VSB – YMCA Partnership

I pray… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…[May they] be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. — John 17:21-23.

The YMCA is partnering with Village Schools of the Bible (VSB) to offer a Small Group Bible study opportunity based on the Christian principles of the YMCA mission.

The historical outline below provides context for understanding this exciting new relationship between the YMCA and VSB.

The founding of the YMCA – 1844

In 1844, Sir George Williams founded the first YMCA in London, England in a drapery shop near St. Paul’s. The first meeting included 12 men who resolved to improve the spiritual condition of young men…by the formation of Bible classes, family and social prayer meetings, and mutual improvement societies.

From this humble beginning, YMCA branches were soon organized throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, and over the next 10 years, the YMCA movement spread across Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and India.

Later, the YMCA Secretary in Geneva, Switzerland, Henry Dunant (who later founded the International Committee of the Red Cross and won the first Nobel Peace Prize) initiated the idea of creating a truly global YMCA movement.

The Paris Basis – 1855

The first YMCA World Conference took place in Paris in 1855, just 11 years after the first meeting of the 12 young men in the drapery shop. The Conference adopted the Paris Basis (YMCA principles) affirming YMCA’s mission and purpose.

The core principle of the Paris Basis is that YMCAs ‘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’.

 The emblem of the YMCA – 1881

The World YMCA was headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland in 1878. Three years later, at the 9th International YMCA World Conference, the official emblem of the World YMCA was adopted. The emblem names the regions of the world, and contains monograms of the YMCA in different languages reflecting the international nature of YMCA and its unity across borders.

In the centre of the circle is a Christogram (a monogram of Christ’s name). The Greek letters chi (Χ) and rho (Ρ) are the first two letters of Greek name for Christ, χριστός. These two superimposed letters hearken back to Christograms painted in the catacombs by persecuted Christians .

An open Bible sits on top of the monogram, showing John XVII, Verse 21, “that they all may be one”. This was to remind YMCAs that Christ is the center that binds together the entire YMCA movement.

The World YMCA today

The Christ-centered emblem of the World YMCA (depicted above) is still in use today, and so is The Paris Basis, whereby YMCAs unite those who regard Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour according to the Holy Scriptures, and desire to be his disciples in faith and in life for the extension of His Kingdom.  

The Christian Principles Network of the YMCA is actively involved in serving the YMCA. Its mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Whether a member of the Y, local community or Y team member, the Christian Principles Network provides an opportunity to get involved in helping the YMCA live its mission and values.


Clearly, a VSB/YMCA partnership is a natural fit! Join us in serving the Y through a strong missional presence at the YMCA. Would you like to join a small group Bible study at the YMCA to help continue the mission?

Where: YMCA, 12301 Ridgedale Dr, Minnetonka, MN 55305.

When: Begins Thursday, March 12, 6:30-8PM. 10-week session.

Cost: Free.

Questions? Email Warwick@VillageSchoolsOfTheBible.org, or call Trish at 952.540.9460.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for resolving the hearts of 12 men in a drapery shop to form the YMCA founded in You! Could these young men possibly have conceived that this would become a worldwide movement? Indeed, all things are possible with You – more than we can ask or imagine! Thank You for Your ongoing intercession (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25), and for the gift of gospel renewal. Lead and guide us as we seek the rich indwelling of Your Word, in people You love beyond measure. Amen.

More information

  1. The World YMCA web page
  2. The YMCA Christian Principles Network web page .
  3. The VSB Small Group web page.
VSB – YMCA Partnership