ECUMENISM OF THE LAITY - Continuity and Change in the Mission View of the World's Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations, 1855-1955


This study aims to interpret how the mission view of the World’s Alliance of YMCAs changed from aggressive evangelism to social responsibility for human be-ings. The study looks at this change through changes in the interpretation of the YMCA Paris Basis from 1855 to 1955.
As a tool for this study, a new organisation onion model was developed, based on social movement, third sector and world-view studies. Starting from Hannan and Freeman’s and Berger and Luckmann’s theories, the organisation’s most stable ele-ment is its core, where its identity, mission and ideology are located. The shell level consists of the organisation’s constituency, leadership, structure and social objects. The organisational environment can be viewed as (cultural, economic, political and religious) opportunity structures.
Various young men’s religious organisations emerged in the first half of the 19th century in different countries. In 1844, the London YMCA was founded and it became a model for other YMCAs. However, German Jünglingsvereine formed another stream in the YMCA family that in many respects differed from the British model.
In 1855, YMCA leaders of eight countries met in Paris, formed the World’s Alli-ance of YMCAs, and accepted the Paris Basis as a basis of the movement.
The YMCA spread to all continents, developed organisational models and created new activities such as youth work, physical education, military canteens, etc. Facing new challenges, the YMCA had to modify its mission to fit the needs of various niches.
This study aims to interpret how the different elements in the context, shell and core influenced the change in the mission view of the World’s Alliance of YMCAs 1855-1955.
The key factor identified in this change was in the change of the frame on the King-dom of God, which changed from transcendent City of God to immanent God’s Crea-tion.