URI Europe Assembly „Moving interfaith forward in Europe“, April 23-26, 2015, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Executive report

uri photos

Plovdiv, Bulgaria, was the location for a wonderful 4 days of encounter under the topic “Moving interfaith forward in Europe”. 65 interfaith activists came together in this beautiful city from April 23-26, 2015. They came from URI’s interfaith groups, so called Cooperation Circles, from 16 countries, also including some newcomers who were ready to join the network for joint activities. They were from 10 religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions - and many more currents and denominations. The assembly hall, an old derwish place, which is nowadays a restaurant and conference venue, was buzzing with energy and different voices.

United by their passion for interfaith action, participants gathered to: learn about each other’s realities, aims and activities; exchange about good practices; build positive relationships; and move forward, planning join activities by countries and thematic fields.

The future thinking included planning activities around URI’s 15 anniversaries: URI global will celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2015, while URI Europe will be 15 years old next year, in 2016. In addition, the United Nations’ (UN’s’) 70th anniversary also happens in 2015, - and this is very relevant to URI, because its creation was inspired by the UN. URI is therefore accredited with the UN, bringing the interfaith voice to the table. - Honoring these anniversaries, URI Cooperation Circles are planning various activities during these two years. In these they will also highlight the important interfaith contribution to social cohesion, peace, justice and healing in Europe and around the world. By the way, it was fantastic having URI global’s director Victor Kazanjian and director for regional management Sally Mahe from San Francisco with us.

Thematic groups gathered people around topics, such as indigenous wisdom, interfaith in education, the creation of an interfaith house of peace, culture and art, youth activities, seed grants and human rights. - A youth leadership training happened for one day before the URI Europe assembly, where youth activists worked on the creation of a European Youth Leadership Network.

Participants met with interfaith activists from Bulgaria, enjoyed an amazing cultural programme, with a highlight being the impressive and enchanting Evmolpeya girls’ choir, and learned about interfaith and cultural activities in this beautiful country. Big thanks to the Bulgarian team and all who did fantastic work to make these rich days an unforgettable experience.

dancing

Conference participants dancing traditional Bulgarian dances

outside mevlevihane puldin

Enjoying in lunch and conversations outside of Mevlevihane

weaving us together

Weaving us together

 

Karimah Stauch (URI Europe coordinator)