38th Advanced Studies Program

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Last Updated (Thursday, 30 September 2021 23:37)

38th Advanced Studies Programme

4-22, October 2021

Venue: Virtual

Theme: Leadership and Mission in the Context of Covid-19 Pandemic

Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

23 Waterloo Road, 6th Floor, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Tel. 852-27808347, 2770 3168, 2783 3058; Fax.852- 23854692

e-mail : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Concept Paper


Since 1964 one of the vital services rendered by the Asia Alliance of YMCAs to Asian YMCAs has been to develop the local and national leaders of each national movement and equip them with the current methodology, concept and ideology required to translate the Mission of the YMCA into reality in their contexts. The Leadership Development Program run by the Asia Alliance acquired a powerful thrust with the commencement of the Advanced Studies Programme (ASP) in 1982, and the Leadership Development Curriculum was revised in 1996. The three major components of the revised curriculum were: i) Situation Analysis, ii) Current Theological Thinking, and iii) YMCA as a Movement. The program was intended to enable YMCA professional staff to critically analyse ongoing social processes based on the teachings of Christ and to become involved in actions to fulfil the Mission of the YMCA.1 Since then, the curriculum is revised based on the need of the YMCA professionals and the changing realities to work effectively in their communities.

The ASP is one of the flagship programs of APAY since its inception in 1982. Thus far, 37th batches of ASP is organized with an exception in 1983 and 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The total number of YMCA professionals who have completed the ASP is 472. The graduates are YMCA professionals from various YMCA movements of the Asia and Pacific region, including 20 YMCA professionals from Africa and 20 from Latin America and the Caribbean.


The most significant component of the Asia and the Pacific region is its diverse contexts in the highest populated continent – equivalent to 59. 76% of the total world population, according to the United Nations estimates. The region is uniquely diverse in religion and spirituality, languages, culture, ethnicity, race, indigenous wisdom, cuisine, natural resources, etc. Concurrently, the broad spectrum of the social, economic and political situation in this region projects the diversity and contrast as the continent is also home to extreme religious fundamentalism, militarism, conflicts and civil war, natural disasters, compounded by abject poverty by neoliberalism forcing the marginalized and vulnerable sections of people to migrate, creating gender disparity, and the vast divide between the rich and the poor.

The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the vulnerable communities further to the margins. The global pandemic has unmasked the global realities of the unjust systems, structures, policies that are favourable to the “rich nations”. Discrimination of distribution of vaccines against Covid 19 raise questions of whose life is valuable? Today we are living in a Covid era- in times of uncertainty. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 187 million cases and more than 4 million deaths worldwide by the Covid 19 pandemic (13 July 2021). In Asia, the total coronavirus cases amounted to more than 60 million death toll climbed to more than one million and daily reported cases continues to rise! Our lifestyle has changed as we struggle to adapt to the “new normal”. Although people across the globe are affected by the global pandemic, its impact is wide-ranging in different countries, societies, contexts and communities. As a result, the epidemic has added more challenges to a section of the world’s population already distressed by existing inequitable and unjust systems.

The global pandemic has battered the economy worldwide, but people in Asia experiencing the worse impact of the pandemic. The epidemic has swelled the existing unemployment, hunger, displacement, migration, human trafficking, discrimination based on gender, sexuality, disability, nationality -violence, etc. YMCAs worldwide, including in the Asia and Pacific region, are severely affected by the impact of the global pandemic. Hence, the post-pandemic is challenging to rebuild our lives, communities, countries, and nations.

Advanced Studies Program (ASP) 2021

In the contexts mentioned above, the ASP 2021 is planned to organize on the theme: “Leadership and Mission in the Context of Covid-19 Pandemic”. Perhaps this is the first time in the APAY’s history the ASP will be organized virtually due to travel restrictions with the effects of the global pandemic! ASP 2021 is a call for YMCA leadership, rooted in the founding philosophy, ideology and spirituality to transform lives and empower individuals and communities. It is a leadership that takes cognizance of the realities of the day and responds in love to bring justice and peace, to build harmonious societies. Its leadership values are applied both within the YMCA movement and the society at large.

The Advanced Studies emphasizes the formation of YMCA professional leaders for strengthening and growth of the YMCA. YMCA leaders must be rooted, grounded in the Mission we have been entrusted to act relevantly within the social realities of our context. These would need to be supported by a viable and self-sufficient institution base need to be involved in Movement Strengthening. The sustainability of our organization lies in our effort to strengthen in terms of resources and responsiveness to the community's needs. Thus, the YMCA could continue to play an important role in society, engaged and focus on socio- political, economic empowerment of the marginalized communities. YMCA being a youth movement, we must focus on youth participation, involve more youth in the YMCA, address problems and concerns related to young people through our programs.

To fulfil the challenges of developing leadership for YMCAs in today’s context and transformation, the Studies will provide platforms to discover roles and responsibilities of the YMCA as a people’s movement committed to working towards justice and peace, according to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.


The Advanced Studies Programme aims to:

Enhance and enable the YMCA professional staff to critically analyse ongoing social processes based on the life and teachings of Christ and play the leadership role being involved in actions to fulfil the Mission of the YMCA


1. To create processes for the participants to develop critical thinking to reflect and analyze their life experiences in the context of the social realities, especially in the Covid-19 pandemic era

2. To develop faith perspectives and study contextual theology

3. To inculcate in YMCA professional leaders a deep perspective of the YMCA’s Mission affirming and upholding justice and peace towards the economic, political, and socio-cultural situations of communities/societies where YMCA is located.

4. To explore trends of effective leadership and good governance towards Mission and Response.

5. To provide opportunities for participants to build networks and enhance solidarity with colleagues from different YMCAs in the region and beyond.

Criteria/Qualifications of Candidates

The YMCA Advanced Studies Programme is an intensive programme designed for YMCA professionals/ executives. The success of the programme depends on the active involvement and participation of all the participants. Therefore, the sending YMCA should ensure the participant possesses the core competencies expected of a professional/executive in the YMCA.

a. Participants should be committed to the thrust of the Advanced Studies and critically responsive to the mission of the YMCA.

b. Participants should have work experience in community-oriented programs and are professional staff or executive levels with at least three-year successful work experience in the YMCA and/or other Ecumenical organizations, and preferably under 40 years of age.

c. Participants should have completed Basic YMCA Secretaries’ Training at national level or should have undergone any equivalent leadership training. It is understood that the basic qualification to enter National YMCA Training (Institute) is a university degree or its equivalent.

d. Participants must be committed to attend the full Advanced Studies Program


Other Information of ASP

Dates: October 4-22, 2021

Time: 3:30 PM-6:30PM HKT ( 3 hrs with 10 minutes break in between)

Venue : Virtual (e.g, - Zoom Platform)

ASP Virtual Sessions

Online sessions will be held from 3:30PM-6:30PM HKT with 10 minutes break in between. Sessions includes, workshops, input on thematic topics, breakout group discussions, public lecture/ conversations, sharing, etc. Selected resource persons and facilitators, and expertise on relevant subjects are invited to assist us on the module/ study during the ASP.

▪ Even though this training program is not a face to face meeting, we try our best in building a community.

▪ We share. We listen to one another. We learn from one another as we come from different backgrounds, contexts, experiences.

▪ We hope this training program will be a unique and enriching experience for each one of us.

A Certificate of Attendance specifying the number of hours studied under each programme component will be awarded to successful participants.

Worship & Biblical Reflection

Every day ASP session will start with worship and biblical reflection for 15 minutes led by the participants.

Moderator of the Day

A participant will moderate each day by Introducing the resource person/ facilitators; do a recap of the previous day’s learning: appreciation at the end of the day; ensure a smooth session with good time management; lead and initiate activities when needed


Assist in the documentation through gathering, collecting, collating of all proceedings of the day; responsible for taking down all salient proceedings of each session daily; does other things as directed, relevant to documentation.


Please read carefully the requirements for application and selection process and make sure to send the application on or before the deadline 20 August 2021

The Applicant is REQUIRED to WRITE 2 Papers and SUBMIT TOGETHER WITH APPLICATION FORM (Consider to include the following guide questions for your write up)

1. Summary of Self

a. Introduce yourself

b. What is your current position and role in your YMCA? Tell us some of your past and present experiences, learnings related to your position/ roles

c. What are some of your challenges and what are your hopes to be an effective leader?

d. What are your expectation from the ASP 2021?

2. A Paper on Your YMCA’s Mission Expressed in your Program Thrust. How Your YMCA responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

(such as key programme that reflects the YMCA Mission the Applicant has implemented or the YMCA has been engaged in. This should be between 700-1000 words

Completed Application Forms duly endorsed by the National Council of YMCAs should be sent to the Asia and Pacific Alliance office by 20 August 2021 together with the following documents:

(i) A letter certifying employment in the YMCA.

(ii) Certified copies of Academic Degrees/Certificates, with translation in English if the original is in the national language of the country of the participant

Registration Fee: US$100 (Mandatory)

Participation Fee: US$500 (full or partial scholarship can be provided upon request to eligible participants)

Registration, Participation Fees can be sent to the following bank account:

A/C: 015-515-20-05004-5
Asia & Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
Bank of East Asia
Swift Code: BEASHKHH
Address: No. 638 Nathan Road, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong


A limited number of partial or full scholarships for the Participation Fee of $500 will be available to deserving applicants from national movements facing severe financial difficulties.

A written application for a partial or full scholarship, stating the scholarship requested for by the candidate, should accompany the application form. Only candidates who meet the criteria mentioned above should apply. The Scholarship Application should be endorsed and recommended by the National General Secretary.

Successful applicants will be duly notified through the National General Secretary.


Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

Advanced Studies Program


The main thematic concepts and components of the Advanced Studies are:

• Study of Contextual Theology & YMCA Mission

• Social Realities & Analysis

• Contemporary Social Issues & Alternative Responses

• Governance in the YMCA

To strengthen the spiritual basis of the YMCA Movement and in interpreting the Mission of the YMCA in the current realities, the theological foundation of the YMCA will be explored. Efforts will be made to find ways and means to strengthen the YMCA's movement dimension and how it can actively and meaningfully participate in building a sustainable community and fostering civil society. The study will focus on the YMCA’s search for identity and mission relevance in the history of the YMCA in the Asia Pacific region. In addition, focus on understanding and strengthening the YMCA in terms of governance structure, its practices towards self-sufficiency, e.g. Lay & Professional Development, Movement Strengthening, Strategic Planning Process and Good Governance in the YMCA.

ASP would attempt to understand and critically analyze the socio-economic, cultural and political realities, the global socio-political and economic process influenced by neoliberal globalization and its implications at the local, national, regional and global levels. An in-depth study will be made of Community and Social Movements to envision new alternatives and relevant responses like Global Citizenship Education, Peace Building & Conflict Resolution, Alternative Tourism, Social Economy & Gender Mainstreaming.

The participants will have the opportunity to be familiar with the present-day issues like Gender Justice, Economic Justice, Just Peace and contemplate incorporating these into the YMCA program pattern.

Movement Strengthening would help to equip the participants to make their YMCA a viable and sustainable movement. Participants shall be encouraged to adhere to the principles of good governance to enable their YMCAs to adapt accountability and transparency.

Finally, each participant will present and share their Contextual Programme Response (Work-Plan) to implement in their YMCAs. The entire group will have the opportunity to critique the relevant YMCA responses/plans related to their contexts and thrust of the Advanced Studies.


b. Overview of Components of Advanced Studies

c. Expectations of Participants

d. Sharing of Life Journey

e. Keynote Speech

f. Creative Worship/ Liturgies

The Advanced Studies Program (ASP) offers an excellent opportunity for participants coming from different countries in establishing friendship, networks and solidarity as colleagues working for the mission of the YMCA. The ASP as sharing-learning community journey begins with an overview of different components of the program. To level off, participants will express their Expectations of the Studies.

As a natural way of building a sharing-learning community, the sharing of “Life Journey” will process of community bonding. Participants are invited to share highlights or key milestones of personal life situations experienced in relation to the local and national socio-political realities and work engagement. In this community process, socio-economic-political issues and concerns impacting on society are reviewed in a more holistic way. We also believe that the process of sharing of “Life-Journey” will generate a deep consciousness and concern for each other, for people and each other’s YMCAs. The process would naturally lead to the beginning of analysis and understanding of the current national and global trends, starting at the personal level.

During the ASP, it is important to engage in a process of “unlearning” and “relearning”, a changing of “mindsets” that one may have grown up with. The primary aim of this first part of the programme is to assist participants in widening their horizon, so that they can begin the journey of exploration into the social processes with an open and objective mind.

Spiritual Development

Spiritual Development is an important area of Christian Life as well as in a Christ Centered Organization like the YMCA. The YMCA Secretaries do need to acquire skills to conduct biblical reflections in a creative way to promote our spiritual development and learn what the scriptures tells us, how to confront the present day challenges we are facing based on biblical teachings. During the ASP we shall be holding daily sessions on biblical reflections, so that the participants are capacitated to do meaningful bible sharing during devotions. The participants as also expected to prepare themselves adequately to share biblical reflections on assigned dates during morning devotions.


a. Theological Perspectives and Challenges in a Neoliberal Globalized World
(impact on society, economic, environment, democracy, participation)

b. Historical background of YMCA, Ecumenism and Ecumenical Movement

c. Mission in context - Interpreting Paris Basis and Challenge 21
(YMCA Mission and it’s Relevance in the 21st Century)

d. New Trends, Thrusts and Challenges in Asia & Pacific YMCAs and World Movement

Module II aim to help participants develop theological basis for their involvement in the Mission of YMCA. Christian faith perspectives from contemporary challenges and realities should provide a framework to interpret the mission in the context. Our values to serve all God’s people and


God’s creation in their struggle for life in all its fullness is the starting point for our Theological foundation. To discern God’s presence in the socio-political and religious-cultural realities of our time especially people’s search for justice and life, is the core of our faith and spirituality. Theological reflection/ perspectives is not a detached academic exercise, but a committed engagement of faith with the realities surrounding us.

Participants will understand how the YMCA evolved and influenced people worldwide. Understanding on Ecumenism and Ecumenical Movements. This part of the study will review the interpreting of the Paris Basis (and Kampala Principles) in the Challenge 21; the YMCA Mission and Social Relevance in the 21st Century. It is expected that participants will have thorough understanding of:

• The historical background of the YMCA, Ecumenism & Ecumenical Movement

• The Paris Basis and Its Interpretation the Kampala Principles

• The History and Development of the Local and National YMCA and their Mission

The participants will study and review the “Statement of Mission” of the Asia and Pacific Alliance, and Challenge 21 of the World Alliance. Particularly to the thrusts of the YMCA Mission in the region and also in the world movement. The deliberations will be crucial in changing perceptions and perspectives on Mission and Social Relevance - how can the learning be applied in participants’ own context.


a. In-depth Study and Analysis of contextual realities and the impact of neoliberal globalization in relation to Regional/Global Realities

b. Gender Justice

c. Climate Change

d. Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation

e. Peace Building & Conflict Resolution

Modul III is designed to provide an overview and analysis of contextual and global socio-political, cultural, and economic realities/trends and the process of neoliberal globalization in current times. The participants will discuss how neoliberal globalization and global institutions such as WTO, IMF and World Bank interlink and have an impact on people, particularly in the Asia and Pacific.

• Neoliberal Globalization as a Process and as a Project

• Bretton Woods Institutions: World Bank, IMF, etc., and others, e.g. World Trade Organization, EU, APEC, NAFTA; Transnational Corporations (TNCs)

• UN and related International Organizations

Specifically focus on the consequences of neoliberal globalization on life, relationships of peoples and to community building.

• Agriculture and Food - Sovereignty and Security

• Industrialization and Urbanization

• Environment and Development - Sustainability

• Globalization and Culture, Ethics and Religion

• Sustainable Development Goals – Agenda 2030

Economic Justice

The unjust economic system of the world is widening the gap between the rich and poor. The rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Unemployment, underemployment, unsafe jobs, abject poverty are the result of unjust economic system. Majority of world’s population living in abject poverty; do not have access to basic facilities such as health care, housing, education, water & sanitation. Women and children are the worst affected sector in the unjust economic system. The participants shall be sharing their experiences in the unjust economic practices and also devote themselves to find alternatives to these existing systems.

Specific concern on understanding Gender concerns, and gender justice -promotion of gender equity and gender justice in the YMCA as affirmed in the Challenge 21.

Just Peace

Without peace, can there be justice? Without justice, can there be peace? Often, we compromise with justice for peace or with peace for justice. “justice and peace shall embrace” (Ps 85:10). Our efforts should be to work towards attaining peace based on justice. They are two sides of the same coin. Participants will learn the holistic approach to restore Just Peace in our community.

Relevant case studies will be used, film screening on issues to understand the concept, workshops and/or work group sessions will be conducted on the different components.


a. Perspective of Global Citizenship

b. Understanding Community and Vision of Alternative Responses

c. Economy of Life - Seeking alternative economies

Global Citizenship

We define Global Citizenship as an awareness and act of commitment rooted in the spirit of global consciousness and interconnectedness of the world. It recognizes the need to understand global realities and social responsibilities and motivates the people to develop mindset as citizens of the world with human and ethical values. It promotes the collective community social responsibilities and actions towards justice, peace and sustainability of life by citizens as change agents. Participants will have opportunity to explore YMCA approach to global citizenship towards building responsible communities; transforming individual lives with a sense of universal equality and care for human beings and the earth in its entirety.

The Vision of Alternative Responses

The participants will have opportunity to explore alternatives to the process of neoliberal globalization and its impact, paying attention to:

• Principles, Values and Strategies of Alternative Responses and Social Movements in which mobilization and strengthening of the community (among them grassroots participatory democracy in a local autonomy) the voluntary sector, and, the creation and/or participation in networks will feature including present trends and goals of the Civil Society movements.

• Dialogue with other faiths, cooperation and partnership. Case studies, will be used on processes that are able to transform life and society.

• YMCA as a social service organization – its relationship with various people’s organizations and social movements

YMCA as a Movement in sustainable Community Building involved in Civil Society - especially in the areas of advocacy, lobbying, empowerment through education and awareness building, networking and the development of other rights-based initiatives that address the issues of youth, women, and the marginalized community.

Economy of Life

Economy of Life is considered as an alternative economic system when the market economy has totally failed to bring economic emancipation to people in modern days. The outcome from the Bretton Wood Institutions formed in the last century after the WW2 never brought good news for the majority of people in global south. The market economy dwelt on the values of profit, which divided the world between the rich and the poor and the gap ever widening.

2“Just Finance and an Economy of Life” calls for an ethical, just and democratic international financial regime “grounded on a framework of common values: honesty, social justice, human dignity, mutual accountability and ecological sustainability” (WCC Statement on Just Finance and an Economy of Life). We can and must shape an Economy of Life that engenders participation for all in decision-making processes that impact lives, provides for people’s basic needs through just livelihoods, values and supports social reproduction and care work done primarily by women, and protects and preserves the air, water, land, and energy sources that are necessary to sustain life (Poverty, Wealth, and Ecology in Asia and the Pacific).

The realization of an Economy of Life will entail a range of strategies and methodologies, including, but not limited to: critical self-reflection and radical spiritual renewal; rights-based approaches; the creation and multiplication of spaces for the voices of the marginalized to be heard in as many arenas as possible; open dialogue between global North and global South, between churches, civil society and state actors, and among various disciplines and world faiths to build synergies for resistance to structures and cultures that deny life in dignity for many; taxation justice; and the organization of a broad platform for common witness and advocacy.

There is an ample scope for the YMCAs to get involved in social enterprises for the economic emancipation of the people. The necessity of responding to the economic needs of the people is important for the well-being of the people. Keeping these in mind, the APAY have incorporated Economy of life as a component of the Advanced Studies Program with the following objectives:

• To enhance knowledge of Economy of Life amongst the participants.

• To learn about the best practices in Economy of Life and also other NGOs leading in this field.

• To examine the possibility of YMCAs increased involvement in Economy of Life

Climate Change and Alternative Tourism

Alternative Tourism involves travel that is personal and authentic and encourages interaction with the local environment, people and communities. Alternative Tourism gives emphasis to the contact and understanding between the hosts and the tourists, as well as the environment. Also as a tourism that is consistent with the natural, social and community values and that allows a positive relationship among locals and tourists. It has smaller impacts in the natural and social environments, links with other sectors like the agriculture and handicraft sectors, promotes local economy and retention of the earnings in the region.

Youth in the YMCA

Historically the YMCA is a Youth Focused Organization. YMCA has always been in the pursuit for the Youth Development, creating space for young people in the YMCA for leadership development. Uni-Ys are the platforms, within the YMCA to give them such opportunity to develop themselves. YMCA struggles to bring about a positive change in our lives, in our communities. This is only possible if the young people are involved, and engaged meaningfully at all levels to understand the struggles and challenges around them. The are full of energy and creativity and can contribute in development efforts. Our vision is for a YMCA where young people are at the core of the Movement. We have a calling to be pioneers in brining positive change and to creating a youth movement that is spiritually strong and socially relevant.


a. Movement Strengthening Matrix

d. Strategic Planning Process

e. Lay - Professional Partnership Development

f. Good Governance in the YMCA

Movement Strengthening (MS)

The Advanced Studies emphasizes the formation of YMCA professional leaders for the strengthening and growth of the YMCA – in Mission Clarity, Social Relevance and Institutional Viability. (Movement Strengthening Matrix)

We have a common mission in our diverse social, cultural and political realities in our respective contexts. The participants will be engaged in a study of YMCA governance structures and relationships at different levels, membership concept and composition, and the role of the membership and volunteers in the contextual mission of the YMCA.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization's direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future

Lay Leadership Development

The participants shall be made acquainted with the aspect of Lay Leadership Development. The YMCA being the largest membership-based organization; the focus of the YMCA has always been its members. Lay Leadership Development is the prerequisite for appropriate leadership of the YMCA to fulfill its mission in the community.

Good Governance

Upholding the practice of Good Governance in the YMCA is imperative in order to be transparent and accountable to the constituency and stakeholders. To have a clear understanding about the constitution and ensure its adherence and good practice in the organization is the primary focus of the good governance.


a. Presentation and Discussion on Program Response

b. Submission of Program Response

c. Create Concept Note & Proposal Writing

Contextual Programme Response: Re-Entry Plan

Participants are expected to prepare a program response or Re-Entry Plan during the end of the programme. The written Programme Responses shall be presented at Plenary Sessions, to be attended by all participants, APAY staff and other invitees. This is for sharing of ideas and for feedback with a view to making the plans realistic and achievable. After incorporating all comments and suggestions, a final draft shall be submitted to the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs. The programme response is expected to be innovative, contextual and reflective of the needs of the community where he/she serves.


a. Evaluation

b. Graduation Ceremony

An ongoing process shall be in place to assess the participants’ performance. The final evaluation shall take place at the end of the program. The Graduation Ceremony shall take place at the end of the program, where the participants shall commit themselves with their re-entry plan in their YMCA. Course Attendance Certificate shall be distributed to the participants at the ceremony in the presence of the YMCA dignitaries.




For further details please contact
Ms. Sunita Suna
Executive Secretary for Programmes
Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
23, Waterloo Road, 6th Floor,
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Tel. 852-27808347, 27703168, 2783 3058;
Fax.852- 23854692