UUA President Visits Transylvania
Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Peter Morales traveled to Kolozsvar, Transylvania, for the biennial meeting of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) from August 31 through September 7, 2009. During his visit he met with leaders of Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist (UU) national groups from around the world.
The council meeting consisted of worship services, workshops, business meetings, and an opportunity for each member group to report to the ICUU. The reports gave Rev. Morales an opportunity to learn about many of the highs and lows that member groups experienced. Many of their stories have been inspirational, including the report of the Unitarian Christians of Indonesia who are making plans to start a leadership training institute, and the UUs of Hong Kong who were welcomed as an ICUU "emerging group" this year.
Achievements of member groups ranged from increased administrative capacities (structural, strategic planning), training and development (professional leadership, education of new leaders, relationship building, worship materials, religious education expansion), new activities (retreats, camps, economic projects, social justice, sabbatical exchanges). Strengths and skills that were mentioned included cooperative efforts, commitment and focus, financial stewardship, multi-generational involvement, and enthusiasm in the face of change.
The issues and concerns that were mentioned mirrored the achievements, including membership concerns (high average age, instability, decreased members, growth efforts struggle); financial concerns (diminishing resources, restrained budgets, international economic instability); and structural concerns (administration, leadership).
The hopes and dreams that were described were especially inspiring. Ideas ranged from establishing international service/learning programs for youth, creating a seminary/training institution, developing published worship materials, expanding congregational commitment to ICUU, leveraging cooperation between member groups, and increasing public witness and social action projects.
In attendance at the meeting were leaders from the following member groups:
- Australia and New Zealand UU Association
- General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (UK)
- Canadian Unitarian Council
- Religious Society of Czech Unitarians
- European Unitarian Universalists
- UU Society of Finland
- Deutscher Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft (Germany)
- Unitarian Church of Hungary
- Jemaat Allah Global Indonesia - Indonesia Global Church of God (Unitarian)
- Unitarian Union of NE India
- UU Church of the Philippines
- Unitarian Church in Poland
- Unitarian Church of South Africa
- Unitarian Church of Transylvania
- Sociedad Unitaria Universalista de España (Spain)
- Unitarian Universalist Association (USA)
Representatives of the following emerging or perspective groups were also present:
- Assemblée des chrétiens unitariens du Burundi (Burundi)
- Libre Congregación Unitaria de México(Mexico)
- Unitarian Umbrella Organization of Norway
- UUs of Austria
- UUs of Bolivia
- UUs of Hong Kong
The council passed three resolutions. The first two addressed a recently enacted law in Slovakia which criminalizes and fines the use of minority languages. The largest minority group in Slovakia is ethnic Hungarians, and while there aren't any Hungarian Unitarian churches in Slovakia, the Transylvanian Unitarian Church has joined with other Hungarian churches to protest this law. The third resolution requests that the ICUU asks the City of Torda (Transylvania) to immediately begin to exhibit an historic painting by Aladar Korosfoi Kriesch of the "Diet of Torda" which has been unavailable to the public for more than ten years.
During the business meetings a new executive committee was elected with the following members: Rev. Brian Kiely, President (Canada), Pauline Rooney, Vice-President (Australia), David Shaw, Treasurer (UK), Rev. David Gyero, Secretary (Transylvania), Rev. Nihal Attanayake (Philippines), Rev. Celia Midgely (UK), Olufemi Matimoju (Nigeria). A strategic plan was also adopted by the Council members, as well as a budget for the 2010 and 2011 calendar years.
The ICUU's new staffing model was also introduced, which includes a half-time General Secretary position, to which Rev. Steve Dick has been hired to fill, and a part-time Program Coordinator position, which is being filled by Rev. Jill MacAllister.