Christian Endeavor began February 2nd, 1881. Dr. Francis E. Clark, Pastor of the Williston Congregational Church in Portland, Maine had great concern for youth who made a clear decision to accept Christ, but were not involved in the church's activities. Dr. Clark developed an idea to use in guiding the youth. He shared it with his wife Harriet who rejected the idea because it required too much commitment. Later, Harriet returned to her husband and said she was wrong. She expressed that the Christian life required this level of commitment and young people should be challenged to live to this standard.
An invitation was extended to the congregation's young people to come to the pastor's house to discuss "Where do we go from here?" At the meeting's close, fifty-seven young people signed the first draft of a constitution forming "The Williston Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor." Christian Endeavor has since grown into a world-wide ministry for young people, equipping them as leaders for Christ and the Church. The largest C.E. convention in the United States saw over 75,000 delegates in attendance.
C.E. saw a rapid decline during the mid-1900's. Reasons included denominations starting their own youth ministry efforts, people moving during WW II disrupting relationships in local churches, theological shifts in denominations away from strong Biblically based teaching and practice, and vision loss among C.E. leadership. History's cyclical nature has brought us to a point where the C.E. process, calling for higher Christian commitment and leadership equipping among youth, couldn't be more timely. April 30, 2011 the Rebirth Christian Endeavor campaign began and new churches are already beginning the C.E. process across the Mid-Atlantic region. C.E. is found in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. It is the most frequently applied youth ministry process in the world.