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Collection 459 Records of Fellowship Foundation

Identifier: CN 459

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, reports, minutes of meetings, reference files, clippings, newsletters and other material related to the work of the Foundation (also known as International Christian leadership) which involved developing small group prayer fellowships, especially among government, business and academic leaders.

There is a great deal of information on the United States and other countries.  Also documented is the group's involvement in various community development, patriotic, and personal growth projects.


  • Created: 1937-1988, n.d.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of Fellowship Foundation materials in the Manuscripts Reading Room. Permission is required from the Fellowship Foundation to obtain copies of audio or video recordings. Contact the BGC Archives for the permission form.

Biographical or Historical Information

Fellowship of people concerned to provide a means for intimate small group sharing and prayer, especially for leaders in government and businness; the organization grew out of Abraham Vereide's work in Seattle in the mid-1930s, but from 1944 on was based in Washington D.C.; organizational structure was a secondary consideration when compared with the importance of informal contacts and understandings between participants; group was called by a variety of names, including International Christian Leadership and Fellowship Foundation; the branch in the U.S. was the most active, but there were similar fellowships in all parts of the world; the group's most visible activity was the National Prayer Breakfast in the United States and other countries, but was also involved in a wide variety of less publicized educational, philantropic, networking and discipleship programs; important leaders include Richard Halverson, Douglas Coe, Frank Carlson, Mark Hatfield, Harold Hughes, among others.

Historical Background:

Note: The events described in the chronology below, large public meetings, incorporations, etc. provide a framework for the history of Fellowship Foundation (more accurately the prayer group movement) but do not really capture its nature. From its beginning, Abraham Vereide and other leaders were determined that the movement not become a formal organization but carry out its objective through personal, trusting, informal, unpublicized contact between people. Although at times (particularly in the 1960s) tending very close to the kind of organization, boards and structures found in other Christian organizations, the movement has managed to reinvent itself continually to stay true to its original principles.

1934: Abraham Vereide, Methodist conference evangelist and former associate general director of Goodwill Industries, led a month of evangelistic meetings in San Francisco, which included regular breakfast prayer meetings of business leaders at the Pacific Union Club.

April 1935: Vereide pulled together a group of local businessmen to pray about perceived IWW and Socialist subversion and corruption in Seattle, Washington's municipal government. Group began to meet regularly and expanded to include government officials, labor leaders, etc. Other groups developed throughout the state, loosely coordinated by Vereide. Other early leaders in the movement were J. N. Davis, J. G. Kennedy, Carl Christopherson, William Day, and William St. Clair.

1937: Two hundred nine prayer breakfast groups had been organized throughout Seattle.

1940: Prayer breakfast for new governor Arthur Langlie attended by three hundred men from all over the state of Washington. Vereide traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest and later around the country, helping to develop similar groups. The idea of the groups, which were nondenominational, was to bring together civic and business leaders informally to share a meal, study the Bible and develop relationships of trust and support and to promote Christian principles. The Seattle group met every Thursday morning at the Washington Athletic Club.

Early 1940s: City Chapel was incorporated by the Seattle group and served originally as the national center for the movement, with Vereide as the executive director. An office was established at 311-312 Douglas Building in Seattle.

1941: Vereide talked with members of Congress about their starting a regular fellowship group.

1942: U. S. House prayer breakfast group started. Emphasis, as with other groups, was on low key, informal fellowship and encouragement, with little publicity.

1942: Sixty breakfast groups by this time in major cities around the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Vancouver, Washington.

Probably in 1942, Vereide began publishing a monthly newsletter called The Breakfast Luncheon Fireside and Campus Groups that contained a Bible study to be used by the groups, as well as information about activities of different groups and national meetings. The organization continued to publish a newsletter (sometimes more than one) through the years, although, like the organization, it went through many name changes. Among the names were The Breakfast Groups" Informer (ca. 1945-1946), The Breakfast Groups (ca. 1944-1953), International Christian Leadership Bulletin (ca. 1953-1954), Bulletin of International Christian Leadership (ca. 1954-1956), Christian Leadership (ca. 1957-1961), ICLeadership Letter (1961-1966), International Leadership Letter (ca. 1967), Leadership Letter (ca. 1963-1970).

1943: U. S. Senate prayer breakfast group started.

1943: National Committee for Christian Leadership (NCCL) incorporated to provide a minimal coordination for the movement, NCCL office moved from Seattle to Chicago (first to 505 Old Colony Building, then to 1208 Republic Building, 209 South State Street).

1944: Name changed to International Christian Leadership (ICL).

1/1944: Vereide met Mrs. Marian (Hoffman) Johnson on a visit to Washington. She later opened her large home at 6523 Massachusetts Avenue to the ICL for conferences and social gatherings. This became the group's first Fellowship House. Two important participants throughout the group's work in Washington were James Bell and Paul Temple.

12/1944: Vereide family moved to a Washington, DC suburb and the NCCL opened its office in the city at 744 Jackson Place, N.W.

1945: Fellowship Foundation incorporated to accept donations and property for the group.

1/19/1945: First prayer breakfast in Washington, DC, for members of the U. S. Congress

4/16/1945: A special prayer meeting of government leaders was held to pray for the nation after President Roosevelt's death. Group was led by Senators H. Alexander Smith, Lister Hill and publisher David Lawrence.

11/1/1945: Moved to new headquarters at 2324 Massachusetts Avenue, NW in Washington.

1/13-16/1946: Representatives from the breakfast groups, the Gideons, the Christian Businessmen's Committee and others met for a prayer conference on national needs.

1946: Vereide visited Europe and talked with Christian there about beginning ICL groups in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France and Germany. ICL agreed to cooperate with the British Victory Fellowship in Great Britain. Gustav Adolf Gedat of Germany was deeply involved in the activities of the groups in Europe from this time until his death in 1971. Throughout the years, one important aspect of the movement was the travel of its associates throughout the world to establish personal contacts with leaders in most countries of the world.

January 1947: Four day conference in Washington, DC resulted in the formation of International Council for Christian Leadership (ICCL). There were representatives from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Hungary, Egypt and China. ICCL was an umbrella group for the various national fellowships. ICCL was formally incorporated as a separate organization in 1953. ICL and ICCL were governed by different board of directors, but there was a coordinating committee consisting of four each from members of ICCL's board and the ICL's executive committee. Eventually Fellowship Foundation was created by the two organizations to maintain Fellowship House in Washington, DC as a spiritual service center.

1948: Alicia Abrahamsen, widowed daughter of Abraham Vereide, became hostess of Fellowship House and in later years helped organize women's fellowship groups in Washington and other cities.

1949: ICL's budget for 1949 - $32,700.

1949: Wallace Haines was sent to Europe by Vereide to represent ICL at a gathering of German Christians at Castle Mainau. Haines became the European representative of ICL.

1951: ICL's budget for 1951 - $34,000.

1952: Karl Leyasmeyer became the ICL's field representative in 1950 and continued with the organization for several years, speaking mainly at colleges and universities. Leyasmeyer also gave anti-communist lectures and produced the film Militant Liberty under ICL auspices. Other ICL field representative in the 1950s were Robert B. Doing, J. Edwin Orr, Robert Pierce, John W. Young, Wallace Haines, and Richard Halverson. The budget for ICL for 1952 was $39,000.

5/22-25/1952: International Conference of the ICCL in Noordwijk, Netherlands.

2/5/1953: First Presidential Prayer Breakfast held in the United States. Joint conference of the ICL and ICCL held from February 5-9. Senator Frank Carlson, an advisor to President Eisenhower and a participant in the ICL's program, played a prominent part in helping to organize this meeting and he remained an important participant in the group's work. The members of Congress involved in the congressional prayer breakfasts remained the prime organizers of the annual Presidential Prayer Breakfasts, which included people involved in prayer groups in other sections of the legislative, judicial and executive branches, as well as ambassadors, civic leaders from around the country and the world, and many guests not involved in the prayer breakfast movement. For many years, the Presidential Prayer Breakfast would be one of several events at this time of the year sponsored by ICL, others being seminars, workshops and similar meetings aimed at people more directly involved in the movement. These other events began to be discontinued in the 1970s. The Presidential Prayer Breakfast was also often called the National Prayer Breakfast and this latter eventually became the official title.

May, 1954: Two hundred forty delegates attended the ICCL's World Conference in Noordwijk, Netherlands. Countries represented included the United States, Germany, France, Great Britain, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and Greece. Frederick Fuhr served as assistant executive director of ICL in the United States. Vereide suffered a heart attack during the meeting but recovered.

2/3/1955: 3rd Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast.

8/3-7/1955: ICL's 20th anniversary conference, held in Seattle.

2/2/1956: 4th Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast.

5/3/1956: Richard Halverson became associate executive director of ICL. In addition, from 1958 on, Halverson was pastor at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Washington. He served as chaplain of the United Senate from 1981-1995. Throughout his time in Washington, Halverson, along with Vereide and later Douglas Coe, continued to be one of ICL's most influential leaders, regardless of his title.

9/12-16/1956: Biannual ICCL world conference in Noordwijk, Netherlands. At this point there were functioning ICCL groups in the United States, South Africa, Madagascar, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, India, South Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Formosa, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, and Bermuda.

1956: Fellowship House held two hundred Bible studies, held receptions and dinners for eighteen hundred guests; Richard Halverson's Perspective sent to a mailing list of four thousand every week; budget in 1956 - $112,000.

1957: One hundred twenty-five groups in one hundred American cities. including sixteen in Washington; 125 groups in other countries, including Canada, England, North Ireland, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Ethiopia, India, South Vietnam, Hong Kong, Formosa, Japan, S. Korea, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba, Bermuda; full-time staff in France, Holland, Hong Kong, Central America.

12/11/1958: Richard Halverson installed as pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Springfield, Maryland. He continued to serve as associate executive director of ICL.

1958: Clifton Robinson became associate secretary of ICL for Asia and worked breakfast and fellowship groups on that continent until 1965, when he returned to Washington, DC to work with internationals in that city and to help coordinate ICL's worldwide activities.

Albert Quie, elected representative from Minnesota, first attended the Congressional Prayer Breakfast and became an important leader in the movement.

3/12/1959: 7th Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast. Richard Nixon was the principal speaker (Eisenhower was unable to attend).

4/1959: Conference of the European member of ICCL in Strasbourg, France.

1959: Douglas E. Coe, formerly a Christian youth worker in the Pacific Northwest, became ICL's assistant executive director. Later Coe became associate executive director. Halverson was also an associate executive director. In 1959 there were eighteen breakfast groups in Washington, DC and two hundred around the United States.

William C. Jones, a California businessman, served as host of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington for the first time and continued to be a leader in ICL until his death in 1971.

2/18/1960: 8th Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel.

5/16-22/1960: 5th bi-annual world conference, Noordwijk on the Sea, Netherlands.

1960: 1st Governor's Prayer Breakfast.

1960: Combined budget of ICL and ICCL was $100,000.

2/9/1961: 9th Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast. Billy Graham was the principal speaker.

1961: ICL and ICCL's budget in 1961 was $150,000. There was a full-time, paid staff of nine (one based in Paris, another in New Delhi and the rest in Washington).

3/1/62: 10th Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast.

5/1962: World Conference in Paris and Versailles, France.

2/7/1963: 11th Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast at Mayflower Hotel. Billy Graham spoke.

10/24-26/1963: All-India Christian Leadership conference in Calcutta.

late 1963: New Fellowship House acquired on 2817 Woodland Drive, NW, in Washington, DC. Later the headquarters was moved to 2218 28th Street, N, and still later to 1904 North Adams in Arlington.

1963: Annual meeting of the ICL, held in Seattle. General M. H. Silverthorn elected president, succeeded Leedom.

2/5-8/1964: First National Leadership Workshop.

2/6/1964: 12th Annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast. Fred Heyn first began working with ICL at this time.

6/3/1964: First National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa, Canada

6/1964: Bi-annual World Conference held in Bad Godesburg, Germany. Forty-seven nations were represented.

7/5-11/1965: 30th anniversary of Prayer groups in celebrated in Seattle, Washington, July 5-11 at the first bi-annual national conference. Billy Graham spoke at the concluding banquet.

7/14-17/65: First Tokyo Christian Leadership Conference.

7/10/1965: Abraham Vereide resigned as executive director of ICL and was succeeded by Richard Halverson as acting director. Vereide continued to represent ICL at numerous speaking engagements and as director of Fellowship House and as founder-executive director emeritus. Coe was appointed senior associate executive director.

2/17/1966: 14th annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast at Shoreham Hotel. Fifteen hundred in attendance. Billy Graham was the principal speaker.

6/29-7/3/1966: International conference in Cambridge England. Three hundred delegates.

2/2/1967: 15th Annual National Prayer Breakfast, Message by Henry W. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury.

1/31/1968: 16th Annual National Prayer Breakfast.

9/9-12/1968: International conference in Noordwijk. Netherlands, attended from two hundred fifty delegates from over twenty counties.

1/30/1969: 17th annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast (name eventually changed to National Prayer Breakfast). Billy Graham gave the message, followed by comments by President Richard Nixon. Nearly two thousand in attendance. The breakfast was followed this day and the next by a series of seminars of the theme of effective leadership.

5/16/1969: Abraham Vereide died. Douglas Coe from this time on served as coordinator and leader of the movement, in as far as a person can be said to be the leader. Other important leaders were Halverson, Heyn, Senator Harold Hughes.

2/2/1970: 18th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. .

2/2/1971: 19th National Prayer Breakfast. Three thousand in attendance, two million listen via Armed Forces radio.

1971: One thousand mayoral prayer breakfasts in US, some form of the idea in seventy countries, with fifty countries having weekly meetings.

2/1/1972: 20th Annual National Prayer Breakfast.

1972: Name change to Fellowship Foundation. After consultations among leaders of the movement, including Coe, Halverson, Senator Mark Hatfield, and others, the organization was redesigned to be even more low key and to provide a central office where many dozen (one hundred fifty in 1985) of ministries could be administered. Each ministry had a contact person who was the liaison person with the Foundation. The Foundation mainly dealt with seeing that the goals of the ministry were in line with the overall goals of the Foundation and that monies were spent for the purposes for which they were budgeted, without getting involved in personnel and administrative matters of each ministry. In effect, the group adopted an even lower profile, serving as a channel of communication and a catalyst. Its three major interests came to be developing personal relationships between leaders and encouraging them in prayer, Bible study and personal Christian growth, youth work, and service to the poor. The group continued to help set up each year's National Prayer Breakfast, but most of its activities were done with no or very little publicity. This, along with the continual effort to avoid creating any kind of large, hierarchical ministry, grew out of a desire to avoid the rigidity that came with organization, to avoid public controversy, and to be as open as humanly possible to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The behind-the-scenes consultations, prayer fellowships, and support for programs in line with the objectives of the group were the real ministry of Fellowship Foundation.

1974: Judges from each court within Washington, DC began meeting under the chairmanship of a member of the Supreme Court.

1/30/1975: 23nd Annual National Prayer Breakfast.

1/27/1977: 25th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. James Wright, Speaker of the House, gave the message.

2/2/1978: 26th National Prayer Breakfast, Message was given by Max Cleland, Administrator of Veterans Affairs

1978: Over eighty countries had prayer breakfasts for their national legislatures. Eight countries had annual prayer breakfasts.

1/18/1979: 27th Annual National Prayer Breakfast, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

2/7/1980: 28th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. Message from Representative Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan.

2/5/1981: 29th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. Message from Governor Albert Quie of Minnesota.

2/4/1982: 30th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. Message from Senator Pete V. Domenici.

2/3/1983: 31st National Prayer Breakfast. Message from General John Vessey Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

1984: Representatives of one hundred nations attended the 32nd National Prayer Breakfast. Similar local prayer breakfasts were held in five hundred cities around the United States.

2/4/1988: 36th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. Senator William L. Armstrong of Colorado gave the message; President Reagan made some remarks.

1/31/1991: 39th Annual National Prayer Breakfast.

1994: Fellowship House in Washington, DC, sold. The organizational center (although that is perhaps too formal a designation for a very low key presence) for the movement was at The Cedars on 24th Street in Arlington, which the Foundation had owned for several years. Wallace Haines retired and returned to the United States, although he remained active in the organization's work.

2/3/94: 42nd Annual National Prayer Breakfast. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was the speaker.

2/2/95: 43rd annual National prayer breakfast.


240.00 Cubic Feet

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Other Descriptive Information

Researchers use this collection by the box instead of by the folder. Restricted folders will be removed from boxes before they are given to researchers.

Collection 459 Records of Fellowship Foundation
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US