On behalf on the IARF, may I wish you all a very Happy and Safe New Year.
2021 will no doubt go down in history as the year that brought the world to its knees with the Covid virus in its many strains. In 2020, we thought we had seen the worst of it, and yet, at the end of this year, we see yet another, more virulent strain infecting people in even larger numbers.
With people forced to stay home, to protect themselves and each other, many faith groups have been severely challenged and sometimes their very existence threatened at a time when spiritual health is at its lowest and the sense of community and the work they do is needed now more than ever.
During this year, however, the IARF has moved forward as we have learnt to deal with our new normality in increasingly inventive ways. The EME held a virtual conference in May that was attended by people all over the world – something that would not have happened before Covid.
Our continuing series of Motivational dialogues hopefully informs and inspires both members and others to promote the cause of religious freedom.
We now publish more newsletters than ever before to explain our work and tell the stories of both success and concern. We do, of course, need to do more of this to get our message out to the world.
I am pleased to say that for the first time in a long time established a presence at the United Nations in Geneva, undoubtedly helped by the increasing number of online meetings. I am very grateful to Rev Dr Esther Suter for the effort that she has put in as our representative at the UN.
This last year the International Council agreed a new membership policy that has enabled us to move forward attracting new members to the IARF and we are currently in discussion with a number of liberal faith groups and other organisations who look to join with us
All these things promise a better year to come and I am grateful to all those who have given their time and energy in support of the cause of Religious Freedom.
May you all keep safe and well in this coming year and we look forward to a strengthened IARF in 2022.