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World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations

Website: http://www.ymca.int/

Category: Religion

Year of Foundation: 1855

Location of Foundation: Paris, France

Location of Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

Brief Description: The World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations describes itself as 'a world-wide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary Movement for women and men with special emphasis on, and the genuine involvement of, young people, which seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation' (source: www.ymca.int; accessed 14 January 2010).

Founding Rationales:

At its founding conference in Paris in 1855, Rev. Abel Stevens, Delegate of the Association of New York, put forward 'the desirability of some bond of union between the different Associations; its influence as a means of imparting mutual strength; its value as an expression of an inestimable truth, the sacred unity of the Church of Christ; and its special importance to America, as removing a stumbling block, which might otherwise cause division amongst the Associations in that continent.'

The Delegates present agreed 'to form a Confederation on the following fundamental principle, such principle to be regarded as the basis of admission of other Societies in future:- "The Young Men's Christian Associations seek to unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour according to the Holy Scriptures, desire to be His disciples in their doctrine and in their life, and to associate their efforts for the extension of His kingdom amongst young men." This fundamental principle being admitted, the Conference further proposes:- 1. That any differences of opinion on other subjects, however important in themselves, but not embraced by the specific designs of the Associations, shall not interfere with the harmonious relations of the confederated Societies. 2. That a travelling certificate of membership be designed, by which members of the Confederated Societies shall be entitled to the privileges of any other society belonging to this Confederation, and to the personal attentions of all its members. 3. That the system of correspondence adopted by this Conference, shall apply to the Societies of this Confederation.'

Source: 'Young Men's Christian Association. Occasional Paper. No. III. Report of the General Conference held in Paris, August, 1855.' (London: Young Men's Christian Association, 1856), pp. 16-17, 20.

Evolution of Membership:

World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations Membership Chart

Sources: Clarence Prouty Shedd and others, History of the World's Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations (London: SPCK, 1955), p. 647; www.ymca.int (accessed 14 January 2010)