KUJENGA MADARAJA - Spanning Cultures: ICUU Conference & Council Meeting

By Nicole McConvery

The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) will hold its biannual Conference and Council Meeting January 28-31, 2014 at the beautiful and inspiring campus of the UU congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, New York. More than 140 Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists from twenty-five countries will gather for the event. The program (PDF) will include theme talks, worship services, chalice circle groups and other activities, as well as opportunities for networking and getting to know sisters and brothers from around the world. ICUU is the international network of Unitarian, Universalist and Unitarian Universalist organizations. 23 national full member groups comprise the voting members of the Council. Provisional and emerging groups represent Unitarians from more than a dozen more countries. More information about ICUU can be found at ww.icuu.net and www.facebook.com/InternationalUUs. All are invited to the ICUU OPENING CELEBRATION AND COMMUNITY GLOBAL WORSHIP and the Welcoming Party on Tuesday evening January 28, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at UUCSR (at no charge) and to the CLOSING CEREMONY AND PETER MAYER CONCERT at Community Church (Unitarian Universalist) in New York City on Friday evening January 31 at 7:30 pm (suggested contribution $15). An International Minister's Meeting will be held on the weekend following the Council meeting and Conference (February 1-2). For additional information, please contact Rev. Steve Dick, ICUU Executive Director 

Conference Theme

Kujenga Madaraja is a Swahili phrase as in “Bora kujenga madaraja kuliko kuta” which translates as “It is better to build bridges than walls” and is taken to mean “It is better to unite than to separate people.” Swahili is mainly spoken as a second language by many Africans, to communicate with others beyond the tongue of their own tribe. It reminds us of the potential of our language of faith to transcend the cultures that may separate us if we can discover and master multi-cultural skills and perspectives. In terms of our international progressive religious community embodied in ICUU, this theme is particularly relevant. How do we truly work together, for mutual benefit? What strengths and depths are available to us when we appreciate and understand our differences? Intercultural and cross-cultural work requires more than good will and intentions – it requires skills, commitments, and practice. The ICUU is a truly multi-cultural organization, and our work together requires multi-cultural competency. To truly build the bridges of understanding that can support our global cooperation, we each need to learn new skills, together. In this council meeting and conference we’ll focus on how to improve our skills and increase our effectiveness in nurturing U-Uism in many different cultures, to strengthen our presence and our impact everywhere we live.

Keynote Speaker

Beth Zemsky, renowned community organizer, educator, psychotherapist and organizational leader will be the Keynote Speaker. Zemsky will speak on "Intercultural Competency is Far More Than the Tip of the Iceberg" and lead a participatory Intercultural Competency Experience Workshop. She has been working with the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association in their training program to help ministers develop inter-cultural competency and currently works as a consultant specializing in intercultural organizational development with non-profits, educational institutions, foundations, social change, and faith-based organizations.


Two Unitarian Universalist ministers who have had significant experience in intercultural issues in their lives and ministries will share their personal stories and experiences on one day of the conference. We will hear from the Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, the Rev. Peter Morales. Born and raised in southern India, Abhi Janamanchi is a third generation member of the Brahmo Samaj, a Unitarian-Hindu religious movement with strong spiritual ties to Unitarian Universalism. Abhi served as President of the International Association of Religious Freedom (IARF), the world’s oldest interfaith organization from 2006 to 2008. Since August, he has been Senior Minister to the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist congregation in Bethesda, Maryland. Peter Morales was born in San Antonio, Texas, one of six children of Pedro and Oralia López. During the Vietnam War, when his draft deferment was ended, he moved with his wife to Canada, settling in British Columbia, where he worked at a lumber mill, became a reporter, and fathered a son, Miguel. When the war ended, he spent time in Mexico studying Spanish and then moved to Europe as a Fulbright lecturer in American literature and American history at the University of Oviedo in Asturias in northern Spain. Peter is currently serving his second and final term as President of the Unitarian Universalist Association.


ICUU Program Guide

View or download the Guide.
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New York 14 Schedule

New York 14 Schedule