*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***

It is the 6th of June 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.

Young man, there's a place you can go

I said, young man, when you're short on your dough

You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find

Many ways to have a good time

It's fun to stay at the YMCA

That’s right! Today is the anniversary of the founding of the Young Men’s Christian Association by George Williams and ooh boy does it have some history. Let’s break down 6 things about the YMCA

1. Williams was a contemporary of Charles Dickens in London during the Industrial Revolution. Williams YMCA’s were to help alleviate the pain and kind of poverty that Dickens wrote about. It was at first for the “improvement of the spiritual condition of young men in the drapery and other trades.”

2. It was initially an explicitly Christian organization for the spiritual training of young men. There were no workout routines, no summer camps, or many of the things we associate with the Y today.

3. The YMCA would become synonymous with the development of “muscular Christianity”. This blended the training of both body and mind as a response in the Anglo world to a perceived feminine Victorian church.

4. The YMCA is the birthplace of both Basketball and Volleyball. The invention of basketball by James Naismith at the Y, combined with the Y’s mission work in China led to basketball being amongst the most popular sports in China.

5. During World War 1 the YMCA sponsored special dogs that were trained to take cartons of cigarettes to soldiers on the front lines. Like Christianity, manufactured cigarettes were also seen as overly feminine, and male smokers coming back from World War 1 set off a new trend (!)

6. The YMCA was recognized as a global nonpartisan charity organization and was designated to regulate prisoner of war camps by the Geneva Convention in 1929.

Like the hymn “Amazing Grace” it has become synonymous with a type of vaguely Christian American religious tradition. And like “Amazing Grace” it was the creation of an Englishman. Today the YMCA can be found in over 125 countries and territories with over 45 million members. We remember the group on the anniversary of its incorporation on this, the 6th of June in 1844.

The last word for today comes from the Epistle to the Hebrews, from the 12th chapter:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 6th of June 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.

The show is produced by a man who works the boards dressed as either a native American, cowboy, or sailor. He is Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man who knows had Naismith known about the Clippers, he might have ditched the game altogether. I am Dan van Voorhis.

You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.