The International Council* of the IARF had its annual meeting on 19-20 April in IJmuiden, the Netherlands. It was an occasion to share experiences, concerns, ideas and moments of meditation, and savour the atmosphere of diversity, friendship and cooperation that characterizes IARF. This time several people joined the session by teleconference to make the meeting as productive as possible. Lawrence Adera, Secretary of the Kenya Chapter, talked about the challenges facing the chapter and the hopes he has for the future, while the RFYN (youth) council member from India joined the meeting this way as she was unable to attend personally.
The Council reviewed last year’s work and evaluated our progress in key areas. Special emphasis was put on plans to increase our impact and efficiency. In order to facilitate this the Council worked on improving the financial prospects, updating the statutes to remove inefficiencies in the way IARF operates and better serve the current needs of the organization, as well as on expanding our activities by reaching out to new partners. The progress of various projects we fund and organize has been examined and new grants awarded to support the efforts of our member organizations and partners to further our goals: human rights education, facilitation of interreligious dialogue and collaboration, promotion of liberal religiosity and interfaith work.
A topic of special importance was of course the upcoming World Congress, which will take the form of a broader interfaith conference and will be held at the end of July/beginning of August 2018 in Washington D.C., USA. The Congress is being organized by our member group, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the US Chapter and the co-sponsors, the United Religious Initiative and Religions for Peace USA. It will be the sixth Congress in the United States (the last one was held in 1987 in Stanford, CA; see list of past Congresses here or read about our history here).
The Council reviewed the progress of preparations, which are being directed by the Host Committee presided by the council member from the United States, Eric Cherry, and members of our US Chapter, and made decisions that will enable us to publicly announce details of the Congress very shortly. As soon as the last details are agreed upon, most likely within a month, you will find extensive information on it on this website, our social media and in many other places. The Congress is shaping up to be a wonderful, inspiring event that will once again bring together the IARF community to worship, share, learn, train and take pleasure in each other’s presence. We’re looking forward to it with anticipation and a lot of enthusiasm for the work that must be done to make it a memorable occasion.
* The Council is our governing body elected at quadrennial World Congresses and currently comprising 11 members from all over the world: America, Europe, East and South Asia, and representing Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Shinto, Buddhist, and other religions, and thereby reflecting our commitment to diversity (read more on the Governance page).