1957—MV Golden Anniversary Year
When Miss Annie Higgins, aged eighty- two years, mounted the rostrum for the opening of the South Pacific Youth Congress at Nunawading, Melbourne, she carried a flaming torch which was full of significance to the two thousand Adventist youth agog with anticipation.
In 1879, when Annie was only 4, two young men, Harry Fenner and Luther Warren, teenage pioneers of Hazelton, Michigan, conceived the idea of a boys’ society within their Seventh-day Adventist community. They told the Lord of their plans one day in the summer of that year, and promptly organized themselves to engage in active missionary work. There were only six or eight at their first meeting, but undaunted, they met each week for prayer, went on errands of mercy for the sick and needy, raised money to buy tracts, and carried on youthful missionary correspondence. This was the youth-inspired beginning of our mighty Missionary Volunteer army, now approaching the half million the world around.
From a tree growing in the garden where the first young people’s society met in Hazelton, was made the wooden torch held aloft by Miss Higgins, and with which Pastor Lucas declared the Congress open.
In 1893, two years before Miss Higgins entered the organized work in Victoria, Sister White, while residing in Melbourne, issued this testimony:—
“We have an army of youth today who can do much if they are properly directed and encouraged. We want our children to believe the truth. We want them to be blessed of God. We want them to act a part in well-organized plans for helping other youth. Let all be so trained that they may rightly represent the truth, giving the reason of the hope that is within them, and honouring God in any branch of the work where they are qualified to labour.” — General Conference Bulletin, January 29, 30, 1893.
As soon as Pastor A. G. Daniells heard this testimony regarding definite work for the youth, he organized a young people’s society in Adelaide, South Australia, in the same year. It was really a junior organization, the oldest member being only fifteen. The society held meetings, studied the Bible, and engaged in missionary work. It proved to be a great blessing to these young people. It helped not only to hold them, but to train them for definite service.
In 1917, Pastor Daniells, in reference to that society said, “It is a great satisfaction to me now after twenty-five years have passed to know that nearly every charter member of that band is in this message, and most of them are active workers, giving their lives to the advancement of this cause.”
In this first Australasian MV Society Miss Higgins became a charter member and was baptized by Pastor Daniells. Then for twelve years she served faithfully in clerical work, as Tract Society secretary, accountant, and teacher at Avondale.
But in 1907, just fifty years ago, the General Conference in session at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, U.S.A., declared the “Young People’s Society of Missionary Volunteers” an organized department of the church. Immediately into this new regime for the youth Miss’ Higgins stepped as MV secretary for Tasmania and New South Wales for the years 1907-21.
And now it is 1957! The Golden Anni versary year for Missionary Volunteers around the world. “Sharing the Faith of our Fathers” is its stirring theme, echoing to us the challenge brought to us at the Congress by Miss Higgins of a task well begun and waiting to be completed by the consecrated youth of today.
Shall we rise up, young people of Australia and New Zealand and stalwart young men and women of the colourful Pacific Isles, and move forward to a great new Share Your Faith campaign!
Other Golden Anniversary features for you in 1957 are:—
1. SPECIAL editions of “Messages to Young People,” “Youth’s Instructor,” and “Junior Guide.”
2. SPECIAL MV Society membership card and campaign.
3. SPECIAL MV offering mission project for the Coral Sea Union Mission.
A Happy Golden Anniversary Year to You All.