The Epsworth League
For many years Methodist sought
to help her sister denominations bring the world to Christ without
any special organization for the training of her young members. It
is true that she was abundant in Sunday school work and that she also
tried to have the baptized children of the membership instructed by
parents and pastor. But the great mass of her youth who were not able
to endure “strong meat,” had
no other source of church food supply than that furnished by pulpits
to the general congregation. The result was that many of the best years
for the young to develop Christian character were almost wholly wasted,
or best were only poorly used, and the Church was compelled to expend
a large amount of energy a little later to save the children of those
who were already within her pales.
At length godly wise men begun to plan and to work that
such waste might be stopped. Societies of various kinds for the young people
began to grow and ere long it seemed they would become too numerous for the
greatest usefulness. Of these there were five which in point of influence
and numbers easily distanced all the others, They were the Oxford League,
the Young People’s Methodist Episcopal Alliance of the North Ohio Conference,
the Young People’s Methodist Alliance, the Christian League and the
Methodist Young People’s Union.
Seeing the need of a single organization for the young
people of the denomination, representatives from each of the five societies
met, at the call of the Young People’s Methodist Alliance, on Tuesday
morning, May 14, 1889, in Cleveland, Ohio. After due deliberation the Epworth
League was organized by using the best things from each of the others, about
midnight of May 15,1889,
The growth of this society has been phenomena1. May 16,
1890, it numbered 1,820 chapters; May 15, 1894, 13,500 chapters and 900,000
members; May 15, 1899, 19,500 chapters and 1,350,000 members. These are distributed
|China and Japan
The wave of progress soon reached
the excellent young people of Clay Chapel, and on November 6, 1891,
Chapter No. 6848 was organized there by the pastor, Rev. Patrick Henry,
assisted by Anna Davis Elder, with 31 charter members. The first board
of officers was as follows: Miss Rose Riggs, President; Rev. Patrick
Henry, First Vice-President Mrs. Joseph Williams, Second Vice-President;
Mr. Joseph Williams, Third Vice-President; Miss Manta Cole, Fourth
Vice-President Mr. Sidney Root, Treasurer Mrs. Sallie V. Clarke, Secretary.
It has been one of the most potent factors in the development
of the young people and in their training in Christian work. The pastors
have found its workers the main dependence for all kinds of church work.
While two other leagues have since been organized on the charge, this is
the only one remaining today, and it bids fair to be as lasting as any part
of the church machinery now in operation here.
Early in 1896, the writer organized a Junior League, having
a membership of about 30 little folks. It prospered for a time, partly under
the management of the pastor and that of Mrs. Sallie V. Clarke as its superintendent.
But the numerous duties of the latter prevented her from being able longer
to carry the added burden, hence it was discontinued and the little people
were given a part with the members of the Epworth League. I believe that
Miss Bessie Gibbons also had charge of it for a short time.
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