REPORT: 2013 International Council meeting at the Konko Church of Izuo in Osaka, 17-19 April 2013
Preceded by the annual Executive meeting – hosted once more by our Osaka member group Shitennoji Temple – the two-day annual board meeting ended on Friday (19 April), in general agreement that this was the most positive so far during the presidency of Rev. Mitsuo Miyake, which ends next year at the General Meeting to take place within our 34th World Congress, in 2014.
This meeting was tasked with considering three different proposals for a location for the congress within IARF’s Europe & Middle East (EME) region. (By historical tradition the event cycles between our four regions. It now takes place every four years).
Very keen and compelling motivations were put forward by our Israeli member group the Interfaith Encounter Association (for Jerusalem as a site) and our Swiss member group Libref (for Geneva), but in the end most votes went to a last-minute bid by the British Chapter for an event in the multi-faith city of Birmingham, supported by the city’s council and a range of interfaith organisations there. So in the last week of August 2014, Britain will attempt to match the success of the last, 33rd IARF world congress held in India and featuring the Dalai Lama.
Much more information to follow once the Host Committee gets to planning, which has begun already since the event is now only just a little over a year away.
Other major decisions taken were: to reduce the size of the governing board, and to introduce from next year a membership fee that will cover support costs in a sustainable manner.
A Nominating Committee was appointed to choose the slate for the next Council (2014-2018); the IARF Bylaws were modified for the approval of the General Meeting next year; project work in India & Israel was commended, along with our representatives’ work at the UN in Geneva; and new membership was approved from groups in Austria, Bahrain, Ghana & Malawi – with additional new chapters under formation in Kenya, Togo & Benin receiving conditional acceptance.
A budget will be presented to the board for discussion and approval very shortly.
Altogether, IARF has restored its fortunes considerably since the mid-2010s, and looks forward to welcoming its membership to a vibrant congress in Birmingham next year – an event that will assure them of our place among the handful of liberal internationalist organisations that are confronting, within their means but with serious intent, the human rights agenda of a troubled world – and in particular, as always, the now-burning issues of freedom of faith and interfaith awareness-raising.