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Social Change

How Can We Bend History?

A word about THE GLOBAL ARCHIVE PROJECT.  This archive records the collective experience of the several thousand people who took an active part in the thinking, organization and actions of the institutes up until 1988 — the work of the spirit movement (1966), the order (1967), the Ecumenical Institute of Chicago (1954) and the Institute of Cultural Affairs (1973). This archive also contains materials from the Christian Faith and Life Community at the University of Texas in Austin. For those of you interested especially in the thinking and work of Joseph Wesley Mathews, two volumes are available on Amazon — Bending History Vol I and Vol II from Resurgence Publishing. His personal papers are archived at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC.


This archive was created in large part out of the resolve of those involved to do pioneering work on behalf of the historical church and human society at large in the middle and late 20th century—a resolve to take personal and corporate responsibility for shaping a better world for future generations. Of the total archive, 20,000 items have been accessioned. Approximately 2000 of those are available digitally. Less than 100 of these are a part of this Social Change collection.

The Social Change Collection which follows gives access to the experience of a body of people who, with serious intent, sought to alter the course of history in the latter half of the Twentieth Century.  Three decades on, the papers themselves seem musty. Even to those of us who were there, much of the language is off-putting at first glance, like messages from a world of long ago and far away. Mark my word, however, the life experiences which these materials describe are much with us today.

Those people lived in a chaotic, crowded, rapidly changing world. So do we, and more so.

Those people struggled to understand the complexity of the social interactions policies and institutions shaping so much of their lives. So do we, and more so.,

Those people took upon themselves the responsibility to decide on behalf of all what was needed and to act on those decisions. So do we and more so.

Those people developed methods and approaches and internal resources that made them effective and gave them the courage to care. So must we and more so.

Those people reached out around the world far beyond their own situation in Global Campaigns to offer the fruit of their experience to men and women who care in organizations and communities in every continent on the planet. So must we, and more so.


My intent on this platform is to offer you, the searcher, a taste of our articulated experience enough so that you can choose wisely whether and how to explore further either

by going back with me into this intriguing history for wisdom

or by engaging today

with ICA’s around the world who carry on the legacy that has evolved, or

With ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) network of facilitators and trainers who are actively working with communities and organizations all over the place, or . . .

WARNING:  Read these Caveats before proceeding!!

We were not original thinkers. We borrowed many concepts and ideas.

Most all of the items in this archive are in the first instance internal documents,  They contain language not in common use.

By and large, we were “ordinary people” Few of us were accomplished writers or academics.

A lot of us, especially early on, were what today we would call “privileged” — we came from backgrounds with resources and mindsets that gave us voice.

The resources in this collection are part of the “whole cloth” of our communal experience.  Few are concentrated on a single topic, they twist and turn between strategies, spiritual insights and insider remarks.

Explore the collection.  It is organized in broad themes that link helpfully to other collections in this Archive–and your own journey

Grasp the sense of history that impelled us.  Do we still live in this world?

Explore the triangular model of society we created out of the wisdom of our time.  What picture of society do you operate from?

Look into the grassroots research and reinvention effort that transformed the Institute.  How are your connections being recreated?

Explore the programs, methods, philosophy and active spirit of planetary service that ensued.  How are you serving?

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