Posted by: thebluemusicblog | December 21, 2013


Dear friends of the Blue Music Blog,

I have reached my blogpost number 100. Thank you for staying with me! It is Christmas in a few days and I am using an early morning hour as daylight is beginning to shine through the darkness of night to share a few brilliant meetings with senior leadership in our YMCA movement.

They are all small parts of the great Incarnation of Christ today, shining in the same light as the light which split the darkness over Bethlehem  a night long ago, when our Savior came to earth in the body of a baby.


I believe in this ongoing Incarnation. The light that came to us in Bethlehem has never left us, and it is shining through good people we meet on our way. I am sure that none of these personalities I am going to let you meet, would see themselves in this light. That is part of it. When I met them, the light was shining and I enjoyed it! The list could have been ten times longer, this is just a few examples. But I wanted to share these meetings as a nice bouquet of flowers for Christmas.


In early September I went to Lima, Peru, for meetings with the LACA youth leaders and a good number of National leaders from all over the continent. There I met for the first time Alejandro Vassilaqui from Peru. He used to be the President of the Latin American Confederation of YMCAs, the predecessor of LACA, and he served on the World Alliance Executive Committee from 1977 to 1991, as Deputy President and from 1988-91 as the President. During the opening ceremony of a new YMCA branch in Lima, Alejandro and I had a very interesting conversation on the history of the YMCA in those years and all the challenges they were struggling with in that time. That was for me very much a meeting with living history. Thank you for your time Alejandro, and I return your good wishes for Christmas!

IMG_3522This is shining light from the ongoing Incarnation in Peru. This wonderful group of noisy kids was embracing us with gifts and smiles and generally happy presence. There is probably an Alejandro Vassilaqui hidden in this group of future YMCA leaders (and a few present ones 🙂


And here the cross on the mountain top over the poor parts of Lima, where YMCA is running super social programmes servicing the needs of families and children.


These walls are parts of the new YMCA centre being built among the poorest of the poor in Lima.


And a motive I could not let go, a poster about the social programmes of the Peruvian YMCA, a poster placed in the middle of daily work and toil, where the YMCA belongs.

IMG_3539The leadership of YMCA Peru at the time, Edgardo Crovetto, NGS on the left, and Gerardo Medina, National YMCA President, on the right. This celebration was also a farewell with Edgardo, who after a long and impressive career in the YMCA was retiring. He has been General Secretary of both the Latin American Confederation, YMCA Italy as well as YMCA Peru. Thank you for your service, Edgardo!


Another National Secretary, Oscar Ordenes from Chile, playing with the YMCA children. Oscar and I have a dream about a YMCA on the Easter Islands.


During a recent travel to St.Petersburg, Russia, to work with the Field Group Russia, I met Nicolas Franco from Spain.  Wow – that was one of those brilliant meetings with a rich personality with tons of wisdom and generosity to share. Nicolas has been one of the crucial YMCA leaders in Spain and helped to establish Spanish YMCA in the early 80s. Juan Simoes brought him, Nicolas is an old friend and mentor of Juan. I discovered of course that Nicolas had also served on the World Alliance Executive Committee during John Casey’s time as Secretary General. Again it dawned on me what a richness we possess in our senior leaders, people who have retired from important careers and long service to the YMCA. We should not let go of them! Thank you for sharing your time and wonderful sense of humor with us, Nicolas!


As you can see of the above photo, three very serious people. In the middle Dölf Weder and to the right Terry Ratcliffe, both terrific leaders of the YMCA, Dölf as Secretary General of the EAY, Terry as President of the EAY and still active as President of the John R. Mott Foundation. Great friends and mentors to me. And this time we were together outside Bremen in Germany to follow Egon Slopianka to his final resting place on earth. His funeral was an impressive celebration of a great YMCA leader and his rich life. His YMCA fascination started in a prisoner of war camp in France, where Egon was imprisoned after the Second World War. He was helped by the YMCA in those difficult days, and promised to spend a year for the YMCA after the war. That turned out to be a life long service, and he was the first Secretary General of EAY from 1973 till Dölf took over in 1989. Rest in peace, my friend Egon.


And as always, when the funeral is over, we meet and talk and share memories and laugh and smile and feel the richness this man has left behind.


And finally Jerry Prado-Shaw. A close friend to Ingunn and me, and he came to Geneva in October to visit us and to participate in the meeting of the Global Staff Team. He is a solid leader for the YMCA Retirees and member of the Secour Speciaux, our fund for the emergencies and unsecured retirement. Jerry talked passionately to us in the GST about our colleagues around the world ending up after long service to the YMCA without decent pension. It is a problem we all feel strongly about solving. Jerry was the Senior Vice President for International in the YMCA of the USA, and the last thing he did before he retired, was to appoint Selma Zaidi in the same position. Selma, as we all know, today work for us in the World Alliance. Jerry is an amazing personality with friends in all corners of the YMCA world. Nowhere better to end this blog post before Christmas, a blogpost about those people sharing the light with all of  us from the Incarnation of Christ.

Merry Christmas and look for the light around you!


  1. Congratulations with No 100!!! Wishing very many new hundreds of blogs! Greetings from Kaliningrad Oblast ! MiG + IrG

    • Thank you to both of you in Kaliningrad Oblast!!!

      • may the goodLord richly blesss you

  2. Hi Johann
    Thankyou for a wonderful blog. Merry Christmas to all at the WAY, you, Ingunn and your family.
    Peter & Maree

    • 🎄🎆💝 Thank you! And we send the very best Christmss wishes to the whole Burns family!

  3. Congratulations on the century. Wish you many of of them 🙂

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