The History of Midland Young Life

(L-R) Duane Lehman and Ruth and Dennis Gibson (2012)

Michigan's First Young Life Area

Jim Rayburn and four other seminarians started Young Life in Texas in 1941. By 1946, Young Life had moved to a new headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the staff had grown to 20 men and women across several states. The utilization of volunteer leaders began at Wheaton College in Illinois in the late 1940s, and remains absolutely vital to the Young Life mission still today. 

In the summer of 1960, Dennis Gibson and his wife Ruth moved to Midland, Michigan, for the same reason many couples do – a job with Dow Chemical. Dennis was a chemical engineering graduate from Northwestern University, and his wife, Ruth, had graduated from Wheaton College. They arrived with the desire to start the first Young Life club in Michigan. Someone had given Ruth a local name to pursue: Duane Lehman. 

Over the coming months, and throughout 1961, starting Young Life in Midland was pursued with a passion. A local committee was formed, of which Duane and Bonnie Lehman would soon become chairs. 

By the fall of 1962 they began having Young Life meetings in Midland. For the next three years, attendance grew and increasing numbers of high school students participated in summer Young Life camps. After that time, the Gibsons were called away from Midland. To keep the ministry growing, Duane and Bonnie stepped into their roles for the interim, expecting it to be short term. 

The Lehmans’ dedication and faithfulness kept them in that leadership role for 14 years, when they were able to “hand the baton” over to Gary Veurink.

Thankfully, Gary Veurink took on the responsibility to chair a committee dedicated to secure a full time Young Life Area Director. Their campaign was successful, and the Midland Area ministry has been blessed by having an Area Director and continued growth ever since.


Young Life Midland | 1310 Ashman St Midland, MI 48640-5429

Phone: (989) 631-8585

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