A Glimpse of the Junior and Young People Department
Robert Rufus West
First National Junior President
Greater Mt Olivet
Rufus served nobly. Many other churches were organized under his leadership and united with the National Body.
At the National Convention in Memphis, Tennessee, he asked all of the National Junior Officers to have some type of program and the National Officer bringing in the highest amount over $25.00 would be crowned King or Queen of the National.
The department was very young, so there was a need for finance. In a effort to create a unique role for all the youth to play at the convention, a contest was started where they would vie to be crowned King and Queen so all states could take part. It was later named the Vicie D. Juran Popularity Contest in honor of their supervisor. To this day, it is a featured event of each convention, held on Tuesday Evening.
The Junior Department of the National United Ushers Association can trace its history to the efforts of one dynamic girl named Susie Gomes. She was born in South Carolina to devoted God-Fearing Parents. When Susie was still very young, her family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where they joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Susie immediately began working in the usual youth groups of the Church, but she still felt the need to do more.
In her early teens, she heeded the call to do missionary work. Soon other youths began accompanying her on her rounds as she visited the sick and shut-in bringing them sunshine and cheer. Noticing that all of the ushers in her church were adults, she decided to organize a Junior Board so that she and her friends could better serve the church.
She sought permission from her pastor for such a project and won his approval. Her first efforts were so successful, she decided to branch out and began encouraging youth in churches of other faiths to organize. In a few short years, she had organized local and state groups similar to the Senior Ushers Organization.
In July 1940, Susie along with a group of other youths petitioned the National United Ushers Association who were meeting in their Annual Convention in Dallas, Texas, for permission to organize a Junior Unit of our organization. From that beginning, the Junior National Department has grown to an unimaginable volume, fulfilling the needs of young people in churches throughout the country. Its success can be attributed to a young lady who was kind in disposition, noble in heart who had a burning desire to serve and let nothing stand in her way. She was a credit to her family, her race, her church and her community.
Requirements: The individual must be a member of his/her church and usher board, local and state. Age 8 - 21.