Funds will ensure Christian Mission continues

The Eric. J. Ellsworth YMCA Christian Mission Fund has been established in honor of the retiring president & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis. Eric Ellsworth will retire on Feb. 1 after 13 years in the position and a total of 42 years with the YMCA. Incoming president Derrick Stewart will step into the role on Feb. 4.
Eric Ellsworth
Eric Ellsworth

The designated fund recognizes Ellsworth’s service to the Christian Mission of the YMCA. As part of the YMCA’s Endowment, it will help continue the Christian-based programs and services Ellsworth began in Indianapolis.

Pastor Josh Heaston, director of the YMCA Christian Mission, announced the fund yesterday to over 150 people who attended Ellsworth’s retirement celebration, and that $80,000 has already been pledged. The Y hopes to grow the fund to a $1 million endowment through gifts to the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis Foundation.

How to support the fund

Contributions can be made 1) by credit card on the donation page on indymca.org, 2) through a planned future gift in an estate, and 3) with a check payable to “YMCA Foundation of Greater Indianapolis” mailed to the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis (Attn: Josh Heaston).

Ellsworth’s legacy of Christian programs at YMCAs around the world

In addition to being a caring, compassionate community leader and substantially growing the footprint and impact of the YMCA in Greater Indianapolis, Ellsworth launched the Y’s Christian Emphasis Program in 2013. Initially funded by three-year grant from the Lilly Endowment, the program has since grown beyond Indianapolis and has been adopted across the nation and around the world.

Ellsworth and YMCA Board Chair Jeff Harrison at the Y’s Good Friday Breakfast

Christian Emphasis Program Highlights

  • A full-time director who provides leadership and pastoral care to over 3,000 YMCA staff members
  • 16 volunteer YMCA chaplains serve the 12 YMCAs in Central Indiana
  • A Christian Emphasis Committee at each Y serves members, volunteers and staff
  • YMCA Church Partner Program helps YMCAs and churches connect with the community. Today, churches hold services in 8 local YMCAs each week, converting gym space to a temporary stage and seating for the congregation.

U.S. & Global Impact

  • The United States Mission Network is a grass-roots organization focused on furthering the Christian Mission in Ys across the country. With the Indy Y as a leader, the group prays together, shares ministry ideas and stages an annual conference. The USMN now has 71 Christian Mission positions, including six in the state of Indiana.
  • The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has assumed a lead role in the World Mission Network, connecting Y network’s in Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and the USA. This group held its third World Mission Network gathering in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in July of 2018 attended by Ellsworth, Heaston and over 100 YMCA leaders from 26 different countries.

History of the “C” in YMCA

Eric and Jeff with kids
Ellsworth and Harrison with kids at a YMCA preschool

The YMCA began as a Christian movement in London in 1844 making its way to Indianapolis just 10 years later in 1854. Then young men gathered, often in prayer, to face societal issues like poverty and crime. Today’s Christian mission helps individuals face these and new dilemmas like opioid addiction, the obesity epidemic, mental health and other life challenges.

The need for the spiritual pillar in the Y’s mission has remained constant in these 175 years and is still prominent in its mission today: to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.

The Eric J. Ellsworth fund will help ensure that the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis does not drift from its Christian foundation.

While Christian focused, as a fully inclusive association, the YMCA proudly serves and welcomes all, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religious affiliation or beliefs.


Media Contact: Christy Glesing, sr. director of PR, YMCA of Greater Indianapolis | 317-667-5991