Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Almost 60 years after Moral Re-Armament was incorporated in Australia, its Annual General Meeting voted unanimously to update its legal name to ‘Initiatives of Change Australia.’ The decision brings the organization’s legal name in line with existing practice.

The AGM also elected three new council members and re-elected five existing members. The newly elected members are speech therapist Daya Bhagwandas and IT consultant Paul Ntoumos, based in Melbourne, and Leanne Bunn, who works at Randwick City Council in Sydney. The serving members who were re-elected are Penelope Herd, Francis Halim, Andrew Lancaster, Jonathan Lancaster and John Mills.

Sixty-one members of IofC Australia voted at the AGM on 15 August 2015, out of 98 members. The AGM was the 59th to take place since the organization was registered in Australia in 1955. Formal membership of IofC Australia is open to anyone adopting its values and practice, and continuing to be involved in its activities.

At the AGM, World War II pilot Jim Coulter recalled the early days of Moral Re-Armament in Australia, while Goretti Maguire-Nguyen, now a human resources specialist at World Vision Australia, offered her thoughts on recent developments.

Jim was one of the original seven people who, near the end of 1955, signed a Memorandum of Association to register Moral Re-Armament (MRA) as a not-for-profit unlisted public company. He said that MRA had been ‘a pace setter’ in post-war Australia and recalled the support that wartime Prime Minister John Curtin lent to the fledgling movement, at one point adjourning both Houses so that all Members could attend MRA’s ‘Battle for Australia’ presentation at Parliament House in Canberra in 1942.

Jim noted that the Australians who sacrificed their lives in World War II had been volunteers, not conscripts. He linked this heritage to that of immigrants who have faced great hardship to be in Australia, and he reflected on MRA’s role in healing others who have then taken the fruit of that healing to their homelands. He called on everyone to ‘tap into the spirit of adventure’ contained in Australia’s immigrant heritage, saying, ‘In sport, it’s giving your last five per cent that makes the difference between winning and losing: can we all aim to be 100 per centers?’

Goretti, former full-time volunteer and national youth coordinator for IofC Australia, said that courses such as Life Matters and Effective Living have changed the lives of many young people. Of her time with the organization, she said, ‘Armagh was vibrant…Lives were changed right in front of my eyes and yours. It was such hope-giving work.’

On her own experience, she highlighted that, ‘The ideas of personal reflection and moral growth resonated with me, but ultimately was the principles and the people, their care and kind-heartedness, that kept me coming back.’

Goretti encouraged IofC Australia to focus on its unique contribution to human transformation, ‘changing one person, one group at a time,’ and to extend its work through partnerships. Looking to the future, she said, ‘My hope is that IofC Australia emerges from the current cultural and structural change process with a vision and a focus on its core activities, and well-articulated short and long-term goals.’

At the AGM, IofC Australia Chair Andrew Lancaster quoted MRA founder Frank Buchman’s view, in 1949, that the future of the movement lay in ‘the recuperative and restorative processes of God…occurring in the future, in different lives in different countries, with the outcome being illustrated in national circumstances.’

Deputy Chair Mike Brown said that IofC Australia is on the threshold of recovery and growth, noting that the two-year Cultural and Structural Change process toward organizational change is nearing its end, and will soon launch a ‘roadmap process’ to implement the new ways of working.