Welsh church leaders defend Sunday school moving days

Church and chapel leaders in Wales have defended a growing tendency to hold Sunday school on weekdays.

One chapel in Ceredigion moved it to Friday afternoons so that the boys could attend rugby training.

The Reverend Jill Hailey Harries, a minister in Swansea, says she is disappointed that so many other activities take place on a Sunday.

But the Church in Wales said it had to find ways to cater for youngsters in the face of competing interests.

Changing times

The Reverend Aled Davies of Cyngor Ysgol Sul (the Sunday School Council) told BBC Radio Cymru that choosing to hold Sunday school on a different day of the week was acceptable.

He said churches and chapels had to be realistic and could not afford to lose children.

Noddfa Baptist Chapel in Lampeter, Ceredigion, moved their Sunday school to Friday afternoons following discussions with parents in September 2010.

Sunday school teacher Janet Evans said times had changed and families had other priorities with sport, music and other activities.

"We happened to have more boys than girls in Sunday school, and on Sunday the boys are playing rugby," she said.

"We decided then to have the boys and girls together on Friday.

"We contacted all the parents, had a discussion, and they were happy to have it on a Friday."

Ms Davies said Fridays had proved even more popular, and she thought opponents of the idea were old fashioned.

"Times have changed - when I was young that's all we had to do on Sunday.

"But to a lot of families now Sunday is no different to any other day."

Sacrifices needed

Ms Hailey Harries, a minister in Swansea, said she was disappointed that so many other organisations held their activities on Sundays.

Image caption Janet Davies said Sunday school proved even more popular on Friday

She urged them to work together with churches to find another solution.

"It's always good that people come together in the name of Jesus Christ whenever that is, even on a weekday," she said.

"But Sunday school should be held on a Sunday - it seems a little bit odd to call it Sunday school on a Friday.

"Sunday was made so that we could come together as Christians, to be together, to worship together, to learn together.

"We have to work harder in Sunday school to make it more appealing for children, make it fun, make it interesting.

"Sunday school has changed - they don't just sit and chant chunks of the Bible.

"It can be as good and exciting as things that happen in the secular world."

The Church in Wales, which is currently consulting congregations about its future structure and purpose, said its parishes were free to adapt its activities for children to meet the needs of modern life.

A spokeswoman said: "The days when there was not much you could do on Sundays apart from go to church or chapel and the church was only open on Sundays have long since gone.

"Today's young people are growing up in a 24/7, flexible culture and have lots of competing interests on Sundays.

"So parishes are responding by offering creative and imaginative ways to engage with them and nurture their faith.

"That might mean 'messy church' for pre-school children on a Tuesday afternoon, sharing coffee at a cybercafe for teenagers on a Friday night, or mid-week Sunday School.

"Church is no longer something that just happens on a Sunday."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites