On 6 June 1844, 22-year-old draper George Williams joined 11 friends to organise the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets of London.
YMCA celebrated its 175th Founder’s Day on 6 June 2019 gathering in the city where it all began for a special thanksgiving service at St Martin-in-the Fields Church in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The service was led by Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and President of YMCA England & Wales. “It has been a great pleasure to join in the celebrations of 175 years of the YMCA,” Dr Sentamu said. “The work they have done and continue to do today to help and support young people is truly fantastic!”
In total, the service was attended by 300 people. One of its highlights occurred during the Lord’s Prayer in which young people recited excerpts in German, Romanian, Urdu and Luo.
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said “The beliefs and values of Sir George Williams in the YMCA remain as strong and relevant in 2019 as they did 175 years ago. The staff member who continuously goes that extra mile to make sure a young person in crisis is safe and supported; the volunteer who gives so much time to support the operation of a YMCA at a governance or service level; to those donors who give so generously to enable our services to continue; through to all those users who bring life into our YMCAs. We can be proud of our history and what we have achieved from the legacy of Sir George Williams.”
After the ceremony, much of the congregation enjoyed a reception held at the Houses of Parliament. The work of YMCA was praised for its involvement in the communities and guests were invited to see the original manuscript of the Paris Basis written in 1855.
Be sure to check out our Founder’s Day photo album on Facebook.