Christmas Message

Christmas Message

Dear friends,

I love Christmas!

I love the time of advent, the preparation for Christmas celebrations and time to reflect on God sending his Son to save the world. I am a theologian by education and identity, and the most important theological term for me is INCARNATION. It means that God comes to us in the shape of a tiny little baby. The unconditional love of God becomes visible and touchable and receivable for us human beings. We see and meet with Eternity!

My Christmas message of 2017 was given to me by YMCA Scotland.

I was encouraged by their Christmas fundraising campaign (as seen in this picture). The headline reads “Homeless. Skint. New baby. Every Christmas it’s the same old story.”

Of course this is the original story of Mary and Jesus, but the same story has been true for so many people for more than 2,000 years. The YMCA is the continued INCARNATION so that teenage mothers and other young people in need can find a strong hand to hold. So that homeless and poor, drug addicts and child workers and lonely refugees can find the same strong hand to hold. The Christmas problem is Injustice towards Young People; the Christmas Answer is Empowering Young People!

Johan Vilhelm Eltvik,  Secretary General

YMCA World Challenge 2018

YMCA World Challenge 2018


This document is the launch announcement for the 2018 YMCA World Challenge.The reader is requested to share within their YMCA networks and begin planning for an event on June 2nd, 2018.

Andrew McKenzie
Executive Secretary

Dear YMCA friends,

The YMCA World Challenge is a highlight of the year for many YMCAs and we have been asked so many times already “what is the challenge for 2018”. So this year we are giving you a few extra months’ notice so you can make sure that your World Challenge 2018 is the biggest ever!

The challenge is: together can we run the distance to every YMCA in the world?

It’s a combined journey of more than 120,000 kilometres or 75,000 miles.  Phew! Individually it’s impossible but together I think we can do it!  That’s exactly how the YMCA works. Together we achieve great things and address great challenges. Here’s a fun one for us to tackle together!

The attached Introduction Guide has all the information you need and in this link below we have already uploaded videos, posters and other resources for you to use:

World Challenge is an important part of the global YMCA strategy and really helps build our image and impact.  This year’s event provides every YMCA the opportunity to share their great impact and our 174th birthday with their communities, while also engaging with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


We look forward to seeing your YMCAs creativity. You might even win one of the prizes as you give as many young people as possible the chance to be empowered through taking steps towards each other.

Please share this information widely so that every  YMCA can get as many runners/walkers to go as far as possible on June 2nd, 2018.

I will be pulling on my running shoes and doing some kilometres and I hope you will all join in as well.

Let’s all go run!

Warm regards,

Johan Vilhelm Eltvik,
Secretary General

YMCA World Challenge 2018 – Video


Photo Gallery

A significant moment in YMCA history

Article reproduced from the YMCA England & Wales website

On Wednesday evening, in a significant moment in YMCA’s history, the organisation returned to its roots at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate its work, pay homage to supporters, staff and volunteers and give thanks for the life and pioneering work of its founder.

On the photo : Barry O’Grady, YMCA Watford; Charlie Squires (young person from YMCA Watford); Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales CEO; Jerahl Hall (YMCA Youth Ambassador); Archbishop of York and YMCA President, Dr John Sentamu; two young people from YMCA East Surrey; Charlie Smith, YMCA Norfolk

St Paul’s Cathedral has played a continuing pivotal role in YMCA’s 173-year long history. Founded by Sir George Williams in its Church Yard in 1844, at just 22 years old, he would later be laid to rest in its crypt following his funeral there in 1905.

Proceedings began with a wreath laying ceremony in the crypt beneath the cathedral at the grave of Sir George Williams, attended by his direct descendants who placed the wreath. It closed with a blessing led by YMCA’s President, The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Afterwards, guests and the public gathered inside the Cathedral’s walls in their hundreds for a special YMCA-themed Choral Evensong, one of the most-loved services at St Paul’s, and sung by the Cathedral Choir.

The service put particular focus on our growing work around young people’s mental health; it was shared with the congregation the vast reach and impact that YMCA has, with its mental health services alone supporting more than 17,000 young people in the last year.

YMCA Youth Ambassadors led on elements of the service with Jerahl Hall, from YMCA North Staffordshire, reading from the Gospel of Mark, and Egija Cinovska from YMCA Swansea leading intercessory prayers. The Reverend Chris Poulard, YMCA Vice-President, led the Prayer of Commitment prior to a sermon from The Archbishop of York.

Archbishop of York and YMCA President, Dr John Sentamu (far left); Andrew Tucker, descendant of Sir George Williams (laying wreath).

Following the service, guests gathered in Lord Nelson’s Chamber for a reception to launch the Changing Futures Appeal, for YMCA supporters, where Charlie Squires who has received support from One YMCA shared his story.

Opening the reception, The Archbishop thanked YMCA for its contributions to society throughout history, saying: “What I’ve seen in the years that I’ve been president is staggering… 1844 we started, two world wars, and we’re still going.”

Guests were given the opportunity to take time for reflection at Sir George William’s resting place where the wreath had been placed. His memorial in the crypt reads: “My last legacy, and it is a precious one, is the Young Men’s Christian Association. I leave it to you, beloved young men of many countries to carry on and to extend.”

Read more about our founder, Sir George Williams, and our rich history.