IARF U.S. Chapter Newsletter

Spring - Volume 23 - Issue 1

   Upcoming Event  

Demilitarization & Abolition:

Resist Policing and Empire

UU@UN Spring Seminar

Minneapolis, MN & Online

April 1 - 3, 2023

by Janice Marie Johnson

As a board member of the U.S. Chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF-US), I want to introduce you to the extraordinary Intergenerational Spring Seminar hosted by the UUA Office at the UN in close collaboration with the UU College of Social Justice, UU Service Committee and Side With Love.

Here’s my invitation to you. Please join me at the upcoming seminar Demilitarization & Abolition: Resist Policing and Empire, ideally in-person in Minneapolis, MN, or online. View Spring Seminar details here. This seminar promises to be both inspiring and transformative for all.

Passion. Commitment. Purpose. Hope. Action. All of these, and so much more, are reflected in the youth who lead and participate in the Seminar which offers a wonderful opportunity for UU youth -- and adults -- to live their faith. It is soul-gratifying to bear witness to our youth engaging with tough issues affecting our fragile world.

The Seminar fosters in our youth a strong commitment to care, to care deeply, and to care deeper still... It offers an opportunity for experiential learning with transformation, community-building, worship creation, leadership development, and more.

I most appreciate bearing witness to young global activists learning skills to help them identify stellar opportunities to act locally, while making a global impact on a plethora of meta-injustices: human trafficking, water, gender, climate, race, poverty, women, food equity, displacement, indigenous rights, criminal justice, immigration and beyond.

I am excited about members and leaders of the IARF-US participating in this Seminar. There is much that we can learn from these global activists. There are infinite ways in which we can work alongside them and support them to truly make a difference as they build new ways of engagement with a strong sense of urgency, and purpose.

As members and leaders of the IARF-US, I hope that we will seize this opportunity to build and enjoy multigenerational community – together.

September 4-6, 2023

The next International IARF Congress will be held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. This hybrid-format conference can accommodate up to 100 on-site attendees and any registered Zoom participants.

Registration will be available in the near future via a dedicated Congress website, which will also include registration for a pre-Congress Tour opportunity. [See article below for details.]

The registration pass will cost150 Euros for the three-day Congress, which includes breakfast and lunch in their cafeteria; dinners will be available for 12 Euros each.

Housing will be available at the recently renovated Hungarian Unitarian House of Religious Freedom, which offers double rooms with AC available for 80 Euros per night. Cluj is a regional hub has many accommodation options as well. The Cluj-Napoca International Airport (CLJ) is six miles from town.

Cluj-Napoca is an beautiful ancient city situated in a forested mountain valley. At 1120 ft., daytime temperatures range from the 60's to 80F; rain and humidity generally are low. With a population of 325,000, it is Romania’s second largest city and a center of academic, commercial, cultural and historic interest. It is the home of our early Hungarian Unitarian movement and the unofficial capitol of Transylvania.

At least two of our US Chapter IARF board members will be making presentations related to the Congress theme of Faith in Reconciliation: Professor Kunihiko Terasawa will share his reconciliation work that occurred earlier this summer in Asia with Japanese and Korean liberal religionists, and Dr. Rev. John Young will share lessons learned from teaching about truth and reconciliation with Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Pre-Congress Tour | September 1 - 3, 2023

The Pre-Congress Tour includes visits to historic sights of Unitarianism in nearby Transylvanian locations, such as the monument-church- museum in Torda (RO Turda), the citadel of Deva, a Unitarian high school in Székelykeresztúr(Cristuru Secuiesc), fortified churches of Nagyajta (Aita Mare), Székelyderzs (Dirjiu), Saxon cities of Segesvár (Sighisoara/Schesburg) and Nagyszeben (Sibiu/Hermanstadt), and encountering Gypsy and Romanian cultural sites in Transylvania.

While in Cluj-Napoca, we plan to visit various Roman Catholic, Reformed, Jewish, Orthodox, Greco Catholic congregations.

On September 2, Saturday we will participate in an open air gathering and communion in Szejkefürdő, where tour participants will have an opportunity to introduce themselves. 

This tour will be by bus from Cluj-Napoca, and you should be prepared to do considerable walking. Also on the itinerary, weather permitting, there will be a fun wagon ride and some folk dancing.

Registration for this Pre-Congress Tour will be available on the Congress Registration website. [See link above.]

Please Note: To participate in the Pre-Congress Tour, you should arrive in Cluj-Napoca no later than August 31.

Introducing Two New IARF-US Board Members

 Kunihiko Terasawa: Associate Professor of Religion, Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa

New to the IARF-US Chapter, Dr. Terasawa, has been teaching world religions, Buddhism and inter-religious dialogue at Wartburg College in Waverley, Iowa for 10 years. He is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and Rossi Koshi Kai. While in Japan, he participated in the Lotus Seminar, IARF Tokyo meetings with Sakai-san, Maruta-san, and Morikawa-san. As he joins the IARF-US Board, Professor Terasawa expressed a resolve to encourage a dialogue on religion and freedom that draws in more young people.

Bruce Knotts: Director of International Engagement at Community Church of New York

Bruce Knotts has moved from serving on our Advisors Board for many years to joining our Chapter Board. Along with this activity he is: a UN representative of the Int'l. Convocation of UU Women; Trustee of the Parliament of the World's Religions; Commissioner Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation; Second Enlightenment Movement, Scotland; and adjunct faculty Silver School of Social Work, New York University.

Getting to Know Advisory

Board Member

Abhi Janamanchi

Senior Minister,

Cedar Lane UU Congregation

I have been actively involved in interfaith, multicultural, and social justice work for over two decades including serving as President of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), as a member of the Executive Team of Montgomery County’s Interfaith Community Working Group.

I consider myself a UU-Hindu; flavored by the Islamic heritage of my father, Buddhist spiritual practice, and the study and exploration of other world religious traditions. My Unitarian Universalism helps me be a better Hindu, a better human being. It celebrates my identity as a religious hybrid and a theological crossbreed.

For me, the beauty and power of my faith is in its commitment to diversity and pluralism. It teaches us to move beyond tolerance, to be respectful, accepting, and understanding of difference and diversity. It emphasizes that a beloved community is not built through achieving agreement but through achieving understanding.

IARF United States

Chapter Board

John Gubbings

Janice Marie Johnson

Bruce Knotts

Stephen Schwichow

Kunihiko Terasawa

John Young

US Chapter Advisors

Betsy Darr

Doris Hunter

Abhi Janamanchi

Roy Kaplan

Kathy Matsui

Nyla McCulloch

Gregory McGonigle

Peter Richardson

Don't forget to follow IARF worldwide on Facebook here.