History of the YMCA
1844... Start of the YMCA movement
The first YMCA is founded in 1844 in London by George Williams (1821-1905). As a young businessman he wins his colleagues in the firm for faith in Jesus Christ. In 1855, the international YMCA association is founded in Paris. Today the YMCA in Munich is committed to the charter that was drawn up at this point.
The first German YMCA is founded in Berlin in 1883. As is London, the idea is to reach out to the huge numbers of young men in cities who are spiritually far away from the church. The Berlin YMCA develops the same vision as in London.
1886... the founding of Munich YMCA ... the working community comes into existence
YMCA centres are set up in many cities following the example in Berlin, and 1886 the YMCA comes to Munich. The Munich YMCA takes as its founding passage, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3.11).
The YMCAs in several cities are amalgamated in 1919 to form the working community (Arbeitsgemeinschaft, AG) of the YMCA.
From 1974, there is in the AG an increasing interest in the close-knit sense of working community that has proved so effective in Munich. From this is born the “Alliance” (“Verbund”), an initiative which was begun by members of the Munich YMCA, and is today lead by Gerhard Pross (CVJM Esslingen).
1950... new beginnings in faith
In the first 70 years of its existence inviting people to faith in Jesus Christ has already been important for the Munich YMCA, but this desire grows stronger from 1954 onwards through the work of Wilhelm Bläsing, from Essen. He works first as a volunteer, then full-time, and from 1961 as the Secretary-General of the Munich YMCA. During this period lots of young and older people find their way to faith, through the ministry of Klaus Vollmer (Pastor in Hermannsburger Missionswirk) and Billy Graham (USA).
1960... Close cooperation
In 1966 Wilhelm Blaesing brings together a tightly knit group of workers (Mitarbeiterkreis), consisting of youth, as well as other men and women. The Mitarbeiterkreis grows from 50 people to over 650 today. In 1953 the Swiss theologian Emil Brunner had already set down the basis that the YMCA should be a community, like that lived out by the first Christians in the Bible. All this is still an important part of the Munich YMCA today - it’s the community of fellow workers (Mitarbeiter) who together carry out the YMCA’s work.
1970... We does the power come from?
In 1971 the ten full-time leaders at the the time are tired out from their work, and they see that the Holy Spirit is empowering them for a new beginning. From 1972 Helmut Nicklas takes on the role of Secretary-General of the YMCA in Munich. He leads it in close cooperation with Wilhelm Bläsing and and some volunteer workers. During the Olympic Games of 1972 in Munich, many international Christian groups are put up by the YMCA. Here the YMCA encounters the worldwide charismatic movement, an important and enriching learning experience.
2000... together, how else?
In Germany the YMCA is mainly protestant, but from the outset it has had an ecumenical vision. In Munich the work of the YMCA also reaches out to the Catholic majority. Fellowship with Catholic Christians is natural. From 1999 onwards the contact with Catholic movements and communities becomes more frequent and more intensive. The community experiences replenishment and enrichement. Under the banner “Miteinander, wie sonts?” (“Together, how else?”), the internation network “Together for Europe” (“Miteinander für Europa”), of which the Munich YMCA is a committed member, meets together in 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2012. of this network.