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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chp 97. Sunday School

Today is a big day for all the Presbyterians in Mizoram, the largest denomination in this almost 100% Christian State of India. For today is the MSSU examination.

MSSU stands for the Mizoram Sunday School Union. In Mizoram, every locality has a Presbyterian “Kohhran” that consists of the Church, the Church elders, pastor, Church members etc. (Some localities have split into 2-3 separate Kohhran due to its voluminous size in population but are still unified as one single locality when it comes to VC, YMA etc.)

In Mizoram, Sunday School literally means that; a School on Sunday. Each Presbyterian Kohhran is divided into 7 departments: Beginners, Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Sacrament, Senior and Puitling (adult) according to their age group in the ascending order. Only the Puitling category sits in the main Church during Sunday School while the rest go to a separate location like a recreation hall or a school. Each group is further divided into sections and is headed by a qualified Sunday School teacher appointed by the Kohhran council (unsalaried ofcourse) except on special occasions when the respective department’s leader takes over the entire proceeding.

There is even a roll-call every Sunday, where the registered Church goer with maximum attendance are awarded at the end of the year by the community. Now that the end of the year is approaching, it is also time for the annual examination.

I was up last night till around 10pm helping my two nieces revise for this exam because the rest of my family’s busy studying too. I don’t have to give the exam because I am not registered in the Church due to the fact that I stay outside Mizoram most of the time.

It’s quite funny to see people of all ages sitting in silence in different corners of the room and mugging up for this exam and going through all the lessons that they were taught this past one year. And the kind of questions each group is asked differs and is compiled according to their respective IQ level.

For example, my 10 years old niece who is in the Junior department, has questions like
  • What was the name of Josiah’s father?
  • What is the meaning of the name “Gideon”?
  • What was the name of Naomi’s husband?
  • What’s inside the Ark of the Covenant?
  • Who was the first martyr?
  • Who was the first missionary to reach Mizoram?
  • What is the meaning of Pentecost?
  • Who were the seven elders chosen by the apostles?
  • What was the name of the city that banished Paul?
  • At whose house did Jesus stay at the city of Jericho?
My 5 years old niece on the other hand has to prepare only for an oral examination. Beginners and Primary department exams are oral, Junior dept members can choose between oral and written, and Intermediate dept onwards it is strictly a written exam. Some of the Q&A she has to learn are:
  • Who gave names to the animals and birds?
  • Where did Adam and Eve live?
  • What was the name of Moses’ father?
  • What was the name of Jesus’ mother?
  • Who tried to kill baby Jesus?
  • Where did Joseph and Mary flee after Jesus was born?
The syllabus of the puitling (adult) department for this year is the entire gospel according to Luke. And trust me, the questions aren’t easy at all! I struggled through the first few questions I came across so I stopped after that. Let’s see how many you know
  • What was the name of John the Baptist’s father?
  • Who was the son of Levi?
  • What was the name of the town where Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant?
  • Explain the significance of the places Korazin and Bethsaida.
  • What was the name of the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household?
  • Where did Jesus heal the ten lepers?
  • What was the name of the village where Jesus appeared to Simon/Cleopas after his crucifixion?
  • Explain the relationship status between Herod and Pilate before/after the crucifixion.

Pssttt! Stop googling! I can see you!

Nobody can flunk this exam . But those who score first divisions and honors (distinction) are awarded (Bible, cooking vessel etc). Sunday School in Mizoram is something that I completely missed out because I’ve stayed in a boarding school outside Mizoram since 3rd standard.

The invigilators for this exam come from adjoining Kohhrans and likewise, elders from our Kohhran go to other Kohhrans to conduct this exam. The entire procedure is very systematic.

In a way, this shows that nobody is too old for school. We keep on learning as long as we live, and learning from the Bible rejuvenates the spirit within us each and every passing day.


Anonymous said...

whats a sacrament department? a thar a mi? this is the 1st time im hearing about it.

Dex said...

I gotta admit that my Biblical knowledge is quite poor indeed. The only quiz i could even attempt was the 5-yo one.
Btw, hey! Do you know Smita from IIM-B? We went para-sailing today.

Mizohican said...

@ anonymous: Guess you've been away from Mizoram for sometime too :-) Sacrament department was introduced recently, and mainly consists of 14 years old boys and girls who are just about to be accepted into our Presbyterian community (dan chhung luh hma chiah). It wasn't there during my time. I still remember many of my friends jumping directly from Intermediate to Senior department.

@ Jimmy: Yes dude, Smita's a good friend of mine. Very sweet and always helpful. If you see her again please give her my warmest regards.

Jason said...

That quiz sounds tough!

Hmai said...

ok u got me thinkin.... gotta read my bible more now....used to be good once upon a time,and passed with honours way back... :)

Mizohican said...

@ Jason: lolz. Actually, the 5 yrs and 10 yrs old sections are not that tough if you study about it. All the answers are there in the short lessons provided. But yeah, the adult section is really tough!

@ myself: This coming from a former sunday school teacher, I believe you :-)

Anonymous said...

The Sacrament dept is sth that was introduced by the Dawrpui church and run there for several years. The Mizoram Synod Khawmpui of 2004 passed a resolution to have it introduced in every church,ie kohhran, so as of January 2005, the Synod Sunday School committee introduced a new SS dept with an entirely new syllabus. The kids enrolled here are those that have come up from the Intermediate dept and are due to be inducted as full-fledged members into the mainstream Church with rights to vote for Church elders, get a marriage certificate etc. Instead of having separate Sacrament classes every Sunday evening or so, these children now simply attend these SS classes for a year and are then welcomed as Dan chhung members at the end of the year.The next year, they then enroll into the Senior dept.

Shags, it's amazing discussing stuff like this on your blog. I like it!

Anonymous said...

I like Sunday School at the very beginning alone when you first heard the story of David, Moses etc. It was very interesting. There after I hated it. I like here in Chennai because there is no Sunday School.

I also don't really see the purpose of exam for Sunday School.

In Mizoram, I think every denomination is doing it. During my 5 years in Trichy (Trichinopoli) I used to attend Church of South India Sunday service. There was no Sunday School. I liked it.

I too was out of home most of the time in boarding school, since 91 and so I escaped :-)

virgochhas said...

Sacrament dept. was introduced by Dawrpui Pastor Bial (Dawrpui, Zarkawt, Saron veng, Chhinga Veng)...we used to be in sac dept. and the pastoral used to organize a gospel camp at d end of the year for all sac dept students from all da four locality... (dan chhung luh hma a pianthar a thra ... :) )

i never knew other pastorals haf started it too...

but being regular in sunday school is not enuff to make a human being good..

am da walking proof of dat...haf 100% attendence for 10 consecutive years and got "Pi Zaii Medal" but look at me... :(

anywayz...dat dsnt make it a bad thing either


i love giving the exams :)

also Kim, the adults are allowed to look at their ref books and The Bible during the exam


Almostunreal said...

I will flunk if I am to give the Junior Dept exam at the moment, lol

Anyway, I still have my "New Testament & Psalm" Bible when I scored 100/100...:)