The continuing basis of the work and witness of the Young Men’s Christian Association is expressed in the Paris Basis, as adopted by the delegates of the First World Conference in Paris in 1855, and reaffirmed by the 6th World Council of YMCAs in 1973:
“The Young Men’s Christian Associations seek to unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour, according to the Holy Scriptures, desire to be his disciples in their faith and in their life, and to associate their efforts for the extension of his Kingdom amongst young men. “
This document serves as the foundational principle of the World YMCA. It is held as the primary mission statement of YMCAs in most places around the globe. Sadly, that is not necessarily true in many places in the US.
While the times have certainly changed, the foundation of our organization is solidly laid on this statement approved just 11 years after the founding of the YMCA and reaffirmed consistently since.
The World YMCA website adds these comments to the discussion about how the changing culture should impact our commitment to this statement:
“Any differences of opinion on other subjects, however important in themselves, shall not interfere with the harmonious relations of the constituent members and associates of the World Alliance.”
If your association is familiar with The Paris Basis, it should be. Take some time to research the history of this statement and find ways to communicate it to your YMCA staff and members. We are what we hold to be true, and this statement more than any other reflects the foundational beliefs of those who launched this incredible international effort.