Nagpur YMCA was formed in 1895, with the launching of industrial welfare work in two centers. This was for the welfare of those employed by the Empress Mills run by the Tatas, considered to be the largest textile industry in those days. Providing leadership at this time were men like S.C Linair, H.H. Peterson and John L. Mott, all YMCA secretaries. From Nagpur YMCA emerged leaders of national caliber. M.G. Dharmaraj, a professor in Hislop College, took the lead in constructing the Mott Hostel in 1950. It provided boarding and lodging for 135 university students. Later, Dharmaraj went on to become the General Secretary of the National Council and the then Asia Alliance of YMCA‘s first General Secretary.
For over 150 years, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) has spread its wings across the world. Founded on June 6, 1844 in London, the Association is now one of the world’s largest volunteer organizations, spreading the message of fellowship and brotherhood. Today, YMCA has more than 10,000 local associations in 130 countries, with thirty million members.
It was George Williams, a businessman, and a group of friends who initiated the YMCA to care for the spiritual and physical needs of young men who came from rural Britain to find a living in the oppressive conditions of London’s urban society. The YMCA movement achieved a major breakthrough in 1851 when an industrial exhibition was held in London. Over sixty million people flocked from all over the globe to the Crystal Palace. They were given free literature about the YMCA by the central organization. They took the idea back to their own countries and formed similar associations there. The Americans were the first to set up a YMCA outside London. The first YMCA in the United States was set up in December 1851 at Boston. They were followed by Canada. It was from the North American YMCA movement that the first professional YMCA secretary came to India in 1889.
Sir George Williams and his group of friends were all committed to the Christian Faith. They wished to share their faith with the young men who were caught up in social problems of their day. George Williams was the youngest of a large family. His parents were farmers near Bridgewater in Somerset, England. He worked for some time as an apprentice with a small tailor in Dulverton. He experienced a ‘conversion’ on Ludgate Hill near St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. It was here that the YMCA was founded. Today, the YMCA membership is open to men and women of all faiths and of none.