IARF U.S. Chapter Newsletter
Autumn 2019 - Volume 19, Issue 2
L eadership & Chapter Updates
New board members were recruited in recent months to fill resignations that occurred earlier this year. Welcome: Janice Marie Johnson, Stephen Schwichow, and John Young.
The 2019 Chapter Board includes : Betsy Darr, Janice Marie Johnson, Ann-Marie Lee, Stephen Schwichow, John Young, and Julia Zubiago

We asked each board member to share a brief biography and a photo to introduce themselves to readers.
Betsy Darr
Betsy Darr has been a member of the IARF since 1988, and has attended congresses at Stanford, Vancouver, Budapest, Taiwan, Kochi, Birmingham, and DC. She was elected to the board of the US Chapter in 2010, overseeing communications as newsletter editor. She served the next term as US representative to the International Council, on which she
was the treasurer.
Betsy Darr joined the Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco in 1975, then with a M.A. in Religious Education served the San Francisco, Winchester MA, and Reno NV
congregations as Director of Faith Development.
Retired in San Francisco, she is active in her congregation’s choir, social justice, and interfaith programs. Husband Jack Darr and Betsy have three children and three grandchildren, all on the West Coast of the US.
Ann-Marie Lee
Ann-Marie Lee is currently finishing their undergraduate career at Tufts University, in Boston, with degrees in Community Health and Religion. After graduating a semester early in December, they will be moving on to a Master of Public Health program also at Tufts. Ann-Marie identifies as Buddhist and Daoist, was raised Roman Catholic, and is deeply involved in interfaith communities in the greater Boston area. In their free time, they volunteer as a street medic to help support protesters and activists, and they love whisking their own matcha!
[All pronouns - mandatory]
John Young
John Young lives in San Francisco with his wife, Kathleen Moran. They regularly see John's 2 children who live in the Bay Area and enthusiastically grandparent their 4 grandchildren. John and Kathleen are both active in the SF UU Church.
John was a UU minister for 40 years and has been a community activist since his teenage years. He served as IARF’s US Chapter chair for four years early in his ministry—organizing conferences in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. He arranged GA events for six years, and initiated and led an international IARF study tour of India in 1978. He served the UUA as president of its UN Office, was on the Peace Network Board, and on the denomination’s Nominating Committee.
While serving the Jacksonville UU church, he also was an adjunct teacher at UNF, including co-teaching a semester with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He is the author of three books, has a completed a manuscript on "Global Spirituality," and is currently writing a book on "The Age of Negotiation."
John and Kathleen walk, bike, and swim, enjoy concerts, plays, and travel widely.
Dr. Janice Marie Johnson
Dr. Janice Marie Johnson joined the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development staff group in January 2019 as Co-Director of Ministries and Faith Development. She and Rev. Sarah Lammert share this position. They support, sustain, and advance multicultural, anti-oppressive, justice-centered, and innovative Unitarian Universalist lay and professional leadership and ministry for all ages.
Janice supports the professional lives of religious professionals, especially those of color, those from the trans community, and other marginalized groups. Since joining the UUA in 2009, Janice has served as Director of Racial and Ethnic Concerns, Multicultural Growth Director, and Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director in the former Multicultural Growth and Witness staff group.
Janice is excited about the UUA's commitment to dismantling white supremacy culture and building the Beloved Community. Committed to making multiculturalism “real,” Janice is a Jamaican, a New Yorker, an internationalist, and a “third-culture kid” who grew up all over the world. She has worked with UU congregations worldwide. 
As an educator. she previously served as Director of Lifespan Religious Education at the Community Church of New York for many years.
Janice — mother, grandmother, aunt, sibling, friend, colleague, and so much more -- treasures her unique relationships as she strives to live into her maxim, Masakhane . As she notes, "Masakhane" is a rich and resonant word from the Nguni family of languages of South Africa. Loosely translated into English it means, "Let us build together.” 
Stephen Schwichow
Stephen (道説 Dō Setsu) Schwichow has been involved in both the LGBT rights and interfaith movements since the early 1970s. With 50 years practicing Buddhism in the Japanese Nichiren Lotus Sutra schools and 30 years a Unitarian Universalist, he is a longtime cooperator, vegetarian, and an avid Esperantist. For him it's all about accepting each other because of, not in spite of, our differences. He was raised to believe that we all have a responsibility to leave the world a better place than how we found it.
Julia Zubiago
IARF-US Board Member
I am grateful to be working with the IARF. I started doing interfaith work while in college, and was delighted to find a community that considered the role of faith, as well as other social identities, in people's view of themselves. As a person working in public health, I try to consider the individual, social, and political factors that might impact a person. Interfaith work is an opportunity to come together and hear different perspectives before deciding on a strategy to make change. 
I currently work as a researcher at a hospital in Boston, analyzing issues related to substance use and HIV or Hep C infection in order to come up with strategies to improve the health of this population.  In my free time, I read (often about social justice), run or play ultimate Frisbee. I host and attend a lot of potlucks with my friends, and trying to improve my cooking skills.
Future Conference
West Coast Board members are in the early stages of planning a San Francisco-based conference relating to religious freedom and the 'othering' of many of our fellow human beings. They are hoping to hold it on a weekend in the autumn of 2020. Watch this space for further developments.
NOTE:
For many of you on our mailing list, we do not have a postal address. As we plan regional events, it would be very helpful to know what state you reside in, so we can alert you to programs in your area. Please send your name and state to  betdarr@gmail.com .
Thank you!


These are banners of a few of the IARF member groups that attended the 1996 IARF Congress in Korea. It was a very successful Congress, with attendees very happy that the attendance of many Japanese and the welcome by the Koreans were a sign of reconciliation after many years of hard feelings after World War II. It was heartwarming! Thank you to Arnold and Julia Bradburd for the photos.
Commentary
Reflection on IARF’s Fundamental Aim
by Dr. Rev. John Young

As a relatively new American Chapter IARF board member, and its new representative to the IARF’s International Council, I wanted to share some personal reflections on IARF’s primary stated aim: “To protect religious freedom as described in Article 18 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which states: “ Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion which includes freedom to change religion or belief and freedom either alone or in community with others in public or private to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance .”
I enthusiastically support these ambitious goals, but since IARF represents a relatively small proportion of the world’s religious denominations, it seems important to me that we begin by carefully assessing our own denominations’ practices in line with these goals. My experiences within IARF for over 50 years and as a Unitarian Universalist for 58 years, have been that neither the IARF nor the UUA have always seemed fully open to or respectful of all the spiritual attitudes and positions within them. Are our faiths fully open to changes in thought, leadership, and practices? Do we consider some other faiths as ‘other,’ as not living up to our principles and values? Do we always welcome those who differ from the current majorities within our faiths and among our leadership? Are we genuinely embracing of new ethnicities or groups when they choose to enter our faiths? If not, then, perhaps, we should begin to carry out this ambitious goal about religious freedom and evolution within our individual faiths and among our shared denominations, before we take on the entire planet.
Many people today still believe their faith beliefs are the correct or best ones, and that other peoples’ are relatively ignorant, wrong, or even pernicious. Often, they even distinguish between their particular sub-faiths within their historic religious traditions as the true one, and are prepared, if and when they dominate their nations’, regions’, or denominations’ political power to enforce their value preferences upon the rest of their community’s people. What people most often focus upon about religious freedom is protecting the rights of their faith’s or sub-faiths’ members to practice their religion as they choose, while feeling free to constrain those of people whose faiths, life choices, ethnicities or nationalities differ. Undoubtedly, IARF members have generally not taken these extreme positions, but sometimes, I think, they have strayed into believing some of these ideas and practices, which appear to me to be contradictory to our stated primary goal of spiritual freedom.
This is partly so because the reality of organized religions or ecumenical organizations is that it is complex and difficult to simultaneously honor individuals’ autonomy while also developing community unity, cooperation, and shared practices of civic responsibility. Most individuals remain so preoccupied with themselves and their chosen intimate circle that even trying to understand, and cooperate with the broader circle of humanity they encounter, read about, or see on electronic and print media feels impossible. A great many people are willing to allow their religious, ethnic, and/or political leaders to concentrate upon strengthening group unity and solidarity against shared opponents and enforcing constraining [rather than individually freeing] civic responsibilities.
Our primary objective is admirable, but it is complex, and I believe IARF will benefit by beginning to fulfill this objective internally.                                                
The US Chapter welcomes new members at any time. If you are interested in joining , please send you name, address, and email address to  betdarr@gmail.com . Dues are $30/year. We will contact you early in 2020 when we hold our annual renewal campaign.
2019 Term US Chapter Advisors
Doris Hunter
Abhi Janamanchi
Roy Kaplan
Bruce Knotts
Kathy Matsui
Nyla McCulloch
Gregory McGonigle
Peter Richardson
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