A conference for leaders of YMCA centres in the UK and Europe is to focus on the organsation's Christian identity.
The YMCA's Unify conference being held this weekend in Northampton, will bring together managers from YMCA centres across the British Isles and beyond, to celebrate faith in action.
Although individual YMCA centres are able to operate with a great deal of freedom when it comes to the amount of emphasis that is put on the 'Christian' nature of their work, a growing number of YMCAs are choosing to reengage with the faith based foundations of the charity.
But while individual centres have focused upon different areas of work, from homelessness to working with addiction, and from sports to schools work, some YMCAs have been seen as 'softening' in their Christian identity.
The inclusive nature of their work means that a distinctively Christian approach has been difficult for some centres to maintain.
Speakers at the Unify conference will be working with YMCA staff to look at topics such as Christian worship and spirituality in YMCA centres, and also to address issues such as how to engage positively with other faiths.
Joy Madeiros, the group CEO of Oasis is the keynote speaker on Sunday, her experience of the charity's Christian ethos in action is drawn from 12 years spent working for the YMCA prior to taking on a role with Oasis/Faithworks.
The YMCA has 45 million members in 125 countries, it works with everyone regardless of race, faith, or culture.
Founded in 1844 by George Williams, a London draper, the movement began as a prayer meeting and bible study, and went on to become the largest youth charity in the world.
The YMCA can even lay claim to playing a key part in sporting history, after the games of basketball and volleyball were invented in YMCA centres.
During the first world war, a red poppy was introduced as a symbol of rememberance by a YMCA worker, going on to become a globally recognised symbol.
January 10th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross