SINCE January 2019, I have worked part-time as chaplain for the community at YMCA St Helens. There I discovered a hidden gem, of which many of the hostel’s residents and staff were unaware.
The chapel, on the second floor of the early 20th Century building on North Road, has not been used regularly for more than twenty years.
When I arrived and explored the space, I found some treasures:
- A stained glass window celebrating the international YMCA movement with the original red triangle logo and the name in different languages (see top of page)
- A 1949 edition of the YMCA hymnal ‘specially designed for the use of men’ with the original logo representing ‘Spirit Mind Body’ on the cover
- A 1927 edition of the YMCA hymnal and prayer book presented to ‘St Helen’s YMCA Everyman’s Chapel’ presented by the ‘St Helens YMCA women’s auxiliary in loving memory of Betty Leyland’
as well as several wooden plaques commemorating significant people and moments in the life of the Association.
So I have taken on the project of restoring the chapel as a communal space for residents and staff to gather, or to take quiet time out for reflection. This seems like a fitting way to mark the 175th anniversary of the largest and oldest youth charity in the world.
YMCA St Helens has begun to renovate the space to return it to use as a chapel – a creative, reflective, quiet space for the YMCA community to enjoy.
Since the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) is no longer just for young men, or Christians, Kieran’s proposal is to rename the former ‘Everyman’s chapel’ as ‘Everyone’s Chapel’ when the restoration is complete.
It will include artwork designed and made by residents to reflect the new name.
The rededication of the chapel will include an event which is open to the wider community to celebrate with and show support for the YMCA St Helens community.