The Principles and Ethos of Toc H

The ‘Spirit of Toc H’ that was discovered by the thousands of young men who ventured through the doors of Talbot House in Poperinghe in World War I was something quite special and those who survived decided that they should do something to preserve this Spirit. There was widespread support for this and it led to the formation of the Toc H Movement. In 1922 it was granted a Royal Charter and the first statement about what Toc H should stand for was drawn up. It was known as ‘The Main Resolution’ and in many Toc H centres today it is often prominently displayed and said before meetings. It reads as follows:

Remembering with gratitude how God used the Old house to bring home to multitudes of men that behind the flow of things temporal stand the eternal realities, and to send them forth strengthened to fight at all costs for the setting up of His Kingdom upon earth; we pledge ourselves to strive:

  • To listen now and always for the voice of God;
  • To know his will revealed in Christ and to do it fearlessly reckoning nothing for the world’s opinion or its successes for ourselves or this our family,
  • And towards this end:
    • To love widely
    • To build bravely
    • To think fairly
    • To witness humbly’

More recently a further statement about ‘The Spirit of Toc H’ was drawn up, reaffirming the sentiments expressed in the ‘Main resolution’: it is known as ‘The Statement of Re-affirmation’ and reads as follows:

Toc H is a Journey of Discovery, a journey which leads both outwards and inwards. What we believe affects how we live, and our experience affects what we believe. There are not two journeys but one, because they depend on each other. As we journey outwards, trying to build a loving society, we also journey inwards, seeking personal wholeness.

The Journey Outwards is the development of loving relationships in every sphere of life. It is a practical testing out of the principles expressed in the life of Jesus.

The Journey Inwards is a discovery of meaning, a test of belief, and an exploration and an openness to the Christian way.

Our Commitment to these simultaneous journeys is based on two principles:

  1. Toc H is open to all. This means that some members are committed to a church while some are exploring meaning and purpose in life with allegiance to any church. There is no credal test for membership
  2. Toc H is based on Christian insights and has Christian roots. We undertake to test in our own lives the validity of the claims made by Jesus in his teachings and in the way he lived.

A lighted Lamp is the symbol of Toc H.

Toc H in Australia has a ‘Vision Statement’ which seeks to put into practice the ‘Spirit of Toc H’ which had its origins in Talbot House in Poperinghe in 1915 and which has endured since then. It reads as follows:

Toc H will build better communities by reaching out to all in friendship and service, confronting prejudice and practising Christian values.’

Toc H Australia also has a Mission which reads as follows:

In pursuit of its Vision, Toc H Australia is committed to:

  • Upholding Christian values acknowledging the spiritual nature of all people;
  • Advancing universal friendship, seeking to lessen prejudices and recognising the needs of others;

  • Providing a range of community services from youth development through to elderly care and with the aim of building a better world;

  • Fairmindedness and the pursuit of improved understanding and reduced conflict between people and communities;

  • Social inclusion and equality; and

  • Networking domestically and internationally with Toc H world-wide.

The outward expression of the ‘Spirit of Toc H’ is found in what is known as the ‘Four Points of the Compass’. They are:

  1. Friendship: To Love Widely.

Toc H members are called on:

*to welcome all in friendship

*to lessen the prejudices which so often keep people apart

*the see the needs of others as their own

2. Service: To Build Bravely.

Toc H members are called on:

*to give personal service

*to study local, national and international conditions and their effects on others

and to challenge people to build a better world.

  1. Fairmindedness: To Think Fairly

Toc H members are called on:

*to listen always to the views of others

*to find their own convictions

*to influence public opinions so that conflict may be lessened by sympathetic and intelligent understanding

4. The Kingdom of God: To Witness Humbly

Toc H members are called on:

*to acknowledge the spiritual nature of all people

*to practise the Christian Faith

*to help the truth to prevail

The Toc H Prayer

Prayer has always been an essential part of the Toc H way of life. It played an important part in the daily life at Talbot House during World War I and since then it has been an important part of every Toc H gathering. Tubby Clayton, the Founder of the Toc H Movement, encouraged every Toc H member to know this prayer and to use it. The Toc H Prayer is:

O God, you have so wonderfully made Toc H and set us in it to see our duty as your will, teach us to live together in love and joy and peace; to check all bitterness, to disown discouragement, to practise thanksgiving, and to leap with joy to any task for others. Strengthen the good thing thus begun, that with gallant and high hearted happiness we may work for your kingdom in the wills of all people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’