Fellowship of Reconciliation

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR or FOR) is the name used by a number of religious nonviolent organizations, particularly in English-speaking countries. They are linked by affiliation to the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR).

In the United Kingdom, the acronym "FoR" is normally typeset with a lower-case "o", and an E added for England (FoRE); elsewhere, it is usually typeset in all capital letters, as "FOR", such as in "IFOR".

The FoR in the United Kingdom

The first body to use the name "Fellowship of Reconciliation" was formed as a result of a pact made in August 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War by two Christians, Henry Hodgkin (an English Quaker) and Friedrich Siegmund-Schultze (a German Lutheran), who were participating in a Christian pacifist conference in Konstanz in southern Germany. On the platform of the railway station at Cologne, they pledged to each other that, "We are one in Christ and can never be at war." To take that pledge forward, Hodgkin organised in 1915 a conference in Cambridge at which over a hundred Christians of all denominations agreed to found the FoR. They set out the principles that had led them to do so in a statement which became known as "The Basis".[1] It states:

Because the membership of the FoR included many members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), who reject any form of written creed, it has always been stressed that the Basis is a statement of general agreement rather than a fixed form of words. Nonetheless the Basis has been an important point of reference for many Christian pacifists.

The FoR had a prominent role in acting as a support network for Christian pacifists during the war and supporting them in the difficult choice to become conscientious objectors - and in taking its consequences, which in many cases included imprisonment. In the interwar years it grew to be an influential body in United Kingdom Christianity, with federated associations in all the main denominations (the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, the Methodist Peace Fellowship, the Baptist Peace Fellowship, etc.) as well as a strong membership among the Society of Friends (Quakers). At one time the Methodist Peace Fellowship claimed a quarter of all Methodist ministers among its members.

During the 1930s, the FoR's members included George Lansbury.[2]

The FoR was active in the anti-war movement of the 1930s, and provided considerable practical support for active pacifism during and after the Spanish Civil War. It could be argued that it lost influence when the Second World War came, was won, and was widely perceived as morally justified, especially as the horrors of Nazism became known in the post-war period. Equally, it could be argued that the questionable morality of the Cold War threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction again vindicated the FoR philosophy. The FoR retained considerable strength in post-second world war British Christianity, and many of its members were active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1950s and 1960s. Prominent members included Donald Soper, a high-profile President of the Methodist Conference of the period and later a member of the House of Lords. With the continuing decline of Christianity in Britain, the FoR has lost influence, although active Christians in the UK are now probably further to the left politically, on average, than they were in the 1930s or 1950s.

FoRE remains active: Norman Kember, the British peace activist kidnapped in Iraq in December 2005 was a member of the Baptist Peace Fellowship and a Trustee of the FoRE. There are Roman Catholic members of FoRE, and although most Catholic pacifists affiliate instead to the specifically Catholic peace organisation, Pax Christi, FoRE and Pax Christi work closely together. Although many members have universalist sympathies and are happy to co-operate with pacifists of other faiths or none, the FoR in England has remained a distinctively Christian organization. However, with a number of Hindu, Buddhist and other supporters, members, and staff, there is a degree of flux here as well.

Currently, there are separate FoR organizations in England, Scotland and Wales.

The FOR in the United States

Fellowship Europe

The Fellowship also has a European branch. In the post-World War Two period, the secretary of the European FOR was Pastor André Trocmé, known for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of France. [3]

Religious Peace Fellowships

Since 1935, FOR has helped form, launch, and strengthen peace fellowships of many faith traditions to form a network of faith-based nonviolent action. Membership of these peace fellowships has changed and grown over the past decades; what follows are fellowships that are currently affiliated with FOR:

See also


  1. "The Basis on the FoR (England) website". For.org.uk. Archived from the original on 20 July 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  2. Schneer, Jonathan (1990). George Lansbury. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 178. ISBN 0-7190-2170-7. LCCN 90039739. OCLC 246898140.
  3. Thomas W. Currie, Searching for Truth: Confessing Christ in an Uncertain World. Westminster John Knox Press, 2001 ISBN 0664501397 (p.99 ).

Further reading

External links

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