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Bury Unitarian Church


                    The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) and fair trade


The current president of the ICUU, Inga Brandes from Germany, talked about the ICUU. She explained its early history in which the GA UK was heavily involved. Inga pointed out ICUU's unique features as the only fully international Unitarian/Universalist/Unitarian Universalist organization with no allegiance to any one nation. Instead national and individual groups, where no national body exists, are members of the ICUU and serve to determine the mission and vision of the organization in order to best serve the larger global U/U faith and movement. The ICUU works with new and emerging Unitarian communities around the world and helps them think about what kind of community they wish to be, help them examine what being Unitarian means to them and what they hope to do as a liberal religious community.


ICUU Executive Committee member-at-large, Lucie Hrabankova from the Czech Republic, read the values and mission of the ICUU as renewed in 2016:


Цe, the member groups of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, affirming our belief in religious community based on:


Liberty of conscience and individual thought in matters of faith

The inherent worth and dignity of every person

Justice and compassion in human relations

Responsible stewardship of the earth's living system

And our commitment to democratic principles


declare that:

the mission of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists is to empower existing and emerging member groups to sustain and grow our global faith community.


Then Inga talked about a few highlights of last year's work: 1) the ICUU Council Meeting in Kathmandu / Nepal with its deep religious and theological conversations in which personal stories and beliefs were shared with others. 2) African Unitarian leaders met to explore and plan how best to grow their local communities and create support for one another. This first Pan-African gathering, brought together leaders from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa was full of passionate conversation about how our free Unitarian faith can be shared more widely across the African continent. It is exciting to see new leaders joining those who have been in this work for years, finding support and being part of creating an evolving vision. 3) Also during the last year ICUU partnered with the Latinx Ministry to offer the second regional retreat, this time for Spanish language Unitarian leaders from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and New Mexico. During the several days together leaders discussed how best to develop and expand Unitarianism within Spanish language communities. As with other in-person gatherings, having an opportunity to share how our diverse, shared faith is envisioned within their local cultures, and how deeply it has changed their lives, is profound. The connections necessary for the building of a larger Spanish language Unitarian/Universalist community and a refined vision were created.


Inga went on to share with the congregation that the very invitation to talk about what ICUU is doing and fair trade prompted her to reflect upon two strands of her life that she had never actually considered together. When she went to grammar school there was a yearly fair trade week in which all pupils would learn about one specific country, about its fair products and would be involved in different activities to raise funds for a specific project or campaign in that country. Since then she has been committed to buying and drinking fair trade coffee. Inga emphasised common values of the ICUU and the fair trade movement: Both are persuaded that there is only one human family and that we, in the west, are connected to other people around the world and that as Unitarians we are called to take on the  responsibility to engage in making the world a better place be it in the economic or the religious sphere. As consumers for example we have considerable influence on how much money hard working cocoa farmers on small patches of land earn in Western African countries.


Inga also observed, having been active in the fair trade movement as a pupil and a student, that you can feel called to action from a variety of faith traditions and religions. Shared engagment in turn may enforce the Unitarian belief in the oneness of the world and the connectedness of the human family.


Knowing how each act of buying a fair trade products makes a difference in another part of the world Inga encouraged the congregation, that already is a fair trade congregation, to take yet another step to move out of their comfort zone: Confront yourself with information about the local non-fair production realities of different products like coffee, chocolate, wine, tea, smartphones or clothing. Measured against your economic means choose to liev out your Unitarians values and to make a difference as often as you can.








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