Young Men's Christian Association
The Young Men's Christian Association of New Zealand is part of a world-wide organisation, including boys and men and (in many cases where there is no YWCA) girls and women of all races, and of all Christian and many other faiths. The movement was begun in Auckland by A. H. Shalders in 1855, 11 years after the establishment of the first association in London in 1844. Branches were soon set up throughout the colony. Although each city YMCA is independent in organisation, all YMCAs are bound together by common purpose and mutual support, in that the association “seeks 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 their associate efforts for the extension of His Kingdom among young men”.
The purpose of the association is to contribute towards the building of a Christian society. The YMCA, therefore, helps to develop Christian standards of living, conduct, and life purposes in its members and constituency by offering a design for living and for the enrichment of leisure. It seeks to promote the physical, mental, spiritual, and social welfare of persons and to stress reverence for God, responsibility for the common good, respect for personality, and the application of the “Golden Rule” in human relationships. To achieve the purposes of its programme, the YMCA (i) employs persons as YMCA secretaries who accept the religious and educational standards set down; (ii) enlists adult volunteers who are sympathetic with the purposes of the association and who have potential for youth leadership; (iii) develops training courses for its leaders to give them an understanding of how children and youth develop, and teaches them how to work with groups; (iv) organises small friendship groups as the basis for its programme in the fields of religious, social, and physical education; (v) develops group activities which stress the needs of each member, and in which members are encouraged to make individual and group decisions and accept responsibility; (vi) gives youth a chance to get personal counselling and guidance on religious, educational, and social problems; (vii) encourages family-group activities whereby YMCA members share in the application of principles of Christian living; (viii) teaches members to accept the privileges and responsibilities of Christian citizenship in the family, in their own groups, and in community life, and to understand the purpose of democracy and strive to solve its problems; and (ix) helps youth to find satisfaction in unselfish service and to increase their sense of Christian brotherhood with all men.
The YMCAs comprise 18 city associations and 23 branches. There are 16 ladies' auxiliaries. Eleven associations organise camps for boys during the school holidays, and the National Council runs an adventure camp each year. The associations also give courses in leadership training. The association's buildings everywhere are used largely for and by the general community.
by George Frederick Briggs, National Secretary, Young Men's Christian Association, Wellington.