October 03, 2012, 10:07 AM
A Protestant minister, theologian, gestalt therapist and active interfaith leader for many years, the Rev. van Buuren formerly served as head of the Intercultural Department for Guidance and Spiritual Care at the Utrecht Medical Centre. There he pioneered a new concept of “spiritual care,” in which the spiritual power hidden and expressed through various religious and spiritual traditions could be mobilized.
The Rev. van Buuren, whose daughter Else Anne converted to Islam in 1998, has also taken a strong stand against the spread of Islamophobia in his country.
The Order of Orange-Nassau is a Dutch chivalry order open to anyone “who has earned special merits for society.” Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands serves as the order’s Grand Master. About 4,500 people are accepted for inclusion in the order each year.
URI members Bart and Mine ten Broek were present for the ceremony in the Oranjekerk, a Protestant church in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, in which the city’s vice-mayor, Andrée van Es, fixed the order to the Rev. van Buuren’s chest (as pictured above).
The Rev. van Buuren is now the fourth representative of URI Europe to have received a decoration for his interfaith and civil society work. Both Kiran Bali, chair of URI’s Global Council, and Deepak Naik are Members of the British Empire, while Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz has been honored by both Germany and the United States.