Introduction: Coalition of UU International Organizations, General Assembly 2014
General Assembly 2014 Event 402
This report is part of a longer event. Go to General Session V for the complete video and order of business.
Eric Cherry: The Global Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist (U/U) Story has a long history with many peaks and valleys that occurred in many historical eras. Its been terrific to have leaders of U/U communities from around the world with us at GA this year– from places where the Global U/U Story has Roots and Wings. Camera pan of stage guests if possible Representatives from our global partners have good news to share.
Derek McAuley: Building a better world is surely what we are all about and I am pleased to report that British Unitarians and Free Christians were at the forefront of the campaign for same sex marriage which was introduced in March this year in England and Wales. We built a coalition of liberal faith groups that had a real impact in breaking down barriers and promoting a more inclusive and tolerant society.
Lara Fuchs: Liberal Religion is alive, well and growing in Switzerland. Unitarian Universalist congregations in Geneva and Basel are healthy and active. We have been blessed with a steady stream of gifted visiting ministers and traveling UUs whose visits enrich our worship and enhance our developing community. Keep coming, we welcome you.
Gizi Nagy: We come from Unitarian Churches in Transylvania. In Marosvasarhely we established a special program for families with children younger than 14 and young couples is a result of the second International Convocation of Unitarian and Universalist Women in Marosvasarhely, 2012. The meetings until now involved over 200 people.
Vyda Ng: The Canadian Unitarian Council has new priorities to guide their work, including fostering innovation in the growth & development of UU communities. The CUC Board is also undertaking a process to revisit the vision and mission.
Darihun Khriam: (stands)—In the Khasi Hills of North East India we have a special event called Anniversary Day which is the founding day of Unitarianism in the region—the 18th Sept. Recently the government declared this a local holiday called the "Unitarian Founder’s Day". We have special service on this day every year—last year was the 125th anniversary.
Dorcy Erlandson: Three years ago, for the second time in its history, the UU Fellowship of Paris was asked to leave a rental space in a French protestant church because a few members of the church council did not find us appropriately Christian. Luckily, after a long search, we found a protestant neighborhood center that is dedicated to welcoming all and whose leaders agreed to rent us space for our worship services. In addition to having a home, we now have a place where we can participate in local social justice activities.
Justine Magara: In Kenya, the UU Church is developing congregations and outreach efforts. We are also adapting to the problems of climate change, which has caused the food production to decrease. This has made people to shift from maize farming to mixed farming to meet their food and financial needs.
Denisa Fialova: In Prague, the Unitarians overcame the occupation by the Nazis, then by the Communists. After some time of looking around and preparing our grounds, we firmly hold the chalice, share the song of hope and welcome anyone of good will to share the light with the new generations of Unitarians.
Tet Gallardo (for UUCP): The UU Church of the Philippines, founded in 1954, is an association of 27 congregations. With the exception of one congregation in Manila, all are located in the rural parts of Negros, many of whom are led by Christian faith healers, animists. In Metro Manila is the UU Congregation of Bicutan, founded in 2005, a theist congregation of about 70 members, comprised of about 70% youth, located in the shanties of Taguig City.
Eric Cherry: The Global U/U Story may have had its beginnings many centuries ago, but, as you can see, it continues to be written today. Its chapters include worship and theological exploration, organizing, and social action and all the varieties of church work and outreach that we do.
Derek Mitchell: The future of the Global U/U story will also be shaped by our engagement with many interfaith and social justice partners around the world. Switch from slide 12 to Live Video Feed We are so grateful that representatives of three of our global interfaith and social justice partners are with us this year at General Assembly. Including Reverend Mitsuo Miyake who spoke to us a few minutes ago. He is joined by his two daughters.
Also from Tokyo, Japan please welcome Rev. Waichi Hishina, Ms Hiroyo Murayama and Ms. Ikuye Kase, representing our historic interfaith partner Rissho Kosei-kai.
And, from Chandrapur, India, Please welcome Paromita Goswami and Kalyan Nayan, leaders of Shamrik Elgar—the Worker’s Push—a premier social change organization that assists rural workers to organize and demand their rights, and a partner of the UU Holdeen India Program.
Cathy Cordes: The Coalition of UU International Organizations can help you find yourself in the Global U/U Story—and help you shape the story’s future.
Cathy Cordes: The UU International coalition is a low-overhead network of U/U organizations with UUA constituents involved in various kinds of international engagement.
Curmudgeon: Well, I’m sure that’s all well and good. But, I remember a powerful Ware Lecture a few years ago about the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Was I the only one listening?
Peter Smith: That was a powerful speech! The UU Gobal AIDS Coalition was formed in response and has been working ever since to engage UU's in addressing the devastation caused by AIDS and by supporting the work of Red Ribbon congregations on the ground. Find out about us online.
Curmudgeon: I’m very concerned about the Human Right to Water. And Workers Rights. And Humanitarian crises after natural disasters happen. Don’t you understand that these issues matter?
Brock Leach: We do. And that’s why the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee works with partners around the globe to make sure that every person—regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual identity-- has access to the fundamentals of clean, safe, affordable water, healthy food, a fair wage, and essential protection from harm and exploitation. For almost 75 years, UUSC has put UU values into action so that no one is left out and together we can realize the full potential of our humanity.
Curmudgeon: Why don’t we ever do anything at the United Nations?
Bruce Knotts: We’ve been doing a lot at the UN since its beginning, including involvement in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, leading the faith caucus to establish the International Criminal Court, overcoming UN apathy about sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and providing strong leadership in all aspects of human rights.
Curmudgeon: Why do we need all this international stuff? Aren’t UUs the world over just like folks in the UUA?
Steve Dick: We need to stick together, there are less than half a million of us in the world. Actually Unitarian Universalists, Unitarians and some who don’t even share that name differ greatly in practice, story and culture in the more than 35 countries around the world where we are. The UUA is just one member of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, the global network of liberal faith encouraging collaboration between UU national organizations and fostering emerging UU communities in new places. And its conferences and gatherings are open to individual UUs.
Curmudgeon: Didn’t Unitarians establish a world-wide interfaith organization in like, 1900?
Hal French: OH, FREEDOM! The IARF works globally for religious freedom, the key to all other freedoms!
Curmudgeon: What ever happened after that global UU women’s gathering a few years ago in Houston?
Tina Huesing: A new international women's organization, called the Women's International Convocation, was founded after that huge meeting, and it is planning a small gathering in Bolivia in 2015 and another large convocation in California in 2017. IWC also works with international women's projects, including a leadership school in Transylvania and microfinance banks in Uganda.
Curmudgeon: Are there really still churches overseas looking for partners. I thought they all had partners already.
Cathy Cordes: There are Unitarian and UU churches in England, Hungary, Transylvania, India and the Philippines looking for US and Canadian partners right now. Maybe they are waiting for your church!
Curmudgeon: Why doesn’t the UUA help you do any of this great stuff?
Eric Cherry: The UUA is deeply supportive of all these organizations, and the work that we do is often collaborative. Most important of all, we went to help your congregation know how it is a part of the Global U/U Story.
(Curmudgeon turns to audience with big smile on face and gives two thumbs up.)
Eric Cherry: BUT—you don’t have to remember each organization, we’ll remember that for you. All you have to do is visit us all on the web at Faith Without Borders. There you’ll find Invitations, Inspirations, Guides, Tools and Resources for just about any kind of UU international engagement.