Christian Foundation and Movement Relevancy

A Message by Dr. AHN Jae-Woong

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That They All May Be One (John 17:21)

- A Message at the Executive Committee Meeting of the APAY -


By Dr. AHN Jae-Woong

Today, we gathered here in Jeju, the ‘Island of World Peace’, to celebrate the completion of the headquarters of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs and hold the first Executive Committee Meeting (ECM) at this memorable moment. I would like to sincerely welcome all of you and express my gratitude to the distinguished guests and YMCA leaders who came here from all over the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

The YMCA is the world's first civic movement organization, founded in London in 1844 by George Williams and 12 colleagues based on Christian teachings. Then, in Paris in 1855, intellectuals, educators, businessmen, and lay leaders of the time, led by Henri Dunant, founded the World YMCA, which continues to this day.

In 1933, the first Asia YMCA Leaders' Conference was held in Baguio, Philippines. Attendees at this meeting analyzed current issues in Asia and refined six major tasks for the YMCA. Realizing the need for an Asia Alliance of YMCAs. The 2nd Asia YMCA Leaders' Conference was held in Bangkok in 1949 and an Asia Regional Committee was formed. Asia YMCA has pledged to become self-reliant based on mutual fellowship and cooperation while solidifying its Christian identity and strengthening local communities. The Asia Alliance of YMCAs, organized in this way, held the 3rd Asia YMCA Leaders Conference in Baguio in 1953 and adopted “strengthening spirituality, leadership training, documentation & communication, mutual exchanges, global mobility, improving education and technology, international cooperation” as the movement tasks of the Asia YMCA.

John R. Mott, a master of the ecumenical movement, toured Asia and introduced YMCA to many countries. Luther Wishard followed him by touring Asian countries for four years and contributed greatly to organizing the Asia YMCA. Led by Leung Siu Chah, an outstanding leader of the YMCA China, the Asia YMCA Secretariat was opened in Hong Kong in 1949, and he served as the first General Secretary from 1950. Over the past decades, many professional leaders worked in the Hong Kong Secretariat. After long and deep consultations with the APAY Board and affiliated National Movements, Nam Boo Won, the current General Secretary, has carried out the collective decision to move the headquarters of the Asia Pacific YMCA to this place in Jeju. Finally, we are having a Grand Opening Ceremony of the new headquarters office today. The APAY is also a regional body that had as its General Secretaries, Rev. Lee Soo-min and Dr. Bart Shaha, later appointed as Secretary General of the World YMCA.

APAY headquarters has left Hong Kong, the hub of global financial center, and moved to Jeju, the island of world peace. Jesus the Savior was born in a stable in Bethlehem. It became an example of a noble life being born alongside poultries. The APAY headquarters in Jeju will serve as the YMCA's mill. It will be a house that processes various grains produced in the Asia-Pacific region and provides life-saving foods to all, particularly to the coming generations. It will become a blacksmith shop that precisely refines the precious program stones of YMCAs in the Asia-Pacific region. It will become a warehouse that creates and supplies well-molded programs needed by each National Movement in a timely manner. Just as the Magi came to the stable in Bethlehem, this place will become a popular attraction for program participants not only from our region, but also from all over the world. This will be a shining house on a hill, a “Beacon Hill”. Following the missionary work style of Apostle Paul, we will work here in Jeju as a “mission station” for a long while.

In 1891, the insignia was adopted to express the YMCA movement more clearly. John 17:21 contains the prayer of Christ Jesus, “that they may all be one/ut omnes unum sint”, and includes the letter “Pax”, which symbolizes PEACE.  The YMCA movement strives to create a peaceful society by achieving unity, brother/sisterhood, and ecumenism at the same time. In addition, the YMCA's red triangle badge clearly identifies the symbolism and identity of the movement as an institution that produces well-rounded individuals with a balanced spirit, mind, and body.

YMCA is an organization that has produced countless leaders of the global ecumenical movement. Thanks to these leaders, the ecumenical movement has developed greatly. The biblical basis for the ecumenical movement is the confession that “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God” (Ephesians 4:5) and “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:28). We are achieving the beautiful ideal of “doctrine divides, service unites.” The ecumenical movement has the characteristics of being both “universal (oikoumene)” and “local (oikoudome)”.

Everyone unanimously calls today's reality a crisis. First of all, the climate crisis has become an utmost issue. Climate change has caused a climate crisis, and preventing climate collapse through climate action and achieving climate justice has become a top priority for global citizens to work together and solve. In addition, the crisis of democracy and peace are also serious. Like the military forces of the past, a return to dictatorship or authoritarianism is occurring all over the world. In the face of this crisis, it is urgent to revitalize the movement to build a just society. John Rawls said, “Justice as fairness.” However, Michael Sandel presented three conditions for reaching a just or fair society. “First, maximizing welfare, second, respecting freedom, and third, promoting virtues.” Additionally, the development and threat of nuclear weapons, including from North Korea, is greatly deepening the sense of crisis among citizens around the world. Many other crises are threatening our future as well.

We welcome the establishment of the headquarters of the APAY, which will bring a “wave of life” and a “wind of peace” here in Jeju, the island of world peace. As the YMCA motto, that contains the prayer of Christ Jesus, says, “That they  may all be one”, I hope that we will serve as a hub for creating a fair world filled with justice, peace, life, and love on this earth. I also hope that it will become a platform of public discourse that creates a fair world where everyone co-exists and prospers in harmony. Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25).

These are words that everyone who attended today's precious inauguration ceremony of the new APAY Headquarters and the Executive Committee Meeting should keep in mind. May the peace that the Lord gives us be with all of us. Thank you.


Dr. AHN Jae-Woong is the Chair of the Board of Trustees, NCY-Korea and the

Former General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia. He presented the opening message during the Executive Committee Meeting and the inauguration of the APAY’s Jeju Headquarters from April 19-21, 2024, at Jeju, South Korea.


APAY Executive Committee Meeting 19–21 April 2024 Communiqué

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The Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) held its annual Executive Committee Meeting from 19th – 21st April 2024 Jeju, South Korea. Eighty two (82) registered delegates and representatives from 14 national movements in the Asia-Pacific region attended the meeting in person and 5 delegates from 3 countries participated online. It was also a historic occasion to mark the official inauguration of the APAY Jeju headquarters with a Thanksgiving Service following the decision of the Extra Ordinary ECM in 2021 to restructure the APAY headquarters into ‘multiple-office function”. Amongst a few offers received to host the new APAY office was the NCY-Korea’s offer to construct a new headquarters for the APAY at the YMCA Campsite in Jeju, Korea.  About 210 donors and supporters attended the inauguration of the new office and witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between APAY and the NCY-Korea to facilitate a cooperative arrangement between APAY and Korea YMCA for the utilization of the APAY Jeju Headquarters building to further mutual collaboration and activities beneficial not only to both parties but more for the entire APAY constituencies based on the common Mission stipulated in Paris Basis, Kampala Principle and Challenge 21. The MoU grants APAY rent free use of the buildings as office space and will remain valid as long as the APAY office resides in Jeju Island.  Also, in attendance and bringing congratulatory greetings to the event were OH Young Hun, Governor of the Jeju Special Self-governing Province, Soheila Hayek, President of the World Alliance of YMCAs, Ms. Keiko Tonegawa, President of the Asia Pacific Area of the Y’s Men International.

Participants of the ECM were invited to participate in an international symposium on “International Civil Action for Peace and Climate Justice”, a 110th anniversary event of the NCY-Korea organized in conjunction with the ECM.

The ECM began with worship on the theme building from the 21st GA: “Engaging YMCAs in building resilient and transformative communities”. In his keynote address, Dr, Ahn Jae-Woong, chairperson of the board of trustees of NCY Korea, traced the historical roots of the YMCA movement in Asia Pacific and it contributions in producing countless leaders for the ecumenical movement. The new APAY headquarters in Jeju will be like a house built on a rock serving as a hub to interpret and implement Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one”, creating a fair world filled with justice, peace, life, and love on this earth.

The meeting was called to order and was presided by Very Rev. Philip Thomas, President of APAY, and assisted by Nam Boo Won, General Secretary of APAY. Mr. Rovin Cincollagas, Chair of the YPLD was appointed as the recording secretary.

In his opening address, Fr. Philip emphasized the relevance of the 2023 General Assembly theme, "Journeying Together as a Resilient Community: Transforming Lives through Vision 2030," which has remained relevant in strengthening our movement. He also recognized the various struggles of each National Movement, both inside and outside the YMCA movement, and how the Christian ideals created a resilient culture amongst us despite these challenges. He also affirmed if we are centered on Christ, then we will be transformative. Let Christ be a center in our lives because we offered ourselves for this purpose.


Ms. Soheila Hayek, President of the World Alliance of YMCAs, in her greetings and inauguration speech praised the APAY and the national movements for their programs and leadership, especially in strategic implementation of the 4 pillars of Vision 2030. She expressed hope that the new headquarters of APAY and the proposed YMCA Global Peace and Ecology Center will play an important role and serve as a hub for training young people as both "peacebuilders" and "climate defenders," embodying our shared commitment to fostering peace and protecting our planet. Other ecumenical partners who sent greetings online include Dr. Bartholomew Shaha, former Secretary General of the WAY and former General Secretary of APAY.  Mr. Thomas Valentine, Vice President of the YMCA of USA; and Ms. Yowanda Yonggara, Regional Secretary of the WSCF-AP.

General Secretary and Committee Reports:

The General Secretary presented the Quadrennial Program Plan (2024-2027) with 5 major program areas that were formulated at the Leaders Quadrennial Roundtable 2024 in Kuala Lumpur in December. The program areas (Movement Strengthening; Meaningful Work; Sustainable Planet; Community Wellbeing; Just World) underpinned by Christian Foundation, reflect the mandate from the 21st General Assembly and the YMCAs are asked to constantly re-interpret them in view of changing realities and contexts.  Christian Foundation remains the bedrock and cross-cutting focus that undergirds each of the 5 program areas. The ECM endorsed the creation of a new Standing Committee on Movement Strengthening and appointment of chairpersons to the various committees and task forces. The QPP together with reports from all the committees and task forces were then presented, discussed and received with positive comments from the floor.

To meet the financial challenges related the new office in Jeju, the ECM approved the Finance Committee’s recommendation to increase the fair share contributions by 5%. Some larger movements eg. Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Singapore and Australia agreed to contribute a higher amount.

APAY HK Office:

The 2021 Extraordinary ECM made a historic decision “To restructure the APAY headquarters into “multiple-office function” as recommended by the APAY Board, following the precedents set by other Area Alliances of YMCAs, given the needed adjustment to a new normal reality, as well as increasing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the operations aligned with the objectives of APAY”. Having considered 8 important criteria and factors, the ECM decided for the new APAY Headquarters to be located in Jeju, Korea, while Hong Kong will remain as the second office of APAY.

Sadly, this decision to restructure and partially move the APAY headquarters to Jeju, Korea, led to misunderstanding and dispute between the Chinese YMCA of HK and APAY. Reaffirming the original intent and the history the YMCA Institute in Hong Kong in relation to APAY, the ECM resolved to request through President Soheila Hayek, to officially form a mediation team of the World Alliance towards an amicable settlement of the current dispute between APAY and the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong.


The APAY inaugurated its new headquarters in Jeju, Korea, with strong support and solidarity from national movements. Set in serene environment of the YMCA Campsite and decorated with meaningful souvenirs from member movements, the APAY Jeju headquarters provided a conducive space for the 2024 Executive Committee Meeting. The Jeju office is a place for the diverse family of the APAY to come together to worship and work. APAY President, Fr. Philip, in his closing remarks expressed hopes that APAY, at its new headquarters in Jeju, reaffirms its commitment to continue its mission and vision promoting social justice, transforming and building stronger resilient communities across the Asia-Pacific region.


YMCA of Hong Kong Received Elite Award for Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

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YMCA of Hong Kong is delighted to announce that we have been honored with the Elite Award in the 'Diversity & Inclusion Award, NGO Category' at the prestigious Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) HR Excellence Award 2023/2024 in March 2024. This remarkable achievement recognises our unwavering commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in the community.

Since 2017, we have implemented 'alternative workforce' practices, which aim to recruit individuals who were previously excluded from the labor market due to their backgrounds, such as ethnic background and disabilities. This initiative has been made possible through partnerships with three remarkable organisations: Hong Chi Association, Christian Action's Centre for Refugees, and Mother's Choice. These organisations are dedicated to assisting individuals with special needs, including those with intellectual disabilities, individuals fleeing violence and persecution, and pregnant teenagers in Hong Kong.

Through these collaborations, we have been able to provide equal opportunities for personal growth and development, particularly for individuals in need of employment and embarking on transformative journeys. By creating a supportive and inclusive work environment, we have nurtured fulfilling careers and unlocked the potential of every individual.

Receiving the Elite Award in the 'Diversity & Inclusion Award, NGO Category' affirms our status as a preferred employer for those seeking a workplace that values diversity and promotes harmonious interactions. We are immensely grateful to the HKIHRM for recognising our efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our partners, employees, and stakeholders who have contributed to this significant achievement. It is through our collective efforts that we continue to make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities.

Looking ahead, we remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a just world and enhancing community wellbeing. Through our meaningful work opportunities, we strive to make a positive impact on the lives of many individuals. These endeavors align perfectly with YMCA Vision 2030, which envisions a just world where everyone has the opportunity to engage in meaningful work for personal growth and development. We are excited to continue our journey of inclusion and diversity, and we invite everyone to join us in creating a society where everyone is valued, respected, and given equal opportunities to thrive.