Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation 

Working for peace, social justice and principled nonviolence since 1976

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The Olympia FOR chapter:

The Fellowship of Reconciliation seeks more than modest reforms.  We work actively for very profound change, including a peaceful and just foreign policy, a just and nonviolent society at home.  We are up against powerful and entrenched interests that profit and benefit from the status quo.  It can feel lonely – but we are not alone!  The Fellowship of Reconciliation extends far beyond Olympia.  We are active at the regional, national and international levels.


The FOR’s national level:

The national FOR’s Vision Statement is indeed very sweeping:

FOR's Vision: We envision a world of justice, peace, and freedom. It is a revolutionary vision of a beloved community where differences are respected, conflicts are addressed nonviolently, oppressive structures are dismantled, and where people live in harmony with the earth, nurtured by diverse spiritual traditions that foster compassion, solidarity, and reconciliation.

The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation is a local chapter of a nationwide organization that began in 1915 and has opposed every war from World War I onward.  The FOR has a rich history  http://forusa.org/about/history.html

In 2001 Richard Deats, one of our long-serving national staff members, wrote this about the FOR’s first 85 years:  http://forusa.org/nonviolence/0900_63deats.html


The national FOR’s founding:

The national FOR is part of the International FOR, which began in Europe in 1914 just as World War I was breaking out.  National FOR branches exist in about 40 nations, and local and regional FOR groups exist in dozens of places throughout the US.  This summarizes the FOR’s origin in Europe:

In 1914, an ecumenical conference was held in Switzerland by Christians seeking to prevent the outbreak of war in Europe. Before the conference ended, however, World War I had started and those present had to return to their respective countries. At a railroad station in Germany, two of the participants, Henry Hodgkin, an English Quaker, and Friedrich Sigmund-Schultze, a German Lutheran, pledged to find a way of working for peace even though their countries were at war. Out of this pledge Christians gathered in Cambridge, England in December 1914 to found the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The FOR-USA was founded one year later, in 1915.

FOR has since become an interfaith and international movement with branches and groups in over 40 countries and on every continent. Today the membership of FOR includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and people of other faith traditions, as well as those with no formal religious affiliation.


The FOR’s international level:

A few years after its founding, FOR members from various countries came together to found an explicitly international level of the growing Fellowship of Reconciliation movement.  Here is some information from the website of the International FOR (www.ifor.org):

Founded in 1919 in response to the horrors of war in Europe, IFOR has taken a consistent stance against war and its preparation throughout its history. 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 81 branches, groups, and affiliates in 51 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.

Peace Prize Laureates:  IFOR also has six Nobel Peace Prize Laureates among its former and present members. Jane Addams (1931), Emily Green Balch (1946), Chief Albert Luthuli (1960), Dr. Martin Luther King (1964), Mairead Corrigan-Maguire (1976), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1980) have all been or are actively contributing to dissemination of the teaching of non-violence.


The FOR in the Pacific Northwest:

The Olympia FOR is part of our regional network, the Western Washington FOR (WWFOR).  Chapters also exist in Lewis County (the Fire Mountain FOR, named after Mount St. Helens), Tacoma, Seattle, Spokane, and elsewhere in our region.  The Oregon FOR is active too.

Every year on the Fourth of July weekend more than 200 FOR folks of all ages from infants to people in their 90s come together from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and elsewhere for our annual conference at Seabeck on Hood Canal in Kitsap County WA.  We have done this for more than 50 years.  The FOR’s Seabeck Conference has helped to inform, inspire, and strengthen the FOR’s network throughout the Pacific Northwest.  This has been a major strength in our whole region’s network for peace, social justice and nonviolence.  Contact the WWFOR, the Oregon FOR, or the Olympia FOR for more information.  Pre-registration materials usually become available in April, and it helps to pre-register by late May or early June.


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