Luther Warren

Missionary Volunteers

Adventists’ concern for the development and indoctrination of their children provided the rationale for the work of the Education Depart-merit, the Home Commission, and many of the activities of the Sabbath School. It also led in 1907 to the formation of a special department dedicated entirely to sponsoring youth activities—the Young People’s Missionary Volunteer Department. There had been sporadic and uncoor- dinated attempts at sponsoring special youth organizations ever since Luther Warren and Harry Fenner began their young people’s missionary band in Hazelton, Michigan, in 1879. Meade MacGuire had formed a similar group in Antigo, Wisconsin, in 1891.

Several years later Ellen White appealed to Adventist youth through the columns of the Signs of the Times. “Young men and young women,” she wrote, “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?” Mrs. White advocated the formation of Adventist youth groups, patterned somewhat after the Christian En- deavor Societies then popular among Evangelical Protestants. Even be- fore Ellen White’s appeals were published, A. G. Daniells had learned of her concern and in 1892 organized a young people’s society in Adelaide, Australia. The next year a similar group was begun at Union College by history professor M. E. Kern. Up in the Dakotas Luther Warren, now a vigorous young evangelist, organized sunshine bands in several churches. The bands adopted “Not I” as their password, First Corinthians 10:31 as their motto, and expressed their purpose simply: “Do something for somebody every day.” Active missionary endeavor, grounded on per- sonal and group Bible study, became their hallmark.24

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