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Subud World Congresses

First World Congress
August 9-30 1959
Coombe Springs, Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, UK

More than 450 delegates and members attended representing more than 35 countries. Bapak gave a number of talks in which he clarified the roles of helpers and committee members. He explained the need and purpose of enterprises as a way to raise money for Subud and its social work. It was agreed a fund would be set up to help establish enterprises. Different kinds of social work were discussed and Bapak commented on the Subud social projects in England, Brookhurst Grange Nursing Home and Whatcombe House, a school for disturbed boys. Bapak said Subud would spread not by propaganda but by the example of Subud members and their charitable work. Book: Subud and the Active Life, Coombe Springs Press 1962.

Second World Congress
July 8-25 1963
Briarcliff College, New York State, USA

More than 350 members attended from 14 countries. A keynote was the introduction and reliance on testing as a means to guide the proceedings and resolve differences. Bapak recommended that members should start enterprises and establish Subud International Services (SIS), one of whose functions was to be a Subud "chamber of commerce". SIS was established and carried out some functions later fulfilled by the Executive Committee. With regard to social projects, Bapak reminded the Congress to keep a sense of proportion and that Subud should provide for its own people in need - such as homes for the elderly - before it began to think of helping "the (whole) world". Book: Subud in the World, SIS 1965.

Third World Congress
July 24-August 1 1967
Yomiuriland Hotel, Inagi-cho
Minami-Tama-Gun, Tokyo, Japan

This Congress focused on strengthening the outer organisation of Subud. World Congresses became a permanent institution to be held every four years. In future only official delegates would be entitled to participate in congress decisions. The International Subud Council was formed. It delegated executive functions to the International Subud Congress Committee (ISCC). Officers of Council and Committee were chosen by testing. Bapak gave permission for the establishment of a body to administer Subud funds on a professional basis. This was to be known as the Subud Brotherhood International Foundation, and Bapak saw it as a possible future nucleus for a Subud World Bank. Subud Technical Services (STS) was set up to organise the co-operation of those with specialist technical skills. It was understood that it was time to establish as many Subud houses as possible. Book: The Growth of Subud, SPI 1969.

Fourth World Congress
August 5-28 1971
Wisma Subud
Cilandak, Jakarta, Indonesia

About 2000 members from 80 countries filled the Wisma Subud village specially built for this Congress. It was the largest international gathering ever held in Indonesia and was opened by the President of Indonesia. There was a large amount of excellent entertainment and cultural activity including the Wayang Kulit (shadow play) performance of the story of the birth of the hero Bima which was seen as symbolic of Subud's emergence into the world. Bapak indicated the administrative and organisational institutions which would provide the framework for Subud in the future. He recommended the establishment of a bank to finance enterprises and it was agreed to try and establish this in Germany. The World Subud Council (WSC) was formed, and the Kejiwaan (spiritual) Council, was appointed to balance the International Subud Committee (ISC) which replaced the previous ISCC. The Subud World was divided up into 8 Zones, and Kejiwaan and Committee Councillors were to meet very two years. An administrative system was established on both the committee and kejiwaan sides which went from the international to national, regional and local levels.

Fifth Subud World Congress
June 14-21 1975
Wolfsburg, Germany

Bapak explained more about the relationship between the latihan and outer activities such as enterprises. A rapid increase and diversity of Subud activities was acknowledged and given a workable form. In the middle was the World Subud Association consisting of Bapak, the Congress, the Council and International Helpers. Feeding into the WSA would be the National Subud Associations. ISC was responsible for a variety of "service functions" such as publications tapes, archives and communications. In one of his talks at this Congress Bapak explained the necessity for good organsiation in Subud. In provisional translation it reads:

"So if someone outside Subud asks what Subud is, they will not understand until they have experienced it for themselves. This is so everywhere. People will not believe that in Subud we are able to receive something strange. They will not be able to believe it.

"That is why it is necessary to create an organisation, in order to satisfy and relieve the feelings of people who ask questions, specially the government authorities….They can see the budget, they can see the constitution and by-laws, they can see the situation of the members."

Bapak celebrated his birthday in the gardens of the Wendhausen Castle surrounded by hundreds of Subud members. Book: The Way Ahead, SPI 1976.

Sixth Subud World Congress
August 13-19 1979
Harbor Castle Hilton Hotel
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

About 1600 members attended. Congress Chairman, Varindra Vittachi, summed up the themes as being "Subud minded" and equipping ourselves to "stand on our own feet". There is a noticeable increase in the resolutions and outcomes of Working Parties and the organisation is adjusted rather than changed in order to make things work more easily. More emphasis was placed on the Zonal structure, on the need to provide Bapak's talks in languages other than English, and there are recommendations to improve the archives. SBIF became more clearly the social arm of Subud and there was attention to education, the needs of the elderly and support for Vietnamese refugees in Subud. A lot of time was also devoted dot enterprises and the functions of Subud Enterprise Services (SES) and Enterprise Associations. Book: New Directions, SPI 1980.

Seventh World Congress
August 8-15 1983
Englelfield Green, Surrey UK

This Congress was held in the grounds of Anurgraha, a conference centre created by Subud in a renovated Victorian mansion. It had previously been decided that the constitution of the already legally established SBIF seemed suitable for the international organisation of Subud. This was further debated at Congress and between this Congress and the next one, the SBIF constitution was used in this way. Subsequently it became clear a different constitution was needed. A separate organisation to which Bapak gave the name Susila Dharma Association was set up to take over Subud's humanitarian activities. The Subud International Cultural Association (SICA), the Subud Youth Association (SYA), and the Subud International Trade Association were also established at this Congress. Communications were modernised and upgraded and SUBUDNET came into being. Bapak continued to guide the Congress, the last which would be held in his lifetime. Book: Out into the World, SPI 1984

Eight World Congress
January 16-30 1989
Sydney University Campus, Australia

Sydney was a watershed, the first Congress without Bapak who had died in 1987. ISC became the agency responsible for protecting the copyright on Bapak's talks and writings except for his Autobiography which remains the property of his family. There was an urgent sense of the need to prepare proper archives to preserve Bapak's documents. The Congress had to face certain problems. The membership was estimated to be perhaps only 8, 500 members and had been unable to support the program planned at the previous Congress. The Subud bank, Bank Susila Bakti, had been sold and there were problems with other major projects such as Anugraha which was a in serious financial difficulty. It seemed that Subud Enterprise Services (SES) no longer had a real function and its role was taken over by ISC. Nevertheless, the Congress was a happy event, and under the sponsorship of SICA, Subud participated in the Australian Centenary celebrations which we taking place in the city. The constitution for WSA was accepted, replacing SBIF, and giving a much clearer concept of the Subud organisation and roles and responsibilities. A Permanent Endowment Fund was established for members who might wish to leave donation to Subud in their wills.

Ninth World Congress
July 18-31 1993
Centro Amanecer, Armenia
Quindjo, Colombia

Held at the Subud Centre of Amanecer, this was the first Congress where the Latin Americans were strongly represented, and there were also delegates from new Subud countries in Eastern Europe. This was to be the last Congress presided over by Varindra Vittachi, a journalist of international repute, who had been Chairman of the World Subud Association since 1963. Though frail, he conducted the Congress with his usual flair and humour. Muchtar Martens from Portugal was chosen as the new Chairman and, as if on cue, a dove winged down and drank from his water glass. Work proceeded on the formation of the Muhammad Subuh Foundation which absorbed the previous Permanent Endowment Fund. The autonomy of Susila Dharma International was more clearly defined. A number of Co-odinators were appointed to take care of various functions such as Media and Archives. The need to protect the copyright on Bapak's talks and writings was reinforced. Efforts were made to bring all present into the area of decision-making through participation in "Topic Day Workshops".

Tenth World Congress
August 3-17 1997,
Spokane, Washington, USA

Attended by more than 3000 participants from 52 countries on all five continents. More open to the public than any previous Congress, it attracted a lot of publicity in Spokane and it is believed about ninety people were opened as a result. Bapak's eldest daughter, Ibu Siti Rahayu, had since Bapak's death played an increasingly important role, giving talks and advice, although always insisting that "there was only one Bapak". She gave three talks at Spokane and a book of her collected talks was available. As usual, aspects of the organisation were further refined: the role of MSF, for example, was clarified and updated. There was emphasis on the translation of Bapak's talks and a plan to make a subject index to the talks. Money was again a potential problem, particularly as two large enterprises which had provided substantial financial support had been sold. A widely held opinion was that the next World Congress should have as its focus the commemoration of the anniversary of Bapak's birth.

This account of the Subud World Congresses is based on articles written by Harlinah Longcroft and Dr Muninjaya, Chairman ISC 1997-2001, and first published in Subud World News in 1998.

Eleventh World Congress
July 7-18 2001,
Bali, Indonesia

This World Congress was of course a very special one since it fell in the Centenary of Bapak's birth. Deciding the location of this Congress had been particularly difficult and had preoccupied the Subud World in the years leading up to it. There was general agreement that the Congress should be held in Indonesia, but where in Indonesia? Various venues including Bali, Jakarta, Jogjakarta and Kalimantan were proposed. There was a strong feeling amongst some people that the Congress should be held in Central Kalimantan in order to renew Bapak's vision for Subud's role in the province. It was felt that Congress provided an opportunity to create facilities, which could be of ongoing benefit to both Subud and the people of Kalimantan. However, others doubted that Kalimantan could provide the necessary infrastructure to hold a large Subud Congress.

Testing by the International helpers indicated that Kalimantan was the right venue and plans were developed to hold the Congress there. But early in 2001 there was communal violence in Kalimantan and it was decided that the risk of holding the Congress there was too great. At very short notice, the Congress was moved to the Nusa Dua tourist precinct in Bali. A very dedicated and energetic team was able to create the framework for a Congress in just three months, assisted by the strong tourist infrastructure existing in Bali.

Despite the uncertainties and upsets that had preceded it, the Congress was a great success attended by about 1500 people. Highlights included a day devoted to remembrance of Bapak, and a series of days each devoted to a geographical area of Subud such as Asia, Africa etc. in which the challenges and opportunities in each area were explored, and the various cultures were celebrated. There was a strong feeling that the "next generation" of Subud was beginning to take up the responsibilities of the Subud organisation and several relatively young people (late twenties, early thirties) were tested for the role of WSA chair. The new chairman was Daniel Cheifetz, a successful entrepreneur from the United States who promised to work hard to refresh the organisation and "culture" of Subud.

12th Subud World Congress
Innsbruck, Austria
July 21-August 4, 2005

The Congress was attended by about 2600 people from 63 countries. It was notable for the energetic attendance by many young people which gave the lie to the notion that Subud was a "greying" organization. Youth participation in the Congress included the YES Quest which helps young people to find direction in life. The Congress was also notable for making a significant impact on the city of Innsbruck. This was particularly evident in a parade of giant puppets which made its way through the town as part of the Congress.

The Congress used a number of venues scattered throughout the city for its various activities such as Susila Dharma, Youth and so on. There was a wealth of varied cultural activity. The Congress was attended by Ibu Rahayu, the daughter of the founder of Subud, Muhammad Subud (1901-1987). She gave a number of talks and conducted testing sessions.

The new chair of the World Subud Association was Osanna Vaughan, a resident of a Hamburg, and the first woman to hold this position. She is a writer, photographer and multilingual translator. The Congress was held to be both lively and harmonious.

13th Subud World Congress
Christchurch, New Zealand
January 4-18, 2010

This Congress was attended by about 1800 people and once again made a significant impact on the host city. It was attended by many young people and included a YES Quest which helped a number of young people to design projects which they would implement following the Congress. A significant organizational change was that the term Executive Committee was replaced by the concept of the Executive Committee of the World Subud Council.

As usual there was a vigorous and varied cultural offering including a symphony concert, a number of classical recitals, the "Fashionation" fashion show, as well as many informal performances at music cafe venues. The Congress acknowledged the fact that it was happening in the traditional land of the Maoris and elements of Maori culture were integrated into the opening ceremony. Ibu Rahayu attended the Congress and gave talks and testing sessions.

Luqman Penseney became the new WSA Chair. He is a second-generation Subud member, originally from the UK, now resident in Canada, and a consultant to the mining industry. His ascension to this office was seen as an example of a "2nd generation" of Subud members taking up organizational responsibilities.




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