YMCA East Jerusalem hosts annual YMCA NGS Conference

YMCA East Jerusalem hosts annual YMCA NGS Conference

Since the conference became an annual event in 2013, this marked the first time the YMCA National General Secretaries (NGS) came together in the Middle East. YMCA East Jerusalem played host to 46 NGS from 10-14 February where they learned about local YMCA programmes, visited holy sites around Jerusalem and took part in an agenda aimed at bringing the group closer together on the journey to the Movement’s collective North Star.

After a warm welcome from our hosts, the conference began with a workshop around Vision 2044, our North Star concept. NGS had the opportunity to review data from previous workshops held at YMCA175 in which young people were asked about the challenges of the future. This work will be ongoing as we enter into consultation with NGS from across the Movement to take the next step in finalising this vision collaboratively.

Data was again discussed as the group demoed the new data platform developed by Vera Solutions. Ten YMCAs were consulted in the development of this first phase as Blue Book data served as the baseline for the project. The consensus of the conference was this work should be a high priority moving forward and an additional 50 YMCAs will be asked to join the project to help set agreed upon data points for the entire Movement to measure.

The Impact Report on YMCA’s work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals was also shared. Though 59 YMCAs participated in the report, only 25 completed the survey. Though sufficient enough data wasn’t gathered for a full-scale report on the Movement’s impact, World YMCA can definitively say it’s working in all 17 SDGs and will complete a geographically balanced case study report covering these areas.

Climate Change was a key topic discussed during the conference. Attendees collectively agreed climate change needs to be a priority for YMCA going forward and World YMCA launched a call for National Movements already working in this area to join the Community of Impact on Climate Change. YMCA Asia-Pacific has since agreed to lead the group which will be launched later this year.

During the professional development portion of the conference, attendees were invited to discuss difficulties within their YMCA or locality that seem difficult or impossible to solve. Several types of problem-solving methods were shared, and most agreed their isolated role as a YMCA National General Secretary can often make solving these problems more difficult. This discussion led to a stress management seminar led by a counsellor from YMCA East Jerusalem’s rehabilitation programme.

The conference concluded with a half-day session on Friday 14 February. The NGS received an update on the progress of YMCA’s World Council resolution on Peace and Security before Secretary General Sanvee followed with his vision for the Road to Aarhus, where World YMCA will host its 20th World Council in 2022. A key driver of this vision is the Youth-Led Solutions Summit Series kicking off this June in San Francisco. This event will be followed by a summit in Bogota this October with 2021 summits to be confirmed in Asia and Africa. Each summit will focus on issues within YMCA’s key impact areas of health, civic engagement, environment and employment while hosting workshops, keynotes and immersion experiences.

Outside of the conference, the NGS had the opportunity to visit Jerusalem with excursions to the Dome of the Rock within the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Attendees were also given the option to view the Walled Off Hotel (aka the Banksy Hotel), where they visited a museum recapping the region’s history, and to visit Jerusalem International YMCA.

World YMCA would like to thank YMCA East Jerusalem for hosting the 2020 NGS Conference and look forward to next year’s gathering in Estes Park, Colorado, USA.

See the event photo gallery