the church environment.

“This is a cycle that continues today.”

To mark the Sunday School’s 200th anniversary, a special service and lunch will take place on May 22 at 10.30am.

Photographs and memories of the school will be shared during the event. And anyone who has been involved is invited to attend.

The church is also keen for former and current members of the Sunday School to share their pictures and stories, through the dedicated ‘Gomersal Moravian Sunday School 200th Anniversary’ Facebook group.