June 2022 marks the 178th anniversary of the day in 1844 when the 22-year old George Williams assembled a group of young men above the Hitchcock and Rogers drapery in St Paul’s, London, for prayer and fellowship.
The YMCA was born.
The group grew: within months it had to move three times to larger premises, and in 12 months, London had 18 more groups of young men meeting for the same purpose. Its renown was growing. Soon, from across the Atlantic, Captain Thomas Sullivan would read of its progress and travel to London to see for himself: he would return to the US to set up its first YMCA in Old South Church, Boston
World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee has reflected on George Williams in the June 2022 World YMCA news bulletin, and on how a group of 12 men meeting in 1844 has bequeathed a global movement in 120 countries and reaching more than 60 million people a year, for which over 1000 people will meet in person – and 2000 online – at the 20th YMCA World Council on 3 July.
He writes: ‘Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow! ‘If you have faith as a small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’ (Matthew 17, 20).
And he asks: ‘As I reflect on the great man and his legacy, I ask where the new George Williamses will come from? Is the YMCA a nurturing ground for people of passion and vision? George gave us the YMCA, so let the modern-day YMCA give us more Georges!’
George Williams remains an inspiration to the YMCA Movement. Ohio pastor David Newman has just published a book on his life and legacy: ‘The Shining Light: the Man, Mission and Movement of the YMCA’.
David writes: ‘George Williams lived in a time when the world was hurting and had all kinds of questions. He was a part of shining out a light that helped changed the world. … We’re in a time where there are a lot of questions, and the world is still hurting. The vision that launched the YMCA through George Williams then is something that can help change the world now.’
join the celebration in Dschang, Cameroon