American Sunday School Union

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American Sunday School Union, a national religious association in the United States founded in Philadelphia in 1824 (successor to Sunday and Adult School Union of Philadelphia, founded in 1817), having for its object the organization and support of Sunday schools in needy communities not otherwise provided with Sunday schools, and the publication and circulation of moral and religious literature, particularly for Sunday-school teachers and pupils.

The Union has in its time had a tremendous influence in American religious life, and no little influence on the American Mennonites. It early undertook a great campaign to establish a Sunday school in every new community on the western frontier and sent out a large number of Sunday school missionaries. It introduced the "Uniform Lessons" in 1826 (used until 1872, when the new "International Uniform Lessons" were introduced) and soon thereafter a series of widely used "Union Question Books," which were used in many early Mennonite Sunday schools and without doubt were the models for John H. Oberholtzer's Das unparteiische biblische Fragenbuch . . . (Milford Square, Pa., 1859), and for the Sunday-school question books edited by John F. Funk and published from 1880 on by the Mennonite Publishing Company of Elkhart, Indiana. It published an enormous amount of juvenile literature and Sunday-school lesson helps and papers, which once had a wide circulation in many Mennonite communities, particularly those in which the young people began to use the English language in 1830-1890. Early Mennonite Sunday school libraries contained many of these books.

In 1974 the American Sunday School Union ceased its publication program, and changed its name to American Missionary Fellowship. Its stated goal was outreach to unchurched persons in the United States.

Additional Information


Books published by American Sunday School Union in full text on Project Gutenberg

American Missionary Fellowship

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "American Sunday School Union." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 4 Jun 2020.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1953). American Sunday School Union. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 June 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 88. All rights reserved.

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