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“‘By Love, Serve One Another’: Foreign Mission and the Challenge of World Fellowship in the YWCAs of Japan and Turkey”

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By the 1910s, the international consortium of women involved in the interdenominational Protestant Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) faced a reckoning. Over the previous decade, a largely European and North American YWCA leadership had expanded successfully what it called the “association movement” into countries it designated as foreign mission territories, establishing dozens of multifunctional community centers across the Asian continent. With their religious, educational, recreational, and vocational programming, YWCAs proved adaptable to a wide variety of settings. This success, however, brought the challenge of indigenization, a challenge that sharpened as Western women came to terms with anti-colonial agitation and egalitarian Gospel rhetoric of foreign mission. Detailing the YWCA of the United States’s administration of the YWCAs of Japan and Turkey in the early 20th Century, this article contends that interpersonal and organizational negotiations of power ultimately gave rise to transnational partnerships that thrived as the U.S. women’s missionary movement ebbed.

Affiliations: 1: St. Louis University,


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