1. New Officers Unanimously Elected

The following Officers were unanimously elected at the Quadrennial Council Meeting of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs held on 12 March 2004 during the 16th General Assembly in Singapore:

President Rev. Samuel D. Stephens India
Vice Presidents Ms. Caz Bosch Australia
Dr. Park Jai Chang Korea
Mr. David Lua Singapore
Mr. Eraj Wijesinghe Sri Lanka
Treasurer Mr. Doug Oxley Hong Kong

Bishop Dr. Robert Solomon, President of the Council of Churches of Singapore, installed the newly elected Officers of the Alliance at the Closing Worship of the 16th General Assembly on 13 March 2004.

Please join us in congratulating them once again on their election and in praying for God's continued guidance and wisdom to be with them as they lead the movement for the Quadrennium 2004-2007.

Appreciation to Officers 1999-2004

We express our sincere appreciation to the Officers who had served with full dedication and commitment from September 1999 to March 2004: President - Mr. Kan Tanikawa; Vice Presidents - Dr. Cecil S.O. Chan, Rev. Dr. Otele Perelini, Mr. Patrick Loo Nee and Rev. Samuel D. Stephens; and Treasurer - Mr. David Lua.

 

2. Visioning for Transformation

In order to promote wider participation and commitment in the work of the Alliance (as discussed during the Executive Committee Meeting), a Conference of National Presidents and National General Secretaries of Movements in the region has been set for 1- 4 July 2004 (venue will be informed soon).

The Conference is expected to review the 16th General Assembly Mandate and consider crucial issues related to its implementation. Programme priorities will be established. Broad action steps and implementation strategies will be proposed. Movement strengthening, resource sharing and mobilisation will also be discussed. Rev. Samuel D. Stephens, our President will deliver the Keynote to address key issues crucial to our missional thrust for the Quadrennium.

The biennial National General Secretaries' (NGSs) Conference will take place immediately following the Conference, on 4-6 July 2004 at the same venue. The NGSs Conference will work on implementation details of the broad action steps and programme priorities from the Presidents' and NGSs Conference.

We look forward to National Movements' participation in this important programme as we work together to plan for the future.

3. Highlights and Reflections from the 16th General Assembly

Thanks and Appreciation: We extend our heartfelt appreciation and sincere gratitude to you for your participation in the different programme components of the recently held 16th General Assembly in Singapore. We express our thanks to volunteer leaders and professional colleagues for their inspiring and motivating leadership and support to ensure the successful conduct of the Assembly.

As an Area Alliance, we are truly blessed with tremendous diverse talents and abilities that have been graciously shared with all of us during the Assembly. With fresh and renewed energy and inspiration drawn from the collective wisdom of the Assembly, we can move into the next four years, refreshed and renewed, to respond contextually for the transformation of society where there will be justice and peace for all eventually.

Message of the Assembly: The 16th General Assembly focussed on the spirituality of transformation, the aim of which was Justpeace. At the Official Opening of the Assembly, the Chief Guest, Bishop Dr. Robert Solomon, President of the Council of Churches of Singapore, reminded us of what John Mott, an influential figure in the development of YMCAs in the first half of the 20th century said, "Without a doubt, there comes to many of us the choice between a life of contraction or one of expansion; a life of small dimensions or one of widening horizons, and larger visions and plans: a life of self-satisfaction and self-seeking, or one of unselfish and truly Christ-like sharing".

We were truly inspired and challenged by Rev. Caesar Molebatsi, President of the World Alliance of YMCAs, the Keynote Speaker, who emphasised that Justpeace must be rooted in the spirit of unconditional non-violence, be dedicated to radically progressive personal and social change. He called for YMCAs to work toward restoring and protecting the earth and human rights. He challenged us to educate, organise, act and build community in order to create a culture of peace and justice.

The panellists, Dr. Park Jai Chang, YMCA of Korea, Dr. Jose P.M. Cunanan, Foundation for Philippine Environment, and Br. Anthony Rogers, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, focussed us towards active participation in building civil society, emphasising the importance of youth and women involvement; towards work according to paradigms of spirituality and development, and commitment to partnering with the poor, suffering and oppressed. In other words, daring to build a community of Justpeace, to be Christ-like in our work, actions and life.

Witness Rooms: The transformative actions presented in the Witness Rooms provided concrete examples of how YMCAs are creating an impact in their communities. The Witness Rooms highlighted that positive change and transformation in communities can be achieved. Many have been motivated to become engaged and/or to increase their efforts in working towards just and participatory civil society after witnessing the work of the YMCAs in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand; others in eradicating poverty and working towards sustainable communities as demonstrated by the YMCAs in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand; and, to act in solidarity with the suffering learning from the interventions by the YMCAs in Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

(These case stories will be available on our Website in a new Section: Mission in Action from 1 May.)

Focus Groups: In the Focus Groups, issues and concerns were prioritised. Specific recommendations and suggestions were made to address them. On the issue of poverty, discussions focused on urban and rural poor, drugs and substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, unskilled workers and lack of education, the environment, migration of labour, lack of access to information, gender inequality/inequity, and networking. The Focus Room on Civil society recommended roles that the YMCA could play in building a just and participatory civil society: advocacy, service delivery and empowerment through education, awareness building and support. The Focus Room on Action in Solidarity with the Suffering highlighted issues of ethnic and religious conflicts, children's rights, single parents, people with disabilities, the elderly, those afflicted by HIV/AIDS, forced prostitution, girls' trafficking, migrant workers, and response to natural disasters.

Worship: The highly lively and contextual Daily Worship was inspirational, for many, a new and liberating experience. It truly brought people together in prayer as a movement, one body, whose heart lies with the least of our brothers and sisters, and towards building a world that sees all of creation in the image of God. We thank Song Jin Ho (Korea), Ruth and Inchai Srisuwan (Thailand) for their leadership and the members of the Worship Team for their efforts in enriching our worship experience and the Assembly.

Cultural Sharing: A night of cultural sharing also enhanced the fellowship and cultural experience among participants. It encouraged the participants to be open and sensitive to the rich, diverse cultures of the peoples of Asia and Pacific. It was a community celebration of joy, love, and peace. It was a sharing and communion of life together.

GATF Bazaar: The Golden Anniversary Trust Fund Bazaar gave movements an opportunity to share their traditional cultural and YMCA handicrafts and gifts for a cause. Many items depicted life in our lands. The Bazaar fostered a sense of unity in efforts to fulfil the hopes of the less fortunate in our region for an improved life. This collective fund-raising effort raised an amount of US$2,017 for the Trust Fund for support of action programmes at National or Local level.

We thank the YMCAs of Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Vietnam; and Mr. Ernest Chen of the YMCA of Singapore for their contribution of sale items, and those who made purchases at the Bazaar.

4. Youth Forum, 7-9 March 2004

Eighty-nine young people from across the region gathered in a Youth Forum held on 7-9 March 2004 prior to the 16th General Assembly. The Forum theme was "Young People, Together towards a Transformed World". The participants, with fresh and a variety of ideas, had intensive and enlightening discussions and built their own community of inspiration, finding their way together for a better future for all. Mahatma Gandhi's words: "Be the change you want to see in the world" motivated many of them. As leaders today, they affirmed that young people should be actively engaged in the YMCA's work on Peace Building and Reconciliation, Economic Injustice, Youth Unemployment and Education, HIV/AIDS.

The young leaders were desirous for integration at all levels of the movement through continuous communications and dissemination of information. They were also concerned about the retention and development of young leaders within the movement, and saw networking and partnership building within and between YMCAs of our region as an important vehicle to achieve this.

5. Executive Committee Meetings

A Special Session of the Executive Committee held on 8-9 March at the YMCA of Singapore adopted an amendment to the Constitution that paved the way for the seating of a youth and a woman as a member of the Executive Committee with voting rights. The youth and women representatives present at the Meeting welcomed the decision and expressed their appreciation. This was the culmination of many hours of Executive Committee debate during the Quadrennium on a resolution by the Youth Forum of 1999 calling for inclusion of youth and women in the Executive Committee.

Rev. Samuel D. Stephens, India, welcomed the new Officers and representatives of National Movements to the Executive Committee Meeting on 13 March 2004, as the new President of the Alliance. He expressed the need for the Alliance to keep up with the times, to look to the future and to envision the work of the Movement in light of the Mission, and to work towards fulfilling the Mission. He encouraged continued cooperation, support and prayer within the Movement.

The General Secretary's report spoke of courage that comes from knowing Jesus Christ in order to work with hope amidst situations of hopelessness. He encouraged each one to take on a new holiness and pursue spirituality for transformation as we pursue the Mission. The Report also highlighted the work on the priority concerns of the Alliance for the past year such as Youth in Transforming Communities, Women Empowerment and Gender Equity, Leadership Development; Ecumenical Relations and Interfaith Cooperation; and Consolidation and Extension efforts.

The representatives met in specific groups to discuss the role of the Committees, some of which have been recast according to the priorities: Contemporary Mission and Social Relevance; Building Community and a Culture of Peace; Youth Development and Participation; Gender Equity; Movement Strengthening.

6. International Youth Work Camp in Vietnam

The 5th International Vietnam Youth Work Camp will be held on 17-28 July 2004 in Ho Chi Minh City and Mo Cay District, Ben Tre Province, Vietnam. It will provide an opportunity for Vietnamese youth and youth from other Asian/Pacific countries to meet and build mutual understanding as they work together, serving the community. It has helped, and will continue to help strengthen the YMCA movement in Vietnam. The participants will assist in completing the work required for the 2 classrooms built for 120 kindergarten and primary pupils in the Mo Cay District. The participants will also deliberate on youth issues in a Forum. This Youth Work Camp has been organised biennially with the coordination rotating among the participating YMCAs on a voluntary basis. This year, the National Council of YMCAs of Korea is the Coordinator for the Work Camp.

We are happy to invite National Movements to send participants to this enriching experience. The application form and other details are available at your National YMCA Office or from our Website, www.asiapacificymca.org.

7. Advanced Studies Programme: Movement Building for Transformation

The 22nd Advanced Studies will be held from 24 October 2004 (Arrival) - 27 November 2004 (Departure) at the YMCA Wu Kwai Sha Youth Village in Hong Kong. The focus of the Studies is on Movement Building for Transformation and aims to equip participants with a deeper understanding of current global trends and with relevant methodologies to strengthen the movement dimension of the YMCA for transformative social actions. It is also to motivate them to grow in spirituality and be proactive in responding to emerging challenges.

Senior YMCA Professionals from within and outside the region are invited to take part in the learning and reflective process of the Studies Programme. Information on the Studies has been sent to the respective National Movements. Application forms should reach the APAY Secretariat by 15 June 2004.

For further details, please visit our website and/or contact your National General Secretaries.

8. Mission in Action Programmes (MAPs)

Many YMCAs are engaged in transformative action programmes throughout our region, among the poor, marginalised or disadvantaged. These movements are themselves very often strengthened in the process. In the spirit of "oneness of the body", we encourage your movement, small or large, to participate in a region-wide multilateral collaboration process to support such MAPs. For example, we have been informed that local YMCAs in Korea have pledged to provide financial support for MAPs.

We also hope that YMCAs participating in a MAP will engage in active information sharing through electronic and other means, including visits to the proponent YMCA of that MAP. The Secretariat would like to be informed of existing bilateral relationships that are encouraged to continue, to avoid duplication of support.

Selected MAPs will be sent by separate mail on 19 April to all member movements in the region for consideration of financial support. Further MAPs will be sent in the month of October 2004 for support.

9. Farewell and Welcome

On 27 March, the YMCAs of Japan bid farewell to retiring National General Secretary Mr. Susumu Iguchi who had held that position for the past 7 years, at a simple, but impressive Ceremony in Tokyo. He had served the YMCA for Volunteer and professional leaders from all over Japan were in attendance. Overseas guests included Mr. Bart Shaha, Secretary General of the World Alliance and representatives from partner YMCAs - China, Taiwan, Korea and the USA. Mr. Kan Tanikawa our immediate Past President and I represented the Asia and Pacific Alliance.

At the same Ceremony, Mr. Kohei Yamada was inaugurated as the new National General Secretary. He has 24 years service to his credit, having served as General Secretary of in Tochigi, and as an Executive Director in the Tokyo YMCA, before joining the National Council as International Director two years ago.

We bid Mr. Iguchi a fond farewell, and thank him for his wise counsel and leadership over the years. We welcome Mr. Yamada as he takes over the baton of leadership from Mr. Iguchi. We wish both of them God's blessings.

10. World Alliance Executive Meets in Hong Kong

The 52nd Meeting of the World Alliance Executive Committee, attended by over 50 representatives and observers, was recently held in Hong Kong at the YMCA of Hong Kong from 31 March - 4 April. Key issues raised included Movement Strengthening and the Implementation of the Global Operating Plan; the implementation of World Council Resolutions, and the Vision, Structure and Role of the Executive Committee as it seeks to become more proactive.

A Consultation on the Global Operating Plan was held on 5 - 6 April at the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong. The Consultation was aimed at up-dating participants engaged in the GOP process on initial achievements so far, sharing of future Plans, harmonising the way forward, and fostering commitments for contributions and participation of major YMCAs and YMCA Partners worldwide.

11.Partnership between Men and Women from Religious Perspectives

As a continuing inter-religious cooperation effort, about 30 men and women from four major religions - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam - will gather as a community under the theme "Living our Faiths in Community: Towards Gender Justice and Genuine Partnership of Women and Men".

The Consultation jointly organised by the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, Christian Conference of Asia and German Church Development Office (EED) is a follow-up programme of the Consultation on Inter-religious Cooperation held in April 2003 in which issues of gender justice figured prominently. It was recommended in the 2003 Consultation to "examine the patriarchal theologies, structures and practices of our religions and cultures in order to empower women by developing alternative educational resources for the promotion of equal partnership between women and men".

The YMCA's experience and involvement in interfaith cooperation and insights on gender justice will be shared through the participation of the Thai Alliance of YMCAs. Shella Quezada, Executive Secretary responsible for Gender Concerns will also participate as a member of the Joint Organising Committee.

12. Asia Pacific Students and Youth Week

The Ecumenical Asia Pacific Students and Youth Week (APSYW) is celebrated annually in the 3rd week of October. A theme "Together in Action for Peace and Reconciliation" has been set to give depth and meaning to the celebration activities. The theme reflects the deep aspiration of Christian youth and student for peace amidst the unjust and miserable situation of the majority of Asian and Pacific people. A Creative Writing Workshop has been scheduled on 22-27 April 2004 in Taiwan to prepare a resource book containing liturgies, poems, literary pieces, art and other creative expressions to inspire discussions and actions on the theme during the APSYW.

13. Frequency of Headlines / News Around the Movements

To build closer rapport between member movements, leaders and the Alliance, National Movements the Headlines will be circulated once in two months instead of three. The aim is to enhance dissemination of news and sharing of information. National Movements are also invited to submit brief news items of significant programmes or upcoming events for information.

The proposed schedule for the Headlines until the end of 2004 is as follows: May, July, September, November and December.

14. Concluding Remarks

The first three months of the year must have been some of the busiest months that we have experienced at the Secretariat for some time, with the preparations for the Youth Forum and 16th General Assembly, the events themselves, followed by the World Alliance meetings here in Hong Kong. Now those months are behind us. We have been blessed at the Assembly attended by 265 registered participants including 53 youth who took an active role in the Assembly. There were inspiring presentations. There were motivating Witness Room case stories of transformative social actions. Focus Groups were challenged to action. Fellowship was warm.

As we move into translating the Assembly Theme "Spirituality of Transformation for Justpeace" into action, we need to change our way of seeing. We have been confronted with the images and lives of the hurt, the suffering. We have heard the cries of the Earth and God's Creation, the people who dwell on it. We have witnessed injustices, the inaction of the majority. We have been disturbed to move from being the comforted to be the discomforted.

The Kingdom of God is with us, spread all over the earth, but people do not see it. Our minds, eyes, ears - our senses and perceptions have to be opened up, turned around and revitalised. We need to have the transformative power of Christian Vision. As we seek the spirituality of transformation, we need to reflect on the experience of God in our lives - to have in us a new intensity of vision and insight - a sort of metanoia, soul transformation, changing of attitude, orientation and the way of seeing.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to risk.
We see anew our tasks before us.
We need to act.

May the Lord bless and keep us all.

Yip Kok Choong   Shella Quezada-Zagada & Lakshan Dias
General Secretary   Executive Secretaries
     

 

 

 

QUICK LINKS

Leaders' Roundtable: Achieving Spirituality of Transformation

New Officers Unanimously Elected

On our way to the 16th General Assembly

Towards the 16th General Assembly

Quadrennial Programme...

New Dates for 16th...

Executive Committee...

Building Community...

World Council Well...

Our General Secretary...

Executive Meeting Held...

Towards a Culture of Peace...

A Time for Prayer...