What is Initiatives of Change? How did it start? What do the letters MRA stand for? Is Initiatives of Change a religious organization? What are the main ideas? What is a 'quiet time'? Why does Initiatives of Change advocate moral values? Where does Initiatives of Change get its funding? How many people work for Initiatives of Change? How does someone get involved with Initiatives of Change? 1. What is Initiatives of Change? Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a global network committed to building integrity and trust across the world’s divides. It comprises people of diverse cultures, nations, beliefs and backgrounds who are committed to transforming society through change in individuals and relationships, starting in their own lives. Moments of personal transformation often mark a new direction in a person's life. And personal change can often lead to change in situations. Initiatives of Change International, based in Caux (Switzerland) is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and Participatory Status at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. 2. How did it start? Initiatives of Change began under the name of the Oxford Group in the 1920s. It was initiated by Frank Buchman (see www.frankbuchman.info for a searchable biography). His experience of finding freedom from resentment towards colleagues was a dramatic turning point in his life. Against a backdrop of the rise of Communism and Fascism and global economic recession, his insight that deep personal transformation is the key to social change inspired students in universities in America and Europe in the 1920s and 30s. His work spread to many sectors of society and became a world-wide movement of moral and spiritual renewal widely known as MRA. 3. What do the letters MRA stand for? When many nations were arming themselves prior to World War II, Buchman called for 'moral and spiritual re-armament'. The concept attracted wide public attention and the campaign for Moral Re-Armament - MRA - was launched in the East End of London in 1938. For many decades ‘MRA’ and its work were known internationally. However, by the start of the new millennium it was clear the words 'moral re-armament' no longer carried the same resonance as in 1938. In 2001 the name Initiatives of Change (IofC) was adopted. 4. Is Initiatives of Change a religious organization? No. People who work with IofC come from a multiplicity of backgrounds and beliefs. Those with a faith are encouraged both to explore the roots of their own tradition, and to discover and respect the beliefs of others. All are enabled to work together for a lasting change in society. IofC’s initiator, Frank Buchman, was a devout Christian but his work included people of other faiths and none. Buchman’s approach, of appreciating people of diverse cultures and beliefs, was far ahead of its time. Today, with growing cultural friction around the planet, IofC reaffirms its commitment to building relationships of trust across the world’s social, ethnic and religious divides. 5. What are the main ideas? Initiatives of Change emphasizes that there is a real connection between the personal and the global: when people and relationships change, situations change. IofC founder, Frank Buchman, believed foremost in helping people unlock their potential. With this in mind, we emphasize:
- Inner reflection – listening to, and tapping, the deep inner wisdom, the voice of conscience or, for some, the spirit of God
- Commitment to the highest values of humanity – a 'reality check' revealing the truth about ourselves and inspiring a humble search for deeper integrity, and greater passion
- Forgiveness – letting go of hate, resentment, and judgements of ourselves and those who have wronged us, a process that can unlock a view of our own and other's potential
- The big picture – daring to imagine a world where the needs of the whole human family are met, and to discover our unique part in bringing this vision into reality
Whenever anyone, prompted by compassion and conscience, faces reality about themselves and takes honest steps towards change, that action communicates to others. It inspires a growth in the human spirit that in turn kindles initiatives of change in families, communities and beyond. This integrity could be the engine which drives social transformation in the 21st Century - a growing momentum of people who become agents of change and reconciliation, forging relationships of trust across the world's divides. 6. What is a 'quiet time'? A quiet time is a period set aside, preferably each day, to listen to the inner voice of conscience or, for some, the spirit of God - to consider changes in one's own life and seek direction. It is often helpful to write down the thoughts that come during these times of quiet and, when appropriate, to share them with others. 7. Why does Initiatives of Change advocate moral values? Buchman had a gift for expressing spiritual truth in non-religious language. His experience of meeting and speaking with people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds showed him that in community after community, culture after culture, the principles of honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love were universal values to strive for. Given the human capacity for self-deception by selectively comparing our moral performance with others, Buchman recognised the need to consider these values as 'absolute' as tools for discernment and direction. These principles form the foundation of trust upon which the various initiatives of change are built. 8. Where does Initiatives of Change get its funding? IofC is financed largely by contributions from individuals who believe that this spirit and practice are needed. Increasingly specific projects are financed by Foundations and official bodies. Legal bodies exist in many countries to administer funds and property. Each initiative is approached with an expectation of sharing resources and with the trust that people acting with unselfish motives will find support from unexpected sources. 9. How many people work for Initiatives of Change? In most countries, Initiatives of Change has no formal membership. Many people volunteer their time in various capacities. There are several hundred people across the world who devote all their time, energy, and resources; many thousands more who make it the basis of their family and working lives; and countless others whose application of IofC's principles has resulted in far reaching changes around them. 10. How does someone get involved with Initiatives of Change? 10. How does someone get involved with Initiatives of Change? Anyone who wants to be part of building trust across the world’s divides can become involved. If you are interested in learning more email us.