Scripture Union (SU) is an international, inter-denominational, evangelical Christian organization. It was founded in 1867, and works in partnership with individuals and churches across the world. The organization's stated aim is to use the Bible to inspire children, young people and adults to know God.
|Focus||Christianity, young people|
Over 130 movements in 120 countries
|Product||Bible reading materials, camps, missions|
|Website||Scripture Union International Website|
Scripture Union is an autonomous organisation in each country, linked together by Scripture Union International. It is primarily a volunteer organisation with a small number of full-time staff training, encouraging and coordinating ministry workers around the world. Scripture Union is also a member of the Forum of Bible Agencies International.
In 1867 Josiah Spiers spoke to 15 children in a drawing room in Islington, London, and began the work of sharing the Christian message with children in a way that related to their real needs. This led to the founding of the Children's Special Service Mission (CSSM) which was later to become "Scripture Union".
At about the same time as Spiers held his meeting in Islington, brothers Samuel and James Tyler and Tom Bond Bishop started a similar meeting in Blackfriars Road, south of the river Thames. Similarly Henry Hankinson and Henry Hutchinson had started meetings in Mildmay Park. All of them had come under the influence of Rev Edward Payson Hammond, a controversial American preacher who had visited London in the early summer of 1867 and held meetings for both children and Sunday School teachers. Hammond's idea was simple: informal, special services for children. Despite the controversy which it sparked amongst Sunday School teachers, Spiers and the others were convinced.
The following year, Spiers travelled to Llandudno, North Wales on holiday and began to tell the children there about his faith. He drew the text "God is Love" in the sand, invited children to decorate it, and then told them a Bible story.
Spiers quickly established the CSSM as a mission to oversee his work in Islington. By August 1868 Bishop had joined the committee and by the end of the year, Hankinson was also a member, bringing in the Mildmay Park meetings as well. Whilst Spiers was the engaging children's speaker, Bishop had the organising ability and became the honorary secretary. The working partnership of Bond and Spiers was to last for more than 40 years and be the foundation of a movement which has spread to more than 130 countries.
In 1879 CSSM started the Children's Scripture Union, a system of daily Bible reading. A membership card had a list of daily readings, and this was soon complemented by explanatory notes in children’s magazines. Booklets of notes were published for troops in the trenches during the First World War and led to the first issue of Daily Notes in 1923.:110
In 1892 the first Boys’ Camp was started in Littlehampton by Major Leibenrood, a veteran from the Zulu War. The following year, the Caravan Mission to Village Children (CMVC) was started using a bakers’ cart. The CMVC became part of CSSM, but in 1960 Scripture Union became the official name of the organisation.
In the 1950s CSSM / Scripture Union held an annual book writing competition, resulting in the publication of many children's novels including several by Patricia St John (Treasures of the Snow), still in print today. These were hard back books with illustrations and dust jackets by artist LF Lupton.
SU's work is carried out through local people in ways which are seen as appropriate to each country, culture and situation in which a movement is based. This can include running camps, and missions (e.g. holiday beach mission), working in schools and with student groups or producing resources for Bible reading, family counselling, AIDS education, urban children and youth ministry and ministry to the handicapped.
- Scripture Union International : Aims
- Scripture Union International : Working Principles
- George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christian Education, Volume 3, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2015, p. 135
- Pollock, John Charles (1959), The Good Seed: The story of the Children's Special Service mission and the Scripture Union, London: Hodder and Stoughton
- Sitters, Mrs P (1923) T.B.B. of the C.S.S.M. London: The Children's Special Service Mission.
- John H. Y. Briggs, A Dictionary of European Baptist Life and Thought, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2009, p. 455
- St John, Patricia (1950). Treasures of the Snow. CSSM.
- Scripture Union, What we do, scriptureunion.global, UK, retrieved May 28, 2020