In December 1914, amidst the beginnings of the First World War, a group of Christians met in Cambridge, England, to discuss means of promoting peace. They founded an organization called the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in an effort to build a peacekeeping movement. A year later, in Long Island, New York, the first American branch of FOR was established.
Their official website, www.forusa.org, describes the group’s statement of purpose as follows: “The Fellowship of Reconciliation is composed of women and men who recognize the essential unity of all creation and have joined together to explore the power of love and truth for resolving human conflict.”
During the course of World War I, and long after a peace was reached, the movement continued to grow and expand. In 1916 FOR assisted in establishing the National Civil Liberties Bureau, better known today as the American Civil Liberties Union. During World War II, the group promoted peaceful solutions to conflict and fought against the internment of Japanese Americans. Today, FOR has become a strong interfaith network for social justice, with members of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, and many other faiths, including people who do not ascribe to a specific religious philosophy. There are branches of FOR in over 50 countries.
In the 1970s, FOR came to Scranton, Pennsylvania. This reporter had the opportunity to attend the April meeting and was eagerly welcomed into the group. The ten attendees introduced themselves and shared why the organization is important to them. Each member has a specific issue for which they advocate, from prison reform to environmental issues to women’s rights, and all are willing to work together to assist their colleagues in addressing these issues.
The focus of this most recent meeting was the rampant injustice within the legal systems of both Lackawanna County and the country at large. Members read through past issues of this publication and were horrified by the abuses suffered by local families at the hands of people whose job it is to protect the innocent. Representatives from the Scranton Fellowship of Reconciliation will be in attendance at the April 26 “Protecting Families” rally at Scranton’s Courthouse Square.
Scranton Fellowship of Reconciliation meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of every month at the Elm Park Church, 712 Linden Street. All are welcome to join or just to stop in and listen. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.