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23 April, 2018

This year marks 80 years since Initiatives of Change began operating in the UK, originally under the name of  Moral Re-Armament (MRA). During this time the organisation has delivered work aligned to its standards of absolute love, purity, unselfishness and honesty, all the while linking together personal change with global change. Here are a few key highlights from IofC’s work in the UK.

  1. Between 1931 and 1935, around 150 Oxford undergraduates were attending Oxford Group meetings every lunchtime. Soon, the numbers attending ‘house parties’ grew to several thousands. As Buchman said in one of his speeches, ‘The Oxford Group is convinced that if you want an answer for the world today, the best place to start with is with yourself.’
  2. At a meeting of 3,000 people at East Ham Town Hall, London, on 29 May 1938, as the world was on the brink of war, Frank Buchman launched MRA, calling for 'moral and spiritual re-armament' as the way to build a 'hate-free, fear-free, greed-free world'. Rather than arming the world with weapons, he wanted to see it armed with values.  Sharing the stage with over 60 local councillors, he told the audience that ‘The crisis is fundamentally a moral one. The nations must re-arm morally. Moral recovery is essentially the forerunner of economic recovery. Moral recovery creates not crisis but confidence and unity in every phase of life.’
  3. In 1940 the novelist Daphne du Maurier published Come Wind, Come Weather, stories of ordinary Britons who had found hope and new life through MRA’s core values of 'the four standards' - honesty, purity, unselfishness and love – and the practice of quiet time. The book was dedicated to ‘Frank Buchman, whose initial vision made possible the world of the living characters in these stories’. It sold 650,000 copies in the UK.
  4. In 1947 MRA purchased the Westminster Theatre, and went on to perform many plays about social change there. More than 200,000 pupils and teachers took part in its Day of London Theatre programmes for schools, which began in 1967 and continued until 1990.
  5. In 2001 the MRA movement changed its name to Initiatives of Change. The name reflects the focus on being the change you wish to see in the world. In the UK Initiatives of Change runs projects centred around trust building, sustainable communities and ethical leadership.