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World’s oldest ecumenical movement celebrates its 175th anniversary

Posted on: June 14, 2019 2:10 PM
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is President of the 175-year-old YMCA
Photo Credit: Holy Trinity Church, Hull
Related Categories: Abp Sentamu, Ecumenical, England, Global, YMCA, youth

[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, joined in the celebrations with one of the oldest ecumenical global movements as it marks its 175th anniversary this year. The worldwide YMCA youth movement, which began as an evangelical young men’s Christian service organisation, celebrated its start this month with a thanksgiving service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

The Archbishop, who is the President of the YMCA, said: “It has been a great pleasure to join in the celebrations of 175 years of the YMCA. The work they have done and continue to do today to help and support young people is truly fantastic! My prayer is that the work continues for the next century!”

Denise Hatton, the Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said: “what started with a concern for the welfare of his fellow workers and the formation of a prayer and Bible study group, grew into the YMCA which now reaches 60 million people worldwide.”

The YMCA’s origins go back to 1844, when a 22-year-old George Williams met with colleagues in the upstairs room of a drapery store just a few yards from St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and began the conversations which led to the Young Men’s Christian Association being formed.

At that time the YMCA was a pioneering forerunner of the global ecumenical movement.

 “Our movement may have been started by a group of young men, but today women are taking full part as participants, volunteers, staff members and key decision makers,” the World YMCA Secretary General, Carlos Sanvee, said. “Therefore, in the run up to YMCA175, we will be sharing messages on our social media platforms from female leaders to reflect on their journey to encourage our young people and our partners to keep fighting for gender equality.”

Also as part of the YMCA 175th anniversary celebrations, the organisation issued a world challenge to young people across the globe to volunteer 175 minutes of their time on or following 8 June 2019 to better the communities they live in and to share their experience online under #YMCAChallenge.

Later this summer, from 4 to 8 August,  a global YMCA 175 youth event will take place at London’s ExCeL conference centre, with around 70 seminars, lectures and workshops embracing the UN Sustainable Development Goals of health, environment, civic engagement, education, economic empowerment & employment.

More details of the event can be found on the website: