The conference, "Reconciliation with the Earth, Each Other and the Stranger" was held at the Clearwater Unitarian Universalist Church from January 14-17th with over fifty people attending plus speakers and invited guests.
The US Chapter and the World Congress of Faiths sponsored the conference with the assistance of the Clearwater Congregation and its minister, the Rev. Abhi Janamanchi. The conference opened with an interfaith worship service led by Abhi; its message set the tone for the conference.
The next day we had a major address by Dr. Paul Rasor and a panel on “Racial Justice in a Post-Racial Society, Myth or Reality" led by Dr. Roy Kaplan. In the afternoon we had several workshops including "100 Years of Interfaith Work" focusing on the IALRW with Kathy Matsui and Jopie Boeke.
The Rev. Eric Cherry from the UUA also presented a workshop on "Charting the Future of International Relations." Then the conference broke up into its circle groups exchanging introductions and opinions. In the evening we had an Interfaith Music Program that included music from so many different faith traditions.
The next day opened with worship service led by the Rissho Kosei-Kai followed by lecture by Dr. Hal French. Following the lecture, Dr. Thomas Mathew from India, presented a power point about the coming Congress and information about the program of the Congress. In the afternoon, the conference concluded with lectures by Dr. Mozella Mitchell and Dr. William Schulz followed by a panel discussion and response. Sunday morning there was a special worship service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Dr. Schulz giving the sermon.
We were very pleased to have the presence of Dr. Thomas Mathew during the entire conference and also the presence of the Rev. Eric Cherry from the UUA. The Chapter sponsored one young adult, Mr. Sri Kota. We wished that we had more time to arrange a young adult conference at the same time but being such a small board with a limited budget, we felt the need to concentrate on the conference itself. Perhaps in the future this can be planned.
Many participants spoke enthusiastically about the coming Congress, hoping that they might be able to attend. We are so grateful that all went as planned and that the program was appreciated and well attended by the participants.
You can view videos taken during the IARF Chapter Conference online, including: