History

Committee on the Uniform Series: A Brief History

Since 1872, the Uniform International Sunday School Lessons were developed for persons to study the scriptures by selecting, organizing, designing, and developing a plan for study of the whole Bible over a period of several years. April 16-19, 1872, the National Sunday School Convention gathered in Indianapolis, IN and passed the following resolution:

“Resolved, that this Convention appoint a committee to consist of five clergymen and five laymen, to select a course of Bible Lessons for a series of years not exceeding seven, which shall, as far as they may decide possible, embrace a general study of the whole Bible, alternating between the Old and New Testaments (of the Protestant Bible) semi-annually or quarterly, as they shall deem best, and to publish a list of such lessons as fully as possible, and at least for the two years next ensuing, as early as the 1st of August 1872; and that this Convention recommend their adoption by the Sunday schools of the whole country, and that this committee have full power to fill any vacancies that may occur in their number by reason of the inability of any member to serve.” (W. N. Hartshorn, George R. Merrill, Marion Lawrance, Editors (1905). The Development of the Sunday-School, 1780-1905. Boston, Mass: The Fort Hill Press, pp. 42-43.)

At the Eleventh International Sunday-School Convention in Toronto, Canada, June 23-27, the name was changed to the International Sunday School Association and steps were taken to incorporate.  Denominational Sunday school boards, at this time, organized the Sunday School Council of Evangelical Denominations.

In 1922, at the sixteenth International Sunday-School Convention in Kansas City, the International Sunday School Association and the Sunday School Council of Evangelical Denominations was merged to form the International Council of Religious Education (ICRE).  The ICRE conducted its work through two units: the International Lesson Committee and the Committee on Program and Policies.  The International Lesson Committee was responsible for work that would later fall under the jurisdiction of the Committee on the Uniform Series, including the development of the “Improved Uniform Lessons,” “Group Graded Lessons,” and the “Home Daily Bible Readings.” In 1940, the ICRE approved a plan for a comprehensive curriculum to be known as “The International Bible Lessons for Christian Teaching.” The Committee on the Uniform Series, established by the ICRE, was charged with the development of a specific part of the total curriculum enterprise.  

Today the work of the Committee on the Uniform Series (CUS) operates under the governance and stewardship of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.  CUS continues to function by using a business-to-business model that collaborates with educators and editors of denominational and independent publishing houses to produce and distribute resources for teachers and learners use. The central objective remains the production of an ongoing course of study that assists editors, writers, and publishers in preparing Bible lessons for use across a diverse expanse of Protestant faith traditions so that participants may embody an enduring faith in Jesus Christ. 

The Committee on the Uniform Series welcomes all National Council of Churches members and independent publishers to be full partners in the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of all nations through the development and use of the Guide for Lesson Development, the premier Bible study curriculum outlines for all ages, and the Home Daily Bible Reading materials.