Friday, April 15, 2016

What the heck is the Epworth League?

The folks from the Polk County Historical Society recently came across a book entitled "Epworth League Secretary's Book" which originally belonged to the Eau Gallie Chapter of that organization and contains entries dating from 1929. Since Eau Gallie is obviously not in Polk County they graciously donated it to the Eau Gallie Public Library who then passed it on to us for safekeeping. 

The Cover
That said my first question was, "What the heck is the Epworth League?" While it sounds like it should be an organization made up of super heroes, it is actually a religious group of Methodist young people, between the ages of 18 and 35. It was founded in 1889 at Cleveland Ohio and named after John  and Charles Wesley's birthplace Epworth, Lincolnshire, England. Their mission is to encourage and cultivate Christ-centered character in young adults around the world through community building, missions, and spiritual growth and to my surprise it is still active today as a global organization with local church based chapters! Although it doesn't state anywhere in the book, the list of members below and other clues lead me to believe that the group was associated with St. Paul's United Methodist Church located on Highland Avenue in the Eau Gallie section of Melbourne. Unfortunately the historic sanctuary that was completed in 1902, which these members would have attended, burned down on August 6, 1965. However, the church was rebuilt and still serves the community today. The list of members below contains many familiar pioneer names such as Wickham, Creel, Roesch and Karrick.   

List of Members
The book also includes some clues as to what the group was involved with in the area. There were reports for four main areas of interest which were: Spiritual Work, Department of World Evangelism, Department of Social Service and Department of Recreation and Culture. These topics included things like Bible Study, missionary work, helping the sick and needy, citizenship, socials and recreation and even work done on an anti-cigarette campaign. 

January Minutes for 1929
Anyway, if you didn't already know, we now know what the Epworth League is and we have yet another interesting bit of history that has returned to the area!!