history

31 May 2018

As the largest YMCA in Europe YMCA St Paul’s Group has a rich history going back over 140 years. In 1870 concerned people from churches in the Kingston and Wimbledon area decided to come together to reach out to young people in their community. These churches were focused on taking the Christian good news message, challenging poor employment conditions and presenting young people a vision of God’s kingdom in practice.

International movement

These groups of churches were just some of the hundreds of similar gatherings around the world sought to reach out to their community in a new and innovative way (pictured is Kingston YMCA in 1925), following the model of Association created by the founder of the YMCA, George Williams. Over a hundred years before the word globalisation was first used, these Christians came together as a global movement in Paris in 1855 to create the founding basis of the YMCA. This Paris basis is as inspirational today as it was when it was first written:

“..  the  Association  is  part  of  the  Worldwide  YMCA,  a Christian  Movement  which  seeks  to  unite  those  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.  Any  difference  of  opinion  on any  other  matter  shall  not  interfere  with  the  harmonious  relations  of  the YMCA Movement”.

Recent history

We’ve come a long way and served many communities since Victorian times, empowering young people and seeing them flourish. In 2001, we took over the management of the Hawker Centre in Ham, North Kingston and in 2004 Kingston and Wimbledon YMCAs merged. In 2007 we took over the management of Hampton Outdoor Pool and in 2017 we merged with YMCA East London. This year we joined with YMCA West London and changed our name to YMCA St Paul’s Group.