In Memoriam – Egon Slopianka [1927-2013]

Date: 28 October 2013

With the passing away of Egon Slopianka the YMCA movement has lost one of its most dedicated and skilled leaders and a passionate servant of the movement.

Early in his career he worked with Service to prisoners of war in France in the middle 40’s.

He was also Secretary of the YMCA of Bielefeld and Essen in Germany. He worked during 2 years in 1958-1959 with the YMCA of Paris.

From 1963 to 1973, he served as German Fraternal Secretary with the YMCA of Ibadan in Nigeria.

He was appointed  Secretary  General to the YMCA Europe in 1973 and retired from the YMCA Europe in 1990. Egon did an outstanding job in building the new area organization in Europe. His contacts with ecumenical organisations and European institutions was legendary, and he was crucial in building the international youth institutions of Europe and keeping them going with inspirational training sessions and increasing collaboration in many fields.

Egon Slopianka was a beloved and admired Secretary for the European YMCAs, and he traveled all over Europe, in many cases by train, on his many, many visits to national and local YMCAs. He always brought an inspirational and encouraging message, and sometimes brought his famous guitar as well.

His many travels also included countries behind the iron curtain, and he had many contacts in Eastern Europe. This was essential when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and many of the old leaders of Eastern European YMCAs came forward and wanted to restart their YMCAs.

I remember very well how Egon played a crucial role in those years of helping us to go in the right directions and meet with the right people.

All of us who were close to Egon, remember his wisdom and humor, his friendly encouragement and good smile. He was always willing to share his time and his huge experience with young staff and volunteers, and it was never difficult to see and feel his passion for the YMCA.
Egon had a deep faith in Jesus Christ and had a wonderful way to share his witness. He walked his talk and lived his values and visions, and we, who had the privilege to serve together with him for many years, think of him with deep gratitude and love.

Egon Slopianka was known for his deep understanding of the mission of the YMCAs.  His deep international experience in all part of the world, and especially from Africa, was also a big help for the YMCA of Europe to understand its worldwide role.

Egon Slopianka’s life was a gift from God to us all and especially to the YMCA. We will miss him deeply and we know that he is now resting in the hands of his beloved heavenly Father.

Our thoughts and prayers go to Egon’s family and friends.

May he rest in peace.