Friday, February 08, 2013

News from Leeds CU: Witnesses to the ends of the earth

In December 1924 a small group of students met together iwth the object of forming an evangelical section of the Leeds University Christian Union (affiliated to SCM). Meetings for Bible Study and Prayer were held each week at Woodhouse Lane Methodist Church for a time, but these activities ceased after the members mentioned above graduated.

Early in 1929 there was a growing conviction among various members of the University, including a few staff, that there was a need for a society or union of a definitely evangelical character. On June 20th a preliminary meeting was held to consider the desirability of forming a University Evangelical Union.

A constitution along the lines of the IVFEU (UCCF) was submitted and approved, and an Executive Committee was appointed to draw up a programme of activities. The next few meetings were largely in the nature of committee meetings, and were concerned chiefly with the discussion of the proposed constitution.

Through the kindness of the President of the University Union, one of the Union committee rooms was placed at the disposal of the Evangelical Union for holding weekly meetings.

A welcome feature of the first term of 1929-30 was the visit of Kenneth Hooker of Cambridge, who gave an interesting account of the ongoing work in other Universities. By the second term a full programme of speakers, with subjects for each meeting, had been arranged. These meetings, through the kindness of a member of staff, took place in comfortable and more convenient rooms, with the additional attraction of being preceded by tea.

Inspite of examinations and many other calls, there was an average weekly attendance of twelve. During this session we were affliated to the Inter Varsity Fellowship of Evangelical Unions (now called, UCCF), and the University Senate granted the status of a permitted society.

In 1930-31 publicity was given to the Evangelical Union by the insertion of notices in The University Calender, Students' Handbook and Diary. Dr. Howard Guinness in February and March 1932, included Leeds in his tour of the Universities. His challenging addresses convinced the members of the need for real personal enthusiasm, if the Union were to make itself felt.

1932-33 was marked by larger attendances, and more importantly still by a deepened spiritual life and far greater keenness throughout the Union. Visits by Dr Howard Guinness and Mr. Donald Coggan helped members a good deal. After Easter, six members returned from the national conference at High Leigh with many suggestions for extending the work.

Following an all-day pre-term, the summer was characterised by a new spirit of fellowship. The choice of the words "and you shall be my witnesses... to the ends of the earth, Acts 1:8" as the Union's motto is an indication of the importance which members attach to personal witness and to leading others in the University to a knowledge of Christ as Saviour.

Report from J.L. Stoves, in Christ and the Colleges (Donald Coggan, 1934). In 1934 Dr. Ruth Hooton, of Leeds CU sailed for India to work with the C.E.Z. Missionary Society. 

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