Historic Meetings in England


August, 2017


The US Mission Network was well represented at a gathering of leaders from the Christian movement within the YMCA.

Six members of our board and cabinet were part of this gathering in London, along with representatives from India, Hong Kong, Germany, Chile, England and Africa.

The purpose of the trip was twofold:

To work together to plan the 2018 YMCA World Mission Network Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand for July 2018.

To visit the historic sites where the YMCA was first launched where we could pray and ask God to “do it again”.

One of the true highlights of the trip was being able to meet and spend most of a day with Peter Posner, President and CEO of the World YMCA. We shared our vision for the YMCA movement and asked what we could do to better serve him and the World Council of YMCAs that will meet in Thailand, right after our conference.

The first formal activity the group participated in was to see a live production of “The Soul of the Machine”, a play based on the life of George Williams and the founding of the YMCA. The adventure took us across London on the tube and one of the iconic red London double-decker buses. It is our hope to sponsor this play at the World Council in Thailand, in July, next year.

The next day the group met and shared communion in the courtyard directly across from St. Paul’s Cathedral where the YMCA was launched in what was then a drape factory. While there, we gathered for prayer around the gravesite of George Williams located inside of St Paul’s.

Later in the weekend we visited the birthplace and family farm of the Williams family in rural southern England. We walked the half mile path George often took down to the famous Tarr Steps. We visited the little village of Dulverton where the family shopped and went to church. We stopped in Bridgewater, where young George responded to the gospel message after hearing a sermon at Friarn Chapel.

In many ways it was a historic trip. So few folks in the Y have actually visited the sites where our rich history was written. As we laid plans for next year’s conference, we were moved to ask God to do it again within the YMCA.

US participants in these meetings included our National Director Larry Whittlesey, Board members Josh Heaston and Janele Nelson and Ministry Cabinet Members David Newman, Stephanie Gibson and Bjorn Dixon.