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Young Life History at Whitworth

How it Began: Young Life at Whitworth

Whitworth University and Young Life share a long and rich history. Whitworth's connection with Young Life extends back to the late 1940s, when a few students traveled to California to hear Young Life founder Jim Rayburn speak.

Afterward one of the students, Jim Hardie '49 wrote Rayburn and expressed interest in forming a Young Life club at Whitworth. About that same time, Whitworth President Frank Warren visited Rayburn in Colorado Springs and invited Rayburn to come to Spokane and discuss the possibility of establishing a Young Life connection.

Impressed with Warren's vision, Rayburn, who had established the first Young Life club in Dallas, Texas, made an appeal to a pair of Texas high school football players, Sam Adams and Pete Bennett to attend Whitworth and launch Young Life clubs.

Bennett jokingly recalled that the young men didn't know exactly where Whitworth was, but they were told to head toward the Rocky Mountains and turn right.

Arriving at Whitworth with about 50 cents between them, Adams and Bennett, both '52, soon received football scholarships and went to work establishing Young Life roots at Whitworth.

Adams and Bennett ministered in the Spokane Central Valley area while classmates Bobby Davis '51 and Hardie reached out to Deer Park. Another club was soon formed in Mead.

Each group's goal was the same as Rayburn's – college volunteers simply wanted to share their story as Christians, meet high school students where they were, and reach key young people who could influence others for Christ.

Recent Spokane/Whitworth Young Life Highlights

  • 1990: Scott Lewis arrives as area director and works to strengthen the volunteer efforts throughout Spokane.
  • 1991: Young Life hires Lorie Pfursich to work directly with Whitworth, where she established a leadership training class.
  • 2000: Kent McDonald is hired as a full-time Young Life staff director at Whitworth; McDonald is a frequent consultant on how to run Young Life programs at other college campuses.