Fellowship of Reconciliation

Fellowship of Reconciliation

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) was founded by a group of clergyman at an international conference at Lake Constance in 1914. These Christian pacifists were totally opposed to nations using violence to solve international problems. Early members in the FOR in the United States included Abraham Muste, Norman Thomas, Roger Baldwin, Anna Murray, Scott Nearing and Oswald Garrison Villard.

In 1940 Abraham Muste was appointed executive secretary of the organization. In this position Muste led the campaign against United States involvement in the Second World War. Two years later Muste gave permission for James Farmer, George Houser and Bayard Rustin to establish the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), a group that was to play a leading role in the struggle for African American civil rights.

In early 1947, the Congress on Racial Equality announced plans to send eight white and eight black men into the Deep South to test the Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in interstate travel unconstitutional. organized by George Houser and Bayard Rustin, the Journey of Reconciliation was to be a two week pilgrimage through Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Although Walter White of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) was against this kind of direct action, he volunteered the service of its southern attorneys during the campaign. Thurgood Marshall, head of the NAACP's legal department, was strongly against the Journey of Reconciliation and warned that a "disobedience movement on the part of Negroes and their white allies, if employed in the South, would result in wholesale slaughter with no good achieved."

The Journey of Reconciliation began on 9th April, 1947. The team included George Houser, Bayard Rustin, James Peck, Igal Roodenko, Joseph Felmet, Nathan Wright, Conrad Lynn, Wallace Nelson, Andrew Johnson, Eugene Stanley, Dennis Banks, William Worthy, Louis Adams, Worth Randle and Homer Jack.

My activism did not spring from being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values instilled in me by the grandparents who reared me. Those values were based on the concept of a single human family and the belief that all members of the family are equal. The racial injustice that was present in this country during my youth was a challenge to my belief in the oneness of the human family. I worked side-by-side with many white people who held these values, some of whom gave as much, if not more, to the struggle than myself.

At Petersburg, several white passengers got off and others moved forward leaving two rows of empty seats directly in front of us. Outside the bus, about twenty picnic-bound Negroes laden with baskets of food lined up to get aboard. The driver paid no attention to us and busied himself with tickets and baggage. We realized that if we were going to change to a more comfortable position we had better do it before the crowd got on and filled up the entire rear, so we moved one row forward. The cushion of the window seat had fallen down and we could not adjust it, so we moved forward another row. We were now in the fourth row from the back seat, still behind all the white passengers. At this point the driver, whose name was Frank W. Morris, as we learned later, looked back and saw us. He yelled from the front that we would have to move back. When we showed no inclination to comply, he threatened arrest.

Adelene McBean told the driver she had paid her money like every other passenger and she had her rights. It was clear that Morris was not listening; he was aware only that we had challenged his authority and ignored his order. He stormed off the bus, which was now electric with tension, but we could expect no support from either front or rear. The white passengers acted as if it was none of their affair and the few black passengers in the rear murmured among themselves but dared not interfere.


The archives of the Fellowship of Reconciliation

LSE Library holds the archives of the Fellowship of Reconciliation England and its London Union. Carys Lewis introduces the London Union archive and urges anyone with an interest in pacifism, peace groups or social work to consult it. Three stories illustrate the collection: a scheme to find Welsh young women jobs in London the 1940’s prison diary of conscientious objector Stella St John and the experience of Fredrick Bradley, a conscientious objector during the First World War.


About Us

FoR is an international movement of people who commit themselves to active nonviolence as a way of life and as a means of personal, social, economic and political transformation. Based in the Christian tradition, we were founded in 1914, and have permanent representation at the UN.

Our current work centres around equipping our members to promote nonviolence in their own churches, to send the message that Jesus was a radical peacemaker and that Christianity is a faith of nonviolence and of love in action. FoR and its members are active in bearing witness against war and its preparation. We champion disarmament and are focusing especially on nuclear weapons and armed drones. You can read more of this work at for.org.uk/act

Another big part of our work is our support for community conflict transformation projects overseas, through our International Peacemakers’ Fund.

FoR is a membership organisation, and we welcome new members: join us.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation in England & Scotland is based at Peace House in Oxford.


Contents

Origins in World War I and activities through the 1940s Edit

FOR in the USA was formed initially in opposition to the entry of the United States into World War I. The American Civil Liberties Union developed out of FOR's conscientious objectors program and the Emergency Committee for Civil Liberties.

In 1918, FOR and the American Federation of Labor formed Brookwood Labor College, which lasted until 1937. Also in January 1918, FOR began publication of The World Tomorrow, with Norman Thomas as its first editor.

National Secretary Paul Jones wrote in 1921 that the Fellowship of Reconciliation was established as one vehicle to aid in the application of Christian principles to "every problem of life." [2] In addition to the impossibility of harmonizing war with "the way of Christ," Jones stated that members of the organization had come to believe in the parallel necessity of a "reorganization of Society as will establish it on a Christian basis, so that no individual may be exploited for the profit or pleasure of another." [2] Rather than the FOR itself serving as the primary fulcrum for this activity, "in general the members of the Fellowship endeavor to work out their aims through existing organizations and discussion," Jones noted. [2]

John Nevin Sayre was active in FOR between 1924 and 1967, and was its chairman from 1935 to 1940.

From 1935 onwards, the US branch of FOR published a magazine, Fellowship. Fellowship's contributors included Mohandas Gandhi, Vera Brittain, Norman Thomas, Oswald Garrison Villard, E. Stanley Jones, Walter P. Reuther and Muriel Lester. [3]

In 1947, FOR and the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, which had been founded by FOR staffers James Farmer and George Houser along with Bernice Fisher, sponsored the Journey of Reconciliation, the first Freedom Ride against southern segregation in the wake of the Supreme Court's 1946 Irene Morgan decision.

Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and fighting poverty in the 1960s Edit

In 1954, China was facing famine and the United States was enjoying surplus harvests, so the FOR organized the Surplus Food for China campaign to convince the government to send food to the Chinese.

In 1955 and 1956, Glenn E. Smiley, a white Methodist minister, was assigned by the FOR to assist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Montgomery bus boycott. The two, sitting behind the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, were seatmates on the first interracial bus ride in Montgomery. Smiley and FOR executive secretary and director of publications Alfred Hassler [4] later spearheaded FoR's production and distribution of the 1957 comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. [5]

In 1957, the organization's headquarters moved to Shadowcliff in Upper Nyack, New York. [6] Shadowcliff was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. [7]

In the 1960s, FOR launched "Shelters for the Shelterless" and built real shelters for homeless people, in response to increasing public demand for fallout shelters. FOR members such as Hassler made contact with the Vietnamese Buddhist pacifist movement and sponsored a world tour by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. [8]

From the arms race in the 1970s to gun control in the 1990s Edit

In the 1970s, FOR founded Dai Dong, a transnational project linking war, environmental problems, poverty and other social issues, involving thousands of scientists around the world. They sought to reverse the Cold War and the arms race with campaigns, marches, educational projects and civil disobedience, and opposed the death penalty in a concerted campaign with ACLU. [ citation needed ]

Beginning in 1975, FOR supported Lee Stern as he helped found Children's Creative Response to Violence (CCRV) and the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). CCRV has had serious impact on K-8 education in the United States including introduction of the Peer Mediation Program. AVP seeks to build beloved community in prisons. For more than forty years it has worked with prison inmates to build spread peaceful community life in prison. In recent years, AVP has been the basis for building beloved communities in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. [ citation needed ]

In the 1980s, FOR took the lead in initiating the Nuclear Freeze Campaign in cooperation with other groups. They initiated a US-USSR reconciliation program, which included people-to-people exchanges, artistic and educational resources, teach-ins and conferences. They led nonviolence training seminars in the Philippines prior to the nonviolent overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship. [ citation needed ]

In the 1990s, the organization sent delegations of religious leaders and peace activists to Iraq to try to prevent war and later, to see the massive devastation caused by the economic sanctions imposed upon Iraq. They initiated a "Start the Healing" campaign in response to escalating levels of gun violence in the United States, and FOR is an organizational and founding member of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, which advocates gun control. FOR initiated the "Bosnian Student Project," which brought students from the former Yugoslavia out of war zones and into US homes and schools, and later started the International Reconciliation Work Camp Project. They also worked to get the US military to withdraw from Panama.

2000s: “I Will Not Kill” campaign and visiting Iran Edit

FOR has most recently been active in advocating for the demilitarization of US foreign policy. It works to counter military recruitment of young people in the United States – through FOR's "I Will Not Kill" campaign, [9] and in partnership with the Ruckus Society, the War Resisters League, and others in the Not Your Soldier project. A July 2016 action in Minneapolis, in response to the death of Philando Castile, included the statement "Among their demands are the dismantling of the police department. disarming, defunding, demilitarizing, and disbanding police." [10]

Particular areas of geographic focus have been the Middle East – especially Israel–Palestine and Iran – and Latin America and the Caribbean – especially Colombia and Puerto Rico. In the Middle East, FOR's Interfaith Peace-Builders program (now independent) builds relationships between Israeli, Palestinian, and North American peace activists. Founded in 2005, its Iran program has drawn on FOR's legacy of sending delegations to nations that are labeled as enemies by the US government, and is working to prevent war and create peace-centered connections between ordinary citizens of both countries. In the Americas, FOR has a permanent five-person Colombia peace team of volunteers who provide human rights accompaniment to endangered civilians and support locally organized peace initiatives. FOR was also instrumental in the movement to pressure the US Navy to stop using Vieques as a bombing range.

2017: Anti-Israel workshop controversy Edit

In 2017 the non-profit The Israel Group submitted complaints to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Orange County Department of Education regarding a workshop, “Learning About Islam and the Arab World”, that the Greater L.A. chapter of the FORUSA presented in the school districts. [11] FOR has also been an active promoter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, [12] a perspective which informs its efforts to influence educators about the Middle East. One attendee of the workshop told the Jewish Journal, "We are being told that the Palestinians are the victims and the Jews are the oppressors, categorically and totally. And we are being told that Hamas is not a terrorist group Hamas is a noble entity defending the rights of Palestinians.” [13] In a news release from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the human rights organization further noted that "FORUS is closely aligned with CAIR, a US-based organization that has been linked to Hamas terrorist group." [14]

Greater public awareness followed the workshop, with groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) [15] speaking out, saying the workshop materials featured "substantial misrepresentations and distortions of established historical facts, omissions of relevant facts, and inflammatory language". [16] Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman contacted LAUSD. After reviewing the workshop's handouts, Sherman wrote, “[The Workshop] material is not just false, but is anti-Semitic and should have raised immediate red flags with LAUSD… I am concerned that LAUSD would promote an education program on the Middle East established by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FORUSA), an organization who openly supports Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a highly polarizing movement that singles out Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, and has led to anti-Semitic hostility. The BDS movement is adverse to the foreign policy of the United States.” [17]


About IFOR

Perceiving the need for healing and reconciliation in the world, the founders of IFOR formulated a vision of the human community based upon the belief that love in action has the power to transform unjust political, social, and economic structures.

Today IFOR has branches, groups, and affiliates in over 40 countries on all continents. Although organized on a national and regional basis, IFOR seeks to overcome the division of nation-states which are often the source of conflict and violence. Its membership includes adherents of all the major spiritual traditions as well as those who have other spiritual sources for their commitment to nonviolence.


Mission and History

FOR Peace Presence provides physical safety, political visibility and solidarity by accompanying communities and organizations that embrace active nonviolence to defend life, land and dignity.

Vision

FORPP envisions a nonviolent world in which: political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, are fully enjoyed, including the option of freely participating in social movements without being subject to violence or threats processes of reconciliation are informed by collective memory and acknowledge traditions of resistance all communities, and those historically marginalized, have the right to self-determination and fully participate in decisions regarding their lands, identities, and cultures.

About Us

The Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence (FORPP) is a non governmental organization dedicated to providing international accompaniment to communities and individuals at risk in Colombia who are working to promote human rights, peace and justice.

Aggressions, death threats and assassinations of human rights defenders have significantly increased since peace talks between the government and the FARC guerrilla began in 2012 additionally opening Colombia to global economic interests poses a direct threat to peaceful alternatives forged by Colombian communities. Excluded from the peace negotiations, human rights defenders are those most adversely affected by the Colombian conflict.

Most of the aggressions (66%) are attributed to neoparamilitary groups. The structural causes of these aggressions are not addressed by the government, aggressions remain in almost complete impunity in fragile judicial system, and the Colombian protection program does not provide an effective and holistic protection to human rights defenders and communities.

Therefore international accompaniment in a “post-accord” Colombia will remain essential for documenting the ongoing structural injustice and for advocating for international and national respect of human rights and recognition of grassroots contributions to a sustainable peace.

FORPP’s work focuses on addressing the underlying causes of conflict and broadening the definition of “peace” to include definitions from human rights defenders and communities who propose sustainable, life-affirming alternatives and non-violent resistance to war.

Apart from our proactive physical presence to dissuade physical attacks, our political accompaniment includes meetings with Colombian civil and military authorities to advise them of international presence and our concerns on the human rights situation our meetings with embassies, UN and other international institutions, and advocacy in the US and Europe generate political costs to possible aggressors and help to activate a support network to pressure for the respect of human rights.

We provide visibility for the struggles of Colombian civil society through delegations, speaking tours, publications and an online presence, building bridges between communities in the global north and south and contributing to understand better what is going on in Colombia and how the issues here are connected to issues elsewhere.

Our hope is that with greater visibility and increased international support, we can open the political space for the very important work of social movements seeking justice and peace that include the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.

FORPP uses the tool of accompaniment not only to hold governments accountable for basic human rights abuses but also to hold multinational corporations accountable for environmental devastation and social, economic, and cultural rights abuses in order to limit further damage.

To learn more about our work, read our 2015 Annual Report.

History

In 1998, FOR-USA awarded the annual Pfeffer Peace Prize to the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, nominated by the Colombia Support Network. In March 2000, FOR-USA’s Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean (TFLAC) visited the Peace Community for the first time. In January 2002, after several visits, FOR-USA Colombia Peace Presence (CPP) was established and the new program coordinator and the first two accompaniers arrived in the Community. From this date until 2019, we maintained a permanent presence in this peace community, with a field team of two to three members. In 2019, due to financial strains on the organization and the changing context in Colombia, we made the difficult decision of ending our permanent accompaniment of the Peace Community. However, we maintain a political accompaniment and provide periodic physical accompaniment to the Peace Community.

In 2005, we established a team in Bogotá to provide support for the San José team, carry out the political work with government officials and the diplomatic core and accompany other Colombian partners who requested accompaniment.

In 2011, FOR USA began to restructure its programmatic work in an effort to focus its staff and resources domestically and strengthen its local chapters and affiliates. Such changes implied letting go of financial support for the international Colombia project. However, Colombia team members saw that the necessity for accompaniment continued to exist and, in 2014, FOR Peace Presence constituted itself as an independent organization from FOR-USA, registered in Colombia and the United States.


History

Since its founding in 1914, on the eve of World War I, the Fellowship of Reconciliation has worked tirelessly to promote nonviolence as a means of resolving conflict and achieving justice and peace worldwide. Beginning in the U.S. in 1915 FOR worked against the war fever of the time. FOR formed local groups in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

There have been active FOR members in the Pacific Northwest since then.

On December 18, 2014, Bruce Pruitt-Hamm shared the 100-Year history of The Fellowship of Reconciliation that began at the end of WWI. The presentation was part of the “1914 Christmas Truce 100th Anniversary Commemoration” in Seattle, Washington.

Since 1958, there has been a regional FOR conference every year in Seabeck, WA, that brings together more than 200 people primarily from Washington, Oregon, and British Colombia.

Olympia FOR was organized in 1976 and has continued to be one of the most active FOR groups in the country. It is part of WWFOR.

Western Washington FOR has maintained an active presence at least since the 1960s, when a group of FOR activists began meeting at Jim and Roberta Brumbaugh’s peace house every third Sunday. By the mid-1980s, WWFOR was able to rent an office at Woodland Park Presbyterian Church in Seattle, with a full-time organizer.


History

Since its founding in 1914, on the eve of World War I, the Fellowship of Reconciliation has worked tirelessly to promote nonviolence as a means of resolving conflict and achieving justice and peace worldwide. Beginning in the U.S. in 1915 FOR worked against the war fever of the time. FOR formed local groups in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

There have been active FOR members in the Pacific Northwest since then.

On December 18, 2014, Bruce Pruitt-Hamm shared the 100-Year history of The Fellowship of Reconciliation that began at the end of WWI. The presentation was part of the “1914 Christmas Truce 100th Anniversary Commemoration” in Seattle, Washington.

Since 1958, there has been a regional FOR conference every year in Seabeck, WA, that brings together more than 200 people primarily from Washington, Oregon, and British Colombia.

Olympia FOR was organized in 1976 and has continued to be one of the most active FOR groups in the country. It is part of WWFOR.

Western Washington FOR has maintained an active presence at least since the 1960s, when a group of FOR activists began meeting at Jim and Roberta Brumbaugh’s peace house every third Sunday. By the mid-1980s, WWFOR was able to rent an office at Woodland Park Presbyterian Church in Seattle, with a full-time organizer.


Fellowship of Reconciliation - History

Beginnings
Statement of Purpose Challenges
Executive Leadership
In War and Peacetime
International Outreach

Other Organizations & Groups …
National & International Offices


The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is an interfaith peace organization whose members "recognize the essential unity of all creation" and who commit themselves "to explore the power of love and truth for resolving human conflict." From its beginning the FOR has opposed war and has worked for a just and peaceful society. Nonviolence is accepted as both a transforming way of life and strategy for social change. Though founded by Christian pacifists, the FOR now affirms the diversity of religious traditions and seeks to achieve its goals by the united efforts of people of many faiths. Members join by signing a statement agreeing with the principles of the Fellowship and their intention of working to carry them out.

Beginnings

The FOR had its origin in England a few months after the outbreak of the first World War. A group of 130 Christian pacifists met at Cambridge University in the last days of December 1914 to express their repudiation of the war system and their determination to work for a new social order based on Christian teachings. A core group chose the name Fellowship of Reconciliation for its biblical significance. In the fall of 1915 Henry T. Hodgkin, an English Quaker and a leading founder, came to the United States and spoke widely around the country, sharing the message about the spiritual crisis and the war. Finding a receptive public, he invited about a hundred interested persons to a conference at Garden City, Long Island on November 11-12, 1915. The result was the decision by a vote of 68 attendees to form an American Fellowship. A month later there were 300 members, and by 1920 the number reached 1800. Local groups were formed across the country.

The first officers were chairman Gilbert A. Beaver, secretary Edward W. Evans and treasurer Charles J. Rhoads. Norman Thomas served as co-secretary with Evans from 1917-1919. Bishop Paul Jones was secretary 1919-1929, and John Nevin Sayre became co-secretary in 1924. Additional leaders during the World War and post-war period included the following, some as council members:

The Fellowship of Youth for Peace was formed in 1924, and four years later it became the Youth Section of the FOR. National conferences of FOR members were held annually 1916-1941, and less regularly thereafter. The World Tomorrow , a Christian socialist journal, was published 1918-1934 as an unofficial organ of the FOR. Editors included Norman Thomas, Devere Allen, John Nevin Sayre, Anna Rochester, Reinhold Niebuhr and Kirby Page.

Statement of Purpose Challenges

Since the formative period of the FOR the Statement of Purpose has expressed its fundamental principles, and also has served as a basis for its membership, program, and activities. The wording of the early versions was explicit about the Christian nature of the Fellowship, in accordance with the original English statement. Before long some members thought that all pacifists should be welcomed, and that the "Christian label" was unnecessary and divisive. In order to reconcile divergent views, a questionnaire was sent to the members in 1930. The result was a new version of the Statement of Purpose which recognized other sources of religious guidance, in addition to the teachings of Jesus. By the end of the 1950s, new ways of thinking in the post World War I era pointed to the need for another revision, and one was adopted in 1965. It states that "the Fellowship seeks the company of those of whatever faith who wish to confront human differences with nonviolent, compassionate and reconciling love." Since 1965 there have been only occasional minor changes to update the wording.

Some issues of an ideological nature have challenged the principles of the FOR. In 1933 the council and national staff were divided over the use of force in industrial struggle. The matter was finally resolved by a referendum to the members. 90% of the responses affirmed the use of nonviolence on all fronts, not just the international. A number of resignations followed and some members withdrew, but a larger number of new members joined. Reorganization took place in the council and staff, and the course for the future was settled.

In 1940 a less crucial matter arose from the efforts of US communists to form a united front in opposing entrance into the war in Europe. Confusion among FOR members led to a policy statement by the FOR executive committee which said that it was impossible to work with communists and their sympathizers because they rejected pacifism in principle. The statement also affirmed the right of such persons to civil liberties. This policy has remained unchanged and upheld.

A major challenge concerning the very nature of the Fellowship of Reconciliation arose in the early 1960s. In January 1963 the Internal Revenue Service revoked the long standing tax-exempt status of the FOR as a religious institution. A five-year investigation of its program and activities of some members led to the conclusion that it was an "action" organization &endash not a religious one. After 18 months of negotiations an understanding was reached which resulted in restoration of the tax exemption in June 1964. This case was crucial since it raised questions about the pursuit of peace as a legitimate commitment to ultimate values.

Executive Leadership

The Fellowship has been fortunate in its choice of leaders, both in terms of their qualifications and the length of their service. Four executive secretaries

have held their positions for more than ten years: Paul Jones, John Nevin Sayre, A.J. Muste and Alfred Hassler. ( See the list of Executive Secretaries/ Directors at the end of this Historical Introduction.) The most prominent, and also the one who had the greatest influence on the peace movement, was A.J. Muste. He came to the helm of the FOR in August 1940, a time of crisis in the first year of World War II. Muste was uniquely qualified by his religious heritage, experience in the labor movement, and experimentation with Marxism. In 1936 he returned to Christian pacifism and the FOR with a strong commitment. After retiring in 1953, Muste remained closely connected to the FOR as Secretary Emeritus. He was a prime example of one who actively practiced what he preached.

Other executive secretaries also left their distinctive marks on the FOR. John Nevin Sayre served faithfully and continuously in various capacities from 1924 to 1967, especially in the international field. Alfred Hassler's leadership, including publications work, extended from 1942 to 1974 and included the critical years of the Vietnam war.

In War and Peacetime

Much of the agenda of the FOR has been determined by the wars which have dominated the 20th century. It is natural that the principal focus has been on the prevention of war, supporting disarmament and arms control, opposing conscription and the militarization of society. In wartime the FOR has worked extensively with conscientious objectors by providing counseling, help for dependents, special attention to men in prison or alternative civilian service, and help with legal assistance. War victims have been a special concern: the internment of Japanese Americans in 1942, the uprooting and treatment of European Jews, and the saturation bombing of German civilians by the Allied powers.

Intervals between wars have afforded opportunities for working on social problems in an effort to reduce the causes of conflict. These have been some of the issues: labor disputes, working conditions, economic and racial inequities, prisoners, capital punishment, militarism, and violence in society. Several of the many special projects should be mentioned. Two "Food for China" campaigns followed periods of famine in the early 1950s and 1960s. One featured the sending of little bags of grain to the White House to support the proposal for sending surplus food to China. An unexpected result was the President's decision not to bomb China when so many Americans cared about the Chinese. Another creative FOR response was the "Shelters for the Shelterless" project in 1961 when the government's civil defense program was promoting fallouts shelters. Similar creativity was used during the 1990 Gulf War when symbolic oil barrels with the message "No Blood for Oil" were mailed to Washington.

International Outreach

Barely 20 years after the bombing of Hiroshima, the peace organizations were propelled onto the world stage by the war in Vietnam . The FOR and four other groups sponsored the first national protest in December 1964. The next year, as the anti-war movement grew, the demonstrations expanded rapidly in number and size, especially in Washington. FOR's young staff members were leaders in planning and carrying out mass disciplined mobilizations. They also conducted extensive draft resistance and counseling.

As the protests grew in 1965, so did the appeals for changes in US policy. Anti-war organizations believed that the public was not adequately informed about military action in Southeast Asia. The FOR developed some of its own channels of communication. One was the use of full-page ads in the New York Times and other papers which included coupons for feedback. The first one presented a message from the Clergymen's Emergency Committee which was formed by the FOR. An important source of information about Vietnam proved to be investigative teams sent by the FOR. The first group was from the clergy committee who reached a large audience with their spoken and written reports. Their two-page statement in a New York Times ad was endorsed by 10,000 religious leaders in 40 countries. The text was reprinted in various languages and countries. Out of this effort came the FOR-sponsored International Committee of Conscience on Vietnam. By the end of the war there were 19 active national groups protesting the war and providing humanitarian aid. In the next five years the FOR sponsored three more fact-finding missions to South Vietnam. One of them broke the story of the infamous "tiger cages" for political prisoners.

Another outcome of the missions was the communication established by the FOR with the Buddhist pacifist resistance movement, sometimes called the "third force". Some of their leaders, notably the monk Thich Nhat Hanh who joined the FOR, came to the US on speaking tours. Further attempts to inform the public were made through the books by Nhat Hanh and Alfred Hassler (executive secretary of FOR, 1960-1974) which the FOR sponsored.

The prolongation of the war resulted in conflict in the anti-war movement between the pacifists and the proponents of liberation, which was reminiscent of the dispute over the use of violence in the class struggle in the early 1930s. Again the issue had an impact on the FOR council and national staff. Even after the fighting in Vietnam ended there was a painful period for US pacifists, revolving around human rights issues and the way they were handled by the post-war government of Vietnam.

Even before the fighting in Vietnam ended, the FOR launched a trans-national peace effort which linked war and the environment to poverty and other social problems. The program, called Dai Dong, promoted contact between the peace movement and thousands of scientists and economists around the world. In 1972 the United Nations held its first Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, and Dai Dong held an Independent Conference on the Environment as an alternative forum.

When the UN convened Special Conferences on Disarmament in New York in 1978 and 1982, the FOR had an alternative forum on a smaller scale called Plowshare Coffee House. The same format was used in 1979 at MIT when the World Council of Churches had a conference on "Faith, Science and the Future".

After the Vietnam war, nuclear disarmament became the major focus of most peace organizations. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and other critical events, a new stage of the arms race was feared. FOR took the lead in calling a meeting of some 30 pacifist leaders in February 1980 to reflect, share thoughts, and search for new alternatives to national security. This was the first step toward the Nuclear FREEZE Campaign which, within two years, became the largest grass-roots movement in US history. Support for the disarmament in the religious community was promoted by FOR's Covenant Peacemaking Program. A specific disarmament project of FOR and American Friends Service Committee was their eight-year campaign to close down the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado. It exposed severe damage from radiation, and led to Citizens' Hearings in Washington.

Concurrent with the protests, marches and demonstrations of the disarmament movement in the eighties there were positive and creative actions which were attempting to turn the tide of the cold war. The FOR launched a major program of US-USSR Reconciliation which included a variety of people-to-people projects intended to humanize the "enemy" image of Soviet-American relations. These efforts contributed to the changes which took place at the end of the decade. The FOR had made contacts in Eastern Europe in the 1960s through clergy members of the Christian Peace Conference in Prague which fostered East-West relations during the cold war.

The FOR had been engaged in reconciliation work in other parts of the world from its early years. The longest relationship was that with Latin America, going back to 1929-1932 when FOR had a full-time staff worker in Central America. Intensive work was done in South America in the 1960s with help from IFOR personnel. Fighting in Central America in the early eighties, stemming from Washington's fears of communism, led to FOR's investigation and the decision to form a Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean in 1983. Panama became an area of special concern with the US invasion in 1989.

In the Middle East there have been continuous efforts to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Since the beginning of the Persian Gulf War, a major concern of the FOR has been the suffering of the Iraqi people. Humanitarian aid and reconciliation efforts have continued. In the Balkans the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 led to the Bosnian Student Project, bringing young people into homes and schools in the US in order to continue their education.

Influence of the FOR

Although the Fellowship of Reconciliation has never been a large organization in terms of numbers, it has had a significant influence on the peace movement in the US, especially in the pacifist wing, and in some cases on the society in general. From the earliest years a major focus has been on the human rights of conscientious objectors who were very harshly handled in the first World War. Direct intercession with President Wilson in 1918 brought about changes at a federal prison. The following years led to legal recognition of all religious objectors by 1940, and plans for alternative civilian service. FOR staff devoted much effort to counseling and helping COs and their families. At the end of World War II there was a major effort by the US Army and veterans organizations to impose Universal Military Training on all young men. FOR leaders formed a coalition called National Council Against Conscription which conducted an 8-year campaign (1944-1952) and defeated the plan.

The FOR was a significant channel for the transmission of Gandhian principles and the practice of nonviolence to the USA, particularly for the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King's leadership. From the 1920s on a good number of FOR members had direct contact with Gandhi and his ashrams in India. Books by two of his disciples were published in the 1930s and widely used in the FOR: The Power of Nonviolence by the American Quaker Richard Gregg and War Without Violence by Krishnalal Shridharani, an Indian graduate student. The combination of the publications and personal experiences became helpful for the training of leaders in the practice of nonviolence for three decades.

Also in the 1920s racial justice and harmony in the South became a special concern of the FOR. Fulltime regional secretaries worked there from 1929-1946, providing leadership for integrated grassroots work. In the 1940s two young African American men on the national FOR staff worked throughout the country with youth and race relations institutes. In 1942 the combination of Gandhian nonviolence and interracial direct action resulted in the formation of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). It was intimately related to the FOR, sharing staff and office space until 1957. Jointly sponsored workshops and institutes led to the struggle for the integration of public facilities in Washington, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver and other cities. The Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 led to very close collaboration between the FOR and Martin Luther King. His rise to prominence facilitated the acceptance of FOR's commitment to nonviolence on the part of Black ministers. Out of this relationship came the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. Ongoing training in the philosophy and practice of nonviolence by the national FOR staff still continues in countries around the world.

Fellowship publications have been effective in spreading the peace message both within and beyond the membership. The World Tomorrow was published 1918-1934 as a Christian socialist journal, but not as an official FOR organ. Its editors and contributors were nationally known, and it was widely circulated. It was followed by Fellowship which has continued without interruption since 1935. Indexing and abstracting in eight periodical services in the 1990s extends its usefulness beyond the membership. In earlier decades the publications program included short books, pamphlets and leaflets, often used as study resources. The greetings card program, started in the 1940s, adds another dimension to the public outreach.

The interfaith nature of the Fellowship of Reconciliation is a distinctive contribution to the peace movement. Although it was founded by Christians, over the years its adherents have broadened their concept of the spiritual sources of love and truth. The membership now embraces people of many faiths, and there are affiliated groups which include the Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim Fellowships as well as Christian denominational ones. These people with a common bond and a resolve to work together nonviolently for a better world are in a unique position to serve today's diverse society.

Other organizations and groups which FOR helped to launch or organize:

National & International FOR Offices

The national office of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA) was located successively at seven addresses in New York City from 1916 to 1957, when it was moved to Nyack, NY on the Hudson River. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for the records of the FOR-USA. The organization is affiliated with the International FOR (IFOR) which was founded in 1922. It now includes some 40 national Fellowships on all continents. The IFOR secretariat has been located in Alkmaar, Netherlands since 1977. The archives are in Berlin with the Central Archives of the Evangelical Church of Germany.

The SCPC was named the official depository of the records of the FOR by a vote of the Executive Committee in June 1947. The initial step had been made in 1937 by the curator, Ellen Starr Brinton, who contacted John Nevin Sayre. He sent the first deposit of 160 items in 1946, and he continued to be the main liaison for the next twenty years. Minutes and related papers, followed by large quantities of pamphlets and miscellaneous materials, were received in 1947-1949.

The correspondence of A.J. Muste for 1940-1947 represented the first staff files to be added to the holdings. They were received in 1954, following his retirement as executive secretary. This significant acquisition amounted to almost half of the collection at that time which was then organized in 34 document boxes, as shown in the Checklist of 1955. Three additional boxes of International FOR records appear on a later list.

In 1966 Sayre turned over to the SCPC the following materials: documents about the founding conference of the FOR in 1915, the first membership lists and some early correspondence. These had been in his care until after the publication of Vera Brittain's history of the FOR.

The largest acquisition of FOR records occurred in the summer of 1975. It comprised an accumulation of nearly forty years, and amounted to about 100 cartons. They encompassed the wide range of programs from the 1930s to the end of the Vietnam war, policy issues, and administrative records. Additional related materials continued to arrive in 1976 to 1978. A significant component of these accessions in the 1970s was the files of John Nevin Sayre. Because of their extent and unity, it was decided that they should be a separate document group, DG 117, the John Nevin Sayre Papers.

In the 1980s deliveries came by car from the national office about every two years, as opportunities arose. These consisted mainly of files of program staff members. In the 1990s several executives sent some non-current files. Other materials came from local groups. A large accession in 1998 included some combined files of administrative assistants, and also staff correspondence related to publications and program work.
From time to time single acquisitions have been received from sources other than the national office. They include items like the following:


Some gaps in the files should be noted. Perhaps the officers and staff in the early years were unaware of the importance of keeping records for historical purposes. Possibly some things were lost or left behind when the office was moved from place to place in New York City and, finally, to Nyack in 1957. The curator of the SCPC wrote to Sayre in November 1957 about the absence of any FOR correspondence prior to 1940. The inquiries he made proved fruitless. He still had his own files pre-dating 1940, but they were not the main executive records. To this day there is a conspicuous gap in the correspondence of A.J. Muste. The SCPC accession records show that in 1954, following his retirement as executive secretary, "his entire correspondence for 1940-1947 was added to the FOR holdings". There is no mention of his 1948-1953 correspondence, nor has any explanation been found. Another puzzling situation is the paucity of materials from Bayard Rustin who was on the national staff 1941-1952. The ten folders of his correspondence have been augmented by miscellaneous materials collected from other sources.

The John Nevin Sayre Papers (DG 117) serve as an important complementary collection. Sayre's tenure on the national staff extended from 1921 to 1967. He was methodical and frugal by nature, and he seemingly saved everything. Except for the sparcity in the early years of the FOR, his files are continuous, and they help to bridge some of the gaps in the organization's files. Also his experience in the international field gives an additional dimension to the FOR records.

The SCPC receives regularly the essential records of minutes and reports of the FOR National Council and Executive Committee. Releases, general mailings and occasional publications are usually sent from the national office. The transfer of inactive files of staff members continues, but irregularly.

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for the records of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the USA (FOR-USA). The records begin with the founding conference in November 1915 and continue to the present. The earliest historical records include minutes of the conference, correspondence of the first officers and leaders, membership lists, leaflets stating the principles of the organization, and circular letters.

The basic administrative records are the minutes and reports of the National Council and Executive Committee (1916-date). By-laws were adopted in 1964. Committee work (administrative and program) is represented by minutes and releases, mainly from the 1940s-1950s. There are minutes of the executive staff meetings, and also staff memoranda, for the years 1946-1980. National and regional conferences have been held since 1916. Programs and other materials provide information about these and other similar gatherings. Anniversaries and other special events, celebrated from 1954 to 1990, are represented by invitations, correspondence and programs.

Files of the executive secretaries/directors constitute an important category of both the administrative and program records. They consist mainly of correspondence, with other items intermingled. The principal files are those of Edward W. Evans (1916-1919), A.J. Muste (1940-1947), John M. Swomley (1953-1960), Alfred Hassler (1960-1974), Barton Hunter (1974-1979), Richard Deats (1979-1984), Doug Hostetter (1987-1993), Jo Becker (1993-1997).

Correspondence is found throughout much of the collection, especially in the program files. Examples of subject areas in which correspondence and other written materials are found include:


Significant correspondents include James Armstrong, Anne Bennett, Daniel Berrigan, Ethelwyn Best, James E. Bristol, Emilio Castro, Edwin T. Dahlberg, David Dellinger, James & Shelley Douglass, Robert F. Drinan, Dan R. Ebener, W.H. Ferry, Caleb Foote, Harrop Freeman, Larry Gara, Richard B. Gregg, Martin Luther King, James M. Lawson, Sidney Lens, Dorothy Maas, David McReynolds, Nhat Hanh, Adolfo Pérez-Esquivel, Robert Pickus, Wilson Riles, Michael A. Robinson, Constance Rumbough, Bayard Rustin, Howard Schomer, Michael Scott, Evan Thomas, Willard Uphaus, Charles C. Walker, Arthur J. Waskow, Herman Will, Gordon C. Zahn, Carl Zietlow.

National FOR periodicals are shelved with the Periodical Collection of the SCPC. Included are The News Letter (1916-1934), Fellowship (1935-date) and newsletters, some of which are from regional and local groups. The journal The World Tomorrow (1918-1934) was published by Fellowship Press, but it was not an official organ of FOR. Additional newsletters and occasional publications are located in the FOR records.

The collection also includes many pamphlets, leaflets and brochures which the FOR published as part of its literature production, mainly during the 1920s-1950s. The Martin Luther King comic book (1957) in English & Spanish editions, was used in the civil rights movement. Greeting cards have been an annual feature since 1945.

Releases/circular letters to members and the public have been issued continuously since 1915 likewise news releases. Also included in the collection are statements on public issues adopted by the FOR National Council (1925-1979), newspaper advertisements (1960-1976) and scattered press clippings.

The collection also includes posters, resource kits, reference materials, buttons, scrapbooks, and audio-visual resources. Photographs (11 boxes grouped by persons and subjects) are located in the SCPC Photograph Collection.

When the collection was initially processed in 1955 it consisted of the following groups:


These core materials occupied 28 numbered document boxes (12 linear feet).

Subsequently an additional category from regional FOR groups (newsletters and miscellany) increased the collection to 34 boxes. Later a collected group of materials of the International FOR (mainly from John Nevin Sayre) was added in three boxes, and placed at the front of the 34 boxes.

The arrangement was simple and probably adequate for the materials on hand, but there was no provision for expansion or adding ongoing materials like minutes, releases and publications.

The major accessions of 1975 on through the 1990s made it necessary to devise a new scheme. A solution was suggested by the way the document boxes stood on the shelves, and also the use of the term American Section for the main part of the collection. This three-part plan evolved:

Section I. International FOR
Section II. Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA (FOR-USA)
Section III. Regional and Local Groups of FOR-USA

Development of the plan for Arrangement

Section I. International FOR &endash left unchanged.

Section II. FOR-USA - divided into ten Series, A to J.

Series A was designated for the existing 28 boxes of FOR-USA files, prior to the accessions of 1975. The original groups were made Subseries A-1 to A-5, and the sequence was retained. More boxes were added as needed, especially for Minutes.

Series B to J were added, as follows, to provide a framework for the new accessions:

Series B.

Administration and general

Series C.

Executive Directors (in chronological order)

Series D.

Program staff members, A-Z

Series E.

Program areas & special projects, A-Z

Series F.

Coalitions & conferences

Series G.

Vietnam war & post-war period
(subseries 1-10)

Series H.

Dai Dong (transnational peace effort related to environment)

Series I.

International FOR (IFOR) 1960-1980s

Series J.

Miscellaneous program areas & staff, 1975-


Some of the materials in Section II were easily combined as Administrative and General in Series B. Others were grouped as Coalitions and Conferences in Series F. Series I brings together under the rubric of the IFOR a considerable amount of materials which had been scattered in the files of individual staff members.

Series C was made for the files of the Executive Secretaries (organized in chronological order). Exceptions are noted in the Arrangement for the series. The most extensive files are those of Alfred Hassler who was Co-Secretary and then Secretary from 1958-1974. He joined the FOR staff in 1942 as director of publications and editor of Fellowship . His 30 years of files, mainly correspondence, were received in good condition. They have been kept together as a unit, along with his personal files and those of the literature department. The only significant portion transferred elsewhere were the IFOR files, in order to combine them with other international materials of a 30-year period. Hassler's close relation with the IFOR began in 1960, and he was part-time secretary in 1970-1974.

The large majority of materials in Section II is related to the FOR programs &endash the issues involved, the positions taken, and the actions/responses made. It was decided to have two categories of program files. One is for program staff members (Series D) in cases where individuals were strongly identified with particular fields and the unity of their files deserved to be maintained. The other is for major program areas, often of long-term duration (Series E). The prime example is the race relations work which began in the late 1920s. In this case, and others, numerous staff persons have been involved and there is a distinct advantage in having their subject materials combined. That is true also of major programs related to the Vietnam War and the transnational peace effort called "Dai Dong". Various special programs are also included here. In addition several work areas, like the affiliated peace fellowships and youth work under short-term directors, fit readily into combined staff files, where the focus is more on the program than individual staff members.

Section III. Regional & Local Groups &endash expanded into three parts.

Series A contains the regional newsletters and miscellany, originally in Boxes 29-33.
Series B has later materials from local FOR groups, 1970-1990s.
Series C has records of individual urban branches. Those from Philadelphia, the most extensive, are explained as follows.

Philadelphia FOR records were appended to the national FOR collection of 34 boxes in 1971. Two groups of materials for 1943-1956 and 1944-1947 were processed and listed, but not logically organized. Another group for 1942-1944 had turned up in 1966 in an office in Philadelphia which had been shared by FOR and WILPF. These three groups in the SCPC were confusing and wasteful of space. In the reprocessing they were integrated as logically as possible. The Philadelphia records were then grouped with those of Boston, New York and Princeton to form Series C, Urban Branches of the FOR-USA.


Section IV was added provisionally in 1998 to allow space for unprocessed materials, some newly received, so that they could be placed close to the processed FOR records, and also noted tentatively on the Checklist. See the list which follows Section III.

Records received from the FOR after 1999 are unprocessed. Temporary finding aids for these accessions are listed at FOR Later Accessions.


Pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) Founded

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a pacifist organization that became one of the leading advocates for the right of conscientious objection to participation in war during World War I, was founded on this day.

Norman Thomas, a major FOR leader, also became a founding member and long-time national board member of the ACLU (founded on January 19, 1920).

Later, in the early 1940s, members of FOR established the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), on March 9, 1942, which became one of the important civil rights organizations of the 1960s. CORE organized the one of the first sit-ins challenging segregated restaurants on May 8, 1943 the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation a freedom ride challenging segregation in interstate bus travel that began on April 9, 1947 and the famous 1961 Freedom Rides, also challenging segregated interstate bus travel that began on May 4, 1961, and is one of the iconic events of the civil rights movement.


Watch the video: LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring - Opening Scene - HDR - 4K -