The 36th Congress of the IARF
Faith in Reconciliation

4-6 September 2023, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (and online)

The 36th Congress of the IARF
Faith in Reconciliation

4-6 September 2023, Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár/Klausenburg), Romania (and online)

The multifaith, multicultural and multiethnic community that makes the IARF, whose history began 122 years ago in 1901 at the first international gathering of people inspired by liberal religion, invites everyone to join us in Romania – and online – at our 36th World Congress.

This year, for the first time in our history, we will make the Congress fully available online, hoping to make it possible for everyone to join us through an online environment that offers interactive live broadcasts of all events, side events for those in distant time zones and a virtual lobby where participants can get to know each other, talk, meet and experience the community dimension of the Congress even if they cannot travel to Romania.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive programme and other updates!


Cos tam

The Theme of our Congress is Faith in Reconciliation. We see conflict around the world and we see religious freedom threatened by those who are determined that their particular view must prevail. And yet, who will speak out for the oppressed? and who can be trusted to act impartially to reconcile our differences?

Many members of the IARF and our partners have been and still are involved in conflict resolution and reconciliation efforts around the globe – in Northern Ireland, Germany & Poland, Israel & Palestine, India, Korea & Japan, South Africa and elsewhere.

In the Congress, we hope to explore the ways in which religion can inspire and fuel efforts to bring about healing, reconciliation and just peace through stories, learning, art, interfaith worship and personal relationships.

We will be discussing, amongst other things:

  • What role can religious leaders and people of faith play in reconciliation?
  • What do our traditions say about reconciliation? What do we struggle with and need to reform?
  • What place is there for religious narratives in modern societies and institutions, and how should we express our beliefs and sentiments in a way that doesn’t antagonize but brings us closer to our fellow human beings who do not share our sensibilities and our spiritual way of looking at the world?
  • What lessons from interfaith dialogue can be translated into the broader social and political plane?


Faith in Reconciliation can be understood in two ways: as the question “What role has faith or religion played in reconciliation and conflict resolution and what role can it play in the future?” – as well as a statement that calls for personal reflection – “do I, does my community, have faith in reconciliation, does our religion help us to retain hope that it is attainable in our societies and regions”?

Reconciliation as a concept, a process, a principle or value can be viewed from different perspectives – such as social studies, philosophy, psychology and theology – as well as an experience, an existential reality that is a part of every human life.

We hope to address this multifaceted nature of reconciliation – and, by necessity, conflict – and provide an opportunity to gain both knowledge – through lectures, talks and workshops – as well as experience – through exchanging stories and listening to each other, contemplating art and worshipping together.

About the Congress

The IARF was established in 1900 as the world’s first international interfaith organisation and brought together representatives of liberal religion from different traditions, cultures and continents. Currently it has over 40 members, religious communities, educational institutions and others, in Africa, America, Europe, the Middle East as well as South and East Asia. They represent such diverse religious traditions as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Native religions, Shintoism, Unitarianism/Universalism, Zoroastrianism and others.

The World Congresses have been organised every three or four years for a number of decades to gather members of the IARF and others around a topic relevant to people of (liberal) religious convictions in order to facilitate dialogue, learning, exchange and collaboration between individuals and communities. The last three Congresses were held in Kochi (2010), with the Dalai Lama as the keynote speaker, in Birmingham (2014), with Karen Armstrong, and in Washington DC (2018) with Jen Bailey.
  • 1901

    London ( UK)Proceedings published as Liberal Religious Thought at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century.
  • 1903

    Amsterdam ( Netherlands)Congress of Religious Free-thinkers
  • 1905

    Geneva ( Switzerland)Congress of Religious and Progressive Christians
  • 1907

    Boston ( USA)Fourth International Congress of Religious Liberals
  • 1910

    Berlin (Germany)World Congress of Free Christianity and Religious Progress
  • 1913

    Paris ( France)International Congress for Religious Progress – Progressive Christians and Free Religious Believers
  • 1920

    Boston ( USA)
  • 1922

    Leiden ( Netherlands)

  • 1927

    Prague ( Czech Republic)Seventh Congress of Free Christians and Other Religious Liberals
  • 1930

    Arnhem (Netherlands)

  • 1934

    Copenhagen (Denmark)11 th International Congress of Religious Liberals
  • 1937

    Oxford ( UK)Liberal Christianity: The World’s Need
  • 1949

    Amsterdam (Netherlands)The Mission and Message of Liberal Religion
  • 1952

    Oxford ( UK)Authority and Freedom in the Modern World
  • 1955

    Belfast ( UK)Liberal Religion in an Age of Anxiety
  • 1958

    University of Chicago ( USA)Today’s Religions Can Meet the World’s Needs Today
  • 1961

    Davos ( Switzerland)The Unity of Mankind in Our Divided World
  • 1964

    The Hague ( Netherlands)A Religion for the World of Tomorrow
  • 1966

    London ( UK)The Spiritual Challenge of Mankind Today and Our Response
  • 1969

    Boston ( USA)Religious Encounter with the Changing World
  • 1972

    Heidelberg ( Germany)Man, His Freedom and His Future
  • 1978

    Oxford ( UK)The Limits of Toleration Today
  • 1981

    Noordwijkerhout ( Netherlands)The Tide of Religion
  • 1984

    Tokyo ( Japan)Religious Path to Peace: Eastern Initiative & Western Response
  • 1987

    Stanford CA ( USA)World Religions Face the 21st Century
  • 1990

    Hamburg ( Germany) Religions Co-operating for the World

  • 1993

    Bangalore ( India)Living our Faiths, Working Together for Peace and Justice
  • 1996

    Iksan City ( Korea Rep)Spirituality . Responsibility . Cooperation
  • 1999

    Vancouver ( Canada)Creating an Earth Community: A Religious Imperative
  • 2002

    Budapest ( Hungary)Religious Freedom: Europe’s Story for Today’s World
  • 2006

    Kaohsiung ( Taiwan)Dignity in Diversity
  • 2010

    Kochi ( India)From Conflict to Reconciliation: The Challenge of the 21st Century
  • 2014

    Challenges for Religious Freedom in the digital age

  • 2018

    Reimagining Interfaith Cooperation

  • 2023

    Faith in Reconciliation


Please use the form below to register. There are two types of Congress passes – regular ones, for in-person participation, and online ones. We’re also offering a number of rooms at the Unitarian Collage as well as breakfasts and dinners that will be served at the venue. You may also register for the pre-Congress tour.

If you cannot use any of the payment methods offered by Ticket Tailor or encounter any other problems during registration, please contact the administrator at Luke will be happy to assist you with all matters related to registration and payments.


We will be sponsoring a number of participants to attent the Congress as well as offering free online passes. The full sponsorships will include travel, accommodation at a hostel-type room and meals. An application form will be made available on 1 June and we will accept applications for full sponsorships until 15 June. You will be notified if you were granted the sponsorship by 1 July.


The full programme will be published by the end of May. Please check the website for updates regarding the programme or sign up for our newsletter. Registered participants will be regularely updated.


The Venue of the Congress will be the Unitarian College and the House of Religious Freedom in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The opening ceremony will be held at the Unitarian Church. All buildings are located in one district in close proximity.

The Unitarian College in Cluj-Napoca
The House of Religious Freedom

Pre-Congress Tour: 1-3 September

The Pre-Congress Tour includes visits to historic sights of Unitarianism in nearby Transylvanian locations, such as the monument-church- museum in Torda (RO Turda), the citadel of Deva, a Unitarian high school in Székelykeresztúr (Cristuru Secuiesc), fortified churches of Nagyajta (Aita Mare), Székelyderzs (Dirjiu), Saxon cities of Segesvár (Sighisoara/Schesburg) and Nagyszeben (Sibiu/Hermanstadt), and encountering Gypsy and Romanian cultural sites in Transylvania.

While in Cluj-Napoca, we plan to visit various Roman Catholic, Reformed, Jewish, Orthodox, Greco Catholic congregations.

On September 2, Saturday we will participate in an open air gathering and communion in Szejkefürdő, where tour participants will have an opportunity to introduce themselves. 

This tour will be by bus from Cluj-Napoca, and you should be prepared to do considerable walking. Also on the itinerary, weather permitting, there will be a fun wagon ride and some folk dancing.

Please Note: To participate in the Pre-Congress Tour, you should arrive in Cluj-Napoca no later than August 31.

Please contact the Rev. Kinga-Reka Székely from the Hungarian Unitarian Church at with all questions related to the tour.


The IARF Administrator, Lukasz Liniewicz, will be happy to assist you with all matters related to the Congress. Please address your questions regarding the registration process, the programme, visa issues and travel and accommodation at or use the form below.