These words, spoken by John Wesley over 200 years ago have been the inspiration for Methodism to re-launch the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) as All We Can. The new name and strengthened identity reflects their future role and vision, as well as its Methodist roots and heritage – with its echoes of John Wesley – going where the need is greatest.
All We Can traces its roots back to the 1940s, when Methodist minister Henry Carter felt the church had a responsibility to respond to the post-war refugee crisis in Europe. He pioneered the Methodist Refugee Fund as a personal initiative to raise money and collect supplies to relieve hunger and improve conditions among refugees, particularly in Austria and Germany. As the refugee situation in Europe became less demanding, the remit expanded and the organisation became known as the Methodist Relief Fund (MRF).
Through the 1950s and 60s the MRF increasingly provided practical relief in response to disasters – including a hurricane in the West Indies, famine in India, a fire in Burma, and the Hungarian uprising – largely working through Methodist channels. With growing concern about global hunger and poverty, Methodists were challenged to give one percent of their income for world development – a figure the government was called upon to match. In the 1970s a new World Development Fund was launched alongside the MRF, to encourage education and political action to address some of the structural causes of poverty.
In 1985, the Methodist Relief Fund and World Development Fund were merged to form the Methodist Relief & Development Fund (MRDF). One of its first tasks was to respond to a catastrophic famine in Ethiopia. However, their main work was increasingly about meeting longer-term needs, particularly by supporting adult literacy, basic healthcare, and agricultural training.
By 2013, MRDF was supporting long-term development projects with 38 partner organisations in 16 of the world’s poorest countries, with a focus on livelihoods, health and women’s empowerment. It continued to respond to emergencies, and resource campaigning and development education work in the UK.
All We Can has always been committed to reaching the most marginalised people where the need is greatest, and will continue to focus on communities which are often overlooked and underserved by larger agencies. By investing in partnerships they help to improve the quality of life and create positive, long-term change for individuals, families and nations.
For 70 years All We Can and its predecessors have worked at the forefront of relief and development in situations of great need around the world and with our support can continue to do so. All We Can has its roots in the Methodist Church, and its values are grounded in Christian principles. Just £10 a month is enough to train four masons in Uganda to work with local communities to build and maintain water sources, toilets and rainwater collection jars.
So, please give all you can to help people in some of the world’s poorest communities to become all that they can this harvest time.