Story of a movement of love

The YMCA came at a time of great historic significance to humanity. In the late eighteenth and the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution replaces manual production processes by the introduction of mechanical production processes and brings new perspectives to the world in various sectors.

While technological advances have provided increased quality of life of a small number of people, there were social problems such as population growth and the working hours in factories. One of the most characteristic examples of the process of social exclusion caused by technological advance was the loss of jobs not only thousands of small urban artisans, but also of peasants in rural areas.

In this context of new perspectives, fast-growing cities, expanding to the world and yet, poor working conditions, social exclusion and use of labor, child labor arises is that the YMCA.

Since the sixteenth century already existed in Europe small groups of young Christians who gathered for Bible study: The Netherlands, in 1568 and in Paris in 1629, in the United States, in 1677, among other movements in European countries. However, none of them reached the scale of the movement started by the young George Williams.

Historical Context

The ACM was born into a very busy period in human history. Actually, ACM arises as a response, a consequence of the social impacts of the Industrial Revolution.

Started in England in the late eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution was responsible for a profound shift economic, social, cultural and political world of the time.

The Industrial Revolution was responsible for introducing the machine in daily work. Tasks that previously were only possible to be performed through manual tract now count on the considerable aid of a machine that sped up the process, increased production and profit potencializava.

Some factors that contributed to the Industrial Revolution had as birthplace England.

During the period of commercial revolution, Britain was able to accumulate more capital than any other European country thanks to the monopoly that the English held on the slave trade. Also the expansion of trade in English wool products and the lucrative pirate activity along the Spanish galleons too worked for the accumulation of capital. Also the policy of the British government to allow the possession of land by peasants English aristocrats introduced a new phase in English agriculture in which the products were produced on a large scale to be marketed in major markets and not in small quantities to the market as did the local peasants. This allowed a large supply of food in the cities and also a large exodus of peasants who were forced off their land to serve as the towns where hand labor to the growing British industry.

In mid-eighteenth century, the population of England grew a lot, which meant a larger market for industrial products. However, the large market of English industry was outside, especially the colonies of ancient empires of Spain and Portugal.

In this atmosphere of growing production, development of industrial capitalism and high human concentration in London, the conditions of life and work left much to be desired. The city of London had not adequately prepared for the daunting demographic leap that faced with the Industrial Revolution. The text brings the story of Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), one of the philosophers who developed socialist theory with the goal of finding a new path with a view to brutality as a human being was treated for industry and economic development . B The text displays a comparison made by an administrator of the season among the English workers and domestic slaves Americans.

George Williams

George Williams was born on October 11, 1821 on a farm in the county of Somerset (England). Until age 15, lived in the countryside with his family, dedicated to the work as their rural brethren. Early George Williams was not able to field activities still take me long to realize that I was quite disoriented towards life. During this time the 15 year old faced serious problems of a moral and spiritual about his fate. All this ferment culminated in his personal conversion to the Congregationalist Church, where he became an active participant in Sunday school and started a movement of evangelism coworkers celebrating in your home Bible study meetings.

In 1841, George Williams decided to go to London and gets a job at the fabric store Hitchcock & Rogers, with a salary of about $ 200.00 per year, or only $ 0.55 per day.
At this store, George Williams, found another 140 employees who had a life story very similar to yours: young, poor, coming from the countryside to the city in search of employment and no options for fun, education, etc..

Most employees of that store (and many other stores), not having enough money to stay, sleeping in their own workplaces. In Hitchcock & Rogers dormitory conditions were terrible, the rooms were small and poorly ventilated; into each room had three beds and two people in each bed. The hours were from 7am to 21h, with less than an hour for rest, lunch and dinner. These excessive hours, promiscuity and hassle of small dorms were not the most efficient way and preserve the health and human dignity.

This led George Williams to reflect on the healthy development of people living exposed to such conditions. Although it was common to degeneration of the principles by the people, George Williams remained firm in their purpose to extend the word of God among the people. Continued to work in Sunday school and slowly, one by one could muster in his room a small group of employees for meditation and prayer. This group was growing and he added the employees of other stores and factories of London, which forced the search for a larger place. Even Mr. Hitchcock, head of household, became interested in the group meetings and prayer helped financially with the initiative which allowed early on that the movement had a rapid growth.

Taking advantage of the growing importance that the group got together at London business houses, George Williams, fought for the improvement of working conditions, achieving a reasonable reduction in working hours.

Attitudes like this outlining the social character that ACM had throughout its existence.

The unwavering optimism was a strong feature of the life of George Williams, who was also endowed with a great spirit of tolerance, especially religious, which allowed him transitasse by various circles in London, in a certain meeting, George Williams said: "Here Four men have gathered different faiths, but one Christ. united Let us go. "

Its nice to all features enabled also soon be promoted, earning a salary a little better. However, half of his salary was for the prayer group and other social project that was involved.

The growing number of spectators at George Williams sparked the interest of creating a special group that would visit the houses of London which develop commercial activities. So if marked in May 1844 a meeting to define the characteristics, goals and guidelines of this group. Then was held on June 6, 1844 in the meeting that founded the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) which featured as primary objectives "seek the cooperation of young Christians to spread the Kingdom of God among the other young" and "promote spiritual meetings among other establishments of London."

Since then, the life of George Williams was closely linked to ACM. He participated in its creation, its expansion, its hard times, etc..

A few years later, George Williams, age 32 married Elena Hitchcock, daughter of his boss, when he occupied a very high position in his work. That year, 1873, George Williams donated a cottage ACM, so that it served as another leisure option for young associates.

In 1894, when the YMCA commemorated 50 years, George Williams received a knighthood from Queen Victoria real.

In 1905, he was celebrated in Paris the 50th anniversary of the World Alliance of YMCA, this celebration, George Williams, already weakened, was received with great emotion, and with the help of his son, Howard Williams, gave his last speech, which can be accompanied the text C.

Young people from France, I mean that if you want to lead a happy life, useful and profitable, give their hearts to God, while they are young.

My ultimate legacy is very precious to the Young Men's Christian Association. I leave in your hands dear young people of all countries for you to keep and disclose. I hope you are as happy as I have been and have more success because it means blessings for their own souls and the souls of many others.

(George Williams)

Sir George Williams died on the night of November 14 of that same year, 1905. His remains are in the crypt of the Cathedral of Saint Paul in London.

Foundation and development

On June 6, 1844, a group of twelve young people met and founded the property of W. D. Owen, ACM.

Fundamentally, the movement was born of the need for these young people think about the world they lived in, in discussing the problems of their society and the profound socio-economic transformations taking place every day. Discuss the introduction of work shifts of six hours, the eradication of child labor and get a sense of life were the factors that contributed to the emergence of the ACM.
From inception in 1844, the movement expanded rapidly in Europe. In 1845, the YMCA already had its own headquarters in London, with an attractive and a professional secretary, T. H. Tarlton, to organize and host a series of programs to promote ranging from biblical studies and foreign language classes until bathroom and early physical education activities.

Despite facing resistance from some Christian churches who mistakenly saw the emergence of a new faith and a few bosses that disapproved of the effort in finding workers more rights, ACM continued growing and raising more participants. In 1848 the institution organized a lecture circuit that had a significant number of listeners 3000 and sold 36,000 copies of the publication of the results of dissertations.

In 1849, it was necessary to get a larger place, where he organized a library, reading room and classrooms, where he ministered for employees associated courses.

When, in 1850, there was the Great Exhibition in London World of Industry, attended by people from all over the world, ACM organized a plan of spiritual and cultural activities for visitors. 550 public meetings were organized for young people and a large number of lectures on religious topics, in Exeter Hall; were also distributed 362,000 leaflets to participants about the work of the institution. As a result, in 1851, they founded the YMCA in Montreal and Boston. That same year, 1850, George Williams moved temporarily to Paris, where did the interest in founding an ACM.

Later, from 1851, ACM had in countries as diverse as the Netherlands, India, Australia, United States and Germany.

In August 1855, it was decided to hold the First World Conference, it participated in the ACM England, Netherlands, USA, France, Canada, Belgium and Germany. During the meeting, precisely on August 22, approved the "Paris Basis," philosophical line of ACM worldwide.

The Young Men's Christian Associations seek to unite those young men who, considering Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the Scriptures, in their faith and desire in your life and be his disciples work together to extend the Kingdom among the youth of his Master .

(Paris Basis. Paris, August 22, 1855)

The YMCA is an educational institution, health care and philanthropic, nonprofit organization that unites people regardless of race, social standing, religious belief, political or any other nature. It is ecumenical and practices follow the Christian orientation, establishing itself especially in the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to John 17, 21: "That all may be one".

In 1856, the YMCA played an important role in helping soldiers during the civil war in the United States. After conference with President Abraham Lincoln, the YMCA organized their volunteers to distribute food and medicine to the belligerents. Among other actions, the YMCA of Chicago organized a book of hymns for the soldiers.

In the IX World Conference in 1881, in London approved the emblem of ACM. The circle resembles the action of ACM on five continents. At the center monogramo of Christ, with the letters RO XI and the Greek alphabet (XP), symbolizing the basis of ACM: life, personality, education and work of Christ. In the center, the open Bible in the Gospel of John, chapter 17, verse 21: "May they all be one."

In 1885, J. Gardner Smith of Browery Branch, YMCA of New York begins the Body of young leaders for the Department of Physical Education.

Also that year, it creates the first camp with permanent premises for educational purposes in the United States. The ACM is a pioneer in the camps with educational goals, being organized for the first time by Peter Haerem, leader of the YMCA of Norway, in 1866. In Latin America, the first camp was organized by ACM in Buenos Aires in 1903.

In 1891, Professor James Naismith, Springfield College YMCA instructor, invented basketball to be played as a winter sport. In the year 1892, Naismith publishes first official rules of the sport now, in 1936, to be an Olympic sport.

Also in 1891, the Springfield YMCA College professor, Luther H. Gullick, responsible for a series of transformations in the area of ​​sports and fitness, proposes the symbol of the Red Triangle. The triangle symbolizes three important elements of the human being: soul, body and mind. The action of ACM is geared primarily to these three elements.

In 1893, Myron Clark, on July 4th, founded the first YMCA in Latin America, in Brazil, in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

In 1894, it celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the first ACM, the number of existing associations was 5109 and the number of associates 456,142.

In 1895, William Morgan, director of the Department of Physical Education YMCA of Holyoke, Mass., creates a volley that had the initial goal of serving as a recreational exercise for athletes. Volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1964.

In 1901, Henri Dunant, a founder of the ACM, receives the first Nobel Peace Prize, the fundamental importance in creating the International Red Cross, the Geneva Convention in 1864. Dunant was leader of the YMCA Geneva and had great participation in the drafting of the Paris Basis.

In 1902, it founded the ACM São Paulo. In 1905, it is celebrated in Paris, the golden jubilee of the World Alliance Base and Paris.

In 1906, the number of existing associations goes to 7773 and the number of associates to 722.00.
In 1910, The YMCA of Kansas, USA, created the first indoor pool with filter system, due to concerns about water quality.

In 1913, the YMCA was a pioneer in organizing courses bailouts, taking the student from Springfield College, George Gross, the first written theses on "lifesaving" and was subsequently published in 1916.

The ACM also played an important role in the First World War (1914-1918). Shortly after the outbreak of fighting, ACM mobilized its volunteers worldwide. Actions include fundraising war, food distribution to affected populations and work with prisoners recreation and leisure. Only the ACM U.S. were raised over 5 million dollars in fund war. It is estimated that the work of the ACM has reached over six million people in Europe, Asia and Africa. During the period of the two world wars, about a thousand vehicles "Cars Tea" circulated through Europe assisting populations affected by wars.

Physical Activities

In 1922, Judge Paul Alexander, a volunteer of the YMCA of Toledo, USA, creates the Y's Men's Club International, Club Service for assistance to voluntary actions of the ACM.

In 1930, the director of Child Physical Education Section of the YMCA of Montevideo, Juan Carlos Ceriani, creates Indoor Soccer, motivated by the Football World Cup won by Uruguay, and is designed to be practiced indoors all year round. In 1933, by request of the Technical Institute of Latin American Confederation of ACM, were published the first rules of the new sport.

In 1944, unfortunately, because of World War II, the celebration of the first centenary of the ACM are suspended. However, the YMCA already had associations with 10,000 and about 2 million members.

 In 1946, in honor of the work of the ACM during the war, John R. Mott, leader acemista, receives the Nobel Peace Prize this year, after an effective work during the most critical periods of the two world wars, ACM leverages its work with refugees of war. In Germany alone amounted to more than nine million. The ACM worldwide also helped in receiving and assisting refugees from other countries.

In 1951, was held in Paris, the World Convention to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations. Approximately 10 000 people, from 70 countries, discussed the direction of the institution.

In the International Year of Refugees in 1970, defined by the UN, ACM is a major support institutions in working with refugees on five continents.

Between 1981 and 1984, the Rehabilitation Program of the World Alliance for refugees extends the work of ACM for countries like Sudan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uganda. The activities are focused on the professional qualification programs, education and training for youth and adults.

Today, at 160 years of activities around the world, the ideal and mission of the institution have not changed. The great changes of the modern world did not change the fundamentals of the work of the YMCA.

The latest data from the World Alliance account for a total of 14,000 local associations in 120 countries with 45 million members. And always worth remembering that this movement began in a small room of a store with a group of twelve young.

Promoting life on five continents, the ACM has been developing actions related to education, sport and training of volunteer leaders. In addition, several humanitarian actions are triggered. The ACM national, aided by the World Alliance, promote emergency activities in countries plagued by problems caused by food shortages, natural disasters, providing assistance to refugees.

Source: Handout Training Program for Young Volunteers. São Paulo, 2004.
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