Wednesday, 16 December 2009
It seems to be a good day to sit down and write a seasonal message to you all. In Canada, the traditional Christmas comes with the snow and cold weather you often see in Hollywood portrayals of the holidays. A week ago we received about a third of a metre of snow, and on December 13 my home city of Edmonton, Alberta recorded an overnight temperature of -46C making us briefly the coldest place on the planet! Our pride is mixed with our concern for those who must survive homelessness in this harsh setting and like so many good people, Unitarians are working hard to help provide the necessities for our neighbours in need.
This is of course, only one of the unusual natural phenomena. A volcano is erupting in the Philippines and Australia is facing another summer season of devastating fires due to drought.
I scan the newspapers and Internet and see so many issues of global concern. There are, of course, the Copenhagen talks on climate change. If not doomed to failure, they will likely produce only a very limited success as developed and developing nations square off over money driven issues. If there is hope to be had, I suppose it is that they are talking at all. That cannot be underestimated. It is only by talking, or perhaps more accurately, it is only by listening deeply to the deep truths of others that we have any hope of finding some safety, some ‘redemption’ to use a good religious word.
But for so many, this is the season of hope, whether you celebrate the hopefulness of the birth of the baby Jesus, the miracle of the temple lamps, or the death and rebirth of the ancient gods.
On behalf of the Executive and Staff of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, I want to wish you the happiest of holiday seasons, warmed by family and friends, deepened by faith and made magical by hope renewed.
May peace, prosperity and love be your guides and your companions in this season.
May you awake on Christmas Day with a renewed sense of hope and purpose sustained by your deepest beliefs, and may your wishes be fulfilled abundantly.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
THE SPIRITUAL MESSAGE OF POLLY GUILD
The history of the Unitarians, our history, goes in parallel to large historical cycles marked by the birth of new paradigms of science and culture that our "prophets",” martyrs", "saints" promoted. Darwin is one who illustrates better this idea. We are a movement that walks with the "men of goodwill" or with our human family in exploring new possibilities of existence.
Polly Guild embodies the feeling of our liberal faith, for this time of globalization, in which we are interdependent beings, in which it doesn´t matter to which country we belong, but we have a common responsibility as humans to our planet, our common home and our common family. That is why we gather in the ICUU and why she dedicated her life to organize it.
The Latin Americans also received encouragement from Polly Guild, through beautiful letters that she sent to us, keeping us in touch with the larger Unitarian movement, encouraging our hearts and minds to organize Unitarian groups, so we can foster a world spirit of fraternity and unity. (This is the significance of the word Unitarian, not only to oppose the Trinity, but to sponsor the Unity)
That Unitarian Universalist spirit is the richest legacy left us by Polly Guild. We have to keep it, take care and develop it, as a present for the human family.
But besides this, for whom that had the privilege to know her personally, she leaves us her tenderness, the enormous amount of love that was always in her look, which despite her death continues to accompany us in our long walk of life.
Although we feel sorrow for her absence, we understand that these mutations are part of life, and therefore we who are committed to her spiritual message remain united in ICUU.
With gratitude and affection we say farewell to her as her spirit sustains us on this new journey,
Olga Flores from Bolivia
Monday, 9 November 2009
Many ICUU member congregations and leaders were personal friends of Polly's. She sponsored students and helped ministers in need, she contributed to building projects in India, a community bank in the Philippines, she was a beloved mentor to U-U's in Pakistan, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Khasi Hills, and more. Through these relations and projects her goodwill will continue to help Unitarian-Universalism grow and prosper for many years to come. We will miss her presence, but her spirit will live on through us.
ICUU Program Co-ordinator Jill McAllister paid tribute to her writing: “Polly Guild was a mentor for me, and a good friend, for more than 15 years. Her dedication to the wide-world of Unitarian Universalism, and to the global U-U movement, inspired and instructed me. We worked together in ICUU meetings and conferences around the world, and in UUA events and programs here at home. Her easy way of being a friend and supporter to so many is one of the things I will always remember, and I hope that some of that friendly spirit of hers will live on in me and through me as we continue the work which was so important to her.”
On November 7 we lost one of our strongest and most persistent advocates for international Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist connections. Rev. Polly Guild of Massachusetts died after a period of illness. While her death was expected, it was still a great loss to all who knew her and to Unitarians and Universalists around the globe who may never know the effect of her pioneering work.
As member, leader and friend of the IARF, the ICUU, the Partner Church Council and hundreds of individuals around the world Polly helped grow our sense of community across borders, oceans and continents. It always seemed that if there was a gathering, she was there. A former Executive Member of the ICUU, Polly in recent years sat in as our resident historian and archivist. As new leaders emerged, she helped us learn the history and the context so that we could do our best work.
Sadly, Polly was not able to attend our most recent Council Meeting in Transylvania. However thanks to a little creativity and the help of her family, we were able to send live birthday greetings to Polly over the internet. For a too brief few moments she was with us one more time.
She was a great soul and is greatly missed.
On behalf of the Executive Committee and Staff of the ICUU I send the warmest regards and condolences to Polly's family and to all who are missing this special woman this day.
Rev. Brian Kiely
Unitarian Church of Edmonton
President, International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
Saturday, 3 October 2009
The Typhoon rains have brought much destruction to life, property and living especially in Manila. The aftermath of this is starvation. On Negros Island the damage to farms will result to no food in homes. This will create another difficulty when people will go after local money lenders to borrow money for food who will in return charge them high interest. When the other in coming Typhoons will bring in much rain it will prolong the time of farm land preparations for planting, as a result of this people will experience food shortage in their homes. Doldol and Malingin congregations who are in to Rice farming, with bad weather some are unable to dry the harvested rice and it is rotting. The Cropof some others are in the field yet and is under water and some cannot prepare the land for planting for the next season.
In Cabiguhan and Nataban members who plant corn, peanuts and root crops say because of the heavy rain and strong winds the crops are damaged. These are only four congregations I have visited during the last week end.
We are glad that you are there for us to air out our frustrations facing these natural calamities that disrupts life and add much to what people bear with for existence. We who are with the people find our selves helpless most of the time. With all good wishes,
There are no direct impact to our church. We have no congregation in western Sumatera yet. But, we are still talking to one family, our member in Jakarta, who is originated from western Sumatera. We are waiting for information about their big family in western Sumatera. We are still looking for any possibility to collect some help to the earthquake victims (may be during the next sabbath worship, there will be some fund collection), and will deliver it through government agencies or NGO body.
The update :
We are relief that the family of our Jakarta member are not affected by the earthquake.
The death numbers of the victim are now 471. Injured numbers 2,818 which are 604 badly injured. The government through the health department said that there are thousands people still buried (either alive or death) under the damaged building.
We will collect the fund today, on the sabbath worship, and will deliver it through Indonesia Red Cross for the victims.
Thank you for your kind attention and the attention of the ICUU as a big family.
Friday, 2 October 2009
It is with a measure of deep relief that I have learned from Aryanto Nugroho that none of your congregations were directly affected by the recent earthquake in Padang. Nevertheless it is a terrible tragedy and natural disaster facing your nation. I am sure many of you know people or families who have been harmed.
As people of faith and empathy, I offer the nest wishes and prayers of the Executive Committee and of Unitarians and Universalists around the world for all people affected by the quake, no matter what their religion or station in life.
As in the case of our brothers and sisters in the Philippines recovering from the floods, I urge all U*Us who are willing and able to support relief efforts for those harmed by these terrible events.
In an uncertain world where environmental disaster seems to be an increasingly common event, we stand in awe and hope before the power of nature. We wish you and the men and women of Indonesia al the best in recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Rev. Brian J. Kiely
International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Dear Philippine UU’s and Unitarians and Universalists around the world
It is with a heavy heart that I and other members of the Staff and Executive Committee of the ICUU have followed devastating effects of Typhoon Onday from afar. There are few things more frightening than the feelings of powerlessness that can come to us as we stand helpless before the storm. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you struggle with the immediate emergency conditions and with the aftermath of cleaning up and rebuilding lives, homes and businesses.
I hope that many will join me in following the unfolding story. I also invite all who are able and feel so inclined to contribute to relief efforts through your national Red Cross/Red Crescent organizations.
May you in the Philippines find peace and safety soon. May you be spared further setbacks and may you all be graced with the blessings of God.
Rev. Brian J. Kiely
International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
Monday, 28 September 2009
In 6 hours last saturday, a month's worth of rain fell, affecting more than 340,000 people in the Metro Manila area. Low-lying Areas in and around Metro Manila were submerged as high as 20 feet. Here is a Facebook photo gallery of the destruction. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=122290&id=710751532&ref=share 48 hours after the rains fell there are still people trapped on rooftops. Some are sick. Many are in danger of dehydration.
Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and are in shelters. Relief supplies will surely run out fast without donations. To my UU friends, please inform your church mates. Our congregation here was largely spared but so many are not. Thanks for your kind attention. Please be guided by the message below.
For updates, please click here. www.gmanews.tv Bob Guerrero ,YOU MAY DONATE THROUGH http://www.redcross.org.ph. You can also DONATE THROUGH TXTPOWER'S PAYPAL! http://bit.ly/hQtKH or you can donate here, through the Philippine Society of Jesus, Catholic aid group, very good. https://www.myayala.com/sjph/
Thursday, 17 September 2009
The biennial Council Meeting of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists took place from 1-6 September in Kolozsvár, Transylvania, Romania.
77 registered participants took part including two from Latin America; three (plus two family members) from Africa; three (including one family member) from Australia/New Zealand; and seven (plus one family member) from Asia. Several new faces, including the leader of Hong Kong group, youth officer of Indonesian group, new UUA President and new CUC Director were in evidence.
The Council Meeting went well, although the effects of the visa failures was felt. This included three formal refusals for Africa and one for Asia as well as four Africans who were not technically refused but repeatedly asked for extra requirements to the point where they could not get a visa in time to attend. Other visas were not obtained because of decisions of the applicants themselves.
The new Transylvanian bishop (Rev Bálint-Bencsédi Ferenc) is a real charmer and has an amazing singing voice. The old bishop (Rev Szábo Árpad) didn't come because he had just had stomach surgery. The two new (part-time) staff were welcomed and were very busy at the Meeting: Rev Steve Dick as the new Executive Secretary and Rev Jill McAllister as Program Director, and the retiring Executive Secretary (Rev John Clifford) was given a friendly and gracious send-off.
Business sessions agreed with an intensive process of tightening up membership categories, reporting standards, and financial contributions. Some details remain to be worked out and some necessary policy changes will come back to the 2011 Council for ratification. Brazil and Burundi were both admitted as provisional members, and Spain and Poland both had their membership suspended with the agreement of their delegates due to lack of recent activity. New Members at Large are Nihal Attanayake from Philippines, Femi Matimoju from Nigeria, and Celia Midgley from UK. The President (Brian Kiely of Canada) and Treasurer (David Shaw of Britain) were re-elected unopposed and a new Vice-President (Pauline Rooney of Australia) and Secretary (Dávid Gyerő of Transylvania) were elected unopposed. Motions relating to the oppression of the Hungarian language in Slovakia and the inaccessibility of the famous painting of the Torda debate were passed. Extensive photo and video shots were taken and these should appear on the website in due course.
We managed about 5 minutes' skype video call with former ICUU Program Director Polly Guild in Boston, Massachusetts on her 85th birthday, singing Happy Birthday to her. This was the first ICUU Council she was unable to attend.
Monday, 13 July 2009
“Thanks to the Internet, the ICUU, Unitarianism and Unitarian Universalism has become accessible to interested people in many more countries where we have had no presence,” said President Brian Kiely, “The requests for service and support are increasing weekly. This shared leadership model sets us on a direction of growth and expansion and prepares us to meet this growing need. Let me assure member groups that we are working within our budget constraints, but that developing new sources of revenue and funding is quickly becoming a top priority.”
Cross-cultural Unitarian minister Steve Dick is to be the next Executive Secretary. He will succeed the current post holder, the Rev John Clifford who is retiring after four years of service. He will assist Rev. Clifford at the biennial ICUU Council meeting this September at the Unitarian Student Center in Kolozsvár, the city of the headquarters of Unitarians in Transylvania.
Until recently the Rev. Dick served as Chief Executive of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches – Unitarian congregations in Great Britain. Steve is American by birth and a British Unitarian minister by training. The majority of his life has been lived in Europe married to Jenneke, a Dutch woman whose grandfather was a liberal religious minister. In addition to serving as a congregational minister and District Executive in England, Steve was a founder of European Unitarian Universalists and he was employed part-time by IARF. His broad perspective and spirituality benefits from his cross-cultural experience.
Steve noted this is a challenging time for ICUU (founded in 1995) saying “ICUU is at a crossroads and I hope to help it develop through adolescence to adult vitality. Some amazing things have been achieved so far and future possibilities are exciting. I am particularly looking forward to working in partnership with the Rev Jill McAllister, newly-appointed Program Coordinator.”
Rev. Jill McAllister of the United States is a founder of the ICUU and a Past-President. She is also a former member of the UUA Board of Trustees. For the past 15 years she has been active in developing and delivering the programs of the ICUU. Stepping into this Program Co-Ordinator role is something of a natural progression.
Since 1998, Jill has served as Minister to the congregation of People’s Church in Kalamazoo, MI. She has been active in the UU Ministers Association Heartland Chapter as President and Program Chair, and has been a speaker and consultant for many congregations in her district and around the USA. She is a vice-president of ISAAC, an inter-faith community organization which focuses on grass-roots organizing around social justice issues. She has led ICUU task forces, leadership conferences, youth conferences and symposia around the world, and has spear-headed ICUU publications. She says: “My dedication to this organization is part of a much larger devotion to the ideals of religious community. I am always thinking strategically for the ICUU, because it is so important to me that it live up to its potential to be a model of right relations, mutual aid and support, so that the liberal religious movement will only grow stronger, and offer more of its gifts to a world in need. I'm excited about the potential our of our new staff arrangement for the development of the ICUU, and I look forward to working with Steve to bring the best we both can offer."
Both the Executive Secretary and Program Co-Ordinator positions are currently set as half-time. Steve and Jill will work from their respective homes in London, UK and Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.
The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists is a body devoted to fostering connections between Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist groups around the world. In 2007 the ICUU adopted the following statement:
The Mission of the ICUU is to:
* Build relationships through communication and collaboration;
* Develop spiritual community among member groups and their leaders;
* Identify and nurture prospective and emerging groups;
* Foster our U-U faith for mutual inspiration, development and growth.
It is comprised of delegates appointed by national bodies that meet in full Council meetings every two years. At those gatherings the formal business of the Council is decided, policies are set, budgets and financial statements approved, and program directions chosen.
In between Council meetings, the programs of the ICUU are managed and developed by a volunteer Executive Committee supported by a paid Executive Secretary and a team of volunteers around the world.
ICUU was founded in March 1995 at Essex, Massachusetts, after years of discussion. Representatives of Unitarian, Universalist, and UU congregations from around the world came together to form this new organization.
There are about 500,000 Unitarians and Universalists in the world today. Many belong to large church organizations while others rarely meet another Unitarian face-to-face. The oldest groups, who are Hungarian speaking, have a continuous church history of more than 400 years. Some of the English speaking groups go back over 200 years. Many of the newest member and emerging groups have a much shorter history.
Sunday, 21 June 2009
The Swedish Unitarians had remained inactive during the vacancy, therefore this appointment is expected to give new life and projects to this branch of Unitarianism. The Swedish Unitarian Church is not a member of the ICUU and keeps friendly relations with the Norwegian and Transylvanian Unitarians.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Thursday, 11 June 2009
After three days recovering in the hospital and now at home, we are ready to restart our action.
Many, many thanks to all of you around the world, for your help and your faith. Even without a positive agreement with the government we can say that our common effort was useful for building peace in a country that is noted for the confrontation and the impunity of killers. Every single effort against injustice is necessary. Justice is not a result of a big governmental measure, it is our daily action. In this dimension your solidarity has importance.
All that you did encouraged me: I could feel not only that I am not alone, but a part of a human circle that is protecting our human family. You were able to feel the necessity of Bolivia, a country that is very far from you. All that you did was not only for me, but for the Bolivian people who are living in a process of changing but who can not overcome the old structure of dictatorship. Nothing will change if the old structure of impunity remains.
We have to be aware that together we have power, so we can think that with our collective action we can do many other things to have a better world.
Thanks for your solidarity. During the hunger strike I felt your prays, your thoughts that were guiding me to be honest, humble, but wise and with open mind. We decided to finish our strike at the limit of our heath but with the promise that we will continue fighting, with other measures more creative and effective. We think that our lives are instruments for justice.
Our common action generated here a movement for justice, it is a red light for the government: to act according to ethical principles and to remove the double moral standards. It is necessary to return to an idealistic politic. Unexpectedly we reached more that we wanted. Now let's see what our next activity will be.
In my mind I have many reflections about the meaning of life. The principal is that to live gives us the possibility to express love, on one hand, and in the other hand, is a kind of a natural “duty”, our happy duty.
Let's continue our walk with enthusiasm and integrity each one in their own duty-Dharma and in union in our common existence.
Gracias la lucha continua!!
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Dear friends with good hearts:Thanks for your solidarity and all the time that you have dedicated to help me. All of your efforts contributed to generate a spirit of justice.After 29 days of hunger strike, the Bolivian government is insensible to our demands for truth and justice. We understand Truth as our right to know what happened with all the missing people and the duty of the state to investigate where they are and turn back to us their mortal bodies. And we ask for JUSTICE as the right to live in a society with no murders,and torturadores, those who practice torture with impunity.We are asking the President Evo Morales the most basic thing: to fulfill his first duty, to apply the law, specifically the Inter-American Convention Forced Disappearance of Persons Act, that became national law in 1996 and the Law No. 2640 which requires them to compensate the victims of the political violence during the military regimes.At the present I am in a hard dilemma, to continue the strike till the end, which means until death or to change the measure. From the beginning we were aware of this risk and we mentioned to President Morales that it is a paradox—that we must use this measure against our health to defend life.At this point we have to reflect upon the moral implications of this decision. Bolivia does not need more martyrs, but at the same time, everything will continue the same if we do not make this sacrifice. As a Unitarian my principle of reverence for life, is basic, but it has the same weight as my commitment to justice. When we were in dictatorship, I did not hesitate to put my life at risk, there was not any other option. At the moment it seems that the government just listens to the voices of violence and to those who can exert pressure. We have a slogan "without justice there is no change."So my dear ones, you can see how much I appreciate your support. Let us hope that the government will change their masculine mind of confrontation and see life through the eyes of our indigenous vision of complementarity. Thank you for your help to us to build a country with peace and justice.Each day I feel weaker and weaker in my body, but stronger and stronger in my soul.Many thanks again to all my sisters and brothers of the path.Olga