The History of the International Pentecostal Young People’s Union
An excerpt from “A Brief History…The first 49 years of the National Pentecostal Young People’s Union of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World” By Bishop Rufus G.W. Sanders.
The National Pentecostal Young People’s Union of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World was organized in the year 1933 at Bethesda Temple Church located in Dayton, Ohio during the Annual Session of the Parent Body. Before this organizing effort, the General Body made no provisions for the youth. Many Council affiliates, and of course, local assemblies had youth groups.
The original idea to form an auxiliary for the young people had been in the minds and hearts of many P.A.W. members for some time. It was clear that the “need” for such an entity was monumental. The youth-arm of any great organization usually produces its leaders. It usually acts as the foot soldiers; as well as the armor-bearers. After much discussion and consideration…and hard work, the die was cast.
Be it resolved that half a day (or as meets the approval of the Executive Board, P.A. of W.) be allotted for the First National Annual Session (1934) of the Pentecostal Young People’s Union and every year thereafter duly recognized and legalized as an active, independent department or auxiliary of the Parent Body to function, similarly to the National Sunday School Association, with the assurance that if granted, it shall defray its own expense as to delegation, printing, literature, dining fee, etc., and shall be governed by the By-Laws of the Parent Body
The Parent Body accepted this Resolution and appointed, as temporary officers, Elder St. Clair Booker, Chairman, Sister Ethel B. Smith Secretary, and Sister Grace Schultz Treasurer. These appointed officers served until the election of officers and the birth of the National Pentecostal Young People’s Union (NPYPU).
The Young People were given Tuesday, half-day , of the National Convention. Bishops Samuel Grimes, Schultz and William Lewis helped to create the National Young People, offering their guidance and assistance. From the 1934 convention to their first separate convention in 1940, the Young People’s meeting were poorly attended and actually accomplished little. P.A.W. historian, Bishop Morris Golder, gives the reason in his book, History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (1973):
The youth attendance was poor for there was very little reason to come to a meeting for such a short amount of time that was allotted. Therefore, if there were 25-30 young people present, this was considered a good group
Betty Lewis Golder, in her history, “Twenty-Five years with the National Pentecostal Young People’s Union of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, calls the first seven years “the lean years”. The auxiliary’s growth was slow, but steady. It was under the dynamic leadership of Elder Raymond Robinson that the NPYPU makes its first strides.
Elder Raymond Robinson carefully tried to persuade the Board of the Parent Body to allow for an evening service in which the Young People would be in charge. But because the fledgling auxiliary was still too young, the Board denied the request. The offerings usually went to the foreign fields; which Bishop Grimes recommended and advised sternly; with some monies being put aside for personal, but small youth projects. It was said that about 20 people attended the first meeting in 1934 at Bethel Temple in Louisville, Kentucky.
By 1935, at least 75 people had gathered to attend the Youth Day at the National Convention. The Convention was held at Christ Temple Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Elder Tobin and the Saints with outstretched arms, welcomed the Young People. It was in 1939 that the Convention of the Young People began to take on the characteristics of a growing auxiliary. Elder Robinson was again elected Chairman, his Vice Chairman by now was Elder Morris E. Golder of Indianapolis. Elder Robinson’s wife, Ann, who had served as his Secretary was replaced by Sis. Francine Goode. The convention was held in Detroit with Bishop S.N. Hancock—the attendance soared to 100! It was during this convention that Elder Robinson again approached the Executive Board with a resolution. He asked the Board to permit the NPYPU to meet independent of the General Body. Reluctantly, the Board consented. The acceptance did not come though, until after the Convention in September 1939. It came with the Addendum, “That they shall be counseled and supervised by the Executive Board of the P.A.W.”
The first separate convention was then held in 1940 in Columbus, Ohio with Bishop Karl Smith and the Saints of The Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith. What a beautiful church for a convention! It was an excellent place for a “first convention” –over 400 attended this Convention. During this Convention, young men of God who would later rise to prominence in the P.A.W. were the main speakers: Frank R. Bowdan, William Crossley, Morris Golder, Chelsie France and the dynamic President, Raymond Robinson. It was reported that for the first time in the history of the NPYPU, nine souls were baptized in Jesus’ Name.
With this great shot in the arm of enthusiasm, the auxiliary took a complete turn. With more time and independence came innovative creativity. Panel discussions were added. Young ministers, for the first time got national attention and exposure. By the 1942 Convention in Chicago at the Apostolic Faith Church where District Elder J.S. Holly pastored. Over 600 attended! More souls were baptized. It was apparent now that the P.A.of W. had great power and ability in its youth auxiliary.
Approximately 50 years after its inception and tremendous growth both nationally and internationally, including several church plants and International Crusades in England, Germany and the Bahamas, the National Pentecostal Young People’s Union became the International Pentecostal Young People’s Union of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc.
Many great leaders within our organization were produced through the ranks of the IPYPU including, Bishop William Abney, Bishop Charles Watkins, Bishop David Ellis, Bishop Norman L. Wagner, Bishop Thomas Weeks, Bishop Iona Locke, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III and countless other dynamic men and women of God!
Under the guidance and supervision of our parent organization, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., our body of youth, grew from approximately 25 at its inception to now more than 8,000 youth and supporters worldwide.
Today, over 80 years since our inception, we are still united for the purpose of providing specialized programs & services that promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ to young people all around the world.