Monday, October 1, 2001

After some years of searching and much international dialogue Moral Re-Armament has decided to adopt a new operating name for use around the world.

The change is prompted by the reality that in a great many cultures where teams are active our name no longer reflects adequately who we are and what we offer, or captures the interest of people as it once did.

Sunset picture for Disha

Through a two-year-long, open inclusive process culminating in the Consultation in Caux on August 6 and 7, consensus was reached that Initiatives of Change best captures what we offer the world today. National MRA bodies will take an independent decision about adopting this new name in their respective countries, but are encouraged to use the new name as widely as possible.

The decision was announced publicly on August 14 by Cornelio Sommaruga of Switzerland and Rajmohan Gandhi of India. Announcing the new name earlier at the opening of the Life, Faith and Fellowship session at Caux, on behalf of the Consultation, Rajmohan Gandhi said, "The new name describes what MRA is. It points at various initiatives we are part of around the world and it will help to generate new ones."

During the consultation Initiatives of Change was described as a name which is 'democratic', 'has the smell of freedom', 'reaches out to people,' and 'provokes conversation'. As the Consultation convened, Ailsa Hamilton remained participants that we are seeking not 'unanimity', but rather 'consensus under the eye of God that would release all our energies and thought for the next phase'.

Background of the name issue

The issue of a name change was first put on the agenda eight years ago at the Cyprus Consultation. An e-mail exchange, led by John Bond from Australia, carried forward the discussion for several years, with numerous suggestions made.

In November 1999 the International Council decided that the discussion should and brought to a conclusion. They initiated a formal process, through which over hundred suggestions were reduced to a few clear front-runners, of which the IC recommended Initiatives of Change.

The selection of a new name was a major item on the agenda of the March Consultation. However the participants were unable to reach final consensus between the two front-runners, Change International and Initiatives of Change. Given the seriousness of the issue, a decision was taken to reconvene the Consultation in Caux in August to consider these two names, plus any others that in the meantime had gained significant support.

Process of the Consultation

We devoted two days and sixteen hours to discussion about the new name and the affirmations. Discussion began with two basic question : whom do we want to reach and what do we want to say.

We agreed that we were looking for an operating name which is not overloaded with meaning but rather evokes a response as would the title of a book or a headline of an article. We would like to reach people who do not know MRA but who would like to work with us, and we would like this name to be helpful for our team around the world.

In addition to the two names selected by the March Consultation, sixteen names were proposed. The creativity of the new suggestions and the amount of thought put into the discussion around the world were greatly appreciated. Each of the new suggestions were considered one by one. It became apparent that a number, while excellent in English, had to be put aside because of difficulties with translation or cultural context. In the end, five names which had received the support of at least a third of those present were carried forward.

Discussion and voting on the morning of the second day left us with a list of two names, the same two that received most support in Richmond Consultation of March - Change International and Initiatives of Change.

Discussion on these two was followed by a vote, the results of which brought silence to the room: 20 votes for each name. The thoughtful conversation which followed sought answers to the question, 'What is God trying to say to us?' Many echoed the thought that God may be less concerned with the name finally chosen than that we live out our calling with faith and passion. Ultimately, the decision taken needed to be more than a democratic vote, but rather one that grew from a search to be God-led.

Most then indicated that though they might support one name, they would accept the other. A final vote indicated a shift towards Initiatives of Change. At that point, we moved to seek consensus, giving those who were not at peace with this choice the chance to express their views.

With the last doubts heard, a final consensus was reached. The Consultation ended with a strong sense of gratitude that we had been able to bring this demanding eight year process to a conclusion and start a new phase for our global work.

(Signed by all 40 participants of the Consultation representing all continents)