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The Home Department was conceived in 1881 by W. A. Duncan of New York State. The movement grew to encompass members of various denominations including Congregational, Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist churches. The Home Department was formed to provide Bible study and instruction for people that were unable to attend Sunday-school. An article in the Saint Louis Christian Evangelist, from September 20, 1894, explains that some of the people that may not be able to attend Sunday-school include “hotel clerks, domestics, railroad men, mothers with small children, the incurably sick, and the aged.” (pg. 99). This article also explains that the department works by obtaining a list of absentees and then canvassing to gather information about all of the reasons for why those people were absent. Those that joined the Home Department had to agree to the following pledge:
“I agree to join the Home Department of the ______ Sunday-school, and to spend at least one half hour each Sunday, or during the week, in the study of the lesson for that day, unless prevented by sickness, or other cause. I will continue my membership until I notify the superintendent of my withdrawal.” (ibid).
Broadhurst, WM. S. (1894, September 20). The Home Department of the Sunday-School. Saint Louis Christian Evangelist. 99.