Young People's Conference

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Young People's Conference was a youth movement in the Mennonite Church (MC) which flourished for a short time between 1920-23, and led in part to the creation of the Young People's Problems Committee. It had its origin in a "General Conference of Mennonites in France in Reconstruction Work" held at Clermont-en-Argonne, Meuse, France, 20-22 June 1919. This conference was organized on an intended permanent basis with a constitution whose name was tentatively chosen as "Mennonite Young People's Movement," and which was to meet annually. Its clearly stated purpose was constructive and progressive, and its three annual conference programs represented in effect a Christian Life Conference with accent on the problems of youth. The movement also represented dissatisfaction with the rather slow-moving general church leadership and program, and also a determination to work out a larger and more influential place for the more mature young people in the work and leadership of the church.

Since much of the older leadership of the church reacted with skepticism and even suspicion to the new movement, opposition and tension developed. Differences were sorted out in the end and the movement got started in America, changing its name to the Young People's Conference. Three annual meetings were held: West Liberty, Ohio, 28-30 August 1920; Sterling, IL, 15-18 June 1922; Middlebury, IN (Forks church), 14-17 June 1923. General tensions in the church at this time, resulting in the closing of Goshen College for the year 1923-24 and divisions in a number of congregations in Indiana, Ohio, Ontario, and Eastern Pennsylvania, led to confusion in the ranks of the leadership of the Young People's Conference, and ultimately to the discontinuance of the annual meetings. The committee in charge for the 1923 conference listed Harold S. Bender, chairman; Walter E. Yoder, secretary; John L. Yoder, treasurer; Payson Miller, and Vernon Smucker. Some of the energies of this group were channeled into a biweekly periodical, The Christian Exponent, established on 4 January 1924, and discontinued on 11 September 1928, edited by Vernon Smucker.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Young People's Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 11 Dec 2023.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Young People's Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 11 December 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1009. All rights reserved.

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