Timeline

Initiatives of Change has been active for over 80 years. It grew out of the work of Frank Buchman (1878-1961), an American Lutheran minister. Buchman affirmed that there is a divine purpose for the world and everyone in it, and demonstrated the connection between faith and change in society. Over the years his work expanded to include people of different religions and none. In the 1920s his work became known as the Oxford Group and in 1938 was named Moral Re-Armament. It changed its name to Initiatives of Change in 2001. The timeline below marks some key moments in this ongoing work.

1908 Frank Buchman
Frank Buchman

Buchman, an American Lutheran minister of Swiss descent who was the originator of Initiatives of Change, has a spiritual experience of release from bitterness in crucial relationships that alters the course of his life

The Oxford Group (1927)

Buchman's experience in 1908 convinces him that moral compromise destroys human character and relationships and that moral clarity is a prerequisite for building a just society. His ideas take root at Oxford and in some American universities and his work becomes known as the 'Oxford Group'.

Oxford  
1935 AA Book cover
Alcoholics Anonymous

Buchman's ideas spread through the 1930s into many sectors and on to other continents. Alcoholics Anonymous is established in 1935 as a direct result of the liberating experiences which some people find through their contact with the Oxford Group.

Moral Re-Armament

As European nations re-arm for war, Buchman calls for 'moral and spiritual re-armament' as the way to build a 'hate-free, fear-free, greed-free world'. Following World War II, Moral Re-Armament (MRA), as it becomes known, launches a programme of moral and spiritual reconstruction to foster change in private and public life based on a change in motivation and character. Buchman also emphasised the importance of faith. He believed that God has a purpose for people's lives and for mankind as a whole, and he encouraged people to seek God's wisdom in regular times of silence and reflection. Buchman, a devout Christian, described Moral Re-Armament as 'the good road of an ideology inspired by God upon which all can unite. Catholic, Jew and Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Confucianist - all find they can change, where needed and travel along this good road together.'

History 1938 1938
1946 Caux Palace
Caux, Switzerland

MRA opens an international conference center in Caux, Switzerland, which is made possible through the generosity and hard work of hundreds of Swiss citizens.

Germans to Caux

At a time when any contact with the Germans is extremely difficult, Buchman and his colleagues invite Germans to Caux. Over the next four years growing number of Germans and French come to Caux and their encounters become the basis of a massive development in reconciliation. Buchman is later decorated by both the German and French governments for his contribution to European reconciliation.

Dr Heinrich Strater and Madam Irene Laure at Caux 1947
1949 Theatre at the service of a universal message
Reconciliation

Conferences at Caux and similar ones at Mackinac Island in the US, achieve further public recognition through several other major contributions to international developments in the post-war years. Notably the part played in the reconciliation of Japan with her South-East Asian neighbors, and in the achievement of independence by several African countries without major bloodshed.

MRA Expands

By the 1950s, casts of plays presenting MRA's ideas are traveling all over the world. Centers are established in Latin America, India, Japan and several countries in Africa.

Japanese delegation to Caux in 1950 1950
1961 Peter Howard
Buchman Dies

When Buchman dies in 1961, the former British political journalist Peter Howard assumes the leadership of MRA, but four years later he too dies. Without a clearly identified leadership to ensure cohesion, unresolved differences among those taking responsibility begins to surface.

Up With People

In some countries a new approach is tried, concentrating on the younger generation, and in others more traditional ways continue. Up With People, which develops into a global educational programme, becomes a spin-off from MRA. After a period of uncertainty and dissension, trust is slowly re-established, with valuable lessons learned.

The Colwells at the start of Up With People in the Sixties
1965
1968 Asia Plateau
Asia Plateau

1968 sees the opening of Asia Plateau - a major international center for the training of people from industry, education and other national sectors in Panchgani, India.

Period of Consolidation

With reconciliation a primary need in many parts of the world, much of MRA's work concentrates on supporting peace-making initiatives in Africa and Asia.

Pupils of Murray Town Army School, Freetown, November 2002 1970s
1980s Liverpool
Britain

During this period in Britain some of the work is focused on bettering industrial relations at the big car and steel manufacturing plants, important at that time for economic stability, and some on the growing multiculturalism of the country's large cities.

Collapse of Communism

The collapse of Communism triggers new needs and opportunities for the rebuilding of democracy in the post-Soviet world. This becomes one of the major focal points in the 90s.

Russian churches 1990s
1990s Clean Election Campaign, Solomon Islands
New Initiatives

Other initiatives that develop throughout the 90s are Hope in the Cities, which is created to bridge the racial divide in the US; Clean Election Campaigns in Taiwan, Brazil and Kenya; and a continuing concern for the creation of moral and spiritual infrastructure for development in both rich and poorer nations.
 

Name Change

With the approach of the new millennium, there is world-wide recognition that the words 'moral re-armament' no longer hold the same resonance as they did in 1938. In 2001 the new name Initiatives of Change (IofC) is announced to the world's media by the Caux President, Dr Cornelio Sommaruga (former President of the international Red Cross), and Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma.

logo of Initiatives of Change
							2001

Today

Reflection
Today

While ways of expressing truth, and methods of coordinating the global work, continue to change as succeeding generations take on this particular responsibility for the moral and spiritual renewal of society, the essential philosophy of IofC remains the same - that personal change can lead to social, economic and political change. With its emphasis on experience rather than philosophy, it provides a focus where people of different religious and political persuasions can meet without compromising their own beliefs, and be part of a global network committed to working for change in the world.

Brief history>>