INTERNATIONAL U/U YOUNG ADULT LISTENING PROJECT

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If you’re a U/U young adult living outside the US, we want to talk to you! The UUA International Office is conducting a listening project. If you’re interested, book Shawna Foster or send her an email.

What’s a listening project? It’s when an interviewer spends time with a certain group of people with carefully developed questions to find out what is going on in their lives. The UUA International Office wants to listen to youngadults to see what their lives are like and how Unitarian Universalism plays a part in it. Through these interviews, we will understand what your needs are as a young adult outside of the United States and can start organizing to meet common needs. As stories are told and published, we can see how our movement is a global movement that touches so many people’s lives. Find out how we’re all in this together by signing up today!

Hiroshima Day 2013

Memorial lanterns in observance of Hiroshima Day. (CC image courtesy of Flickr user pni)

Today (August 6, 2013) is Hiroshima Day! As we observe the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, individuals and congregations alike are invited to view our available interfaith and Unitarian Universalist (UU) resources.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring stories to come out of this difficult time is the story of the Hiroshima Children’s Drawings:

Shortly after the bombing in Hiroshima in 1945, Rev. A. Powell Davies of the All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, D.C., gave a famous sermon called “Lest the Living Forget.” In it, he encouraged his congregation to send supplies to the victims of the bombing.

 

After sending school supplies to the Honkawa school in Hiroshima, the church received 45 hand drawn pictures by the children of the city. Distinct from other images depicting the events of Hiroshima, these images were hopeful, inviting children of all ages to envision a different future of peace, reconciliation and open dialogue.

Learn more about the story of the Hiroshima Children’s Drawings, and check out our online resources!

United Nations Sustainable Development Working Group

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Members of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office Climate Change Initiative engaged with member states and many other UN entities at the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which completed its fourth of eight planned sessions last month, June 17th-19th, at the UN headquarters in NYC. Called for by the Rio+20 conference, the OWG learned about specific issues of concern through presentations and side events and had open statements and discussions about these issues. The member states were entrusted to make these goals clear, aspirational as well as limited in number, which proved challenging as many important issues and concerns were raised throughout the OWG.

Discussion topics of this Fourth Session were “Employment and decent work for all, social protection, youth, education and culture” and “Health and population dynamics”. These sessions are facilitating the development of a proposal to the General Assembly for a set of sustainable development goals for post 2015, this date marking the end of the Millennium Development Goals. We are in excited anticipation for the final report of the OWG, scheduled to be completed in the next year and hope that the social, economic and environmental dimensions are effectively addressed and integrated to minimize trade-offs between them.

Click here more info on the UU-UNO’s Climate Change Initiative

Click here for more info about the Open Working Group and schedule

Click here for additional statements and event resources

Open Working Group in Trusteeship Council Chamber

Click events to read the UU-UNO summary

1)    Main EventEmployment and decent work for all, social protection, youth, education and culture
Panel and discussion: Dr. Haroon Bhorat, Dr. Karen Mundy and Mr. Fernando Filgueira

Side Events Attended

2)   Main EventHealth, Population dynamics
Keynote address: Dr. Hans Rosling, Panel and discussion: Dr. Janette Vega, Dr. Saroj Jayasinghe and Dr. Paulina Makinwa-Adebusoye

Side Event Attended

  Conclusions and Thoughts

Read More…

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Inspired by Indonesian Unitarians

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The Unitarians of Indonesia are an inspiring part of our global faith with tremendous commitment, good organization, an evangelical attitude, and a strong focus on ministry with youth and young adults. It was a pleasure to visit with them for 4 days in April 2013.

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Gereja Jemaat Allah Global Indonesia (JAGI) - the Unitarian Christian Church of Indonesia, was founded in the mid-1990’s by Rev. Aryanto Nugroho and currently has around 500 members.  Rev. Nugroho has published highly regarded theological books, and is very well connected in interfaith circles and with national leaders.

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JAGI is headquartered in Semarang, where the church owns and operates a large building that houses the sanctuary, classrooms, offices, a library, and space for a future NGO. A maternity clinic – Bhaki Ibu – operated by the wife of the founder of the church sits across the street from the church building; Mrs. Nugroho estimates that she has been a midwife at more than 200,000 births.

JAGI is administered by a National Leaders Board that includes a Council which supervises a Board of Elders and an Executive Board (responsible for daily operations).  JAGI has 8 ordained ministers and an executive director. It consists of 4 Churches (Semarang, Jakarta, Solo and Sukorejo-Pasuruan) and 3 Mission Areas/Fellowships (Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Klaten). Semarang is the most established congregation and at the center of JAGI. (more…)

Half the Sky Film Screening

uu-uno The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office has partnered with the Half the Sky movement which raises awareness about critical women’s rights issues, opening a space for a deeper discussion and action steps. The UU-UNO has developed a resource packet so that congregations can host screenings and guided discussions. Suggestions for immediate action steps that can be taken by individuals and congregations are also outlined in this packet.

On April 12, Arun Lobo, a UU-UNO intern through Fordham University, half-the-sky1flew to Durango, Colorado to facilitate the discussion at the Half the Sky Screening at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Durango.This film was inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s bestselling book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” Hidden in the overlapping problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality is the single most vital opportunity of our time – and women are seizing it. From Somaliland to Cambodia to Afghanistan, women’s oppression is being confronted head on real, meaningful solutions are being fashioned.

Arun Lobo
Arun Lobo

UUFD is a small congregation, but it is not a barrier for them – they took the initiative to host this screening and discussion in their Sanctuary. Maureen Maliszewski, the Chair of the Social Justice at UUFD, organized this event with 48 participants who participated actively in an enlightening discussion. The event began with lighting of chalice by Arun and an introduction of UU-UNO. Arun is a Franciscan Priest from India who has worked on many of the issues described in the film. He was able to provide the audience with firsthand accounts to reinforce the Half the Sky film. One of the participants said, “Maureen, we are so fortunate that Arun was able to come to Durango to share firsthand experience with us related to issues covered in Half the Sky. Arun brought home hard realities that often seem far from our daily lives in Durango.” Nine people who attended the event were so inspired that they are in the process of forming a local ‘Half the Sky’ action group and as a whole, the attendees raised over $500 to support the work of the UU-UNO on critical women’s rights issues.You can read more about this screening in the Durango Herald here.

Audience in Durango, Co.
Audience in Durango, Co.

The next screening of this film will be held in New York City at the Community Church of New York, on May 12th. If you would like more information about the upcoming screening or you are interested in hosting a screening of the 40 minute, condensed version of Half the Sky, please contact us at unitednations@uua.org.

 

 

 

International Inspirations: Ela Bhatt

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The Faith Without Borders program is re-launching as a new individual/congregational resource for UU’s interested or currently engaged in international work: uuinternational.org

Encompassing the diversity and scope of current international UU projects and opportunities, Faith Without Borders represents a streamlined and unified web presence for the collaborative work being done between: The UUA’s International Office, the UU Service Committee, the International Council of UU’s, the International Convocation of UU Women, the International Association for Religious Freedom, the UU Partner Church Council, the UU United Nations Office, and the UU Holdeen India Program.

As the site develops its collection of resources in the coming months, Faith Without Borders is pleased to share a new series of web-based resources called “Inspirations,” which tell the story of global Unitarian Universalism through our international partners and the work they are engaged in.

Inspirations: Ela Bhatt

This week’s Inspiration comes from the UU Holdeen India Program:

Ela Bhatt, founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a UU Holdeen India Program partner, received the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize earlier this month. The prize is one of India’s highest accolades. Learn more about the inspiring work of SEWA in this brief video clip!

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International Inspirations – On the way

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The Faith Without Borders program is re-launching as a new individual/congregational resource for UU’s interested or currently engaged in international work: uuinternational.org

Encompassing the diversity and scope of current international UU projects and opportunities, Faith Without Borders represents a streamlined and unified web presence for the collaborative work being done between: The UUA’s International Office, the UU Service Committee, the International Council of UU’s, the International Convocation of UU Women, the International Association for Religious Freedom, the UU Partner Church Council, the UU United Nations Office, and the UU Holdeen India Program.

As the site develops its collection of resources in the coming months, Faith Without Borders is pleased to share a new series of web-based resources called “Inspirations,” which tell the story of global Unitarian Universalism through our international partners and the work they are engaged in.

The first installment of these “Inspirations” is a brief video intro to the UU’s in Mexico. Inspirations will be released on a bi-monthly basis as each of the international UU organizations takes turns in sharing pithy, poignant stories from our partners and the world of UU international engagement.

 

 

 

Faithful International Partnering – Proceeding Carefully and Intentionally

 

A Memo: Connecting with Unitarians and UU’s Around the World, CAREFULLY

To: UUA Ministers and Religious Leaders

From:  Eric Cherry, UUA International Office
Cathy Cordes, UU Partner Church Council
Jill McAllister and Steve Dick, International Council of Unitarians and Universalists

Date: September 14, 2012

Dear Friends,

It is so exciting to see the many ways that our UU faith is connecting around the world – so many congregations and ministers are now making a variety of international connections! We are thrilled that UUA churches and individuals are looking beyond their own doors and even beyond their own geographic communities and connecting. The UUA, ICUU, the UUPCC and other organizations stand ready to support your outreach in a variety of ways. We invite you to contact us at any point where we can be helpful. We are writing today to offer some advice based on our joint experience working with UUs here and in other countries.

Much of this new activity is aided with new communication tools that make contact easier and keeping in touch possible. Social media programs such as Skype and Facebook make it easy to learn of possibilities and to meet people over the internet.

Our UU global community is growing both bigger and smaller! Bigger in the sense that people around the world continue to discover our liberal tradition and establish it in their own countries and regions, and smaller in the sense that it is so easy to connect with each other around the world. This gives us reason to both celebrate and pay close attention, for there are good ways to connect, not-so-good ways to connect, and ways to connect which can cause huge problems. (more…)

Join UN Efforts to End Violence Against Women

Sexual violence poses more of a threat to women ages 15-44 than cancer, car accidents, and malaria. Even worse, this violence is most frequently inflicted by a woman’s partner. A third of women murdered inthe United States every year are killed by their partners. Sexual abuse is often used as a war tactic in areas of conflict and also increases the spread of HIV/AIDS. We need to work to end this injustice! Women’s rights are human rights.

In 2008, the United Nations started a campaign called UNiTE to End Violence against Women in an effort to stop violence against women and girls worldwide. This campaign’s ideals are in line with ours at the UU-UNO.

Ways you can take action:

  • Notify the police if you suspect a woman is being abused. Don’t keep it to yourself, as cases of violence against women greatly underreported.
  • Urge your legislators to ratify CEDAW (the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women), which the United States has still not ratified. The U.S. is the only industrializednation that hasn’t ratified it yet. In fact, only six other countries haven’tratified it, including Iran, Somalia, and Sudan. Learn more about it here.
  • Get involved with the Day of the Girl Campaign, which works to improve the lives of girls around the world. You can learn how to take action here!
  • Call members of Congress to increase America’s financial support of UN Women, an organization that advocates for gender equality and women’s empowerment. You can even try to arrange a meeting with your local legislator. Check this out for advice on how to make it happen.
  • Organize events at your congregation or in your community to educate others about this important issue.

Transylvanian Unitarians Celebrate the Proclamation of the Act on Religious Freedom

Please enjoy this exciting news from the Transylvania Unitarian Church:

On January 13, 2012 the Consistory of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church honors the 444th anniversary of the proclamation of the first law on freedom of belief and conscience, and religious tolerance. In January 1568, King Janos Zsigmond and his court preacher, David Ferenc had the Diet of Transylvania pass, at its session held in Torda, the Patent of Toleration, which stated:

In every place the preachers shall preach and explain the gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well; if not, no one shall compel them but they shall keep the preachers whose doctrine they approve. Therefore none of the Superintendents or others shall annoy or abuse the preachers on account of their religion, according to the previous constitutions, or allow any to be imprisoned or be punished by removal from his post on account of his teaching, for faith is the gift of God, this comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The celebrations start in the morning in the Unitarian church of Torda with a worship service that includes a history lecture on the importance of the Act on Religious Freedom. Then, the congregation will walk over to the National Museum of Torda which was reopened in fall 2011 after many long years of restoration. The purpose of visit is to salute the new exhibition of the famous painting on the 1568 event, which was also restored over the past decade. The painting entitled The Proclamation of the Act on Religious Freedom at the 1568 Session of the Transylvanian Diet was painted by Aladár Körösfői Kriesch in 1896.

The celebrations will continue with an evening worship service in the Unitarian church of Kolozsvár, and a concert featuring the children’s choir of the Unitarian High School. The day will be closed with a reception at the residence of the Unitarian bishops, built in the 15th century, currently expecting the launching of a major restoration work.

The Consistory of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church thankfully acknowledges the contribution of the Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist international community to urging the completion of the restoration works at the museum in Torda. Among other things, it was due to the international campaign lead in 2009 and 2010 by the International Council of the Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) and the International Relations Office of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) that the renovation works were speed up, and eventually finished. This way, the painting, a symbol of the struggle of our liberal faith for the recognition of the religious freedom, became accessible again for the public.