The Men’s league
The Men’s League of the First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore was created in 1937 and became chartered by the National Council of Presbyterian Men in 1951. The League was run by an elected board consisting of twelve laymen from the congregation. The League began with a three-fold purpose: “Biblical and ecclesiastical instruction, Christian fellowship and Christian service.” For many years the League ran a weekly men’s Bible class, sponsored dinners with guest speakers, and provided scholarships to Christian summer conferences. All of its activities were supported entirely by contributions from its membership. By the 1960s, the Men’s League expanded its activities to include “The Businessmen’s Luncheon,” a popular event which would attract many men from the Ardmore business community to hear a notable Christian speaker during lunchtime.
One of the most significant events of the Men’s League in the 1960s and 1970s was the Annual Men’s League Retreat. Every year from 1963 to 1981 the League held an annual retreat at a conference center in the Poconos. The three-day event was led by various guest ministers including Donald Barnhouse, Jr., Aaron Gast, Watson Custer, C. Ralston Smith, Noel A. Calhoun, Jr., and Fred Christian. The meetings included fellowship, prayer, worship, and group Bible studies addressing such issues as “The Healing Church,” “Being Christ-Like,” “Witness in a Warring World,” and “Our Need to Believe.” Those who attended these retreats would write accounts of their experiences, telling of their personal spiritual enrichment and their renewed resolve to serve Christ and his church in the coming year.
Although the Men’s League ceased its official role in the 1980s, many of those who attended their dinners and retreats remained active in church leadership, and groups like the present-day Men’s Bible Study owe their continued existence to these individuals, and the traditions they set while in the Men’s League.