18 January 2024
Annie Celestial CC

Eindhoven 2 April 1937 – Eindhoven 2 March 2021

When I first met Annie in 2008 one of the first things she said to me was, “If you choose to continue working in interfaith remember the higher you climb the lonelier it gets.” How prophetic! I knew she didn’t say it to discourage me but to warn me of the reality women face in the mainly male dominated world of Interfaith and Multifaith.  But let’s start at the beginning…

Ari van Buuren, “It started in 1997. Annie Imbens, feminist theologian, and I, as representatives of the Netherlands, are invited to the first URI consultation in Europe. This took place at the 'Brahma Kumaris Global Retreat Centre' near Oxford.

The consultation follows a route of four D's: Discovery, Dream, Development and Destiny.”

In May 1997, Annie Imbens and I reported on the URI consultation in Oxford at the Spiritual Academy of Brahma Kumaris in Amsterdam. The newspaper Trouw immediately reported in this context on August 1, 1997 about Bisschop Swing and URI.


“Swing zei 'ja' Een leven gewijd aan United Religions / Swing said 'yes' A life dedicated to United Religions”

“In April this year, the first European consultation for this United Religions Initiative took place in Oxford. Invited were about fifty representatives of fourteen religious and spiritual movements, which are active in various areas in society. The Dutch guests were feminist theologian Annie Imbens-Franssen and Ari van Buuren, head of spiritual care at the Utrecht University Hospital. Van Buuren was initially rather hesitant about vagueness, but returned very enthusiastically. “We listened to each other with great respect. Concern for the well-being of mother earth connected and united us. What we need is global ethics, a global ethic.”

Ari continues: “ In our opinion, the 'R' in URI can have a restrictive effect. We live in a pluralistic: multi-religious, multi-spiritual and secular context. We explicitly choose to speak in the Preamble of our UR Initiative as “people of different religions, spiritual movements and indigenous traditions” with their “wisdom and values”. And Annie Imbens continues to take the lead in fighting tirelessly for equal participation of women and men in all levels of the URI, which culminates in Principle No. 8.