Guangzhou YMCA was founded in 1909. The past 105 years have witnessed a great number of social changes in China, and under the Christian guidance “Not to be served, but to serve” and the idea “Serve the society, and benefit the people”, we have done our best to satisfy public needs. Thanks to our forefathers’ persistent endeavor and generous assistance from community leaders, we took root here in Guangdong, then flourish, and contribute to the local under the grace of God.
On the north shore of the Pearl River and outside of the Five Fairy Door in Changdi, a plain auditorium was built in 1909 to memory Pastor Morrison, the first western sinologist. Later the auditorium served as our initial center, named Changdi center. It was expanded in 1917, adding an indoor gym, a swimming pool and other sports facilities. Under the guidance “A sound mind dwells in a sound body”, we imported new sports, cultivated sports talents, and had hosted competitions for years, such as basketball, volleyball, badminton, and swimming matches. In addition, we co-hosted the Guangdong Games and sent sports groups to attend the Far East Games many times. This greatly boosted sports activities in South China.
Early Development Period
Around 1919, reform schemes were put forward by all elements of power to save China from its nationwide crisis. In this background, Guangzhou YMCA proposed saving China through healthy personalities, and carried out the proposal through the YMCA network in cities and universities. Dr.Sun Yat-sen quite agreed with the proposal and thought that “YMCAs play a positive role in building a better China”.
Furthermore, Guangzhou YMCA took an active part in the reform campaign and was considered as the most active patriotic group in Guangzhou at that time. Moral, intellectual, physical, and social education surrounding our center gradually spread to schools, factories, armies, and battlefields. This enriches people’s cultural life, boosts education in Guangzhou, delivers foreign scientific knowledge, and facilitates worldwide cultural exchanges.
Sino-Japanese War Period
In 1937, the war spread nationwide, and Guangzhou was taken. Guangzhou YMCA set up service groups and first-aim teams to carry out wartime services inside the army. Later, it moved to Shaoguan, North West of Guangdong, and conducted patriotic activities nonstop for seven years. For example, it hosted singing competitions, speech contests, art exhibitions to relieve people’s pressure and strengthen their patriotism to fight back; and it also launched social relief services, receiving praise from society at large. At that moment, YMCA services spanned over mountains from Qujiang to Fengwan, and then to Lianping in the North West of Guangdong. In 1945, a work station was set up in Xingning.
In the wartime, secretaries from Chinese and American YMCAs inspected wartime services in Yan’an and Chongqing and met Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. Mr Zhou once commented that “Religious groups, such as YMCAs, play an effective role during the war”.
In 1985, Guangzhou YMCA resumed all activities and opened an amateur cultural and art school, where the public learnt languages, calligraphy, music, dances, painting, and kongfu, and the laid-off received trainings to enhance their vocational skills and gain more opportunities. At the same time, friendly visit exchanges were going on between Guangzhou YMCA and YMCAs in Hong Kong, Macao.
In 1999, Tianhe Center was unveiled.
New Century Period
At the advent of 2000, Guangzhou YMCA focused on team building and love- & dedication-based cultural development. For this purpose, it founded the Volunteer Association, where volunteers pay particular attention to serve special and venerable groups under the guidance of the idea “caring for the weakest and neediest among us” in the bible. These groups covered children with hearing impairments, brain disorders, Down ’s syndrome, autism, children recovered from cancer, children of migrant workers, and lonely elderly.
Moreover, Guangzhou YMCA put persons of caliber in right places, cultivated leaders, designed, conducted, or expanded comprehensive social services, including the Thalassemia Aid Program, Sports Meeting for Children with Disabilities, and Drug Rehabilitation Program. This greatly advanced social services towards specialization.
In 2009, with the help of Guangzhou Municipal Government and Bureau on Ethnic and Religious Affairs, our housing issue was solved smoothly, and Fangcun Center was built and put into use on our 100th birthday.