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Abraham Vereide (October 7, 1886 - May 16, 1969) was a Norwegian-born Methodist clergyman and founder of Goodwill Industries of Seattle. In 1935, Vereide founded the prayer breakfast movement in the United States. In 1942, Vereide established International Christian Leadership, incorporated as Fellowship Foundation, in Chicago as the middle United States headquarters for his prayer breakfast and prayer cell planting ministry. He was the executive director of this until his death. In 1953, Vereide started the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, which would become known as the National Prayer Breakfast.[1][2][3]


Abraham Vereide was born in Vereide, Norway on October 7, 1886. He was a sheep farmer in Norfjord before emigrating to the United States in 1905.

Vereide was ordained a Methodist clergyman in Butte, Montana in 1906. He was educated at Northwestern University, Norwegian Danish Theological Seminary, Garrett Theological Seminary, and received an LLD degree from Seattle Pacific University. He was the pastor of the Norwegian Danish Methodist Luthern Episcopal Church at the corner of Stewart and Boren Streets in Seattle, Washington.

In 1916, Vereide founded Goodwill Industries of Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, while his friend and fellow Methodist clergyman, Edgar J. Helms operated an immigrant ministry out of Morgan Methodist Chapel in Boston, serving New England, which would become the national headquarters of a coast to coast movement, known as Goodwill Industries of America organized in the geographic pattern of the Methodist Church with directors and superintendents. In 1931, Vereide went to Boston to serve as associate general superintendent of Goodwill Industries and to work with Goodwill's visionary, Edgar J. Helms. Vereide also served as pastor of The Church of All Nations, Boston and as the executive secretary for Goodwill Industries of New England.[4]

In 1918, Vereide founded Beulah Retreat Center and Farm on Vashon Island, Washington for the vocational training and occupational development of Seattle's unemployed, displaced immigrants, unwed mothers, unskilled men, and homeless children.

New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt requested Vereide to speak in a conference concerning a social relief program for New York state. “He wanted me to take charge of a state program,” wrote Vereide, “and apply this principle of the Goodwill Industries in the expenditure of a fund of eighteen million dollars for the state. This I didn’t do, as the religious phases could not be included; but he also emphasized that what the state needed more than anything else was a spiritual upsurge. He called James Farrell, president of the United States Steel Corporation, and arranged for a few men to discuss the needs of the state.”[4]

Carl Vrooman, assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture under President Woodrow Wilson, gave Vereide a special appointment after Franklin Roosevelt was nominated for President. Vrooman had been tasked by Roosevelt with forming a super-cabinet as the advisory body for his administration on national policy. Vrooman had found that he and Vereide shared a mutual concern to save America from the political and economic breakdown that then existed. He asked Vereide to head the Social Service portfolio.[1]

In 1935, Vereide founded City Chapel at City Centre Seattle as a convergence of the city's decision makers to contemplate the needs, future and spiritual deficit in private and public life and to form prayerful solutions of magnanimity.

In 1936, Vereide established Christian Businessmen's Committee which provided a daily luncheon gathering for leaders of the city's retail, trade and banking communities. His views on urban renewal were sought and implemented in San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and New York. His recurring theme was that the head, heart and hand of necessity had to be actively engaged and energized spiritually to bring moral and economic recovery and transformation to the prevalent decay in the nation's metropolitan areas. Abraham addressed the United States Congress in 1936 and following launched a Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Richmond, Virginia.

In 1942, Vereide founded Fellowship Foundation Inc. in Chicago as the middle United States headquarters for the growing prayer cell and prayer breakfast planting ministry. He then returned to Washington, D.C. to develop prayer cells among national leaders. Senator Frank Carlson and Judge Boyd Leedom joined him in this pursuit. Conrad Hilton provided additional conference meeting spaces. President Franklin D. Roosevelt conferred with Abraham and President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the standard bearer of a new national movement to revitalize public reliance and allegiance to God: "one nation under God".

In 1952, Vereide's work spread internationally and was advocated by Queen Juliana of The Netherlands who became honorary Chairwoman of International Christian Leadership (ICL).

In 1953, Vereide established the Presidential Prayer Breakfast uniting in contrite reflection representatives of all three branches of the United States government. This was later to be called the National Prayer Breakfast.

Vereide died of a heart attack on May 16, 1969, the night following his return to Washington from giving the keynote address at the Louisanna Governor's Prayer Breakfast. He was 82 years old.[5]


  1. ^ a b Grubb, Norman (1965). Modern Viking. Zondervan Publishing House. ASIN B000L3L6EA.  
  2. ^ "'Family': Fundamentalism, Friends In High Places". National Public Radio. July 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-02. "The Family was founded in 1935 by a minister named Abraham Vereide after, he claimed, he had a vision in which God came to him in the person of the head of the United States Steel ..."  
  3. ^ Sharlet, Jeff (2008). The Family: Power, Politics and Fundamentalism's Shadow Elite. University of Queensland Press. ISBN 0702236942. "The man is a Norwegian immigrant named Abraham Vereide, known to most as Abram, a preacher who has found in America the stature and respectability ..."  
  4. ^ a b Grubb, Norman. "Incidents in the Life of a Modern Viking... Broadening Horizons". Retrieved January 12, 2010.  
  5. ^ "Records of the Fellowship Foundation - Collection 459". Billy Graham Center - Archives. Wheaton College. November 7, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2010.  


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