In 1879, Luther Warren (14) and Harry Fenner (17) began the first Young People’s Society in the unfinished upstairs floor of the Warren family home, in Hazelton, Michigan. Soon after, in 1891, a second Adventist Youth organization was developed in Antigo, Wisconsin, by teenager Meade MacGuire. The first known testimony from Ellen White urging workers to do something definite for youth came from Australia in 1892 and was read to the General Conference Council on January 29, 1893. Included in the testimony was understated affirmation for the fledgling youth organizations: “We want [the youth] to act a part in well-organized plans for helping other youth.”A short time before the 1893 General Conference session, Elder A. G. Daniells had organized a Junior Youth Society in Adelaide, South Australia. This marks the first efforts specifically targeting junior youth involvement in the church.
The Young People’s Society of Christian Service was organized in College View, Nebraska, in 1893 at about the same time that the Young Women’s Dorcas Society emerged in Battle Creek, Michigan. As young men were enlisted to split wood and help in other ways, the group in Michigan’s name evolved to Christian Help Band. The College View group met for the purpose of securing increased spirituality in the young people and enlisting them in missionary activity. The dual focus of the Young Women’s Dorcas Society was outreach to the poor and marginalized, along with seeking the Lord in prayer.
The Ohio Conference organized the first formally recognized youth society on a conference-wide basis in 1899, followed by Iowa in 1901. These organizations existed until they were assimilated in 1907 by the newly created Young People’s Department of the General Conference. Adventist Youth Societies became international with the creation of a German Youth Society in 1900. By 1907 a number of leaders from both the Ohio and Iowa Youth Societies were already working in foreign fields.