From 1950 to 1985, Gramercy Mansion was occupied by the Koinonia Foundation. One of the founders was Frank C. Laubach, internationally known for his work in spreading literacy in under developed parts of the world. Born in the small Pennsylvannia community of Benton, Frank was influenced by church & family to always give the best he had. His year at Perkiomen was a deciding factor in his lifelong commitment to missionary work. From being the fullback on the local football team, to winning the Maclean Prize at Princeton University (awarded by Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton) for his oratory “The Passing of War,” Frank developed the skills for success.
From high school days, Frank had been interested in bringing Christianity and education to the warlike Moros in the Mindanao region of the Philippines. His first efforts were unsuccessful. But, when he realized that the Moros also had something to teach and give, that he was not their superior by education or birth, he made friends. Realizing they had no written language, he developed the tools for writing down their language and teaching literacy. A newspaper was published and epic poems were written down. The desire to learn spread like wildfire through the Moros and the Literacy Movement began along with an interest in the faith that Frank had. A chieftain started the idea of “Each one, teach one.”
From this beginning in 1930, Frank Laubach’s methods have been used throughout the world. He has been honored by governments, recognized as an authority on prayer, a Christian mystic, and a challenger of the world’s complacency for the uneducated majority.
In his seventies, he realized that an institution to train people in his methods of literacy, would insure the continuation of his programs. Thus the Koinonia Foundation with the help of other Christian leaders was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1950. Also taught at Koinonia were communication skills and organic farming. Today, we still have the original building where his classes were held, a white frame house (originally and still called Literacy.) Below are pictures from that era:
Dr. Laubach with Mae Ellen Ruddell. The Ruddells were the first trainee family to reach its foreign post after Koinonia training.
Dr. Laubach placing the cornerstone on an eight unit apartment building (Still called Memorial) that housed members of the community.
Some of the early Board Members– Dr. Laubach, Rev. C. Richmond, Anthony Brayton, Dr. Glenn Clark, Mrs. C. P. Briggs, Morton Greenberg, Louise Eggleston, Glenn Harding (Executive Director)
Note that these pictures come from the book Champion of the Silent Billion, The Story of Frank C. Laubach, “Apostile of Literacy”.