Frank Buchman

June 6, 1878 - August 7, 1961

Founder of the Oxford Group

From Pennsburg, Pennsylvania
Served in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Affiliation: Lutheran

"I can only tell you I sat there and realized how my sin, my pride, my selfishness and my ill-will had eclipsed me from God in Christ. I was the center of my own life. That big “I” had to be crossed out... I asked God to change me... It produced in me a vibrant feeling, as though a strong current of life had suddenly been poured into me, and afterwards a dazed sense of a great spiritual shaking up."

When Frank Buchman issued his call for a rededication to Christian values in May 1939, Europe was only months away from the explosive outbreak of the Second World War. That spring, however, Buchman was one of the nation's most popular and influential religious evangelists. His call for a "moral re-armament," which was also the name of the international group he had formed in Europe the year before, found many supporters in the United States, including Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman.

Born in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1878, Frank Buchman hailed from a family whose ancestors had emigrated from Switzerland to Pennsylvania in the 1700s. After attending a local school run by the Schwenkfelders (one of the German peace churches whose members had immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s), Buchman attended Muhlenberg College, then graduated from Mount Airy Seminary in Philadelphia. Ordained a Lutheran minister, he started a hospice program in Philadelphia for young men in need. Soon, however, financial troubles and conflict with board members led to his resignation and a crisis of faith.

In 1908, Buchman went to England, where he underwent a deep religious experience. Traveling in Europe and Asia, the young minister discovered the common bonds of humanity and determined that in order for us to live as God had intended, each person must first change his own life by becoming morally upright. Buchman believed that in God's eyes an upright life must be based upon four standards: absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love. Having reformed himself through these principles, Buchman spent the rest of his life spreading this gospel throughout the world. His gift for expressing his faith in non-religious language soon won him a growing force of like-minded disciples.

Buchman was not alone in his efforts. Indeed, moral pacifism had growing appeal in the early 1900s, especially after the horrors of the First World War increased opposition to war on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Before World War I, Pittsburgh Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie had funded the creation of what became the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), which by the 1920s was funding peace conferences and other anti-war activities. After the onset of the Great Depression, more and more Americans came to believe that the United States had been duped into entering the First World War by American corporations lusting for the huge profits of war.

Perhaps the most vocal critic of the war "racketeers" was the "Fighting Quaker," Smedley Darlington Butler. Born into a prominent Quaker family in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Butler had joined the Marine Corps, fought in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and in 1929 become the youngest major general in Marine Corps history. After his retirement in 1931, however, Butler campaigned actively against American military interventions, claiming that the American government waged war primarily to make money for corporations, and that he himself had served as a "gangster for capitalism."

In the mid-1930s, Americans were intent on not being drawn into another war, and Congress passed three neutrality acts to prevent it. Anti-war sentiment was so great that after the Japanese in 1938 sank the American gunboat Panay in China, 70 percent of Americans polled thought the United States should pull out of Asia.

In the 1920s, the press had begun to call Buchman's adherents the Oxford Group because of his work with university students in England. In Europe and America, pacifism was becoming an increasingly a secular and youth-based movement. In 1936, after undergraduate members of the Oxford Union at Oxford University voted 275 to 153 that "this House will not fight for King and country in any war," a half million American students left their classrooms and staged nationwide protests against the rising tide of militarism.

Deeply worried by the rise of Adolf Hitler, Buchman and some of his Oxford Group supporters went to Germany to spread the gospel of moral reform. When the Gestapo labeled the Oxford Group an arm of British intelligence and banned them from Germany, Buchman then spread his message to the Scandinavian countries. In 1938, with the world heading toward war, Buchman's group became known as Moral Re-Armament (MRA). As tensions mounted, Buchman and his associates became increasingly controversial. Insisting that he was soft on Hitler, a growing number of British newspapers and politicians labeled him a threat to England and a bad influence on the country's youth.

In May 1939, Buchman returned to the United States to spread his campaign for Moral Re-Armament among Americans. His message of unity and moral strength soon won many adherents, including Senator Harry Truman of Missouri, who in a speech to the Senate said, "It is rare in these days to find something that will unite men and nations on a plane above conflict of party, class and political philosophy." Other antiwar groups, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), also began to grow in popularity as the prospect of war with Germany loomed ever larger.

Support for Buchman's message of peace eroded quickly after American entry into the war. Despite nationwide clamor for its modification, the Selective Service Act of 1940 excluded only religious pacifists from military service, so many members of the MRA and other pacifist groups could not file for alternative service.

When critics accused Buchman's MRA members of being "draft dodgers," Truman and President Roosevelt at first shielded them from the draft by arguing that Buchman's people were helping the war effort by keeping up the country's morale in the time of crisis. Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison voiced the opinion that "MRA shares equally in importance with material re-armament . . . . Without character and a deep-seated moral re-armament bred in the fibre of our citizens . . . there will be little worth defending." As the need for soldiers increased, however, FDR had to back off in his defense, and a number of Buchman's supporters were drafted.

After suffering a stroke in 1942, Buchman returned to Allentown, where he spent the duration of the war, then renewed his international work for peace. When he died in 1961, supporters from around the world came to his funeral in Allentown. After Buchman's death, the MRA went into a period of decline, but eventually reorganized, and, in 2001, changed its name to Initiatives of Change. Buchman's movement for personal reformation was not limited to Christians. His vision also influenced the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and Up With People.

This is not our work. It can be found here



274 - June 22, 304

Early English Convert and Martyr


296 - May 2, 373

Twentieth bishop of AlexandriaFrom Alexandria

John Chrysostom

349 – September 14, 407

Archbishop of Constantinople

Augustine of Hippo

Nov. 13, 354 - Aug. 28, 430

Theologian and Writer


155 - 240

Theologian and Church Leader


387 - March 17, 493

Apostle to Ireland

Benedict of Nursia

480 - July 11, 543

Founder of 12 monasteries in Italy which would become the Rule of St. Benedict

Isidore of Seville

560 - Apr. 4 636

Archbishop of Seville and often viewed as the last Scholar of the Ancient World

Venerable Bede

672 - May 26, 735

Monk, Writer, and considered the "Father of English History"

Anselm of Aosta

1033 - Apr. 21, 1109

Benedictine Monk and Founder of Scholasticism

Hildegard of Bingen

1098 - Sept. 17, 1179

German Writer, Composer, Philosopher, and Mystic

Francis of Assisi

Oct. 4, 1181 - Oct. 3, 1226

Founder of the Franciscan Order

Thomas Aquinas

1225 – March 7, 1274

Priest and Theologian, Known as Doctor of the Church

Dante Alighieri

June 1, 1265 - Sept. 14, 1321


Catherine of Siena

Mar. 25, 1347 - Apr. 29, 1380


John Wycliffe

1320 - Dec. 31, 1384

Theologian, Preacher, and Translator of the Bible into English

Jan Hus

1369 - July 6, 1415

Reformer and Theologian

Joan of Arc

Jan. 6, 1412 - May 30, 1431

Defender of and Warrior for France during the Hundred Year War

Ulrich Zwingli

Jan. 1, 1484 - Oct. 11, 1531

Pastor, Theologian, and Leader of the Reformation in Switzerland

Martin Luther

Nov. 10, 1483 - Feb. 18, 1546

Friar, Reformer and Hymn Writer

Thomas Cranmer

July 2, 1489 - Mar. 21, 1556 Leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury

Ignatius of Loyola

Oct. 23, 1491 - July 31, 1556 Founder of the Society of Jesus

John Calvin

July 10, 1509 - May 27, 1564

Theologian and Pastor

René Descartes

March 31, 1596 - Feb. 11, 1650

Philosopher, Mathematician and Writer

Blaise Pascal

June 19, 1623 - Aug. 19, 1662 Mathematician, Physicist, Inventor, Writer, and Philosopher

Anne Bradstreet

March 20, 1612 - September 16, 1672

Early English Poet

Samuel Wesley

Dec. 17, 1662 - Apr. 5, 1735

Pastor, Poet, and Father of John and Charles Wesley

Isaac Watts

July 17, 1674 - Nov. 25, 1748 Composer, Theologian and Philosopher

Jonathan Edwards

Oct. 5, 1703 - Mar. 22, 1758

Pastor during the America's First Great Awakening

George Whitefield

Dec. 27, 1714 - Sept. 30, 1770

Evangelist during the First Great Awakening

John Francis Wade

Apr. 16, 1711 - Aug. 16, 1786


Charles Wesley

Dec. 1, 1707 - Mar. 29, 1788


John Wesley

June 28, 1703 - Mar. 2, 1791

Itinerant Preacher and Founder of Methodism

Isaac Backus

Jan. 9, 1724 - Nov. 20, 1806

Preacher who campaigned against state-established churches

John Newton

July 24, 1725 - Dec. 21, 1807

Slave Ship Captain turned Minister and Writer of "Amazing Grace"

Francis Asbury

Aug. 20, 1745 - Mar. 31, 1816

Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church

Richard Furman

Oct. 9, 1755 - Aug. 25, 1825

President of the Triennial Convention

William Blake

Nov. 28, 1757 - Aug. 12, 1827

English Painter, Poet and Printmaker

Richard Allen

Feb. 14, 1760 - Mar. 26, 1831

Preacher and Founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

William Wilberforce

August 24, 1759 - July 29, 1833

Politician who single-handedly abolished Great Britain's Slave Trade

William Carey

August 17, 1761 - June 9, 1834

Missionary, founder of first college in India and founding member of Baptist Missionary Society

Charles Simeon

Sept. 24, 1759 - Nov. 1, 1836

Pastor and a Founder of the Church Missionary Society

William Wordsworth

Apr. 7, 1770 - Apr. 23, 1850


Søren Kierkegaard

May 5, 1813 - Nov. 11, 1855

Philosopher and Father of Existentialism

Abraham Lincoln

Feb. 12, 1809 - Apr. 15, 1865

16th President of the United States

John Henry Hopkins

Jan. 30, 1792 - Jan. 9, 1868

First Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont

David Livingstone

Mar. 19, 1813 - May 1, 1873

Medical Missionary to Africa

Phoebe Palmer

Dec. 18, 1807 - Nov. 2, 1874

Evangelist and Founder of the Five Points Mission

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Nov. 11, 1821 - Feb. 9, 1881

Writer and Journalist

Horatio Spafford

Oct. 20, 1828 - Oct. 16, 1888 Lawyer

John Henry Newman

Feb. 21, 1801 - Aug. 11, 1890

Minister and Leader of the Oxford Movement

Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Dec. 13, 1804 - Dec. 31, 1891

First African Anglican Bishop in Nigeria

George Mueller

Sept. 27, 1805 - Mar. 10, 1898

Founder of Orphanages and Schools through England

Alexander Crummell

Mar. 3, 1819 - Sept. 10, 1898

Founding pastor of St Luke's Episcopal Church in Washington D.C.

D.L. Moody

Feb. 5, 1837 - Dec. 22, 1899

Founding Pastor of Moody Bible Church and Institute

Anton Chekhov

Jan. 29, 1860 - July 15, 1904

Physician, Playwright, and Author

Florence Nightingale

May 12, 1820 - Aug. 13, 1910

Founder of Modern Day Nursing

William Booth

Apr. 10, 1829 - Aug. 20, 1912

Founder of the Salvation Army

Lottie Moon

Dec. 12, 1840 - Dec. 24, 1912

Missionary to China

Mary Slessor

December 2, 1848 - January 13, 1915


Fanny Crosby

Mar. 24, 1820 - Feb. 12, 1915

Writer of more than 8,000 hymns

Andrew Murray

May 9, 1828 - Jan. 18, 1917

Writer and Pastor

Oswald Chambers

July 24, 1874 - Nov. 15, 1917


William Seymour

May 2, 1870 - Sept. 28, 1922

Preacher at the Azusa Street Revival

C.T. Studd

December 2, 1860 - July 16, 1931

British Cricketer and Missionary

Charles H. Gabriel

Aug. 18, 1856 - Sept. 14, 1932


Billy Sunday

Nov. 19, 1862 - Nov. 6, 1935

Baseball Player and Evangelist

G.K. Chesterton

May 9, 1874 - June 14, 1936

Writer and Journalist

Annie Armstrong

July 11, 1850 - Dec. 20, 1938

Missionary and Founder of the Woman's Missionary Movement

Simone Weil

Feb. 3, 1909 - Aug. 24, 1943

Philosopher, Mystic and Political Activist

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Feb. 4, 1906 - Apr. 9, 1945

German Lutheran Pastor, Theologian and Anti-Nazi Dissident

Milton Hershey

Sept. 13, 1857 - Oct. 13, 1945

Founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company

Nikolai Berdyaev

Mar. 18, 1874 - Mar. 24, 1948

Philosopher and Writer

Jim Elliot

Oct. 8, 1927 - Jan. 8, 1956


Frank Buchman

June 6, 1878 - Aug. 7, 1961

Founder of the Oxford Group

Lillian Hunt Trasher

Sept. 27, 1887 - Dec. 17, 1961 Missionary and Founder of the first Christian Orphanage in Egypt

A.W. Tozer

Apr. 21, 1897 - May 12, 1963

Pastor and Author

C.S. Lewis

Nov. 29, 1898 - Nov. 22, 1963

Professor and Author

Flannery O'Connor

Mar. 25, 1925 - Aug. 3, 1964


T.S. Eliot

Sept. 26, 1888 - Jan. 4, 1965


Paul Tillich

Aug. 20, 1886 - Oct. 22, 1965 Existentialist Philosopher and Theologian

Charles E. Fuller

Apr. 25, 1887 - Mar. 18, 1968

Radio Evangelist and Founder of Fuller Seminary

Thomas Merton

Jan. 31, 1915 - Dec. 10, 1968

Trappist Monk and Writer

Karl Barth

May 10, 1886 - Dec. 10, 1968

Theologian and Writer

Kyrillos VI

Aug. 2, 1902 - Mar. 9, 1971

Bishop of Alexandria

Reinhold Niebuhr

June 21, 1892 - June 1, 1971

Theologian and Writer

J.R.R. Tolkien

Jan. 3, 1892 - Sept. 2, 1973

Professor and Writer

Robert Pierce

Oct. 18, 1914 - Sept. 4, 1978

Founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse

Dorothy Day

Nov. 8, 1897 - Nov. 29, 1980

Journalist, Social Activist and Co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement

Jean Donovan

Apr. 10, 1953 - Dec. 2, 1980

Missionary to El Salvador volunteering to feed the poor during the country's civil war

Marshall McLuhan

July 21, 1911 - Dec. 31, 1980

Philosopher in Communications Theory

Keith Green

Oct. 21, 1953 - July 28, 1982

Musician and founder of Last Days Ministries

Corrie ten Boom

Apr. 15, 1892 - Apr. 15, 1983 WWII and Concentration Camp Survivor

Walker Percy

May 28, 1916 - May 10, 1990


Thomas A. Dorsey

July 1, 1899 - Jan. 23, 1993

Minister of Music and Composer

Jacques Ellul

Jan. 6, 1912 - May 19, 1994

Philosopher, Law Professor, and Sociologist

Mother Teresa

Aug. 26, 1910 - Sept. 5, 1997


Rich Mullins

Oct. 21, 1955 - Sept. 19, 1997

Musician, Composer and Music Teacher to Navajo children

John Wimber

Feb. 25, 1934 - Nov. 17, 1997

Founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship

Ivan Illich

Sept. 4, 1926 - Dec. 2, 2002

Philosopher and Priest

John Paul II

May 18, 1920 - Apr. 2, 2005

Bishop of Rome

Ruth Graham

June 6, 1920 - June 14, 2007

Author, Poet, and Wife of Billy Graham

Larry Norman

Apr. 8, 1947 - Feb. 24, 2008

Musician and Pioneer of modern Christian music

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Dec. 11, 1918 - Aug. 3, 2008

Writer and Historian

Allan Sandage

June 18, 1926 - Nov. 13, 2010

Astronomer who determined the first reasonably accurate values for the Hubble constant and the age of the universe

John Stott

Apr. 27, 1921 - July 27, 2011

Pastor, Theologian and Author

Brennan Manning

Apr. 27, 1934 - Apr. 12, 2013 

Evangelist and Author

Louis Zamperini

Jan. 26, 1917 - July 2, 2014

Olympic Athlete and War Hero

Truett Cathy

Mar. 21, 1921 - Sept. 8, 2014

Founding Owner of Chick-Fil-A Restaurants

P.D. James

Aug. 30, 1920 - Nov. 27, 2014


Jack Heaslip

Feb. 21, 1944 - Feb. 21, 2015

Parish Pastor and notably influential to the band U2

John Chacha

Jan. 15, 1955 - Apr. 16, 2015

Missionary and Founder of Teamwork City of Hope in Tanzania

Billy Graham

November 7, 1918 – February 21, 2018 Evangelist