What is the Adventist Youth Society?
Our Adventist Youth Society is a specialized ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that: (1) seeks to address the particular needs of young people in their own environment and respond to them as they are, and (2) to incorporate them into the fellowship of the church – a caring Christian community. Every local church has an Adventist Youth Society that works for and through her youth to fulfill the mission of Christ.
“Young men and young women, cannot you form companies, and as soldiers of Christ, enlist in the work, putting all your tact and skill and talent into the Master’s service, that you may save souls from ruin? Let there be companies organized in every church to do this work.” (Signs of the Times, May 29, 1893) – Ellen G. Harmon-White”
History of the Adventist Youth Society
The first youth organization in a local Seventh-day Adventist church began in 1879 when Harry Fenner, age 16, and Luther Warren, age 14, organized meetings in Hazelton, Michigan. For boys only, the meetings were held in a small room of Luther’s parents’ home. The purpose of this first little band of youth was to promote missionary work, raise money for missionary literature, and further the cause of temperance. Later, girls were invited to join, and the meetings were held in a large parlor in a private home with some of the adult family members present.
In 1901, the General Conference took steps toward forming an official young people’s organization, approving the youth society concept and recommending that a committee be set up to form a plan of organization. The Sabbath School Department, directed by Mrs. Flora Plummer, was asked to care for the youth work at the General Conference level. Mrs. Plummer carried that responsibility until 1907.
The General Conference Session met in Gland, Switzerland (the first time outside of the United States). Among its most important decisions was the formation of a department exclusively devoted to providing leadership to the youth in all their endeavors (named: Seventh-day Adventist Young People’s Society of Missionary Volunteers), moreover, there were more than 100 people attending the convention.
On January 26, 1907, the church voted to hold the first Young People’s Day on Sabbath. It was changed the following year to “Missionary Volunteer Day” hence this day became the forerunner of the Pathfinder Sabbath.
In early spring of 1907, the General Conference officially approved the formation of a Youth Department and elected M.E. Kerns as chairman and Matilda Erickson as secretary.
The purpose of this organization shall be to:
- Encourage and help maintain the high spiritual standards of its members
- Furnish additional motivation to the Adventist Youth membership
- Advocate for opportunities for spiritual enrichment and broader social fellowship
- Promote united support for greater interest in Christian Education (i.e. establishing scholarships)
- Give coordinated assistance for the full support of all phases of Adventist Youth Societies
- Support and encourage its members to engage in well planned outreach activities