„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


25th February 2019

Feb 14-17, 2019 about 50 participants, representing 11 countries, have come to Budapest for the Unify Leadership Conference. That was a conference for leaders and their overall goal was to plan a series of activities in this and next years.

The theme of this UNIFY conference hosted by KIE - YMCA HUngary, was “Bridging the Gap”.  The metaphorical (mostly in theological terms) interpretations of it were neatly presented in the opening session by Joachim (Joe) Schmutz from German YMCA and the references to this were visible at particular items of the event programme.

The key part of morning programme were keynote speeches. They were based on personal experience that implicated personal transformations and impact on other people and communities. The speeches were given by Eszter Dani (a priest of Hungarian Reformed Church),  Alyxs Shaw (YMCA Perth, Scotland), Gillian Sewell (Chief Executive of YMCA Derbyshire ) and Rev Cath Hollywell (Pioneer Priest in the Church of England).

All the speeches included specific interpretation of metaphors of “gap” and “bridging” through methods of interaction with people and groups. Often the approaches were very unconventional, and as such also very interesting.

A crucial part of the Conference was the work of 3 Planning Groups: 1.UNIFY 2020, 2. Youth UNIFY 2020 and 3.YMCA Event175 Chaplains. The participants declared their participation in one of them before the Conference and worked according to the action points proposed by group facilitators. The outcome was presented in final reports – thanks to this, all the participants were update on the results of work of other groups. The planning sessions were very important for the dynamic development UNIFY in the upcoming future. A good extension of panning groups were side meetings, where particular detail cases could be discussed. Every morning, before breakfast were run small groups meetings. That was time of reflection sharing feelings and expectations.

The participants could catch some glimpses of the city during an excursion guided by the volunteers of Hungarian YMCA. Thee were 3 thematic groups with 3 different routs. We used public transportation means, which gave a possibility of feeling real city life.  Budapest is OK and night illumination of bridges on The Danube is very OK!

The UNIFY team can boast of another successful event. The idea is developing dynamically: although the main idea remains the same, the particular objectives are continuously updated and adjusted to the needs. This is an excellent contribution to the Christian orientation of YMCA Europe.

Author/Source: Adam Rychlik, YMCA Europe Executive Secretary