1 OUR BEGINNINGS
(Primary contributor to this chapter: Cindy Tutch–White Estate; footnoting is referenced in the appendix).
Much can be said about the founding process of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the involvement of youth in that process. Joseph Bates was often called “Father Bates” for a very good reason—he was the oldest, therefore a father figure, among those early pioneers. The others were literally all youth. James White was likely the second-oldest, being in his twenties, Ellen Gould Harmon (White) was a teenager, John Nevins Andrews a junior, John Loughborough a teen, Uriah and Anne Smith were both in their early twenties, and so on went the list. By the time the movement saw needs to institutionalize and become “a church,” a legal entity and not a hodgepodge of little organizations with quasi-legal representation, these young upstarts had become mature adults with a rapidly-growing following of young and old scattered across a continent and then around the globe. By force of time alone leadership transferred from young to old, and the young began to feel like tagalongs instead of on the cutting edge. James White recognized
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a need and sought to solve it in a manner he knew best how—publish. So he began a special magazine for youth called the Youth’s Instructor. The first issue appeared in 85. This was followed by a magazine for the younger set Our Little Friend in 890, with W. N. Glenn as editor. In some circles ultraconservative adults with misconceptions of leadership, authority, and mission tried to stifle any youthful creativity and involvement until God stepped in and began His own work in mysterious manners. Although primary-source material is limited, historical consensus gives the teenagers Luther Warren (4) and Harry Fenner (7) the honor of originating the first Adventist Young People’s Society in 879, conceived from a desire to help their young friends experience spiritual birth or revival. They initially met in the unfinished upstairs floor of the Warren family home in Hazelton, Michigan. The passion for evangelism that spawned leadership skills in teenagers Luther Warren and Harry Fenner seems to have been kindled or nurtured by their local congregation there in Hazelton. According to the Trustees Record Book of the Hazelton church, a special day of prayer for the salvation of the church’s youth had been declared early in 879. Luther’s role in that church seems to have been one of influence even though he was young. His biography describes his leadership role with examples of his interest in the spiritual welfare of others, states that the church recognized his role as “big brother” to the other youth attending, and describes how he would invent little games to teach the other youth to be more alert to God’s wonders of creation. It is in this milieu of adult concern and sup-
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port for youth that these teens initiated Adventism’s first youth organization for evangelistic outreach, which seems to have included strengthening friendship bonds through social activities to which they could invite their non-Adventist friends. TeenagerMeadeMacGuire, who was later to develop into a prominent Adventist leader and author, organized a second Adventist youth organization in Antigo, Wisconsin in 89. Several of his friends had attended evangelical youth meetings, such as the Christian Endeavor Society and the Epworth League, and MacGuire felt the need for something Harry Fenner and Luther Warren, young pioneers and cosimilar within Adventism. founders of the Adventist Youth Society. Russell Harlan, Artist MacGuire’s proposal met initial firm refusal, until an elderly “saint” stepped forward in support. The thirty members of MacGuire’s Wisconsin Youth Society focused on hymnsinging, testimonies (all were expected to regularly testify), Scripture study and intercessory prayer for the salvation of their peers. The first...
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