Skip to main content

Mary Evelyn LeBar

By Cheryl L. Fawcett & Joy Leichtfuss


Mary E. LeBar (1910-1982). Taught Christian education at Wheaton College for 30 years with her sister, Lois LeBar. Mary LeBar taught courses in children's ministry and the history of Christian education, developed curriculum materials for Sunday School and Vacation Bible School publishing companies, and wrote books and articles regarding ministry with children. Active in the Evangelical Teacher Training Association and the National Sunday School Association, Mary LeBar was a scholar-activist in the promotion of educational ministry in the church.


Family and Childhood

Mary Evelyn LeBar was born in Olean, New York on January 29, 1910. The second daughter of Roscoe Garfield and Alta Isabel (Hathaway) LeBar, Mary followed less than three years behind her older sister, Lois Emogene. Janet, born five years later, never totally entered into the active family life of her parents and older sisters. Janet's life ended at thirty-six years (Setran, 31).

Mary loved tennis and basketball among other sports. Mary and Lois were rarely found apart despite their observable differences. Mary was reported to be "taller though younger, more physically imposing, larger boned, and boasting an uproarious sense of humor (Setran, 30)." Cousin Elma remembered Mary as "the funny one, telling humorous jokes, quoting funny rhymes or making them up, …Her antics sometimes embarrassed Lois…(Setran, 30)."

Roscoe LeBar, Mary's father, provided well financially for his family as the hardworking innovative entrepreneurial manager of the Olean hardware store. The LeBar home was known for its vibrant and zestful family life that included much physical and social activity. During Mary's childhood years, the family embarked on frequent short family vacations in and around the Great Lakes region and Canada. In addition they spent many weekends at Lake Chautauqua, New York. Visits with their cousin Elma Byerly in Pennsylvania were a summer tradition (Setran, 26). Her childhood home provided a strong, stable, loving Christian environment, as both of her parents were believers. Her mother was a stronger spiritual mentor for the girls than their father leading spiritually through her prayer life and eager desire to know the Lord more intimately.

Faithful attendance at the liberal People's Methodist Church of Olean added to their religious upbringing. The church was however influenced by the increasingly theological liberalism of the beginning of the twentieth century. Lois, Mary's older sister, noted later that she never heard the true gospel in church. Messages were topical, with very little expository teaching, focusing more on the need for moral reform than for a personal appeal to accept Christ as Savior (Setran, 41). Mary's conversion came following her training at Geneseo State Normal School during her first job as a kindergarten teacher in Geneva, New York. For social interaction, Mary joined a bridge club that turned into a Bible study, ultimately revealing her unconverted status. Walking to her apartment that first day of her realization of her lost state, she stopped on the sidewalk and prayed to receive Christ as personal Savior (Setran, 51-53).


At the age of 17, Mary and her sister Lois attended State University of New York at Geneseo. Mary's love of children is easily traced to her mother who taught for most of her adult life both in the church and several grades in a public one-room schoolhouse in Olean. In 1930, after four years of study, they were both awarded teaching certificates. Following graduation, Mary taught kindergarten in Geneva, New York for four years. Convinced of the eternal significance of bringing others to salvation, both sisters determined to invest their teaching lives in full-time vocational ministry. When Mary and Lois each separately discovered, in the midst of the Great Depression, $500 in their accounts that they had not deposited, they were convinced of God's provision for His calling (Setran, 57). The sisters furthered their study at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago from 1933 to 1935 based in part on the recommendation from a Baptist pastor in Olean. At Moody, Mary developed a love for practical Christian work actively teaching the Bible to kindergarten children at Marquette Manor Baptist Church (Setran, 66). Mary studied Hebrew and Yiddish to enhance her skills but evangelistic attempts were met with stiff anti-Semitic resistance in the community, ultimately leading to the closing of that pursuit (Setran, 68-69). The Lord used this closed door to direct Mary to Christian education as a lifelong work.

"The Theology of the 1948-1949 Presbyterian 'Faith and Life' Curriculum in Junior, Junior High, and Senior Departments." Mary concluded that a definite neo-orthodox emphasis was woven into the very heart of the curriculum (Setran, 175).


Mary began her collegiate teaching career in 1945 when Rebecca Price asked both LeBar sisters to teach during her educational leave of absence (Setran, 129). Mary taught Christian Education of Children and the History of Christian Education (Setran, 130). That semester of substituting convinced both Mary and Lois that graduate training was essential. They returned to Wheaton following doctoral studies in the midst of a campus revival and under the spiritual leadership of Dr. V. Raymond Edmond (Setran, 185). She continued to teach Christian education of children as an assistant professor at Wheaton College until 1956 when she was promoted to associate professor. The following year, Mary was granted status as a full-fledged Christian Education professor at Wheaton. In 1965, she and Lois were named co-chairs of the Christian Education Department: an office she held for ten years until her retirement. In 1975, she was named Professor Emeritus bringing her total teaching career at Wheaton College to 30 years, spanning from 1945 to 1975. Summers were spent writing curricula for Scripture Press All-Bible Graded series and the All-Bible Vacation School series as well as teaching summer school sessions (Setran, 243). Mary was a frequent workshop presenter at the National Sunday School Association's annual meetings along with Lois (Setran, 248). During her thirty years at Wheaton she weekly tested her curriculum writing efforts by teaching children at the College Church in Wheaton (Setran, 243).


The most formative impact on Mary's life came from the LeBar family times together. Whether playing some sport, taking a weekend or extended time together in the car, or engaging in church social event, sharing life experiences was deeply rooted in Mary's person (Setran, 19). From her father, Mary acquired a desire to be inquisitive and open to new ideas (Setran, 22). From her mother came a deep love for children and God (Setran, 23). From the family unit came a valuing of relationships and playing together. Mary and Lois used their home during their entire thirty-year teaching stint at Wheaton as a place of ministry impact. From her older sister, Lois, came the lifelong challenge to academic and professional excellence in every endeavor.

From Mary's Moody experience came Clarence Benson's strong commitment to evangelical content and structured teaching. Also from Benson came a commitment to the Sunday School as a primary agency of doing educational ministry. And finally, the love of and desire for writing evangelically sound church educational curriculum was honed under Benson's leadership.

Pestalozzi-Froebel Teacher's College influenced her own commitment to student centered learning techniques (Setran, 94-95). Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a Swiss educator from 1746-1827, proposed reforming school rather than the more aggressive abandonment approach of Rousseau. Pestalozzi stressed that a child learns best in a secure and loving atmosphere, where teachers are concerned not only with a child's education, but with his or her personal development (Gough, 2001). Mary stressed the Pestalozzian idea that children must feel safe in their learning environment before any learning can take place.

Friedrich Froebel, the German educator who was the founder of Kindergarten, purported that play, or "self activity," was necessary in allowing a child to fully develop educationally. Froebel encouraged teachers to allow children to express themselves through play (Britannica, 2001) - a concept which became a keystone in Mary's philosophy of early childhood religious education. In her book, Church-time for fours and fives, she encourages the teacher to allow free play during class without direct adult direction.

Dr. Rebecca Price's devotion to inductive Bible study as a basis for religious education became firmly embedded in LeBar's perspective of Christian Education. Mary's decision to pursue a Ph. D. in education at New York University is traceable to Dr. Price as well as the fact that NYU was one of few credible institutions at the time accepting fundamentalists into its student numbers.


In an era when Sunday School for children was regarded by many as glorified babysitting, Mary LeBar stressed the idea that children, like adults, could be involved in meaningful worship of their Creator. She wrote books that included practical advice for Sunday school teachers and parents alike on the Christian education and nurturing of their children. Over two dozen of her books were directed toward the youngest of God's lambs, 2-5 year olds. Her master's thesis, entitled Patty goes to the nursery class, addressed many issues that faced "children's church" and was the first of many books that she published in Sunday school curricula. This first effort is full of practical advice for making children an integral part of the entire learning experience that church is supposed to be. In this book, she intersperses an entire year of Bible lessons with notes to teachers telling them the ways children are developing at different points, how to deal with behavior problems, and how to react to parents and their concerns. In a later book, Children can worship meaningfully at church and home, Mary points out that children can worship their Creator meaningfully in church. She stresses the fact that a child's worship session will look and sound very different than an adult worship session. She writes directly to the teacher and shares very practical advice regarding how to work with the child's need to wiggle and move around while they sing, providing a snack time, and providing handwork suitable for the age of the class. Mary authored many children's books to be used along with the Sunday School curriculum or simply to be read alone. Most of her writings focused on the very narrow age window when children are learning the most, the preschool years to assist those closest to their spiritual instruction to do so most effectively.


Mary LeBar was an active member of several organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), National Sunday School Association (NSSA), National Council of Churches, American Association of University Professors, and the Evangelical Teacher Training Association (ETTA). The main goal of the NAE was to "revitalize Sunday school" with an emphasis on biblical teaching and evangelism (Williams, 2001, p. 500-501). The National Sunday School Association was formed by the leaders of the NAE who realized that the Sunday School materials that were available were theologically liberal and included very little direct reference to the Bible. The National Sunday School Association contributed to the growth of Sunday School until it ceased to exist in 1996. A similar organization of which Mary was a member was the Evangelical Teacher Training Association, which "has been used by God to revolutionize the standards of evangelical Sunday schools in North America and other countries" (Clark, 1998). Her membership in both of these organizations demonstrates her desire in teaching children biblical truths rather than just allowing them to be entertained while their parents were in church.


Although Mary LeBar lived mainly in a manner that was very others-centered, there were several times when she could not avoid the spotlight. In 1959, her efforts for God's kingdom were rewarded on earth as she and her sister, Lois, received the Moody Bible Institute Alumnae of the Year Award. This award came fifteen years after her student days at Moody and was the first time that award was given simultaneously to two individuals (Setran, 254-255). Throughout her lifetime she was also honored with an entry in Who's Who of American Women for 1968-1969 and 1970-1971, the Directory of American Scholars in 1974 and 1978, and Foremost Women in Communications in 1974.

Her Relationship with Lois

Mary and Lois LeBar were inseparable. Neither sister ever married, and they found friendship and companionship in each other. They lived in the same house together, attended the same schools, received the same degrees, and taught in and chaired the same department at Wheaton College for their entire careers. They even wrote their doctoral dissertations on similar topics. On the Wheaton campus they were known as "the LeBar sisters," or just "the LeBars." It is almost as if they had melded into one person with one identity. Yet, there was never any hint that either of them wished to separate from the other: "They (Mary and Lois) were a team like no other…they complemented each other in everything they did (Setran, 30)."

They each played different roles in their happy lifelong relationship. Mary's "physical makeup and personality made her a somewhat unusual companion for a very reserved and petite Lois LeBar (Setran, 30)." Although the two sisters did everything together, their personalities were quite different from each other. Mary LeBar was an energetic, outgoing woman who enjoyed working with children in Sunday school classrooms and teaching young people how to relate with children. Lois was more reserved, more of a brooding philosopher, and although she was an excellent teacher, she did not form the same depth of relationships with her students as Mary did. Their personality differences are apparent when one studies the focus of their writings. Mary wrote in order to further ministry to children in God's kingdom while Lois focused more on the theories of education. Mary was a hands-on kind of writer; she learned what children wanted and needed in Sunday school by teaching and observing their classes.


Following retirement in 1975 from Wheaton, Mary and Lois embarked on a new adventure when they moved to Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to teach and to train teachers in the newly formed Christian College of Southern Africa. Mary was sixty-five years old, and Lois was sixty-seven, yet they were willing to obey God's calling and export the vision of quality Christian education globally. A new Rhodesian law allowed religious teachers from all denominations to teach about their faith in the public schools (Setran, 315). Lack of competent evangelical teachers was drawing criticism from educators in Rhodesia and liberal religious educators were being hired to fill the need. Their goal was to "form a college that was 'focused on the person rather than a profession' (Setran, 316-317)." The politically and racially war-torn nation made their work challenging. Likewise the deteriorated educational system and the poor facilities also threatened their success as they sought to teach young black men during the day and evening seminars to Europeans (Setran, 323). They presented their "Teaching for Results" seminars all over Rhodesia to laymen, pastors, and Bible school students as well as presenting a series of talks on Mary's new book on children's worship at the Interracial Congress on Evangelism in Context (Setran, 323). Time spent with former student Eileen Genheimer at Johannesburg Bible Institute designing a curriculum for discipleship was quite fulfilling (Setran, 323). Their stay in Africa lasted only fifteen months due to racial unrest and the lack of consistent motivation on the part of black Africans to change (Carr, October, 3, 1976, p. 1)

On their return to the United States, Mary and Lois retraced the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul as well as the steps of Jesus in Israel. In the summer of 1973 and again in 1977, both sisters traveled through the Asian countries of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, and the Middle Eastern country of Lebanon presenting their "Teaching for Results" seminars (Setran, 329). Teaching in 1977 continued for the duo at a Bible college in Regina, Canada. Later that same year they connected with former student Dorothy McCullough to present "Teaching for Results" in every country in Central America except Nicaragua (Setran, 330-331).

One of their favorite travel spots in the United States was Florida's Ft. Meyer and Shell Point (Setran, 333). After thirty years in Wheaton, Mary and Lois determined to relocate to Shell Point. The duo traveled the coasts of Florida exploring its secrets before launching out to the West Coast of the United States (Setran, 334). While travelling with Lois and a friend in Mesa Verde, California Mary experienced a massive heart attack that claimed her life in only fifteen minutes on October 3, 1982 (Setran, 336). "It was a long time before I could say 'I', it had always been 'we,'" shared Lois regarding the jolting shock of losing her lifelong friend (Setran, 336). Lois continued to live in Florida until her death on August 30, 1997.


Preschool curricula written from a strong evangelical perspective which called for a personal commitment to Christ was the single most significant contribution of Mary E. LeBar to the world of Christian Education. Her work was practical, full of exhortations to the untrained Christian educator. Her training in psychology forged together with her love of inductive Bible study and organized planned curricula filled a huge gap in the newly expanded world of evangelical Christian education materials.

A collegiate teaching career as long and fruitful as Mary LeBar's multiplied the impact of her practical evangelical approach to teaching preschoolers spiritually as she impacted an entire generation of church educators, both vocational and lay, through her classes, writings, and seminars. While Mary's primary focus was the church's and home's ministry to children, she equipped hundreds who taught throughout the United States and dozens of others who became global ambassadors of the LeBarian ministry approach. Nancy Wood Folkerts, who studied under the LeBars in 1954, became a missionary to British Cameroon. Other missionary students include Diane Wilhelmina (Powell) Hawkins, who served in Rhodesia, Africa (now Zimbabwe), Eleanor Ruth Elliott in China, and Zoe Ann Alford in India (Billy Graham Center Archives).

J. Omar Brubaker, who was a professor in the Christian Education Department at Moody Bible Institute before his death in 1996, also credited Mary and Lois LeBar as having "made a great impact on his life" while he was studying at Wheaton (Thigpen, 1999). Many other young men and women were influenced by Mary LeBar, and due to the cross-cultural effectiveness of her teaching methods, many were able to take her practical knowledge with them into classrooms in many different cultures. Regardless of the language and culture in which children are reared they possess many common developmental likenesses. Mary LeBar's ideas are readily applied to many situations because they are not unique to America but common to children everywhere.

Mary and Lois taught in a student-centered manner for their entire tenure at Wheaton. Many were the Christian education students who were welcomed into their home and their hearts (Setran, 290). Mary built strong enduring relationships with students modeling the very philosophy that she embraced.

Mary LeBar's legacy is remembered annually with the award given in her name to a graduate student in Educational Ministries at Wheaton College for unusually meritorious achievement. The recipient must demonstrate academic excellence, professional competence, and moral and spiritual character.

In addition to the personal multiplication of character, values and ideas in people whom she trained, Mary's contribution to the evangelical church's curricula for preschoolers is very significant. This is in part evidenced by the number of times her seminal works were republished (see list of published materials). She was at the same time an excellent local church practitioner, an innovator, a writer, a discipler of many and a lover of life in God's great world. Her life was lived to the fullest and continues to provide the foundation of current ministry through the church to children from the age of two to five.

Contributions to Christian Education

"It is no exaggeration to claim that their (Lois and Mary's) accomplishments and shortcomings have fundamentally shaped the character of evangelical Christian Education (Heidebrecht, 1)." Mary focused her efforts on the youngest children brought to the Sunday School, an age group which had been largely ignored by secular and Christian educators alike. Mary LeBar brought a much-needed freshness to the nursery and toddler Sunday School through her own local church teaching and curricula writing for Scripture Press of Wheaton, IL. Her curricula were imaginative and practical, giving children structure as well as freedom of self-expression. Mary was sensitive to children's developmental stages and abilities for meaningful learning. Her master's thesis, Patti goes to nursery class, provided the basis for lessons plans "that concentrated on feelings and attitudes rather than Bible content (Heidebrecht, 5)." Working with Scripture Press as the first evangelical publisher to enter this new market, Mary's work reaped a harvest as post-war baby boom swelled the church nurseries (Heidebrecht, 5).

Her unique ability to integrate the knowledge of psychology, education and theology for the youngest of learners broke new territory (Hakes, 136-137). She was committed to the Christian using discretion when testing secular ideas but always encouraged students to remain open to incorporating any and all truths that were founded in the Creator's laws (Hakes, 136).

During her thirty years of teaching Christian Education at Wheaton College, Mary and her sister trained almost "1000 majors in a style of education that was child-centered, and Bible-based (Heidebrecht, 1)." By teaching collegians age appropriate methods of teaching the Bible to young children, Mary LeBar multiplied her influence far beyond her own personal sphere of impact. Through her long and faithful tenure at Wheaton College in the classroom and the administrative office, she modeled for her students an interactive style of teaching and the desire to build strong relational bonds with students. Her constant hands-on involvement with children in her local church role modeled to her collegians the value of children. She helped her students to realize that children, even before they know how to talk, are capable of learning and retaining spiritual attitudes and impressions (Hakes, 139). Christian educators will remain forever indebted to Mary LeBar for bringing about a much-needed reform to the Sunday School classroom and for duplicating her influence through training up new teachers with her student-centered, need oriented teaching and learning approach.

Mary and her sister, Lois, played a central role in the formation of the National Sunday School Association and its Research Commission for Christian Education professors (Heidebrecht, 1). The Research Commission provided guidance to Christian Education policies, encouraged research, the exchange of ideas, and the preparation of texts for Christian Education departments (Heidebrecht, 14). Mary surveyed missionaries who had taken courses in Christian education to determine the value of those courses.

During retirement Mary LeBar presented "Teaching for Results" seminars on several continents. Together with her sister, Mary contextualized curricula for Bible colleges providing opportunities to train lay teachers globally. Working with the "predominately female cohort of (Christian Education) majors (who) remained intensely loyal to the LeBars (Heidebrecht, 9)", Mary and Lois taught in Africa, Central America, and all over Asia.


  • Billy Graham Center Archives. Text Interviews with individuals. Retrieved December 16, 2001 from the World Wide Web.
  • Carr, Marylea. (1976, October, 3). Ex-college teachers find Rhodesia's problem one of harsh black and white. Wheaton Daily Journal. p.1-2.
  • Clark, Robert E. (1998). Tribute to J. Omar Brubaker, 1929-1996. ETA Profile. Retrieved November 6, 2001 from the World Wide Web:
  • Friedrich Froebel. The Britannica Concise [On-line]. Retrieved January 15, 2002 from the World Wide Web:
  • Gough, David. (2001), Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. In Michael J. Anthony (Ed.), Evangelical dictionary of Christian education (pp. 531-532). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
  • Heidebrecht, Paul. (1991, March). The educational legacy of Lois and Mary LeBar. Unpublished paper presented at Wheaton Graduate School symposium on the LeBars. Wheaton, IL.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1964). Teaching preschool children. In J. Edward Hakes, (Ed). An Introduction to evangelical Christian education. Chicago: Moody Press.
  • Setran, David. (1994). The Spiritual and Intellectual Formation of Lois E. LeBar and an Assessment of her contribution to the Field of Christian Education. Master's Thesis. Wheaton Graduate School: Wheaton, IL.
  • Thigpen, Jonathan N. (1999). Special: 70th Anniversary Article: The Early Years of ETA- 1930-1955. ETA JAT. Retrieved November 6, 2001 from the World Wide Web:
  • Williams, Dennis E. (2001), National Sunday School Association. In Michael J. Anthony (Ed.), Evangelical dictionary of Christian education (pp. 500-501). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.


Books, Articles

  • LeBar, Lois and Mary LeBar. (1941). The Story of Preeta [Filmstrip]. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (?). How God Gives Us Jelly. Standard Publishing.
  • LeBar, Mary. (?). How God Gives Us Warm Coats. Standard Publishing.
  • LeBar, Mary. (?). How God Gives Us Happy Homes. Standard Publishing.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1950). I'm Giving. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1952). Patty Goes to the Nursery Class. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1958). Joe's Strong Legs. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1958). Johnny's Cookies. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1958). Who Loves the Children?. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Growing Up Stories for Fours and Fives. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Church-Time Activity Music. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Mike Learns About Himself. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Margo Learns to Pray. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Madge Learns to Listen. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Martin Learns About the Bible. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Church-Time for Fours and Fives: Learning God's Word. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). God's Four Seasons-Activity Record and Picture Book. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1960). Piano Music for Bible Stories. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1961). Church-Time for Fours and Fives: Going God's Way. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1962). Living in God's Family. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1963). How God Gives Us Apples. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1963). How God Gives Us Bread. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1963). We Learn to Pray. Wheaton: Standard Publishing.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1964). How God Gives Us Ice Cream. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1964). How God Gives Us Peanut Butter. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1965). Church Time for Fours and Fives. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1965). Sh-h-h-h. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1965). We Are Helpers. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1969). Patty Goes to the Nursery Class. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1969). Preschool Bulletin Boards. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1972). Wonder Programs for Fours and Fives. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1973). Wonder Programs for Fours and Fives. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1974). You Make the Difference for Fours and Fives: Using Time in the Church for Spiritual Growth. Wheaton: Victor Books.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1974). Motions 'n Music for Bible Stories. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1975). It's Fall: God's Four Seasons. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1975). It's Spring: God's Four Seasons. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1975). It's Summer: God's Four Seasons. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1975). It's Winter: God's Four Seasons. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1975). The Wiggler and the Word Teach… Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1975). Preschool Bulletin Boards. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1975). You Make the Difference for 4s and 5s [Filmstrip]. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1976). Children Can Worship Meaningfully at Church and Home. Wheaton: Victor Books.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1977). You Make the Difference for Fours and Fives: Using Time in the Church for Spiritual Growth. Wheaton: Victor Books.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1977). The Best Family of All. Wheaton: Victor Books.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1977). God Made Plants and Animals. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1978). Wonder Programs for Fours and Fives. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1980). Motions 'n Music for Bible Stories. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1981). You Can Teach Fours and Fives. Wheaton: Victor Books.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1981). Wonder Programs for Fours and Fives. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1985). Who Loves Patty? Wheaton: Victor Books.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1985). Who Loves the Children? Wheaton: Victor Books.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1985). I'm Giving. Wheaton: Scripture Press.
  • LeBar, Mary. (1985). Sh-h-h-h. Wheaton: Scripture Press.

Reviews of the Major Works of Mary LeBar

Due to the very focused subject area of Mary LeBar's curriculum writing, no reviews of her books were found. Sources checked for reviews: REJ, CEJ, ATLA, RTA, Dissertation Abstracts, ProQuest Religion, and WorldCat.

Excerpts from Publications

LeBar, Mary. (1952). Patty goes to the nursery class. Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press. On the need to begin spiritual training early:

"Today, more than ever before, the Christian church is awakening to the possibilities of little children's understanding spiritual things. Can we begin too early to draw forth a love for the house of God, the Book of God, and for God Himself? Can we begin too early to point out God's relation to all of life, and to train in Christian responses? Can we begin too early to point children to the One who alone can meet their deepest needs, give security in a rapidly changing civilization, and strengthen them against overwhelming temptations? Is even the Nursery soon enough?" (Patty goes to the nursery class, 1952, 21).

LeBar, Mary. (1952). Patty goes to the nursery class. Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press. Speaking to Nursery Teacher:

" … Your job is not generally considered important in the church. It is shunned rather than sought after. To do it successfully requires hours of work, which hardly seem to rank with the more direct soul-saving labors of those who work with older groups. But this is as man looks upon it. If you have a vision of the importance of your place, you may labor as unto the Lord and know that because of His great love for children He places high value on building lasting foundations." (Patty goes to the nursery class, 1952, 26).

LeBar, Mary. (1964). Teaching preschool children. In J. Edward Hakes, (Ed). An Introduction to evangelical Christian education. Chicago, IL: Moody Press. On the contributions of education and psychology to CE:

"However little Scripture may say to enlighten educators as to preschool education, the Christian leader must be aware that all so-called laws of human development are God's laws. The discovery of the process of wholesome maturation should be the province of the Christian who is thinking the Creator's thoughts after Him. Using discrimination and testing, the Christian can therefore gratefully accept the findings of secular research, and build on them." (Teaching preschool children, 136)

LeBar, Mary. (1964). Teaching preschool children. In J. Edward Hakes, (Ed). An Introduction to evangelical Christian education. Chicago, IL: Moody Press. On the readiness of preschooler to learn theologically:

"It is evident that the preschooler's Christian education lies more in the realm of attitudes and atmosphere than in concepts and facts. This is not a period for learning doctrine. Yet if the early years are so vital in other areas, is there less reason to suppose that the spiritual attitudes being learned are less significant? Little children respond readily to the spiritual." (Teaching preschool children, 139)

LeBar, Mary. (1964). Teaching preschool children. In J. Edward Hakes, (Ed). An Introduction to evangelical Christian education. Chicago, IL: Moody Press. On appropriate methodology for preschoolers in church education:

"In first place must come the spiritual character of the teacher himself. The young child absorbs the unexpressed attitude and senses the focus of the adult personality before he learns to give attention to verbal communication. …the Bible story is the chief vehicle for conveying spiritual truth concretely in words. …Physical movement must frequently be utilized if the child is not to be frustrated and repressed. …The teacher leads the child in "playing" positive actions, entering into others experiences and feelings vicariously… Application of truth to life for the young child cannot be left in the abstract, but must be translated into the specific and literal. …Primary experiences need to be supplied so that the child is doing as well as hearing, using the senses rather than being completely depeFndent upon words." (Teaching preschool children, 140-142)

LeBar, Mary. (1976). Children can worship meaningfully at church and home. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books. On assisting children in building a worship service:

"Get a focus. …The children can help in selecting this focus if they are given a list of possibilities, or a number of ideas from which to choose…(include) Bible… music… offering… visuals… prayer… a call to worship and benediction. …Organize the parts; have the children prepare their part of the service; an adult coordinates the Session by planning transitions…prepare to worship by an invitation to have a moment of silence to get ready for worship…have the worship service in a special room…"(Children can worship, 99-103)

LeBar, Mary. (1961). Church-time for four's and five's: Going God's way. Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Foundation. On what Beginner church should be:

"A little child who stays in the church building all morning needs a change of pace, but not necessarily multiplication of activities and ideas. Church for four's and five's should be an extension of the Sunday School hour, during which the ideas there presented and given more time for absorption, clarification, and practice… there should be time for more of the supplementary ideas… giving more time attention to God's working in the outdoor world. There should be free time when the children are not required to do the same thing in the same way. There should be physical refreshment-lunch, bodily rest, and opportunity for large-muscle movements, so craved by growing bodies… (Church-time for four's and five's: Going God's way, 6)."


LeBar, Mary. (1952). Patty goes to the nursery class: A year's course in twelve units for 2- and 3-year old children. Chicago, IL: Scripture Press.

LeBar, Mary. (1961). Church-time for fours and fives: Going God's way. Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Foundation.

LeBar, Mary. (1964). Teaching preschool children. In J. Edward Hakes, (Ed). An introduction to evangelical Christian education. Chicago: Moody Press.

LeBar, Mary. (1977). You make the difference for 4s and 5s: Using time in the church for spiritual growth. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

LeBar, Mary. (1976). Children can worship meaningfully at church and home. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Other Information

The best place to look for more information on Mary LeBar is the Wheaton College Archives. They have photos and other memorabilia from both of the LeBar sisters. Other sources are the Billy Graham Archives located at Wheaton College, and the Moody Bible Institute Alumni Association.

Author Information

Cheryl L. Fawcett

Dr. Cheryl Fawcett is Professor of Christian Education at Christian Heritage College in El Cajon, CA where she teaches youth ministry, women’s ministry and inductive Bible study method courses. Both of her parents early spiritual formation was impacted by the ministry of Jack Wyrtzen. Her dad received Christ as Savior at one of the rallies, and her mother trained at the Hawthorn Bible Institute in New Jersey where Wyrtzen studied for several years. Her own personal exposure to the Word of Life Bible clubs came early in her local church ministry especially during her ministry in the finger lake region of New York State.

Joy Leichtfuss

Joy Leichtfuss served as a research assistant at Christian Heritage College.