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Sunday school union to celebrate 130 years

The Nansemond-Isle of Wight Baptist Sunday School Union is preparing to celebrate 130 years of supporting Christian education in the area.

The union was organized in 1887 at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, according to Joyice Powell Jones. The founders were slaves and sons of slaves who had been inspired to seek out the teaching of the Baptist doctrine and a better understanding of Scripture, Jones stated in an email. The founders included Titus LaGrant Walden, J.W. Daughtrey and George D. Crump.

“We stand on the shoulders of some great men and woman of faith, who remained faithful, so we give God all the glory,” stated Deacon Wendy Bullock.

Bullock said the union currently has 34 member churches and about 2,500 members. The union meets every time there is a fifth Saturday and Sunday in a month, which averages out to be about three to four times per year.

Services rotate to different churches in the union. They hold business meetings on Saturdays, as well as encouraging the Sunday school leaders.

“We see how they’re doing as well as give them resources and training that helps with their Christian education in their own Sunday schools,” Bullock said.

It wasn’t always so easy in the early years. These days, most churches in the union can be reached by most members in about 30 minutes or less. But it wasn’t always so.

“Many older members of this union told of their experiences during the early years,” Bullock wrote in an email. “They shared that transportation by horse drawn vehicles, trains and boats was a challenge. For example, traveling from Pulaski Baptist Church [in Carrsville] to Macedonia Baptist Church [in Hobson] was nearly a day’s journey.”

Members of host churches provided food and shelter in their homes as well as hosting the meeting in their church.

The union makes contributions to religious and community service organizations, such as the Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress of Virginia, Baptist Children’s Home of Virginia, the NAACP, local rescue squads, the Suffolk Literacy Council, United Negro College Fund and the Sickle Cell Association.

The union also gives scholarships. Young people from the union have participated in oratory contests and talent shows as well as fun events like lock-ins and skating parties.

Bullock said the union is an important institution.

“I feel that it’s vital for the member churches to maintain fellowship and maintain camaraderie with one another and strengthen each other in our differences and our challenges,” she said.

The anniversary is also an event worthy of celebration.

“We’re proud it’s been able to sustain itself for 130 years,” Bullock said. “We thank God for where we are today, and as we reflect on the journey, we recognize that we have come this far by faith leaning on the Lord.”

The anniversary banquet will take place next Saturday, Sept. 30, at 3 p.m. at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, 3488 Godwin Blvd. The program will include former delegates and a video history presentation.