“One day at Rumney, the Spirit pointed out a bush piece behind an old stump fence… and very definitely talked to me about that being the place He wanted for His campground. He said, ‘In this place, Jesus will be the center of attraction, and those who come here will have to make an extra effort and for no other purpose than to worship Me in spirit and in truth." — Rev. Joel Wright, Founder
Late in the nineteenth century, Rev. Joel Wright, with many joining him from surrounding towns, formed the First Fruit Harvesters Association on May 20, 1897, in Warren, NH. The First Fruit Harvesters (later known as the New England Fellowship) founded:
- 1902 – The Sheaf of the First Fruits (a magazine, renamed in 1932 to The New England Fellowship Monthly)
- 1908 – A home for unwed mothers
- 1909 – Bethesda Home for Needy Children
- 1922 – Bethany Home for the Aged
- 1924 – Radio ministry
- 1931 – Camp Cathedral Pines (a summer camp for girls)
- 1932 – Pineridge Camp (a summer camp for boys)
- 1946 – Boston Christian School (now known as Lexington Christian Academy)
- 1946 – The New England Association of Christian Schools (the earliest US Christian school association)
In the 1930s, Elwin Wright (Joel's son) and Boston's well-known Park Street Church together started a series of meetings called “Youth for Christ,” which continued until 1944 when another ministry was born – the Youth for Christ that still ministers today. Back in Rumney, two young, little-known speakers were ministering to youth during the summers of 1943 and 1944: Jack Wyrtzen and Billy Graham.
A need for a national evangelical organization was growing in America. Early leaders in the movement included Harold Ockenga, David Otis Fuller, Will Houghton, Harry A. Ironside, Bob Jones, Sr., Paul S. Rees, Leslie Roy Marston, John R. Rice, Charles Woodbridge, and J. Elwin Wright. Houghton called for a meeting in Chicago, Illinois in 1941. A committee was formed with Wright as chairman, and a national conference for United Action Among Evangelicals was called to meet in April 1942. Harold Ockenga was appointed the first president (1942–44).
A few years later, the NAE began to discuss with church leaders in other countries the possibilities of some kind of international federation of national associations. J. Elwin Wright, who had played a major role in forming the NAE, also took the lead in this, first as executive director of the NAE, then as head of the Association's Commission on International Relations. He met with representatives of the Evangelical Alliance in 1948 and worked with Sir Arthur Smith of the Alliance to bring together delegates from twelve countries at Hildenborough Hall in Kent, England, in March 1950 and at a similar meeting at Gordon Divinity School in Boston in September of the same year. In 1951, the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) was established.
Over the past 100+ years, many men and women of God have come to Rumney Bible Conference, both as speakers and guests, including Jack Wyrtzen, Billy Graham, Bob Jones, Charles Stanley, Stuart and Jill Briscoe, Tal McNutt, J. Oliver Buswell, Harry A. Ironside, Vance Havner, Merrill C. Tenney, John MacArthur, Harold Ockenga, Edith Schaeffer, Francis Schaeffer, Will Houghton, Charles E. Fuller, Cliff Barrows, and many more. Today, our diverse ministries continue to grow. Each summer, a conference is held at the Rumney Bible Conference grounds, with its tradition of inspirational and challenging speakers, prayer meetings, Bible study, Saturday evening concerts, and Christian fellowship. Our White Mountain Camps White Mountain Ranch and White Mountain Snow Camp (Winter Blast). Our White Mountain Retreat Center now facilitates weekend and week-long retreats for adults and young people year-round.
There is a rich spiritual heritage at NEF, and to this day, this truly is a place where Jesus will always be the center of attraction.