On Thursday October 4, 2012, the Second International Convocation of Unitarian*Universalist Women kicked off its three day conference in Marosvásárhely, in the Târgu Mureş region of Transylvania.

Rev. Jill McAllister (People’s Church, Kalamazoo, MI) and Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri (Unitarian Union of North East India).

Drawing over 240 participants from Transylvania, the United States, India, Hungary, Japan, England, the Netherlands, Germany, and beyond, the meeting’s theme is centered around “Keeping Your Balance in a Changing World.”

Among the many purposes of this conference is the rare and wonderful opportunity for U*U women to come together from all over the world in solidarity around women’s issues. Participants are afforded opportunities for cross cultural understanding and sharing, in essence, the chance to broaden horizons while strengthening our global community.

Rev. Bálint Benczédi Ferenc shares words of greetings with the attendees of the 2nd International Convocation of U*U Women.

Thursday night’s opening ceremony featured opening remarks from Barbara Kres Beach, president of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women, greetings from Rev. Bálint Benczédi Ferenc, Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church (previously known as the Transylvanian Unitarian Church), and Nagy Gizella, Co-President of the Women’s Association (Unitarian Church of Marosvásárhely). Following the welcoming dinner, participants learned traditional Transylvanian folk dances while a live band performed!

One of the Global Sisters Groups discussing leadership and gender roles.

The 1st International Convocation of U*U Women, which took place in Houston, TX, in 2009, inaugurated a small-group process, “Global Sisters,” a process adapted from the Community Capacity Building program. The key principle of this community-based planning process is the belief that, with the help of experienced facilitators, a community can organize its existing information, mobilize its resources, and can ultimately create consensual action plans to help its own development. Implementing this small group process for this year’s convocation, participants  have been split into 11 Global Sisters Groups to collaboratively problem-solve some of the issues affecting women in their respective communities throughout the three-day conference. The process has revealed, so far, overwhelming similarities in the issues facing women across the various represented cultures.

Margot Adler and Dr. Komáromi Tünde speak about folk culture, pagan traditions, and different approaches to the holy during a Friday morning panel discussion.

Friday’s morning program entailed a panel discussion on balancing religious/spiritual practices with our fast lives, in exploration of the various aspects of our faith in today’s world. Rev. Jill McAllister (USA), Rev. Dr. Ann Peart (England), and Rev.Székely Kinga Réka (Transylvania) each spoke about the various ways they pursue and achieve balance in their lives by way of spirituality. After a festive coffee break, Margot Adler and Dr. Komáromi Tünde discussed folk culture, pagan traditions, and different approaches to the holy. A panel on developing women’s leadership for peace and multicultural understanding, featuring Dr. Kathy Matsui (Japan), Smaranda Enache (Transylvania), and Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri (India) followed, as did a variety of workshops ranging in topic from domestic violence prevention to compassionate communication to leadership training and traditional herbal healing.

A traditional Transylvanian folk band performing for an avid group of dancers.

Saturday’s program will feature the official opening ceremony, presentation of the colors, Unitarian march, a short presentation of the wandering tablecloth, a forum on balancing family and career, and reports from the UNOSZ (Unitárius Nők Országos Szövetsége). An afternoon presentation featuring dance and music from Hungarian, Gypsy, Armenian, Romanian, Jewish, and Saxon cultures is also planned, prior to a panel on the feminine face of the divine.

The convocation concludes on Sunday with a panel on weaving a web of sisterhood around the world, and a variety of workshops on community capacity building, partnerships, improving the status of women, and even one on vampires vis a vis Earth and its moral struggles.

Packed to the brim with discussions, workshops, and activities, these three days bring together a dazzling cast of dynamic U*U women engaged in their communities to lead us all in activities designed to educate, enrich, and empower not only the lives of all in attendance, but also of those at home in our respective congregations and communities who stand to benefit from the learnings we will all carry with us in the days, months, and years ahead.

About the Author
Nicole McConvery


  1. Louise Pare

    This sounds like an exciting convocation. I have just returned from the World Pulse Live Event in Portland, OR as well as the first Pacific NW Women’s Permaculture Gathering. I also teach a class titled “Women in the Global Community: A Spirituality of Empowerment” where I use the text Half the Sky and The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, 4th edition.

    I am interested in what issues affecting women in the global community you discussed during the convocation: human trafickking? maternal mortality? education? FGM?? cllimate change?

    What will be the focus for the next international convocation?

    Is it possible to get a copy of Margot Adler’s presentation?

    I loved the fact that you started the convocation with folk dancing. My Ph.D. is in Women’s Spirituality with a special research focus on women and movement.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Louise Pare, Ph.D.
    DRE @ Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
    Ashland, OR , USA

  2. Laura Nagel

    Nicole–Wonderful write up and photos! And thank you so much for your greeting delivered to the Convocation from UUA’s International Resources Office. It was also terrific to have a video greeting from Rev. Peter Morales that we could play for all the 600 women who attended the national women’s meeting on the Saturday of the Convocation.

    To your description I would just add that for me, having visited Romania and our partner church nine times, the addition of simultaneous translation to the Convocaiton made a world of difference to our being able to laugh together, sing together and truly converse about our shared religious experiences. This to me was the highlight of the Convocation, making it a truly multi-cultural experience. Laura Nagel, Ex. Dir., International Convocation of U*UY Women

  3. Cheryl Petersen

    Nice story featuring women’s progress. “Educate, enrich, and empower.” Happy to see the pics with men in them. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “Civil laws are implementing fairness and equity between the rights of the sexes, but more progress is needed, to say the least. Civilization and Science stand strong on the side of justice and encourage the elimination of discrimination, however, every time an effort is made to remedy unfairness, we must be alert that the effort doesn’t encourage difficulties of greater magnitude. Higher aims and motives, as well as improved mental character, must be considered as the feasible and rational means of progress.”

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