World Congress

IARF organises a congress of its members every four years. The venue is allotted cyclically through our four major regions (East Asia, South Asia, North America, Europe/Middle East), and the theme follows from critical issues of the day.  

Our most recent, 33rd congress was held in Kochi, Kerala (India), 4 – 7 September 2010.  For information about this and the previous two Congresses, see the sidebar menu.


Historical List of IARF Congresses since 1901

PDF, 2 pages


1901 London ( UK) Proceedings published as Liberal Religious Thought at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century.
1903 Amsterdam ( Netherlands) Congress of Religious Free-thinkers
1905 Geneva ( Switzerland) Congress of Religious and Progressive Christians
1907 Boston ( USA) Fourth International Congress of Religious Liberals
1910 Berlin ( Germany) World Congress of Free Christianity and Religious Progress
1913 Paris ( France) International Congress for Religious Progress – Progressive Christians and Free Religious Believers
1920 Boston ( USA) *1 (below)
1922 Leiden ( Netherlands) *2 (below)
1927 Prague ( Czech Republic) Seventh Congress of Free Christians and Other Religious Liberals (for apparent conflict with 1920 and 1922 events – see footnotes below)
1930 Arnhem ( Netherlands)
1934 Copenhagen ( Denmark) 11 th International Congress of Religious Liberals
1937 Oxford ( UK) Liberal Christianity: The World’s Need
1949 Amsterdam ( Netherlands) The Mission and Message of Liberal Religion
1952 Oxford ( UK) Authority and Freedom in the Modern World
1955 Belfast ( UK) Liberal Religion in an Age of Anxiety
1958 University of Chicago ( USA) Today’s Religions Can Meet the World’s Needs Today
1961 Davos ( Switzerland) The Unity of Mankind in Our Divided World
1964 The Hague ( Netherlands) A Religion for the World of Tomorrow
1966 London ( UK) The Spiritual Challenge of Mankind Today and Our Response
1969 Boston ( USA) Religious Encounter with the Changing World
1972 Heidelberg ( Germany) Man, His Freedom and His Future
1975 Montréal ( Canada) Our Unity in Diversity
1978 Oxford ( UK) The Limits of Toleration Today
1981 Noordwijkerhout ( Netherlands) The Tide of Religion
1984 Tokyo ( Japan) Religious Path to Peace: Eastern Initiative & Western Response
1987 Stanford CA ( USA) World Religions Face the 21st Century
1990 Hamburg ( Germany) Religions Co-operating for the World
1993 Bangalore ( India) Living our Faiths, Working Together for Peace and Justice
1996 Iksan City ( Korea Rep) Spirituality . Responsibility . Cooperation
1999 Vancouver ( Canada) Creating an Earth Community: A Religious Imperative
2002 Budapest ( Hungary) Religious Freedom: Europe’s Story for Today’s World
2006 Kaohsiung ( Taiwan) Dignity in Diversity
2010 Kochi ( India) From Conflict to Reconciliation: The Challenge of the 21st Century

*1 – This Congress was counted as Pilgrim (Seventh) International Congress by its Secretary-General, Rev Charles W. Wendte, and is as such listed in his autobiography The Wider Fellowship. However, the European led secretariat which continued the IARF administration after Rev Wendte’s retirement, decided not to count this first major gathering of IARF supporters after the First World War as a formal IARF congress, but saw it as a joint meeting with the Unitarian Tercentenary Celebrations in 1920, commemorating three hundred years of the landing of the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ in North America (1620).
(from Josef Boehle thesis, Chapter 2 – “Charles William Wendte and the Development of the First Permanent International Inter-religious Organisation”, footnote 74).

*2 – Leiden, 29 – 30 August, 1922 (7th IARF Congress) 
This congress is considered the first one after World War I. Even though there were only 62 participants, they represented 12 nations, conducted a program, and set new goals for the future (youth organization, etc.). 
(from: Elke Schlinck-Lazarraga, Geschichte des Weltbundes für Religiöse Freiheit 1975)


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