The Allan Bequest
The Christian Education and Nurture Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria takes this opportunity to acknowledge the benefactor, Robert Allan, by whose generous financial legacy this project has been made possible.
Unfortunately, not a great deal is known about the man himself, his life, connections, profession, and so on. We do however, know that he was a man of considerable Christian conviction who desired that “our people [i.e. Victorians] may... become noted as a Bible reading, Bible-living community”. This inspired in him a passionate vision that children should be taught about Jesus Christ through the “Sabbath School” system of the day and, to this end, he devised “a syllabus of two years course of religious instruction” and tested it very successfully in various Presbyterian churches. It is lamentable that there are no known examples of the course material for us to see for ourselves but Allan did, in his will, describe it as “a systematic course of instruction in Bible proofs, covering a period of two years, at the end of which the same course is repeated, but with different Scriptural illustrations and testimonies [using]... a method of instruction which embraces daily and quarterly written examinations on the subjects which have been taught”.
Allan did not intend that what he had started would falter after he had died. Accordingly, in his will he settled upon the Presbyterian Church of Victoria what he regarded as sufficient funds to continue and even expand this program, both in Victoria and in the other colonies. Allan, in his attention to detail in the mode of teaching, scope and doctrinal content of his syllabus, reflected on God’s own method of instructing the wise unto salvation: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” [Isa.28:10]
Despite his considerable foresight, Allan could not have known (let alone planned for) the changes that have taken place in our society which have conspired to ensure that his godly aspirations would never be realised. Over a period of years, the Presbyterian Church of Victoria has made several attempts to access the funds that had accumulated in Allan’s bequest but legal opinion constantly frustrated such efforts. At the 1997 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, the CENC (as custodians of Allan’s bequest) reported its intention to “investigate some way of altering the terms of the will to allow its use for the wider contemporary needs in children’s Christian education.” The following year, the CENC, after having received positive legal opinion on a proposal, was gratified to receive the Assembly’s assent to the following deliverance: “Approve the use of the Allan bequest to develop an integrated Sunday School curriculum for use from primary through to secondary years, covering the doctrines laid down by Mr. Robert Allan in his bequest.”
What you now hold is, we believe, entirely compatible with the spirit of Allan’s intentions and, in many respects, faithful to the teaching method Allan himself laid out. It is the product of a significant and sustained effort of a number of contributors, whose desire to teach today’s children and youth about the saving work of Jesus Christ approaches that of Allan himself. We thank God for raising up Robert Allan, a man of such rich faith, and for the financial provision that has come down to us through him and which we have devoted to produce what you see today.