No identity crisis here…YMCA becomes the Y

According to the YMCA is officially changing its name to “The Y.”  Most Americans, I am sure, do not even know the wording of the acrostic or the purpose for which it was founded.  Do you know its roots?

From the official YMCA website here is the story of its founding:

In 1844, industrialized London was a place of great turmoil and despair. For the young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs, London offered a bleak landscape of tenement housing and dangerous influences.

Twenty-two-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.

Although an association of young men meeting around a common purpose was nothing new, the Y offered something unique for its time. The organization’s drive to meet social need in the community was compelling, and its openness to members crossed the rigid lines separating English social classes.

Years later, retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan, working as a marine missionary, noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the Y in England, he led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

The Young Men’s Christian Association has changed its identity because its purpose has changed.  Like so many other organizations that begin with a wholly Christian purpose, this one, too, does nothing now to resemble that great beginning.

If we are not careful as Americans, piece-by-piece we will lose our heritage.  This brief story, I hope, helps to illustrate that point.  The valid point to make here is that nothing stays straight forever.  Thank God for new churches and new attempts at preaching the gospel and discipling the saved.

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