24 August 2011

Building Contacts and Religion


Networking is obviously not a new concept. George certainly know how to do it. The further I get into his letters, the more apparent it becomes.

I suppose it is partly because, with his YMCA work in Europe during World War I, George got to personally know leaders and future leaders of the movement from all around the world. He was also a voracious reader of YMCA literature and paid attention to who was in positions of power.

In the Hawaii letter, George advised Noel to "Make all the contacts you can with delegates travelling to the Conference."

There was no shortage of delegates on the RMS Niagara.


A page of the ship's manifest for third class passengers
on the ship traveling through to Canada.
Note the large number of YMCA representatives.
(Click to enlarge.)
Through Ancestry.com I was able to get a copy of the ship's manifest, and while Noel and Alec Moodie seem to be the only YMCA professionals in third class for much of the voyage, most everyone who boards in Hawaii is headed to the conferences.

Before moving on to the letter itself, I also had some thoughts about the role of religion in George's letters. At this point in time the "Christian" part of the Young Men's Christian Association is still very strong. But for a man who has made a career of service in a Christian agency, the religious rhetoric in George's writing seems very minimal to me. In the later letters there is even less.

It's not that George wasn't religious. It's obvious in the letters that he was. Also, later on he becomes an elder of his church and is very proud of his election to that position.

To me his letters read like someone who is confident in his faith and doesn't feel the need to evangelize, especially to his son who has chosen a similar career path.

I did a quick Google search about the YMCA's religious history and found this interesting comment in an article titled History of YMCA Religious Work: "Although the early Y's mission was unabashedly religious in nature, the organization focused on method rather than doctrine or philosophy. Dominated by business men rather than professional religious leaders, the movement tended to emphasize facilities, expansion, practical usefulness, and specific influence."

The article went on to say: "In 1866, the New York association expanded its statement of purpose to include the word 'physical,' thus defining the fourfold purpose of the YMCA: 'The improvement of the spiritual, mental, social, and physical condition of young men.' This concept was formally endorsed by the Y movement as a whole at the Baltimore Convention in 1879."

See related post: No. 4 -- 18 June 1931