Based in the Chicago area, Awana is the only organization with fully integrated evangelism and discipleship programs for kids that actively involve parents, church leaders and mentors. Each week, more than 1.5 million children and youth, 250,000 volunteers and 170-plus field staff take part in Awana in over 22,000 churches in the U.S. and internationally.
Awana began as a children's program at the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago in 1941. Lance Latham, North Side's senior pastor, collaborated with the church's youth director, Art Rorheim, to develop weekly clubs that would appeal to churched and non-churched kids, lead them to trust Christ for salvation and grow them in enduring faith and service to God.
Other churches learned about the success of the program and inquired about its availability. In 1950, Latham and Rorheim founded Awana as a parachurch organization. By 1960, 900 churches had started Awana programs. By 1972 Awana had begun its first international club. Today children and youth in more than 100 countries participate in Awana programs, and millions of adults are alumni.
The founders of Awana derived the Awana name from the first letters of "Approved workmen are not ashamed" as taken from 2 Timothy 2:15 of the Bible.
Today, more than 12,000 U.S. churches run Awana with programs in all 50 states. Awana can also be found in over 10,000 churches in 109 other countries.