Thursday, 17 September 2009

Brief Report of CM09

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.

John Clifford

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