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Engaging with global Unitarian/Universalism in action
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Global Unitarian/Universalism in action.
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International Office
Act Globally Summer 2018
Engaging with global Unitarian/Universalism in action
Dear ,

It didn't take me very long to say "Yes" when asked to be the Interim Director (part-time) of the UUA International Resources Office. There are several reasons why my response was so fast. First is because of the outstanding service of the Rev. Eric Cherry - as the IRO's former Director, he leaves a legacy of exciting and deep Unitarian/Universalist partnerships; he sustained the dynamic work of his predecessors which goes back decades - the history of our Association's international engagement is broad and diverse. Eric's leadership has given us solid footing in our relationships - he and his colleagues leveraged the explosion of the internet in effective and meaningful ways (which I think of as one of the great equalizers when it comes to reaching out or responding to world-wide interest in and enthusiasm for our faith).

Speaking of colleagues, this is another reason why my "yes" came so quickly. In my forty-two years of ministry, I've had many dealings with IRO programs - the UU-UN Office and the Holdeen partnerships - as well as the many other international resources available to congregations (UUPCC, ICUU, IARF, IWC, UUSC, UU College of Social Justice, and many others). Most recently, I have served for over fifteen years as the UUA's ambassador to the UU congregations in the Philippines. All of these programs and relationships have excellent leadership with so many opportunities to deepen any congregation or individual. Now I have the privilege to view it all more closely and it is as I suspected all along: Unitarian Universalism really is a global faith and you can find our faith partnerships in some remote and unlikely locations - it is quite exciting and very humbling. It's a gratifying time to be part of the U/U international family.

While the UUA begins a search for a full-time IRO Director, the almost magical qualities of technology allow me to do the work from off-site (from Annapolis, MD). From here I am able to be in relationship with the IRO program staff, our domestic partners, and, of course, our partners world-wide. I'm thrilled to serve the UUA in this way.
In faith and service,

Rev. Fred Muir

Interim Director, UUA International Office

Por La Vida: Solidarity with Women in Honduras
November 29th - December 6th, 2018
Join UU College of Social Justice on an interfaith delegation to Honduras
We will focus on the struggles, strategies, and resilience of women in Honduras who are fighting for their own rights and to protect the Earth from the ravages of corporate mines and dams. This journey will strengthen solidarity with our Honduran partners, awaken participants to some of the root causes of migration, and prepare us for advocacy and accompaniment when we return home. This program is open to all adults, but we particularly invite religious leaders and feminist organizers to join us! Register for this interfaith delegation by September 23rd.
Advancing Global Gender Equity
UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar
New York City - April 10-13, 2019
What can people of faith do to make gender equity a reality in our communities and our world?
The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office's 2019 Intergenerational Spring Seminar will endeavor to answer this question as participants age 14+ gather in New York City for workshops, worship, panels, interactive activities and more.
"It made me feel like I could actually have influence and involve myself in important issues, regardless of my age." - Katia Altern, prior Seminar attendee

After receiving zero applications over the summer, the UU-UNO is actively inviting interested individuals to apply to join the planning committee for this inspiring and change-making event! Application deadlines are in September. Find details on the open positions (Youth Dean, Adult Dean, Youth Chaplain, Adult Chaplain, and committee members on the NYC Host, Programs & Workshops, Worship, and Youth Programming Teams) online at www.UUA.org/UNSpringSeminar.
This Intergenerational Seminar will take a broad and intersectional view of working towards gender equity. We hope that our Planning Committee will reflect the diversity of identities that exist in our world. People with disabilities, people of color, indigenous people, Hispanic/Latinx, and LGBTQ candidates are encouraged to apply.
Mark your calendar now! Registration will open in December 2018.
Latinx U/U Encounter
Cali, Colombia - October 11-14, 2018
This coming October, the Unitarian/Universalist Latinx Ministry, partnering with the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, will host a Spanish language encounter for U/U leaders within Spanish language communities. Many of these leaders have been working together for years building Spanish language U/U presence across the larger Latinx community. The gathering comes at a critical time as these leaders and the groups they represent are striving to strengthen and widen the reach of our liberal faith within their respective countries. This is an opportunity for them to have the rare privilege of meeting in person to build community among themselves, to discuss how their cultures influence and inform their U/U identity, as well as strategize how best to serve the growing liberal Latinx community in a culturally appropriate way.

The Latinx Ministry and ICUU are excited for this encounter and look forward to the important work ahead for this dedicated group of leaders impacting not only the Spanish language U/U world, but also our global U/U community as well. So keep your eyes out for what comes next.

Parliament of the World's Religions
Toronto, Canada - November 1-7, 2018
The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation, and Change
Unitarians and Universalists have worked closely with the Parliament of the World's Religions since its founding in 1893. The Parliament works to end religious bigotry, racism, gender bias, and other forms of intolerance, also focusing on preserving our planet and its diverse resources. Several Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist leaders have been involved in planning this year's upcoming Parliament happening in Toronto, Ontario, November 1-7, including Bruce Knotts (Director of UU United Nations Office), Vyda Ng (Executive Director of Canadian Unitarian Council), and Rev. Shawn Newton (Senior Minister at First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto). About 10,000 attendees are expected - will you be one of them? We hope to have a strong UU presence!
The Canadian Unitarian Council will host three workshops, focusing on:
  • The work the CUC has been doing on the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation initiative
  • Introducing the Our Whole Lives program* to participants
  • Exploring the Welcoming Congregations program*
*Thanks to the UUA in generously sharing these resources with the CUC.
Pan African Cooperative Leadership Retreat
By Rev. Sara Ascher, ICUU
In late July 2018, leaders from nearly every African Unitarian/Universalist community gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for a 3-day retreat. This meeting was the culmination of a year-long process to connect our Unitarian/Universalist communities across Africa to one another; to share best practices, difficulties, successes, the wisdom of experience, and fellowship.

We gathered this summer in order to craft a collective African Unitarian/Universalist identity. The leaders from Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa spent several days discussing how their respective cultures influence their religious perspectives and beliefs. These deep and powerful conversations led to a complex and multifaceted understanding of how Unitarian/Universalist ideas interact with traditional African culture and a sense of urgency that there is great need for our liberal faith in Africa...
The Plan We Need: United Nations Global Compact for Migration
By Bruce Knotts, UU-UNO
Over the past few months, we have watched the conservative UN estimates of people forced to migrate climb from 60-68 million, the largest number of forced migrants since the Second World War.  Some estimate even more forced migrants now than there were in WWII.  Whatever the current number is, we are certain it will increase due to climate change, rising nationalism, and continuing conflicts and tensions.

We need a plan.  We need a global plan.  The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration is that plan, if we will only embrace it.

At the end of WWII, the world developed a very restrictive definition of refugee/asylum seeker as one who has a well-founded fear of (government) persecution due to their status in a particular religion, race, or social class.  It is clear that the framers of this convention on refugees had the experience of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe in mind.  However, over 70 years on, there are others factors that force people from their homes.

We need to be clear about the issue.  We are not talking about people who have a fairly decent and safe life deciding to move to another more prosperous country that offers more opportunity.  This is often the picture we have of migrants crossing our borders.  We can just send them back and they will be alright.

However, that is not the subject of our discussion.  We are talking about people who have no choice but to move.  Many in Central America must flee or be killed by drug lords who used to operate in the USA and have been deported.  Make no mistake; the global drug problem is largely fueled by American demand for those drugs.  The innocent children, women, and men who are at risk are in danger because of drug issues in America.  They need a safe haven...
Global Chalice Lighting
August 2018
From the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
The words of Päivi Helena Kesti, leader of the Unitarian Church in Finland.

Swedish Original

Det må skina många ljus i mörkret. Somliga leder till fällospår och lämnar vandraren i ännu dimmare mörkret när de går ut. Må det här ljuset som vi tänder tillsammans leda oss till våra rätta, egna vägar i samband med varandra och alla omkring oss. Må den här lågan vara och spridas omkring oss som reflexion av vår medkänsla ändå till vi ser det samma ljuset av tolerans och förnuft i kärlek speglas i världen som i våra hjärtor.
Finnish Original
Pimeydessä voi loistaa monia valoja. Jotkin johtavat harhapoluille ja jättävät kulkijan yhä synkempään pimeyteen sammuessaan. Johtakoon tämä valo, jonka sytytämme yhdessä, meidät oikeille, omille teillemme yhteydessä toisiimme ja kaikkiin ympärillämme. Pysyköön tämä liekki ja levitköön heijastuksena myötätunnostamme, kunnes näemme saman suvaitsevaisuuden ja rakkauden järjen valon maailmassa kuten sydämissämme.
English Translation

Many lights may shine in the darkness. Some lead astray and leave the wanderer ever deeper in the dark when they go out. May this light that we light together lead us to our right, own ways in connection with each other and everyone around us. May this flame stay and spread around us as a reflection of our compassion until we see the same light of tolerance and sensibility within love mirrored in the world as in our hearts.
Additional translations in Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Swahili, German, Tagalog, Hungarian, French, and Portuguese are available on the ICUU's website.

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United States

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UUA International Office
24 Farnsworth Street
Boston, MA 02210
United States