World Congresses

IARF organises a congress of its members every four years. The venue is allotted cyclically through our four major regions (East Asia, South Asia, North America, Europe/Middle East), and the theme follows from critical issues of the day.

Our most recent, 35th congress was held in Washington DC in 2018, and the following Congress will be held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, on 4-6 September 2023. You can register and read more about it here.

List of IARF Congresses since 1901

PDF, 2 pages




1901London ( UK)Proceedings published as Liberal Religious Thought at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century.
1903Amsterdam ( Netherlands)Congress of Religious Free-thinkers
1905Geneva ( Switzerland)Congress of Religious and Progressive Christians
1907Boston ( USA)Fourth International Congress of Religious Liberals
1910Berlin ( Germany)World Congress of Free Christianity and Religious Progress
1913Paris ( France)International Congress for Religious Progress – Progressive Christians and Free Religious Believers
1920Boston ( USA)*1 (below)
1922Leiden ( Netherlands)*2 (below)
1927Prague ( Czech Republic)Seventh Congress of Free Christians and Other Religious Liberals (for apparent conflict with 1920 and 1922 events – see footnotes below)
1930Arnhem ( Netherlands) 
1934Copenhagen ( Denmark)11 th International Congress of Religious Liberals
1937Oxford ( UK)Liberal Christianity: The World’s Need
1949Amsterdam ( Netherlands)The Mission and Message of Liberal Religion
1952Oxford ( UK)Authority and Freedom in the Modern World
1955Belfast ( UK)Liberal Religion in an Age of Anxiety
1958University of Chicago ( USA)Today’s Religions Can Meet the World’s Needs Today
1961Davos ( Switzerland)The Unity of Mankind in Our Divided World
1964The Hague ( Netherlands)A Religion for the World of Tomorrow
1966London ( UK)The Spiritual Challenge of Mankind Today and Our Response
1969Boston ( USA)Religious Encounter with the Changing World
1972Heidelberg ( Germany)Man, His Freedom and His Future
1975Montréal ( Canada)Our Unity in Diversity
1978Oxford ( UK)The Limits of Toleration Today
1981Noordwijkerhout ( Netherlands)The Tide of Religion
1984Tokyo ( Japan)Religious Path to Peace: Eastern Initiative & Western Response
1987Stanford CA ( USA)World Religions Face the 21st Century
1990Hamburg ( Germany)Religions Co-operating for the World
1993Bangalore ( India)Living our Faiths, Working Together for Peace and Justice
1996Iksan City ( Korea Rep)Spirituality . Responsibility . Cooperation
1999Vancouver ( Canada)Creating an Earth Community: A Religious Imperative
2002Budapest ( Hungary)Religious Freedom: Europe’s Story for Today’s World
2006Kaohsiung ( Taiwan)Dignity in Diversity
2010Kochi ( India)From Conflict to Reconciliation: The Challenge of the 21st Century
2014Birmingham (UK)Challenges for Religious Freedom in the digital age
2018Washington DC (USA)Reimagining Interfaith Cooperation
2023Cluj Napica (Romania)Faith in Reconciliation

*1 – This Congress was counted as Pilgrim (Seventh) International Congress by its Secretary-General, Rev Charles W. Wendte, and is as such listed in his autobiography The Wider Fellowship. However, the European led secretariat which continued the IARF administration after Rev Wendte’s retirement, decided not to count this first major gathering of IARF supporters after the First World War as a formal IARF congress, but saw it as a joint meeting with the Unitarian Tercentenary Celebrations in 1920, commemorating three hundred years of the landing of the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ in North America (1620).
(from Josef Boehle thesis, Chapter 2 – “Charles William Wendte and the Development of the First Permanent International Inter-religious Organisation”, footnote 74).

*2 – Leiden, 29 – 30 August, 1922 (7th IARF Congress)
This congress is considered the first one after World War I. Even though there were only 62 participants, they represented 12 nations, conducted a program, and set new goals for the future (youth organization, etc.).
(from: Elke Schlinck-Lazarraga, Geschichte des Weltbundes für Religiöse Freiheit 1975)


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