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Young People's Organizations, Christian.

I. Development of Youth Work in America.

1. Young people's work in Prot. chs. did not begin in individual denoms.. but with the interdenom.. program known as the Young* Men's Christian Assoc. 1845, the first boys' dept. being est. in this organization 1866.

2. Another contribution to the youth movement in Prot. chs. was made by the Internat. Soc. of Christian* Endeavor, started by F. E. Clark* 1881, and the young people's societies which were brought into existence as a result of this program.

3. There were other movements which gave impetus to youth work in Prot. chs., such as the S. S. movement fostered esp. in Eng. by R. Raikes*; the Knights of King Arthur, started 1892 by William Byron Forbush; the Woodcraft Indians, founded 1902 by Ernest Thompson Seton, a program which may be called a forerunner of the Boy Scout* movement in Eng., coming to the US 1910; the Internat. S. S. Assoc., beginning to be recognized 1906.

4. Prot. denoms. at first used and adopted youth programs developed outside the ch. Gradually they began to pub. their own materials.

5. Boston U. set up a Dept. of Religious Educ. 1918. In 1920 this univ. set up a Dept. of Young People's Work. Since that time other colls. and univs. have est. courses dealing with youth work.

6. The trend in Prot. denoms. in later years has been toward cooperation in interdenom. activities. This trend is evident also in the Prot. youth programs, esp. in the United Christian Youth Movement (see IV 1). Other cooperative efforts include the United Student Christian Council (est. 1944; joined NCC; see also Student Volunteer Movement, 4), a fed. on the nat. level of 12 ch. student movements, the Student YMCA and YWCA, the Student Volunteer Movement, and the interseminary movement; the World Student Christian Federation, seeking to unite internationally the efforts of Prot. students; the Youth for Christ movement; the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (see Students, Spiritual Care of, A 5); the Campus* Crusade for Christ; and the Navigators. Teen Challenge, which grew out of the work of Rev. David Wilkerson (author of The Cross and the Switchblade) in NYC, concerns itself with prevention and treatment of drug addiction.

II. Lutheran Youth Organizations.

1. The Luther League of The American Lutheran Church (including the youth of the former ALC, ELC, LFC, and UELC) was organized at a constituting conv. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 16–21, 1960.

The ALC has carried out a vigorous youth program, as can be seen in the strong representation of ALC youth at intersynodical youth gatherings. Nat. offices are at 422 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415.

2. The Luther League of the Lutheran Church in America (including the Luther Leagues of the former AELC, Augustana Ev. Luth. Ch., Suomi Syn., and ULC(A)) came into being at a constituting conv. in San Francisco, California, August 20–26, 1962. At this conv. the Luther League adopted a const., elected officers, adopted a budget, and developed the Luther League program for the future. In 1968, however, the Luther League disbanded.

In addition, the LCA has a Commission on Youth Ministry, which is responsible for giving direction to the total youth ministry of the church. Nat. offices are at 2900 Queen Lane, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129.

3. The Walther League (youth organization of the former Synodical* Conference, with most societies in LCMS). Organized May 23, 1893, at Trinity Church, Buffalo, New York. The name Walther Liga (from C. F. W. Walther*) was adopted 1894. The const. of the Walther League stated: “The purpose of this association shall be to help young people grow as Christians through WORSHIP—building a stronger faith in the Triune God; EDUCATION—discovering the will of God for their daily life; SERVICE—responding to the needs of all men; RECREATION—keeping the joy of Christ in all activities; FELLOWSHIP—finding the power of belonging to others in Christ.”

The League involved youth in worship, leadership training schools, camping, writing and publishing, various training projects of service (welfare), missions, vocational guidance, recruitment for ch. professions, opportunities for practical experience in roles of leadership, and opportunities for a wider circle of fellowship than the home parish. It had its own headquarters bldg., paid for by the young people, erected 1942 in Chicago.

The League sponsored the Arcadia Association, an adult educ. and conference program agency, whose directors were elected annually by the internat. ex. bd. of the Walther League. The Arcadia Assoc. owned, operated, and managed Camp Arcadia (Arcadia, Michigan) as a model summer camp and a site for experimentation and development of conference programs.

The League also sponsored the Wheat* Ridge Foundation, whose directors were elected annually by the internat. ex. bd. of the Walther League. The Wheat Ridge Foundation has established and/or supports sanitoria and hospitals in Wheat Ridge (Colorado), Japan, India, Hong Kong, New Guinea, and Nigeria, in addition to regular support of other Luth. welfare agencies in the US and Canada. It also contributes to the support of religious, educ., and scientific projects. Financial support is given through an annual Wheat Ridge seals campaign at Christmas.

The League formally ceased to exist in April 1989.

Walther League publications included the Walther League Messenger (W. A. Maier,* ed.); the Workers Quarterly (Alfred P. Klausler, ed.), a quarterly topic discussion and program guide for societies; Arena (Alfred P. Klausler, ed.), a monthly magazine for young adults; Spirit (Walter Riess, ed.), a monthly magazine for teen-agers. For later developments see Youth Work, LCMS; see also Students, Spiritual Care of, C 9.

The LCMS in 1920 elected a Bd. for Young People's Work; name changed 1969 to Bd. of Youth Ministry; composed (1973) of 1 pastor, 1 teacher, 1 representative of a synodical school, 2 laymen, and 5 young people. The syn. has charged this bd. to assist congs., pastors, and dists. to serve their youth, including those in organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, Camp Fire Girls, etc. “The purpose of youth ministry is—a. To proclaim among youth the presence, love, and power of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, whose life, death. and resurrection have redeemed ali people; b. To equip youth for faithful service to God and His world by a ministry of the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments; c. To assist and train adults in building helpful Christian relationships with youth in contemporary culture; d. To enable youth and adults to share their unique gifts in ministry to one another within the Christian community and in ministry the world as the witnessing people of God; e. To provide settings for Christian youth to demonstrate the mission of the church in word and life and for unclaimed youth to be exposed to the call of God in the Gospel” (Handbook of the LCMS).

4. The Luther League of the Synod* of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (formerly the Slovak. Ev. Luth. Ch.). Organized September 5, 1927, in St. Paul's Luth. Ch., Whiting, Indiana Principal projects were the Luth. Haven seals campaign, Lutheran Beacon subscription campaign, scholarship fund campaign, mission projects such as supporting a vicar at a mission church, and pub. the Luther League periodical, the Courier. Since 1971 the SELC is a dist. of LCMS.

5. Inter-Church Activities of Lutheran Youth Groups. For a number of yrs. some of the Luth. youth organizations have planned and worked together in holding nationwide youth gatherings, discussing youth problems, sharing experiences and materials, and taking joint actions on some projects. Lutheran Youth Research was administered in most of the Luth. Ch. bodies 1958–61. It established that the problems which are most troublesome to Luth. youth can be grouped into 5 areas to form the following scales: family, opposite sex, personal faith, self, school. The kinds of help youth want most from the ch. can be identified as guidance in the fields of vocations and boy-girl relationship. A summary of this research is found in What Youth Are Thinking and M. P. Strommen's Profiles of Church Youth.

III. Protestant Youth Organizations.

1. Baptist Training Union (Southern Bap. Convention), Organized 1934; successor to Bap. Young People's Union, 1896–1934; under guidance of S. S. bd.; began as an organization in Southern Bap. chs. primarily for young people ages 17–24; later expanded into a graded program to train mems., nursery through adult, in responsibilities of ch. membership and to help them mature and grow as Christians. Nat. office: 127 9th Ave., No., Nashville, Tennessee 37203.

2. Baptist Youth Fellowship (Am. Bap. Convention). Bap. Young People's Union of Am. organized 1891; name changed to Bap. Youth Fellowship 1941; program administered through Dept. of Youth Work; program: Sunday ch. school, evening fellowship, Boy Scouts, Fellowship Guild, Choir, and any other phase of the ch. youth ministry. Nat. office: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania 19481.

3. Baptist Young People's Union (Bap. Convention of Ontario and Quebec). First conv. 1892; at first an integral part of the conv. of chs., indep. of any bd.; since 1934 the Young People's Dept. of the Dept. of Christian Education. Nat. office: 188–190 St. George St., Toronto 5, Ont., Canada.

4. Christian Youth Fellowship (Christian Ch. [Disciples of Christ]). Organized 1938; first nat. meeting 1943; activities offered through the United Christian Missionary Society; Youth mag.: Vision. Nat. office: 222 S. Downey Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana 46219.

5. Presbyterian Youth Fellowship (Presb. Ch. in the US). Period of beginnings 1861–94; period of Covenanters and Miriams 1895–1901; period of Westminster League 1902–09; period of Christian* Endeavor 1910–23; period of transitions 1923–29; period of development of the Kingdom Highways Program 1930–35; period of recent developments 1935–63; period of Covenant Life Curriculum, developed in cooperation with 4 other Presb. and Ref. denoms., 1964–. Nat. office: Presb. Bldg., 801 E. Main St., Richmond, Va. 23209.

6. Westminster Fellowship (The Presb. Ch. in the USA; 1958: The United Presb. Ch. in the USA). Work begun 1861; organization effected 1895; first nat. meeting 1903; 4 commissions: faith and life, stewardship, Christian fellowship, Christian outreach. Nat. office: 1105 Witherspoon Bldg., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.

7. Cumberland Youth Fellowship (Cumberland Presb. Ch.). Nat. office: McKenzie, Tennessee 38118.

8. Christian Union (including all youth organizations of the Associate Ref. Presb. Ch. [Gen. Syn.]). Organized 1884; first nat. meeting 1895. Nat. office: 113 W. 11th St., Charlotte, North Carolina 28202.

9. Youth Fellowship (The United Presb. Ch. of N. Am.; merged 1958 with 6 above). Organized 1874; first nat. meeting 1889.

10. Youth Ministry (United Ch. of Christ, the merged youth ministry of the former Pilgrim Fellowship of the Gen. Council of the Cong. Christian Chs. and the Youth Fellowship of the Ev. and Ref. Ch.). The Youth Ministry concept emphasizes the unity of the cong., denying an auxiliary or separate youth organization; 5 program areas: Christian faith, witness, outreach, citizenship, fellowship. Nat. office: 1505 Race St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102.

11. Reformed Youth Fellowship (Ref. Ch. in Am.). Youth work was at first conducted without a nat. organization; plan for the nat. Reformed Youth Fellowship adopted 1960. Nat. office: 475 Riverside Dr., New York, New York 10027.

12. United Methodist Youth Fellowship (The United Meth. Ch.). Organized 1939; first nat. meeting 1940; successor to Epworth League, which included youth of the former Meth. Episc. Ch. and Meth. Prot. Church. Nat. office: P. O. Box 871, Nashville, Tennessee 37202.

13. Free Methodist Youth (Free Meth. Ch. of N. Am.). First serious attempt to provide a distinctive program for youth 1903; Young People's Missionary Society launched 1919 as an auxiliary of the Women's Missionary Society; became official youth organization 1931; name changed to Free Methodist Youth 1955; 3-fold purpose: (1) bringing youth to Christ, (2) bringing youth up in Christ, (3) sending youth forth for Christ; strong mission and evangelism program; youth responsible for raising budget; motto: “Others”; slogan: “United to Make Christ Known.” Nat. office: Winona Lake, Indiana 46590.

14. Nazarene Young People's Society (Ch. of the Nazarene). Organized 1923; first nat. meeting 1923. Nat. office: 6401 The Paseo, Kansas City, Missouri 64131.

15. The American Moravian Youth Fellowship (Moravian Ch. in Am. [Unitas Fratrum]). Nat. office: 69 W. Church St., Bethlehem, 18018.

16. Church of the Brethren Youth Fellowship (Ch. of the Brethren). Need of developing youth program recognized as early as 1904; youth fellowships organized in local chs. following a major study 1920. Nat. office: 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, Illinois 60120.

17. Anglican Youth Movement (The Angl. Ch. of Can.). Organized 1967; 1st nat. meeting 1969. Nat. office: 600 Jarvis St., Toronto, Ont. M4Y 2J6.

18. The Youth Fellowship of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (Ev. United Brethren Ch.; 1968: merged with 12 to form The United Meth. Ch.). Organized 1946; first nat. meeting 1946.

19. Friends Youth Fellowship (Friends United Meeting, formerly the Five Years Meeting of Friends). Organized 1935. Nat. office: 101 Quaker Hill Dr., Richmond, Indiana 47374.

20. Seventh Day Baptist Youth Fellowship (Seventh Day Bap. Gen. Conference). Organized 1940. Nat. office: Alfred Station, New York 14803.

IV. Nondenominational groups.

1. United Christian Youth Movement began 1934 with denoms. working together in their youth movements or ministries; indep. movement; closely related to the Youth Dept. of the NCC (ex. staff same for both); close working relationship with the Youth Dept. of the WCC Nat. office: 475 Riverside Dr., New York 27, New York

2. For other interdenom. movements see I 6.

V. Roman Catholic Youth Organizations.

1. The National Council of Catholic Youth was est. 1951 and operates under the Youth Dept. of the National Catholic Welfare Conference. It has 3 divisions: for students in RC colls. (including the Nat. Fed. of Cath. Coll. Students); for students in other colls. (the Newman Clubs); and the diocesan section. The Nat. Council of Cath. Youth provides on a nat. scale a device by which all existing youth councils and organizations of the RC Ch. are unified. Nat. office: 1312 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D. C. 20005.

2. Sodalities. The Sodality of Our Lady was founded 1563 in the Roman College of the Society of Jesus by a young Jesuit teacher, John Leunis, who wanted to band together in a lay religious order young men in colleges. The first sodality in the New World began 1574 at the Colegia Maxima in Mexico City. One was founded 1730 at the Ursuline school in New Orleans, Louisiana, and ca. 1789 one began functioning at Georgetown U. in Washington, D. C. The sodality magazine Queen's Work was launched 1913 in St. Louis, Missouri The World Fed. of Sodalities was est. 1953, and the Nat. Fed. of Sodalities 1956. Sodalities involve not only youth but the adult laity as well. Annual summer schools of Catholic* Action have been conducted since 1931. Nat. office: 4140 Lindell, St. Louis, Missouri 63108.

Bibliography of Historical Developments of Luth. Youth Programs:

1. Of all Luth. youth programs: G. Jenny, The Youth Movement in the American Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, 1928); C. H. Peters, “Developments of the Youth Programs of the Lutheran Churches in America,” doctoral thesis at Conc. Sem., St. Louis, 1951 (duplicated); M. P. Strommen, Profiles of Church Youth (St. Louis, 1963).

2. Of youth work in LCMS: ABC of Youth Work (Chicago, 1949); T. C. Coates, “A Century of Youth Work,” Walther League Messenger, LIII, 334–35, 363–65; C. H. Peters (see previous par.), pp. 83–144, and Appendix AA, pp. 505–23; H. E. Simon, “Background and Beginnings of Organized Youth Work in the Missouri Synod,” unpub. thesis at Conc. Sem., St. Louis, 1944; O. H. Theiss, “The Way of the Years,” Walther League Messenger, LI., 480–83, 508–10, 512; Walther League Manual (Chicago, 1935); W. F. Weiherman, ed., Fifty Years (Chicago, 1943). CP

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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