European Unitarian Universalists (EUU) celebrated its 30th Anniversary the weekend of 9 to 11 April at their Retreat in Oberwesel, Germany and Executive Secretary Steve Dick was there on behalf of ICUU.
His presence was particularly appropriate as Steve was one of the founders of EUU along with Ron Diehl and Leon Spencer back in 1980. The three American Unitarian Universalists had arrived in Europe when English language UU activity for expatriates was at low ebb after considerable previous activity. When key individuals had returned to the USA, some UU Fellowships had faded away.
Steve had the idea of developing a strong but flexible central organisation that would sponsor semi-annual Retreats and support the development and sometimes redevelopment of UU congregations. Three decades later, that central body is still going strong and is a charter member of ICUU.
Although many EUU members are expatriates from North America living in Europe, there are now a significant number of European nationals in its membership. Another defining feature is the considerable “at large” membership of people living where they may be the only UUs in the area. Participation in the twice a year Retreats becomes something of a congregation for them.
The “Retreats” have retained the same basic shape over the life of EUU. Individuals and families from all over Europe travel for a weekend to a conference centre or hostel somewhere in Europe for a mixture of theme talks, social times, workshops, worship and other communal events.
Religious education for young people is an important feature and an RE director and volunteers run a full programme for the kids.
The pattern of these weekend events has changed little over the years, but notably twice as many people attend than before. The Anniversary Retreat was attended by nearly 100 folks.
Recently retired UUA Minister Wyman Rousseau was the theme speaker for this gathering. He spoke on poetry and led the Sunday morning service, preaching on Emerson.
Steve Dick was introduced and welcomed on the Friday evening by Martha Hicks, editor of the EUU Newsletter and a member nearly since the start. Steve gave greetings and congratulations on behalf of ICUU and he led the Sharing of Joys and Concerns that is a key part of the ingathering at a EUU retreat.
The next EUU Retreat is planned for October 29-31 2010 in Mittelwihr, France (near Colmar) with UUA President Rev Peter Morales as the Theme Speaker. Anyone is welcome to attend EUU Retreats.
More information about EUU, the Retreats and member UU Fellowships in Europe can be found at www.europeanuu.eu.