*** yb87 pp. 139-140 Switzerland and Liechtenstein ***
‘OUR GOD IS NOT A GOD OF DISORDER’
This is what Erwin Saner in Basel used to say, pointing to the clock, whenever a child would arrive late for the congregation’s Sunday school.—1 Cor. 14:33.
Sunday school? Yes, indeed. For a time we had a separate youth group for those from 13 to 25 years of age, and a Sunday school for younger ones, based on the publication The Way to Paradise (edited in 1924 and “Dedicated to Youth for the Study in the Holy Scriptures” by W. E. Van Amburgh). Adult members of the congregations took turns instructing the children on Sunday mornings. Ulrich Engler from Thalwil explained: “We parents went preaching on Sundays, and it was not the custom at that time to take the children along, neither would we take them to meetings in the evening. So when a youth group was formed in Zurich, we were glad that the children from the Thalwil Congregation were also invited.”
The association “Jehovah’s Youth” even had its own secretary’s office in Bern. A special magazine named Jehovah’s Youth was edited there and printed on the Society’s presses. The preface to the first issue was written by Brother Rutherford. These youths conducted meetings and took an active part in the witness work. They also performed Bible dramas at bigger gatherings organized for the young ones. However, this was really an organization within the organization. The Bible shows that in ancient Israel the provision that Jehovah made was for adults and children to assemble together for instruction. (Deut. 31:12) When we came to appreciate this more fully, these special arrangements for youths were dissolved. This was done in 1936 at the time of Brother Rutherford’s visit.
*** jv chap. 16 p. 245 Meetings for Worship, Instruction, and Encouragement ***The year 1918 came, and the remnant, or remaining ones of the anointed, were still on the earthly scene. The number of children at their meetings had also greatly increased. Often the youngsters had simply been allowed to play while their parents studied. Yet, young people, too, needed to learn to “seek righteousness, seek meekness,” if they would be “hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.” (Zeph. 2:3, KJ) So, in 1918 the Society encouraged the congregations to arrange for a juvenile class for children from 8 to 15 years of age. In some places there were even primary classes for those too young to attend the juvenile class. At the same time, parental responsibility toward the children was again emphasized.
This led to other developments. TheGoldenAge, in 1920, carried a feature entitled “Juvenile Bible Study,” with questions accompanied by Scripture citations in which the answers could be found. That same year, TheGoldenAgeABC was published; it was an illustrated booklet for use by parents in teaching basic Bible truths and Christian qualities to their youngsters. A book entitled TheWaytoParadise, written by W. E. Van Amburgh, followed in 1924. It was adapted to “intermediate students of the Bible.” For a time it was used at the meetings for younger ones. Additionally, in America, “Junior Witnesses” had their own arrangements for field service. In Switzerland a youth group formed an association called “Jehovah’s Youth,” for those between 13 and 25 years of age. They had their own secretary’s office in Berne, and a special magazine, Jehovah’sYouth, was edited and printed on the Society’s presses there. These youths had their own meetings and even put on Bible dramas, as they did in the Volkshaus in Zurich for an audience of 1,500.
What was taking place, however, was that an organization was developing within the organization of Jehovah’s servants. This would not contribute to unity, and it was discontinued in 1936. In April 1938, during a visit to Australia, J. F. Rutherford, the Society’s president, found that a class for children was being held apart from the convention for adults. He immediately arranged for all the children to be brought into the main convention, which was greatly to their benefit.
In that same year, TheWatchtower reviewed the entire matter of separate classes for young folks in the congregation. That study again emphasized the fact that parents are responsible to instruct their own children. (Eph. 6:4; compare Deuteronomy 4:9, 10; Jeremiah 35:6-10.) It also showed that the Bible provides no precedent for segregating young ones by means of junior classes. Instead, they were to be present with their parents to hear God’s Word. (Deut. 31:12, 13; Josh. 8:34, 35) When further explanation of study material was needed, this could be given by the parents at home. Furthermore, the articles pointed out that arrangements for such separate classes were actually detracting from the house-to-house preaching of the good news. How so? Because the teachers were staying out of the field service to prepare for these classes and to conduct them. So, all separate classes for youths were discontinued.