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  • Sunday, November 05, 2006

    History of the Chengdu YMCA


    In 2002, Bill Hua, former General Secretary and current Board President of the Chengdu YMCA, wrote a small pamphlet "Some Facts about the Chengdu YMCA." With permission of the current General Secretary, I share this interesting history of the Chengdu YMCA with you.

    The Early Days

    1910 was the year when our Chengdu YMCA was started, the sponsors being a group of missionaries and Chinese lay-leaders. From them, the first board of directors was formed and an executive chosen.

    The next year, a piece of land was allocated to the Y by the then provincial council, and the first YMCA was built thereon with the money from the first membership campaign. R. R. Service, a Springfield University graduate, was appointed the first general secretary (1911-1919). Three others joined the staff. They were Mr. A. J. Brace from Canada, Mr. Richardson from the States, and Mr. Yang Guoping from Chengdu.

    The program during the early stage was aimed at attracting people to contact the Y. So, such experiments as the making of ice from water, the movie, and athletic sports were the first time introduced to the public in Chengdu. Now Chengdu YMCA is often cited as the pioneer in these areas.

    In 1925 a new two-story brick YMCA building (above) was erected on the old Y site with a donation from the North American Y. Everything was ready for the Chengdu Y to come out as a standard social organization.

    Chengdu Y as a Mature Social Organization

    From 1931, when Japan occupied our NorthEast, to 1950, Chengdu Y gradually merged with the local community and adjusted our program to suit our national struggle against the Japanese invaders for a united, peaceful, and democratic China. Besides our traditional programs, we ran mass meetings to raise money and to rally people to help in the war, we organized nurse-training classes and frontline first-aid teams. We were very active in our student work and our student relief helped many students from Japanese-occupied areas in various ways. When we had done what we should and could, more people came to know the Y better and eventually turned to be our supporters and volunteers. Our good work and our friendly attitude toward the student movement won for us our due position in the People's Republic.

    In the Days of the People's Republic (1950-1966)

    The Chengdu Y could carry on our regular programs as before and became one of the four founders of the general youth movement, excepting that we must devote part of our time and staff to help in the church 3-self movement. In that period the Y and the church were working closely together for the Lord until the Red-guards occupied the Y and made it their head-quarters at the onset of the so-called Cultural Revolution in 1966. The ten years after was a period of national disaster and chaos for Christians as well as for other people.

    Chengdu YMCA (1988-1993)

    In 1988 we recovered the whole Y compound and restarted our Y. Then we had 2 new hands trained in Shanghai by the National Committee, a new board of directors organized, and the former general secretary rehabilitated.

    As for our program and finance, I would say our resources were quite limited, but everyone worked hard.

    From 1988 to 1993, we could only put forth indoor cultural and recreational programs besides a kindergarten. We ran a spare-time art and music school, a Chinese painting class, a chorus society for adults and a glee club for children, English classes, a photo group, and a chess-bridge club. Young people in the different clubs and classes would join in our month social gatherings, picnics and outings, Christmas parties, lectures and discussions, exchanges with foreign Ys, and concerts organized by our chorus society, glee club, and music school. In 1989 we presented a Christmas Concert on Handel's Messiah at the Chengdu Church and in 1991 we had a vocal and instrument concert in Shanghai for the 101 annivesary of the Chinese YWCA and another at the Moen Church.

    Chengdu YMCA Moves on with Time

    We know that in a fast-changing society the Y must be keen enough to feel its pulse in order to more on with time.

    In the early nineteen nineties, new blood was infused into the Y and new ideas changed the whole arena of the Chengdu Y. Chengdu Y quickly adapted itself to the new market economy. The new 6-story YMCA building is symbolic of this change. It came as the result of a deal between the Y and a businessman with the latter providing the building fund and the Y the site, agreeing on each side getting half of the building.

    With more income, the Y could serve the community better. Besides the programs in the old brick building, we now ran a brand-new up-dated fitness center, a tea-house, a public reading room, Chinese and western painting classes, calligraphy and cartoon courses, and a multifunction hall for meetings, parties, social gatherings, and recreation in the new building. The kindergarten is enlarged to take more kids. Our chorus society has been invited every year by the TV station to sing Christian songs at the New Year Chorus Concert.

    As outreaches, we now run 2 YMCA community centers in the city and a rural service station. For these we just supply the facilities and running expenses while the local community will provide the rooms.

    Exchanges also go on smoothly with the Ys in Japan, Canada and the U.S. as well as the Ys in Hong Kong and Taiwan province. The Chengdu Y also runs joint programs with the Hong Kong Chinese YMCA in rural areas in Sichuan. All sides concerned seem to welcome such activities.

    Now the Chengdu YMCA has a staff of 3 woman and 5 men and a new board of directors, besides volunteers in the program department and the different clubs.

    Our weak point lies in membership work, in-office training for our staff. We also have difficulty in recruiting new secretaries.

    All in all, our Chengdu YMCA is marching forward with time and growing. And the YMCA will continue to be a part of the witness of Christ in China.

    March 7, 2002


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