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I was one of a family of five kids, brought up in the small university town of Palo Alto, California. Mother was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Dad, the intellectual, held few formal religious beliefs, but cared a lot about friends and his alumni from Stanford University.
In the late 1930s Frances Roots and “Sunny” Sanger, full time Moral Re-Armament staff, came down from a campaign in San Francisco to our home for respite. With me on my mother’s mind, they got less than relaxation. But Mother found them particularly helpful in dealing with her strong-minded daughter, me, whose main interests were myself, boys and parties. Mother learned how to have quiet times to seek God’s will instead of trying to force her own will onto me.
In April or March of 1945, The Forgotten Factor (MRA wartime stage play) was in San Francisco for the first meeting of the United Nations. Mother, who wasn’t a theater-goer, suggested I come over from the University of California in Berkeley, where I was studying. Skeptically, with a friend, I came. After the play, I met Ellie Vickers and Hope Kitchen backstage and incautiously made a date to meet them later over lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Then, after I had spent some weeks trying out the hazards of applying the four moral standards which I learned from these girls, they suggested that I might consider going to the summer conference at Mackinac. I reluctantly admitted that I had had the same thought.
So my sister Eleanor and I took the train to Chicago and St. Ignace and landed on Mackinac in June - a three day trip. Elsie Kitchen, Hope’s mom, put us to work scrubbing floors and making beds at Island House. But it was a lively and fun summer. I took part in the stage plays Frying Pan and Drugstore Revolution along with many new friends from all over the US and Canada.
The Japanese surrender in August 1945 ended the war. At a meeting in the Island House barn, it was announced that a number of Europeans would immediately be coming to Mackinac. And so, along with them, we embarked on a fresh campaign of plays and songs. By train we went from city to city across the country. Our goal was to help rebuild war-divided hearts and minds, preparing for peace. UC Berkeley was left in the dust. I knew this was what God wanted me to do. I spent the next ten summers at Mackinac cooking, singing in the chorus and participating in the shows. The rest of the year we traveled to places like Switzerland, Scandinavia, Germany, India and England. I enjoyed two winters being snowed in on the Island, cooking for the crew who built Cedar Point (now Mission Point). Seeing those great beams finally hoisted into place for the Great Hall was glorious.
In 1958, I married one of the Oxford University men who first met and worked with Frank Buchman in the late 1920s. His staunch faith and unwavering commitment remained true through many difficulties and adventures and landed us eventually in Birmingham, England where we lived (and I still do).
My husband, who spoke seven languages including Latin and Greek, worked with lively good humor in the kitchen at Island House just as we all did. I have to laugh thinking of this as Edward never learned how to boil an egg. That was the magic of the Mackinac kitchens!
Virginia Crary Goulding
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.
Omnia Marzouk, President, IofC International
'Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes they want to see in society.'