No, this recognition is not for the song, though it’s a true crowd pleaser. This YMCA refers to the organization that was once the “Young Men’s Christian Association” and is now simply the “Y.”
The organization traces its history back to London in 1844, when young men moving to the city to benefit from the Industrial Revolution needed healthy alternatives to brothels and bars. America had its first YMCA in 1851, when Captain Thomas Sullivan wanted to provide a “home away from home” for young sailors on shore leave in Boston.
For many years, the YMCA provided a safe and inexpensive place for young men to stay when in a new city. Today, however, the Y isn’t a Christian organization or a men’s organization. It’s primarily a family place, usually with a pool, exercise facilities, and camps and sports activities. If you read the principles for which the Y stands today, you’ll see such important concepts as building a healthy spirit, body, and mind.
Unfortunately, the American Y gives us psychobabble like this, from Neil Nicoll, its American CEO: “People are concerned about the problems facing their communities. Like the Y, they understand that lasting change will only come about if we work together to improve our health, strengthen our families and support our neighbors. Our hope is that more people will choose to engage with the Y.”
Years ago, the organization’s founders understood that such outcomes could only come through Christ. Too bad they now think it can be achieved through physical fitness.