Young People's Union
Young People's Union (General Conference Mennonite). While a concern for the nurture of its youth was implicit in the General Conference movement from its beginning, the formal establishment of a conference-wide youth organization did not occur until 1941, when a constitution for the Young People's Union of the General Conference Mennonite Church was officially adopted. Prior to this time, however, there had been evident interest in conference youth work as early as 1917, when a Sunday School and Young People's Committee was set up in 1920, a young people's program being presented at General Conference sessions since that year, the first Youth Page appearing in the Mennonite on 22 November 1923, and district young people's retreats beginning that same year. By 1935 the movement was clearly under way to organize the young people of the conference into an auxiliary organization of General Conference, though the first draft of a constitution presented in 1938 was rejected.
Since its organization in 1941 the Young People's Union has grown considerably in activity and influence. Counseled under the Board of Education and Publication, it has its own executive officers, cabinet, annual council of district and institutional representatives, conference-wide retreats, workshops, and its own general assembly meeting in conjunction with the sessions of General Conference. In December 1953 William Gering became its first youth worker, at first on a part-time basis and later full-time. All young people in General Conference churches between the ages 12 and 30 are considered members of the YPU, whose slogan is "A United Mennonite Youth in Christ."
Leading projects carried on by the YPU include editing the Youth Section in the Mennonite, preparing program helps for local church use, producing an annual prayer calendar, promoting young people's retreats and voluntary service, sponsoring the missionary education fund to help train foreign students in our schools, and more recently the development of a functional youth program in local churches with a threefold emphasis on (1) Christian faith and life, (2) Christian fellowship, and (3) Christian service. Significant in this last development was the publication of the Youth Manual written by Elmer Ediger, to be followed by other manuals on youth work, and the promotion of this "fellowship plan" through retreats, workshops, publications, and church visitation later carried on largely by the youth worker.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1010. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Waltner, Erland. "Young People's Union." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Y6884.html.
APA style: Waltner, Erland. (1959). Young People's Union. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Y6884.html.