Keynote speakers

Rev. Dr. Karen I. Tse

On the path to freedom through blessings, gratitude and forgiveness

Karen Tse is an international human rights lawyer, Unitarian  Universalist  minister  and  former  San Francisco public defender. In 1994, she moved to Cambodia to train the country’s first core group of public defenders. Under the auspices of the United Nations, she trained judges and prosecutors and established the first arraignment court in Cambodia. She negotiated ground-breaking measures in judicial reform in China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Using the same model, Karen founded a global community, International Bridges to Justice (IBJ), which now includes 11 country programs and online resources for 104 countries in 6 languages, focused on the provision of early access to justice for pre-trial detainees.  IBJ has trained more than 29,000 lawyers and defenders who have represented over 220,000 detainees and reached out to over 25 million people through rights awareness around the world.

Karen is a graduate of UCLA Law School and Harvard  Divinity  School. She has received numerous awards for her work, most recently the 2018 Gomes  Award, for ministering  to prisoners and building bridges around the world.

The Rev. Tse will speak in English. Interpreting to German will be provided.

Rev. Wies Houweling

Do liberals love diversity?
Is diversity the spice of life?

Wies Houweling comes from a liberal family in the Netherlands and yet grew up in a religiously conservative environment. She studied reformist theology in Amsterdam and Nijmegen. After working as a university chaplain in Wageningen and a long-term ministry in Amsterdam, she felt that many people were working to sustain institutions rather than direct their attention to the love of God and human kind. Today she is general secretary of Vrijzinnigen Nederland, a liberal religious association that, with many others, forms the network Nieuw Wij, “free-thinking” people who feel connected to society and want to make a positive contribution toward bettering society. Vrijzinnigen Nederland has 44 departments and is a member of the ICUU.

In her theme talk, the Rev. Houweling will begin with questions and doubts about the future of religion, and show that innovative initiatives are always possible and indeed already taking place. She will discuss how to improve society in its many colours. The starting points are: the uniqueness and individuality of each human being, an appreciation of diversity, the realisation that we are part of a coherent, interdependent web of all existence, and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Wies Houweling will speak in German. English interpreting will be provided.