Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hello from the 70s!


The Initiatives of Change Archive Project has just finished organizing and compiling IofC’s history during the 1960s, and is now diving deep into the 1970s. The late 60s and early 70s was a time of great change for the organization.


Following the death of Frank Buchman in 1961, Moral Re-Armament’s (MRA’s) leadership was passed to Peter Howard who had worked alongside Frank Buchman for a number of years and had helped establish the movement’s international recognition. Peter Howard understood the importance of appealing to a younger audience, and worked tirelessly to incorporate this youth focus into MRA initiatives. Sadly, Peter Howard became unexpectedly ill while on an MRA mission to Latin America and passed away in 1965 in Lima, Peru. Once again MRA was forced to reevaluate the leadership and structure of the organization. This uncertainty paired with the rise of a new youth-oriented focus inspired by Peter Howard, called “Sing Out” and later “Up With People” led to a divide between those advocating an exclusive focus on this youth program and those who felt it important to continue with MRA’s broader traditional approaches.  


The exclusive focus on and funding of Up with People, which was adopted by the MRA Boards in both the US and Canada, led to the retirement of many full time workers in both countries beginning in 1969. It was at this time that some members in Canada joined together to create the “New World Caux Foundation” which aimed to continue the original work of MRA and provide a deeper focus on Canadian issues. Many great initiatives focusing on mending the ties between French and English Canadians came from the work of this Foundation.


Over the next four years however, the clash of these two approaches would be the source of time- consuming and contentious legal action, which was finally resolved in 1974 by an agreement permitting the work of the New World Caux Foundation to merge once more with MRA under the MRA name. Although this change and divide happened over a relatively short period, the changes that occurred during this time laid the groundwork for what MRA Canada would become over the next few decades.