The 2019 season brought with it the 20th anniversary of the beloved Rhein Center for the Living Arts. The building itself - Epworth Lodge - also celebrated its 100th anniversary as an influential Lakeside structure. Construction on Epworth Lodge began in 1918 with funding from the Ohio State Epworth League Institute, known as Lakeside Institute. The building acted as the official administrative and dining hall for the Lakeside Institute, a group responsible for bringing thousands of youth to Lakeside over the course of the next century.
The Epworth League
The Epworth League developed as a Methodist youth association at the Central Methodist Church in Cleveland on May 15, 1885. While other young adult organizations had existed previously in the Methodist Episcopal church, the League effectively merged multiple constitutions into six focused departments: Spiritual Life, Social Work, Literary Work, Correspondence, Mercy and Help, and Finance. The consolidated program adopted the Young People’s Christian League motto - “Look Up, Lift Up” - and spread to nearly two million members in 19,500 chapters worldwide by the turn of the 19th century.
Born out of discussions at the 1914 International Epworth League Convention, the Ohio State Epworth League first met at Lakeside in 1915. The Epworth League commenced that opening “Lakeside Institute” on August 10th with an early afternoon reception at German Auditorium. One hundred and twenty five delegates spent their days in training for Christian service and their downtime enjoying camp fires, boat rides and splash parties. Total cost of attendance was roughly $10, including tickets, travel and food.
The bulk of the programming for the 1915 Institute - as well as for the next 4 summers - took place in Central Auditorium, German (now South) Auditorium, Bradley Temple, and the Brick Church on Fifth Street. By 1917, attendance had shot beyond 500, and plans were in motion to build headquarters for the Institute.
Featured in the diary are entries describing the scene at Ohio State Epworth League and Lakeside Institute from 1913 to 1921, including artifacts such as the registration card shown below.
A brochure for the Second Annual Ohio State Epworth League Institute, found glued into Ms. Pocock's book, offered this motivation for readers to spend the week at Lakeside:
Because, Epworth Leaguer-
You need a vacation.
You need a vacation in an ideal spot.
You need new enthusiasm for your next year's work.
You need more knowledge of how to do the work you want to do.
You need the inspiration and comradeship of other Epworth Leaguers.
You will find them all at THE LAKESIDE INSTITUTE!"
Stop by the LHS Archives to take a look at the diary and read hundreds of stories about those nine years of Epworth League activity.
The Epworth League evolved into the Methodist Youth Fellowship as a response to denominational mergers in the 1930s. It then was rejuvenated in 1994 as the United Methodist Youth Fellowship. To learn more about MYF and Lakeside Institute, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org,