order founded by Dr. Francis E. Clark in 1881 in Portland,
Maine. Still active and on
THE HISTORY OF
The Christian Endeavor movement
as we know it today began in 1881 at the Williston Church in Portland, Maine.
Its founder was Dr. Francis E. Clark, D.D., LL.D. He received his Bachelor of
Arts Degree from Dartmouth College in 1873 and his Doctor of Devinity at
Andover Newton Theological Seminary in 1876. What follows are excerpts written
about Christian Endeavor 60 years after its creation.
"Although the movement began in Maine on February 2, 1881, two years
later the movement had spanned the country and the first junior C.E. society
was established in the First Congregational Church of Berkley, California.
ACROSS THE SEAS
"By 1886 and 1887, half a dozen years after the founding, the first
societies were started across the seas in South Africa, India, England, China
and Bermuda. A year later were added groups in Japan, France, Turkey, Spain,
and Australia, and before 1892 Samoa, Mexico, Chile and Brazil were also on
"The next seven years were filled with additional expansion and growth.
Societies quickly came into being in Egypt, Germany, Siam, Guatemala, Italy,
Bulgaria, Russia and the Philippines. In fact, the international scope of the
movement had become so great by 1895 that the World's Christian Endeavor Union
was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts, to include all the societies
and members in the world.
"For the first 10 years after the turn of the century the rapid expansion
continued with Denmark, Norway, Korea, the Fuji islands and Alaska added in
the list. In 1909 a society was formed aboard the Duke of Edinburgh, a royal
navy ship, thus beginning the navy branch which, since that time, has grown
considerably. During the world war the CE joined with other church and
fraternal organizations in working with the soldiers in camps in this country
and at the front in France and Belgium.
"Dr. Clark retired from active leadership in the international society in
1925 and was succeeded by Dr. Poling, well known as a minister, platform
speaker and leader in young people's activities. At the death of Dr. Clark two
years later his mantle of leadership both in this country and abroad fell to
Dr. Poling who has carried on the work from that day.
"But essentially, the leaders say, the society remains the same today as
it was when it was founded, except for the size of the membership. The primary
purpose of interesting young people in themselves and in the church is still
the principal aim and endeavor. Although it is nondenominational in work, its
principle success has been among the Protestant churches and few are the
parishes that today do not have an active and flourishing society.
"One may marvel at the rapid growth of the movement, but his associates
credit the untiring work of Dr. Clark and his wife for most of the success.
The couple toured in the world for several years in the interest of his
brain-child and nation after nation quickly embraced the movement and enlisted
hundreds of ministers and church members in it."