Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler: 26 Christian Endeavor

For children and youth, there was Christian Endeavor (CE). Meetings were on Sabbath afternoon. The group was interdenominational and involved youth of other churches as well as our own. Its motto was For Christ and the Church. There was also a pledge to Christian living:

Christian Endeavor Pledge for Active Members

Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for strength, I promise Him that I will strive to do whatever He would have me do. I will make it the rule of my life to pray and read the Bible, to support the work and worship of my church, and to take my part in the meetings and other activities of this society. I will seek to bring others to Christ, to give as I can for the spread of the Kingdom, to advance my county’s welfare, and to promote the Christian brotherhood of man. These things I will do unless hindered by conscientious reasons; and in them all I will seek the Savior’s guidance.

I signed the Pledge around 1934. CE meetings were a highlight of my teen years. This confirmation of commitment to the Lord has had a tremendous strengthening influence in all the years since. Admittedly, there have been some brief lapses in prayer and Bible reading. This reminder has, by God’s grace, always called me back to that commitment.

Mrs. Lester Osborn, Grace, was our adult sponsor for several years. The Osborns also sponsored “Open House” on Sabbath evenings. These included games, table games, fun projects, taffy pulls and a devotional time.

Though we had an adult sponsor, the plan was that the young people take turns leading our Sabbath afternoon meetings. We would hand out related subjects to other members to speak on. We had help from the Christian Endeavor Society in Columbus, Ohio. I anticipated my own opportunities to lead, my earliest experience in preparing for later pastoral ministry. I enjoyed that a lot when my turn came to speak – though I was generally bashful.

We had occasional rallies among CE members in northeastern Kansas. These were exciting, especially for meeting other youth, perhaps developing into correspondence, dating, and sometimes marriage. We were especially excited when our Pastor Osborn, a great song leader, was called on to lead hymns and choruses.

We small town and rural youth were stunned and disappointed to discover that some CE members, especially from urban areas, seemed to lack the high sense of challenge to Christian behavior. We were shocked by their vulgarity and behavior.

There is no doubt that lifelong spiritual impressions were made on the lives of several of us by our Christian Endeavor activities of worshipping and socializing with others. It is also likely that this opened the way for four of our church members to enter pastoral ministry.

Sadly, CE has declined to great measure among churches. Just when it seemed that ecumenicity was gaining ground, most denominational churches have withdrawn from the movement and created their own centered groups – if any at all. I suspect that this turn has been largely a defensive move to try to protect denominational loyalty among their youth. At any rate, this has been an unfortunate development, a blow to the sense of a common faith among Christians.

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