Echoes of a once-great movement sounded forth from 3,500 delegates to the sixteenth world convention of Christian Endeavor, held last month in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.
Children and teen-agers joined their adult sponsors in early morning Bible studies, lively songfests, and inspirational services. In the evenings, they welcomed thousands of local people. The youths behaved relatively well, the only dissident note being an impromptu youth-led worship service that included criticism of older leaders.
The evangelically oriented convention program was essentially a greatly expanded version of the Sunday evening youth meeting, a church tradition that began with the founding of CE nearly ninety years ago. The conventions are a rich part of Christian Endeavor heritage; in earlier days such meetings were spectacular events, frequently attracting more than 50,000.
Christian Endeavor reached its peak about 1935. In recent years, however, there have been signs of a comeback. CE leaders see special opportunities among churches no longer getting adequate youth materials from their denominations.Despite CE’s basic orthodoxy, many evangelical denominations have shunned it in favor of their own youth organizations. Such evangelicals hold the movement theologically suspect because it is so often found in congregations of liberal, old-line denominations.
Much responsibility for reviving the movement rests with a genial, 45-year-old Pennsylvanian who recently became general secretary of the International Society of Christian Endeavor, the North American arm. (The global organizational unit is known as the World’s Christian Endeavor Union, and this year’s convention was a joint meeting.) The new administrator is the Reverend Charles W. Barner, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more