The EPWORTH LEAGUE, which set a pattern for church youth organizations, was founded at Cleveland's Central Methodist Church on 14 and 15 May 1889. Within 10 years it claimed over 1.75 million members in 19,500 chapters internationally. Prior to 1889, as many as 5 young people's organizations existed in the Methodist Episcopal church, among them: the Methodist Alliance, claiming 20,000 members in 1883; the Oxford League, organized at the Methodist Centennial Conference, with a large chapter at Central Methodist Church; and the Young People's Christian League, among others. After discussions of a merger into a single body, 27 persons gathered at Central Methodist to form the Epworth League, adopting a modified version of the constitution of the Oxford League, and the motto of the Young People's Christian League, Look Up, Lift Up. The league, which soon spread worldwide, divided its social service into 6 departments: Spiritual Life, Social Work, Literary Work, Correspondence, Mercy and Help, and Finance. Local chapters organized Fresh Air Work (day camps for city children), literary events, lecture series, and fellowship gatherings. When Central Methodist Church was
renamed Epworth Memorial Church in 1891, Epworth League chapters across the country contributed 6 panels of stained glass to the church. (Epworth Memorial later became a part of EPWORTH EUCLID METHODIST CHURCH.) After denominational mergers among Methodists in the 1930s, the Epworth League became known as the Methodist Youth Fellowship; it survived in 1994 as the United Methodist Youth Fellowship.
See also RELIGION, CHILDREN AND YOUTH.