History

How it all Started.

How the first Society began is of more than just historic value.  it shows the concept behind the movement and highlights the vision of our founder.  Francis Clark was the pastor of the Willistion Congregational Church, Portland, Maine, U.S.A. and he was in the midst of a revival in the work of that Church.  A number of young people had been led to accept that Jesus Christ as their Saviour and it was clear that something was needed which would develop their new experience and lead them on into Christian SERVICE, something which was more closely related to their experience and need that the musical and literary societies already at work in the church.  At a social gathering on 2nd February, 1881, Francis Clark and his wife Harriet outlined their new ideas to the young people.  they suggested that a society should be formed to be known as the Willistion Young Peoples's Society of Christian Endeavour.  Its objects were stated as being to Promote an ernest Christian Life among its members, to increase their mutual acquaintance, and to make them more useful in the service of God.
     
 Willistion Congregational  Church, Portland and Francis Edward Clark, founder of the Society, and movement.
    Christian Endeavor began as a small group of youth that met at the house of their minister. Within a year, six societies had formed. After two years, the number of societies had grown to fifty-six. The organization expanded rapidly as it grew from a single church society into a world movement. By the end of the 19th century, Christian Endeavor was in the headlines of many major American newspapers. By 1906, 67,000 youth-led Christian Endeavor societies had been organized worldwide, with over four million members.
In 1887, Clark was elected president of the United Society, and in 1895 he was chosen as the World President of the Christian Endeavor Union. Clark held this position until his death in 1927.
Clark virtually created the concept of "youth ministry" by asking young people in his Williston Congregational Church to sign a two-page commitment. Previously youth had been classified with children and not considered capable of active Christian involvement.
C.E. in Ireland

The first Christian Endeavour Society in Ireland was started by Miss Margaret Magill. Margaret was born in Belfast and attended Agnes Street Presbyterian Church where she became a Christian. Margaret worked in a fancy box factory. She was a very determined but humble woman who did not like to appear in public. Sometime after she became a Christian, she was asked to take a Sunday School class of girls which did not have a teacher. She agreed to take the class on a short term basis.  After a few Sundays, the girls begged her to stay permanently. She consented to do so when the older girls agreed to help her. Numbers increased as some unruly girls from other classes were transferred to Miss Magill's class.

In July 1889 a number of young men asked if they could join and did so bringing with them their teacher. The combined classes organised themselves with a president, secretary, treasurer and committees.  At the same time an article appeared in the "Sunday School Chronicle" about Christian Endeavour in America. Margaret Magill made enquiries and obtained a copy of "Christian Endeavour: What it is and How it works" by Francis Clark. She was surprised to find that the methods it recommended were quite similar to those she was using. She took the book along and discussed it with the young people. They adopted the new name and on September 30th the Agnes Street Young Peoples's Society of Christian Endeavour was registered as No. 39 in the British Section. The first Christian Endeavour society in Ireland had begun.

One year later, a Junior Society was started in Knock Methodist Church, where the minister was the Rev J D Lamont. He was introduced to CE by a member of his congregation - Mr Newman Hall - who learned of CE Principles and Methods while on holiday in Canada.

Dr Clark visited Ireland for the first time in 1893 and the first Irish Convention was held in 1894 in Belfast. The Irish CE Union was established in 1897.

It should be added that there is a Memorial Tablet marking Margaret Magill's singular and lasting achievement.  It was first erected in Agnes Street Presbyterian Church and was later move to in 1971 to Immanual Presbyterian Church, which is the amalgamation of Agnes Street and Bethany Presbyterian Churches.