ARSP stands for Action Reconciliation Service for Peace. It can, in my opinion, just as well stand for Angels Reaching to Save People. For over 50 years, with a team of loyal partners and volunteers, this organization has been working toward reconciliation and peace. Other goals are to fight against racism, discrimination, and social exclusion. On a variety of educational, historical, political and social projects, each year around 180 volunteers work in thirteen different countries.
With a dedicated group of peace churches, volunteers, and the United Church of Christ, the ARSP began in 1968. As many know, at this point in history, the United States was struggling to overcome racism. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. Riots were numerous and the fighting in Vietnam was increasing. These church groups thought they could use help from these young and highly motivated volunteers. Since both Americans and Germans were facing similar problems with racism, the organization strived to create a bond of education and support between the countries. To promote this idea, volunteers began working at a variety of camps, community centers, halfway houses, and on Indian Reservations.
In the 1970s, many ARSP volunteers worked on helping migrant workers dealing with housing problems. In the 1980s, the volunteers began working with the Jewish community. In 1991, the ARSP joined with a similar organization in Germany called the ASF and the workings of these organizations were now able to become more international. By the mid 1990s, about half of the volunteers worked in Holocaust education or with the Jewish elderly. This volunteer work focused on reconciling the past tragedies against the Jewish population during World War II. Due to growing interest and support from the community, in 1998, the American Friends of the ARSP was born.
In the United States, ARSP is continually expanding its services and educational outreach, public relations, and fundraising work. Its board members are also active in recruiting American volunteers for volunteer service in Germany. In the United States, ARSP’s services are coordinated through an office in Philadelphia and are currently run by the director of the United States ARSP Program, Magdalena Scharf. Beginning in the 2000s, the organization branched out to include other countries such as Great Britain, Poland, and Ukraine and continues to expand.
Currently, in the United States, volunteers are active in ten cities. These groups either work with the Jewish community, work towards promoting civic education and ensuring human rights, work at completing social services for different groups of people, or work at other projects involving community organization and housing concerns. This organization was behind the release of the book, “Reconciling Lives”, which you can find information about its release and the events surrounding it in one of our previous posts.
Source: Action Reconciliation Service for Peace
Photo by Action Reconciliation Service for Peace