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Making friends all around the world

Operation Friendship History

Operation Friendship originated in 1964. It was the brainchild of Rev. Wallace A. Shaw, an American minister at St. Margaret's Church of Scotland in Glenrothes. It was his desire to develop a youth exchange enabling the youth of one country to learn the different cultures of other countries and develop friendships around the world.

The invitation to participate in the idea was brought to the United States of America in the fall of 1964 by Mrs.David Anderson who shared it with her pastor, Rev. Robert L. Blackwell, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Kearny, New Jersey. Soon afterwards it was extended to the Second Congregational Church, Palmer Massachusetts, through its pastor, Rev. Guthrie R. Swartz.

The first delegates of Operation Friendship journeyed from Scotland, UK to the USA in 1965. The three youths were hosted by the Presbyterian Church in Kearny, New Jersey and the Second Congregational Church, Palmer, Massachusetts. The following year youth from New Jersey and Massachusetts visited Glenrothes, Scotland, UK. Operation Friendship was off and running.

Growth of OF was rapid, there were exchange programmes with Sweden in 1966 and with Ireland and England, UK in 1970. Further groups became members:

1973 Bavaria, Germany

1974 Wales, UK and the Netherlands

1993 Estonia

1995 Hungary

1998 Ukraine, now Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine

2016 France

The Czech Republic was a member from 1994 to 2005.