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YMCA, YWCA

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) began separately in mid-19th-century England as Protestant voluntary associations. Their early, middle-class members sought to provide moral guidance, Christian community, and charity in the context of industrialization; the movement was also a response to the evangelical revivalism ignited by the visiting American Protestant Revivalist preacher Charles Grandison Finney. National YMCAs and YWCAs have since formed around the world, and many of them have abandoned missionary fervor in favor of more secularized agendas promoting the intellectual, physical, and spiritual well-being of Christians and non-Christians alike. While perhaps best known for sports facilities and travel hostels, the YMCA and the YWCA have rich histories of societal engagement in many countries.

The national YMCAs came together ...

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