The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) were originally founded for the purpose of spreading and promoting Christian principles in the community. This initial intent was reflected by the YMCA and YWCA clubs at Geneva College in the 1920s. Want to read the 1923 Genevan biography of the groups? Click a link: YMCA, YWCA.
These groups had very high membership, oftentimes over one hundred students. They worked together to plan various events around campus throughout the year (such as the Thousand Mile Walk at the beginning of the year), and also to promote spiritual growth at Geneva and in the community. This was accomplished through leading Bible studies, going on missions trips, teaching Sunday School, organizing worship services, and holding fundraisers for various causes. Even the social events were ultimately for the purpose of fellowship and growth among the students.
The popularity of these groups in the 1920s says a lot about the spiritual state of Geneva’s students. On other college campuses in the 1920s, generally the fraternities were the most powerful student groups, and the YMCA and YWCA would be all but hidden in the background of the student social scene, lacking the prestige of the established fraternity groups [ref]Paula S. Fass, The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s, (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1977), 190-191.[/ref], but at Geneva, with the absence of fraternities, it seems that the YMCA and the YWCA dominated student life. Rather than just being the group for essentially those who were not selected for fraternity membership, the YMCA and YWCA at Geneva College not only held the prominent social position, but also maintained an enormous membership among the student body. The clear implication of this is that these clubs were not just popular as an alternative to fraternities, but were popular for their own sake. This reveals that in general, Geneva College students were unique in their passion and excitement for promoting Christianity. Want to see photos of the clubs? Click on a link: 1920 YMCA, 1927 YMCA, 1923 YWCA, 1925 YWCA, 1927 YWCA