The Rev. Eric Cherry, director of the International Office, introduces international guests. © 2013 Nancy Pierce/UUA
A number of foreign dignitaries were welcomed to General Assembly Friday morning. The Rev. Eric Cherry, director of the UUA’s International Office, introduced the Rev. Kotaro Suzuki of the Hiroshima Dharma Center of Rissho Kosei-kai, one of the UUA’s longtime interfaith partners in Japan. Also on stage were Naoki Taketani, director of Rissho Kosei-kai’s International Group, and Rika Okayasu from the same organization; Dr. Thomas Matthew from the South Asia Chapter of the International Association of Religious Freedom in India; the Rev. Steve Dick, executive director of the International Council of Unitarian Universalists, headquartered in the United Kingdom; the Rev. Petr Samojsky from the Religious Society of Czech Unitarians; Vyda Ng, executive director of the Canadian Unitarian Council; the Rev. Arpad Csete, president of the Transylvania Unitarian Ministers Association; the Rev. Adel Nagy, minister of the Recsenyed Unitarian Church; and the Rev. Bela Jakabhazi, minister of the Nyomat Unitarian Church.
Others were Logan Deimler and Lara Fuchs from the European Unitarian Universalists, representing UU Fellowships in Frankfurt, Germany, and Basel, Switzerland; and Cassius Shirambere, president of the Assembly of Unitarian Christians of Burundi.
The Rev. Rebecca Sienes, president of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines, said the church is grateful for the help it has received over the years from UU groups in the U.S. She shared that the church is embarking on its biggest social justice project—building a two-story dormitory at a university so that female students will have safe housing. “I am sending warmest greetings from your brothers and sisters in faith to this General Assembly,” she said.
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.