DAILY BIBLE CLASS
la the present Bible-in-schools controversy it has been freely stated that the ministers of religion h'ave already sufficient opportunities outside of school hours to instruct the children of the public schools, and that they are to be blamed for not embracing the facilities at their disposal. In Port Chalmers, however, the ministers can say that they have labored in season and out of season. It is not likely that there will be any extensive repetition of their experiment, although they express their determination to go on teaching five days a week while there remains a child for them to teach. They believe that it is more important for them to teach daily in the public school than to preach in "their pulpits twice on Sundays. If they get only a small minority of the pupils they are no worse off than was the prophet Isaiah, who in the opening of his most exquisito prophecy lamented : " Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"
On Friday evening, in the Salvation Army Hall, about 250 children and parents assembled for the prize distribution. The Rev. W. M. Grant (the president of the Ministers' Association), who presided, told how the ministers had maintained a daily Biblo class in two schools, in tho Fort Chalmers High School and iu the Sawyers Bay Public School. During the last few months, however, the latter class had met only twice a week, one of the ministers having had for a short time to be absent. It had been complained that to ask the children to come to Bible class before school hours was to impose at so early an hour undue hardship upon them. The truth was, however, that in many cases the children were at school playing vigorously in the playground. The ministers were much indebted to the rector (Mr Booth) and his staff, who did all they could to help. The ministers -were very deeply impressed T«ith the importance of the work.
The Rev. Mr Marshall regretted that it wag left to the children themselves to determine whether they would go in to Bible cla6s or stay at thejr play. With children some kind of compulsion was necessary. The ministers taught the Bible not so much in its historical or literary as in its caving aspect. Mr G. F. Booth, B.A. (rector), was astonished at the fidelity ot the ministers. If he had had their experience he would have judged that people did not want their children to bo taught the Bible t and he would have given it up. The ministers did not receive the support that their unceasing labors and sacrifices deserved. Mr Jack (representing the chairman of the School Committee} considered that the.
ministers' trouble was really that of truancy.' The School Committee had their own way of dealing with truancy, and the ministers would need,to devise a way as efficient.
Staff-captain Lamond, of the Salvation Army, eaid that this work was the most delightful that he. had ever set his hand to.
.The Rev. A. Whyte told severs] of the encouragements. One was the little crowd that in all weathers was waiting for the door to open at halt-past eight every morning ail the year round. It was something to teach even a hundred children daily. The second was the fact that in the Presbyterian Church annual competitions his own Sabbath school had for tho last two years taken the second place for the Dominion—and. it niisjht lie added, the first place in Otago—in the banner competition for the highest standard of school efficiency. The third and greatest encouragement was that from the ranks of those who had been thus instructed* daily he was now receiving into the full communion of the Church candidates of an age as low as 13 years. The prizes were presented by >Trs Johnstone, the widow of the first minister of tho town. This lady, said Mr Grant, had lived through happier times, when tho Bible, 'according to the old Otago custom, was taught daily to the children inside school hours by the schoolmaster. Besides the prizes, mementoes in the form of small books were given to all who had handed in attendance cards.
Tho following is the prize list: Standard VII. —Jessie Jackson 1, Huia Harland 2, Jean Marshall 3. Standard Vl.—Winnie Dodds 1, Lydia Robertson 2, Alice MacPherson 3. Standard V.—Julia Thomson 1, Isabel Dunlop 2, Willie Clifford 3, Mavis Osborne 4, Eric Booth 5. Standard IV. —Marion MacNie 1. Hazel MacPherson 2, Gordon Douglas 3, Martha Osborne 4.
Standard lll.—Margaret Thomson 1. Hector Clifford 2. T. Jones 3, Jean Fullert.on 4, Stella Mac Donald 5. Standard IT.—Jean MacXie 1, Eric Barker and Walter Gubb 2, Edward Marshall 4. Xessie Dunlop 5, Winnie Kemp 6. Standard I.—Muriel Barbour, Rhoda Irving, Samuel Mac Alpine and Gordon Thomson (equal) 1, Ngaire MacPheison 5, Willie Jones 6, David Bell 7, Eric Peters 8.
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DAILY BIBLE CLASS, Evening Star, Issue 15675, 14 December 1914