The Christian Endeavor Collection

Published Date: January 26, 2016

By: Robert Danielson

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Convention Badge from the Kentucky Christian Endeavor State Convention of 1909, which was held in Nicholasville, Kentucky.

This April, the B. L. Fisher Library Archives and Special Collections will welcome the donation of the Christian Endeavor Collection with an official opening. This collection of material from both the International Christian Endeavor and the World Christian Endeavor organizations will make Asbury Theological Seminary an international center for research on this important historic movement, which was pivotal to the development of Youth Ministry within the Church.

The Young People’s Society o f Christian Endeavor was formed in Portland, Maine at Williston Congregational Church on February 2, 1881. It began as a small effort by the pastor, Rev. Francis E. Clark to involve more young people in his congregation. At this time, there existed Sunday Schools for young children and regular Bible Studies and worship services for adults, but nothing was in place for young people who did not fall neatly into either category. As a result, many young people were leaving the church.

Rev. Clark formed this first Christian Endeavor Society in the parlor of the parsonage, where young people signed a pledge to be active participants “for Christ and the Church.” They formed and ran their own committees and everyone was required to be involved in their worship activities beyond simply singing hymns. By giving the youth more responsibility and empowering them to live Christian lives in their society, the modern Youth Ministry Movement was born.

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Christian Endeavor Convention Material from the Sixteenth International Convention held in San Francisco, California in 1897.

Christian Endeavor, as the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, soon became called, was the first Christian youth fellowship and became the forerunner for modern day youth ministry. Rev. Francis E. Clark became recognized as the “Father of Youth Ministry.” The society grew rapidly and soon spread to all of the states of the United States and many other countries as well. It remained interdenominational, was interracial, and worked to include youth from all of the Protestant denominations. By the year 1906 there were over four million members of Christian Endeavor around the world in over 67,000 societies.

Because of size and global distribution, the organization broke into two separate groups. The International Christian Endeavor consisted of societies in the United States and Canada, while the World Christian Endeavor was made up of other societies around the globe. From early on, Christian Endeavor was strong in the churches of China, India, Britain, and Germany, as well as many other nations.

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Photograph of the Eighteenth British National Convention held in Nottingham, England.​

In the United States, Christian Endeavor was an influential movement, especially involved in the Temperance Movement. In its heyday it was a huge political and social force in the United States. Religious leaders of many denominations, as well as political leaders, including presidents of the United States, attended its annual and then biannual conventions. In the period following World War One, its numbers began to decline, in part as denominations founded their own youth fellowships in competition. Both the International Society of Christian Endeavor, headquartered in Michigan (now called Endeavor: http://endeavormovement.com/) and the World Christian Endeavor Society, headquartered in Germany, still exist and operate their ministries.

The B. L. Fisher Library Archives and Special Collections are excited about this large collection and its potential for research on the global Church as well as the historical importance of this movement for understanding Youth Ministry. We would love to hear from any alumni involved in Christian Endeavor and about their memories of how this movement impacted their lives! 

Grace Yoder, Archivist, B.L. Fisher Library

grace.yoder@asburyseminary.edu


15 responses to “The Christian Endeavor Collection”

  1. Betty Kron says:

    I have Christian Endeavor convention badges, hats, Bible, etc. dating beck to 1938 that I would be happy to contribute to your group if you want them. Please inform me where they can be sent. Thank You

  2. sbo says:

    Thank you for information.

  3. sbobet says:

    I’m very grateful.

  4. I am an elder at the Ocoee Chrisrian Church(Disciples of Christ) near Orlando Florida. Our congregation was formed in1883. Our sanctuary was built in 1891. This the buildings 125th anniversary. We have a “founders” day celebration in Ocoee every year. We give tours of the church and display some original artifacts. This year I cleaned a communion cup holder and found it was given to our church from the Christian Endevour in 1919. If you would like a picture of it, send me an email address. Our congregation is still active after 133 years.

  5. Rebecca Caday says:

    I have a stack full of “cards” used for study. They’re beautifully done, from the Sunbury P.A. Rev JH Weber was the pastor named on the main card. There’s a name on a few of them (no relation to me) that I don’t recognize. My grandmother had them so may have been a friend of hers. I’ll be happy to send pictures if anyone would like. Thank you for sharing all of this information. Great to have a story behind these cards!

  6. Joy Carmichael says:

    My grandfather, Rev. Walter Jaeger was very involved with Christian Endeavor in the early 1900s. He wrote extensively about it in his journals and autobiography. Would you be interested in copies of those? I think I also have pictures and convention ribbons.

  7. tangkasnet says:

    This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Thank you!

  8. Mark Kribs says:

    My father Timmothy John Kribs was International Christian Endeavor president in the 1970’s. I was pretty young when he became president but I remember he was inaugurated at the Christian Endeavor Convention in Portland, Or. I’m sure my sisters and I have a bunch of souvenirs and such from his time being so involved in CE.

  9. Ensan Chisim says:

    I am Ensan Chisim from Bangladesh south Asia. How I can involved in CE.

  10. Juliet George says:

    Greetings. In order to cite the above essay as a source, I need to know the date it was posted here. Will you help me? I do not see a date associated with it. In a congregational history, I have mentioned the YPSCE and given some general background, and this was helpful to me. Thanks!

  11. Adrian Aguilera says:

    I have many posters of the 62nd annual los angeles Christian Endeavor convention 1954

  12. Linda Sanders says:

    My aunt was very active in C E and attend a few international conventions. She recently needed to go to a long term living facility and I have some of her mementos. Would you be interested in having them?

  13. Ruth Stearns says:

    I just came on a diary entry of my great great grandfather, who wrote that his sister and friend went to California (June 28, 1897) with Christian Endeavor!

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