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2BC BLOG

"Belonging" in a Sunday School Class by Neita Geilker

After my mother died at age 38 when I was 10, my eight-year-old sister and I continued going by streetcar and bus to the downtown Kansas City church Mother attended while she was in beauty school and continued attending until she was too ill. But when I entered eighth grade, my Uncle George, who had claimed primary responsibility for us, determined that we should attend a church closer to where we were living with our aunt and uncle as guardians.

Calvary Baptist Church was a wonderful environment for two lost children. It was a large church and would have been daunting except for Sunday School—and Training Union. We were welcomed into small Sunday School classes where the teachers knew us and knew about us. Of course, we learned about the Bible, but so much more. The Intermediate department went roller skating together, and the girls enjoyed slumber parties, staying up all night at the church. On occasion, our teachers or leaders even picked us up and drove us to fun events.

Sometime along the way, I was editor of the Echo Oche, a monthly newsletter for the Intermediates, which included jokes and riddles, interviews with classmates, and a little message from one of us. I did not appreciate the importance of a “community” of peers and how valuable it was to have adults who cared for us. I just knew I loved it.

Training Union on Sunday evening continued that warm embrace while also helping us learn to be comfortable in front of groups. Of course, sometimes we simply read the material, but in a supportive atmosphere. We belonged—and we believed.  I remained in contact with several of those leaders and friends for many years, and some still today.

Decades later, I am again actively involved in a Bible study class. Each Sunday following the very interactive lesson, we briefly share aspects of our lives, often insignificant items, but we are thus prepared to share exciting or painful things and to be a support for each other. We appreciate the value of small groups, especially in a large church. The secret is a community, feeling at home with a group you trust. We experience a strong sense of belonging, that same sense that Sunday School and Training Union gave me all those years ago.

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