YMCA founder George Williams turns 201

Happy Birthday, Sir George Williams!

Today we celebrate the founder of the YMCA, who was born in Somerset, England, on this day 201 years ago.

In June 1844, George and 11 young men held a prayer meeting above a drapery shop in London. That led to the foundation of the YMCA, which rapidly became a global Movement – a Movement founded by young people for young people.

George was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1894. By the time he died in 1905, there were 45 YMCAs throughout the world, with more than 700,000 members. He is buried next door to where the YMCA Movement began, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

In his book “The Shining Light: The Man, Mission, and Movement of the YMCA.”, pastor and author David Newman said the YMCA is needed as much today as it was in George’s time.

“George Williams lived in a time when the world was hurting and had all kinds of questions,” he said. “He found there was something about this mission of showing God loved people in a tangible way that can bring hope to the world. He was a part of shining out a light that helped changed the world. Likewise, we’re in a time where there are a lot of questions, and the world is hurting. The vision that launched the YMCA through George Williams then is something that can help change the world now”.

 To learn more about George Williams and “The Shining Light”, click here:

To hear World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee pay tribute to  George – and a 15-second audio clip of Sir George speaking in 1894 – click here.