A moment of joy and spiritual communion

On 6 June, YMCA celebrated its 175th Founder’s Day as leaders from across the movement returned to the city where it all began for a special thanksgiving service at St Martin-in-the Fields Church in London’s Trafalgar Square.

World YMCA attendees included Secretary General Carlos Madjri Sanvee, former President Peter Posner and former Secretaries General Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, Bart Shaha and Nick Nightingale.

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.

“The celebrations were simple, but very deep and moving,” said Sanvee. “I was happy to see so many young people participating. And being with the former Secretaries General showed how important our unity is for the movement. It goes beyond our individual characters.”

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.

Later this summer, our anniversary celebration will culminate in the YMCA175 global youth event which will take place from 4-8 August at London’s ExCeL conference centre. The event will focus on YMCA’s key impact areas of health, environment, civic engagement and employment with 70 seminars, lectures and workshops embracing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In the run up to YMCA175, we will be focusing on how the movement has evolved throughout its history, particularly in the area of gender equality. 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.

Messages from YMCA female CEOs (released each week until YMCA175)

Lourdes Alvarez – YMCA Panama
Melina Crole – YMCA Australia
Eglantina Lula – YMCA Tirana-Albania

Coming soon
Paola Petracchi – YMCA Italy
Alina Pop – YMCA Romania
Rakotomalala Lantonirina – YMCA Africa
Dorina Lluka Davies – YMCA Kosovo
Margaretha Andoea – YMCA Indonesia
Kerry Reilly – YMCA Scotland
Alexandra Box – YMCA France

Read more:

Press article: World’s oldest ecumenical movement celebrates its 175th anniversary

History of YMCA

Video: Message from the President and the Secretary General