SU International – Celebrating 150 years in 2017

SU (Scripture Union) has been dedicated to the spiritual development of children and teenagers since the beginning in 1867. Josiah Spiers, the pioneer of SU, believed children could have a personal living relationship with Christ and presented the gospel and Bible in a way that they could understand. He started the ministry by gathering children in a house and teaching them.  He even took his teaching to the beach when he went on holidays in Wales.  A few years later, a young Sunday School teacher, Annie Marston, convinced Josiah and his team to print Bible Cards, listing Bible passages that could be used by children to read the Bible every day.

From that small beginning, SU has expanded to a community of over 140 movements worldwide, each with the same aim of working with the churches,

a) to make God’s Good News known to children, young people and families and
b) to encourage people of all ages to meet God daily through the Bible and prayer,
so that they may come to personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, grow in Christian maturity and become both committed church members and servants of a world in need.
Today, SU is fulfilling this mission through indigenous leadership and specialist programs and ministries, carefully designed to fit the context of each country and culture. SU International’s 150th celebration in 2017 follows on from SU Tasmania’s 50 years celebration in 2016 (see below).

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SU Tasmania – Celebrating 50 years in 2016

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since Scripture Union was officially incorporated in Tasmania. When we look back, we can see that a lot has changed, but it’s so important to recognise that some things won’t. Our goal to introduce young Tasmanians to Jesus and help them live spiritually healthy lives will remain, and so will our gratitude for your ongoing support. With God’s grace, we’ll grow through the next 50 years together!

SU Tasmania was incorporated 50 years ago, in 1966, but to get the full story, we need to go back a little further than that. Even in the years before we were incorporated, it was clear that God was doing something special in Tasmania.

In the 1950s, locals with a passion for sharing the Good News launched new programs with the aim of bringing their neighbours—particularly young people and their families – to Christ. Volunteer teams initiated Children’s Special Service Missions (CSSM) holidays at Tasmanian beach resorts – a program that we’re still running today in the form of beach missions.

Scripture Union Week began in 1958, with events in local churches and large public rallies. Billy Graham’s evangelistic rallies in Hobart and Launceston the next year gave us another enormous boost.

Schools have always been an integral part of our mission. ISCF (Inter-School Christian Fellowship) groups sprang up in schools around the state, and in 1962 our first travelling schools staff worker, Marian McLean, arrived from Melbourne. The next four years saw these groups blossom and we began training conferences and SU adventure camps on Maria Island.

By 1966, things were buzzing. Incorporation of Scripture Union of Tasmania Inc. was an appropriate next step. In 1970, our first General Secretary, Ron Buckland, arrived – and growth and change took off.

Throughout our history, the men and women who built the SU movement in Tasmania had a vision: that for thousands of Tasmanian Christians, a daily encounter with God through Bible reading would have an impact in all of life. Not only in their local congregations, but in reaching out with the Good News, especially to children and young people in schools and on holiday.

That vision holds good today. Our context in both church and society has changed greatly. The way in which SU carries out its aims is often different. But the vision of ordinary Christians – mostly volunteers – growing in faith and reaching out to others, remains. That’s worth celebrating… and we celebrate friends like you who have made all this possible along the way!