National 4-H Sunday

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website —

Throughout much of its history, and particularly during the mid-20th century, 4-H had celebrated National 4-H Sunday and Rural Life Sunday. Held in the spring, 4-H clubs in hundreds of communities worked closely with the community church to provide the 4-H-driven church service. Members of the local 4-H club would serve as greeters, ushers, provide the choir, give the scripture readings and even the sermon. This was perfectly acceptable. After all, in the traditional homogenous rural population everyone knew everyone else; went to the same school, the same church, and belonged to the same 4-H Club.

However, by the 1970s, federal court actions more narrowly defined the separation of church and state, and 4-H had to reassess its policies. The reassessment was hastened by the recognition that the new audiences that 4-H was bringing in did not necessarily share the common religious values presumed to exist in rural America.

What had been a major, highly visible annual function in rural communities across America – National 4-H Sunday – would rapidly disappear.