Organized work for and among the youth of the church is a relatively modern development among Mennonites. In Europe the South German Mennonite Conference established its Youth Commission (Jugendkommission) in 1919, and its youth journal Mennonitische Jugendwarte in 1920. In Holland, although some youth circles (Jongerenkjing) were organized a few years earlier, the Doopsgezinde Jongerenbond was not organized nationally until 1926, preceded by the Provincial Friese D.J.B. in 1924. The Doopsgezinde Jeugdraad (Mennonite Youth Council) was established by the Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit in 1946 for the purpose of coordinating all Dutch Mennonite youth activities. The Swiss Mennonite Conference established its Youth Commission in 1935.
In the United States young people's meetings, usually held on Sunday evenings in connection with the preaching service, were begun in the Mennonite Church (MC) about 1890 and spread rapidly after 1900. At about the same time in the General Conference Mennonite Church, young people's societies were being organized, usually as Christian Endeavor groups, the first in 1886. Organized youth work directed on a national scale came later in both groups. The Mennonite Church's national Mennonite Youth Fellowship was organized in 1948, although the Young People's Problems Committee, set up by the Mennonite General Conference in 1924, had since 1920 promoted earlier forms of youth work such as Young People's Institutes. The General Conference Mennonite Young People's Union was set up as a conference-wide youth organization in 1941, a Sunday School and Youth Committee having been set up in 1920. The Youth Committee of the Mennonite Brethren General Conference was set up in 1936.
A significant development in youth work, largely since World War II in North America, has been youth camps and retreats, much of the camp work being directed toward youth of high-school age and younger.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1139. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Youth Work." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/youth_work.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1959). Youth Work. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/youth_work.