“The Next 50 Years,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 73
On a bitter cold Sunday morning in 1849, Richard Ballantyne gathered 29 children into his small home. They were seated on split logs supported by wooden pegs before a roaring fireplace. There, this great teacher taught the children the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. “I felt that the gospel was too precious to myself to be withheld from the children,” he said (quoted in Conway B. Sonne, “The Legacy of Richard Ballantyne,” Instructor, Jan. 1949, 4).
This event has been celebrated every 50 years since to remind us of the importance gospel instruction plays in our lives. In 1949—the year of the Sunday School centennial celebration—Sunday School leaders encouraged members to rededicate themselves to the principles of “teach[ing] one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) and “teach[ing] the children of men … by the power of my Spirit” (D&C 43:15). Today, 50 years later, let us follow the lead of our predecessors and rededicate ourselves to improving teaching in the Sunday School.
The most important place for gospel teaching and leadership is in the home (see Mosiah 4:14–15; D&C 68:25–28). The Sunday School organization assists families by providing an opportunity to gather on Sunday to study the principles of the gospel in their simplicity and by encouraging families and individuals to study the scriptures, obey the commandments, receive ordinances, and keep the covenants they have made with the Lord.
In 1999, as we look forward to the next 50 years, we envision a Sunday School filled with inspired people who seek the Spirit, who follow the Savior’s example, and who strive to teach as He taught.