May 4, 2022


The Lake Union has a rich youth ministry history that goes all the way back to 1879 when Luther Warren and Harry Fenner, ages 14 and 17, gathered together for prayer in Hazelton, Michigan, to establish the Adventist Missionary Youth Society.

This was the beginning of organized youth ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1901, the General Conference voted to establish a youth department, and in 1916 (one year after Ellen White’s death), the Lake Union Conference established a youth department to better serve youth and young adults.

For 26 years, Ron Whitehead has been honored to serve as the Lake Union Youth director. He has served for six union presidents and with many outstanding conference youth professionals.

Our Union and each of our five local conferences value this generation and see them as important participants in the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. There are so many ways that the local church, conference and Union partner together to support the spiritual growth and mission participation of this generation. Here are a few:



Each year, hundreds of Lake Union youth take the Matthew 28:19 commission to heart. Our local congregations and church schools partner with Maranatha, Share Him, GYC Missions, CYE – WeCare, Quiet Hour, and other organizations to provide domestic and international hands on ministry opportunities to share the gospel story of a living and loving Christ.


Summer Camp Evangelism

In 1926, the first North American summer camp was held in Townline Lake, Michigan; the first camp for girls was held in Wisconsin.

The Lake Union local conferences offer some of the most effective resident camp ministry programs in North America in the following ways: young adult leadership training/mentoring, baptisms and hundreds of decisions for Christ take place every summer at our camps.


Pathfinder/Adventurer Evangelism

There is no stronger congregationbased, youth ministry program in the Adventist Church than club ministry. Why is this such an important and amazing fact? It is because the Lake Union has some of the most dedicated and passionate local club ministry leaders anywhere. Local clubs are supported with some of the best trained youth professionals, and area coordinators in North America.

On September 15–18, the Lake Union Pathfinder Camporee will host around 2,500 Pathfinders at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds. The theme is “Fearless” and many Pathfinders will make a decision for Christ and begin study for baptism. For more information, visit

Over 55,000 Pathfinders from 105 countries, including 5,000 from the Lake Union, came to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 2019 to attend the “Chosen” International Camporee. Many Pathfinders came to the Camporee with plans to be baptized. Others, by inspiration and the power of the Holy Spirit through the Camporee speaker and nightly David story, also chose to be baptized, making a total of 1,320 baptisms. More than 3,000 Pathfinders went home to study for baptism. More information is at


Children’s Ministry

The Lake Union has partnered with the North American Division Children’s Ministry Department and the Seventh-day Theological Seminary/Center for Youth Evangelism to provide annual leadership training. Our Union works with five conferences to provide quarterly newsletter and website support. If we take care of our children, we also are taking care of our young adult families.


Public Campus Evangelism

Over the last 10 years, our Union Youth Ministries Department and its conferences have doubled down on serving the spiritual needs of Adventist students on public campuses. Our Union has established local conference PCM coordinators to establish a leadership structure for training and more effective campus evangelism outcomes. For more information, contact Israel Ramos, Lake Union Youth Department, Public Campus Ministries coordinator, at or 517-624-9383.


Youth Evangelism Congress

The Lake Union is the only union in the world that invites local pastors to identify senior youth and young adults (ages 16–35) to attend a Youth Evangelism Congress every two years. Congress delegates receive inspiration, training and funding to return to their local church to implement traditional and innovative evangelism plans. During this past February 18–20, more than 300 were in attendance. To see all the congress details, go to www.


Closing Thoughts

Just like youth in 1879, this generation wants to make a difference for Christ and the Seventhday Adventist Church. Lake Union youth and young adults have the energy, creativity, passion and leadership skills to evangelize their communities and the world. And to this end, the Lake Union Youth Ministries Department stands ready to support its youth.


Ron Whitehead, director, Lake Union Conference Youth Department