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


6th March 2018

The UNIFY conference was held in Cluj, Romania from 1st to 4th March 2018. This time, over 90 participants from 13 countries met in an event where the focus topic was “Called to Serve!”.

"UNIFY is a platform for YMCAs to share and reflect on the Christian Mission of the YMCA, as stated in the Paris Basis (1855), the founding document of the YMCA" - this general definition connects all the UNIFY conferences. Also the main purposes and even structure of particular events are steady in a greater part. On the other side, the formula of particular events is not stiff - it's open to innovations and takes advantage on the specific of places where they are held. UNIFY is evolving and thanks to this remains vivid and attractive.

The conference in Cluj contained such important focuses as ecumenism, common prayers, asking questions (sometimes difficult) related to Christianity and spiritual existence of a human being. A good balance between key-not speeches (run by experts) and discussions in groups was kept. These are steady elements of each UNIFY conference. Also praying belong to them. It must be emphasised that the forms of praying are varied and you can choose the one, in which you feel comfortable - you are not pressed and this is very important. Good signing and playing accompanied everything. Music was definitely a strong side of payers in Cluj.

One afternoon the participants left the conference space, the hotel "Diakonia". There were some possibilities of spending that time. Except for regular sightseeing (Cluj as a very historical place in Transylvania is worth it), the participants could choose seeing other faces of the city. One of them was Roma neighbourhood. The people who were expelled from their shabby dwelling closer to the city centre had to arrange new life on the outskirts, where their shelters are less visible. That's a shameful face of contemporary Europe, but that's also a place where Christians serve. We met some of them in a Roma neighbourhood called "Dallas". They run educational and charity projects within an organisation "Rise2Shine Ministries". They do a lot and are a kind of heroes, although they don't regard themselves as ones.

The initiative of UNIFY is successful. Four European conferences and three Youth UNIFY events has proved this. All this means that the idea is worth dissemination and promotion. A great opportunity for it will be "YMCA 175" event in London in 2019 - this was presented at one of the sessions. Also the UNIFY leaders can well contribute to the revitalisation of Christian Orientation Group of YMCA Europe. This possibility was discussed in Cluj as well and we hope the idea will find a good way to implementation. For now it's only a proposition for consideration, however, it looks that such creation of new space would bring a lot of good: COG would get a new breath, UNIFY would gain new effective possibilities of reaching more YMCA movements and the youth would get a wider access an attractive way of personal spiritual development. Everybody would only win - we must work on this....

The next event, which is prepared by the UNIFY leadership is Youth UNIFY in Lublin, Poland , Aug 12-18. 2018.

Author/Source: Adam Rychlik / YMCA Europe Executive Secretary