Girls gather in Syracuse to learn “The Power of One Girl”

Women Transcending Boundaries (WTB), a Cooperation Circle member of the United Religions Initiative, hosted a gathering called “The Power of One Girl” on April 21 in Syracuse, New York. The event was co-sponsored with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

By Barbara Bova, WTB Secretary

Cindy Rahrle, who planned this wonderful and inspiring event, formally welcomed the girls and adults at 2:20 pm. Girls from various schools and churches were seated at round tables; ladies from WTB and LDS church shared a table as the program began.  Inspirational statements and decorations brightened the hall, and each table held a snack basket.

Cindy warmly welcomed the girls and expressed her commitment to each of them and her faith in “the power of one girl.” Sue Savion, president of WTB, also welcomed the girls and adults: she read the WTB mission statement.

Ella Neville, SUNY Cortland student, spoke about her experiences with Seeds of Peace and Letters of Love. She explained how she became involved with Seeds of Peace, and how her participation in Seeds of Peace Camp (as a camper and now a counselor) has changed her life and taught her how to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Ella is also active in Letters of Love, in which teenagers write and send letters to other kids in trying circumstances (such as residents of refugee camps or victims of violence). She urged girls to get involved and shared a motto she lives by: “Do whatever you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are.”

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Is Interfaith Changing for the Better?

Interfaith organizations, some of whom have never before worked together, join hands for an event to reimagine interfaith!

By Robyn Lebron

As many of you know United Religions Initiative is co-sponsoring a notable event that will be immediately following our North America Regional Assembly in July.

We are at a moment in world history where collaboration across lines of difference is imperative to our survival. There is much incredible work being done by grassroots organizers around the world but it’s time to take it to the next level. That is what Reimagining Interfaith Cooperation (RI) plans to do!

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United Religions Initiative North America Seeks Summer Social Media Intern

We are seeking exceptionally dynamic and self-motivated individuals to fill a remote internship position for Summer 2018. The position is hands-on and provides practical work experience. Applicants of any age and academic level are welcome. We will accept applications for these unpaid internships on a rolling basis with a priority deadline of May 10, 2018. The work for these positions is completed entirely online so applicants from across the U.S. and Canada are welcome!

Alanna Witowski, Spring 2018 Social Media Intern says: “I really enjoyed working with social media for such a passionate cause, and being able to be around people that shared that drive. It was inspiring to work with people that had made their passion into their careers.” 

Social Media Intern

Position Description

Under the guidance of the Regional Coordinator, the Social Media Intern will provide crucial support of peacebuilding activities in Canada and the U.S by sharing the stories of URI Cooperation Circles and Affiliates and elevating their voices through our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts. This position will make important contributions to the #TangibleHope, a social media campaign lead by URI North America to spread stories of hope. Internship responsibilities will include the following, as well as other possibilities that may arise.

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Profiles of Women Who Make a Difference: Symi Rom-Rymer

During the month of March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, URI North America is spotlighting four exceptional women involved in Cooperation Circles in the North America region. This is the fourth story of the series. Follow these links to read the profiles of Satya KalraLisel Burns, and Kay Lindahl.

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By Robyn Lebron

Sometimes in life, an unexpected experience can cause a person’s life direction to change. Many times, it happens without realizing that one’s inner calling is also taking shape. This is what happened for Symi Rom-Rymer.

Symi is a phenomenal young woman that shows us that, it doesn’t matter what your age is, you can make a powerful impact in the world. She is a freelance project manager and journalist who works with and writes about minority communities in the United States and Europe. She’s been published in The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, and The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications. She speaks three languages and has used that ability to take her interfaith and intercultural work to many different places in the world. Symi has also been working with a United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle, The Unity Walk DC  since 2016.

As a child, Symi heard stories about her great-grandfather’s 1911 journey from Russia to the United States, and those powerful stories stuck with her. But Symi really became passionate about multi-faith issues while in Paris for graduate school in 2005. A controversial new law was passed stating that Muslim women could no longer wear the burqa in public places.

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Join the Golden Rule Day Global Webcast on April 5!

URI is proud to be a cosponsor of the 24-hour global Golden Rule Day webcast!

In a divided world full of conflict and mistrust, a grassroots movement has emerged to remind every person on the planet that we share one thing in common — the Golden Rule: Treat others and the Planet as you would like to be treated. This is a universal principle shared by nearly all cultural, spiritual, religious, and secular traditions on Earth.

golden rule day logo

Golden Rule Day has been celebrated since 2007 by 700 organizations in 140 countries. This year, global organizations and spiritual and religious leaders around the world are teaming up to remind us all that the Golden Rule still matters. This year, three organizations – the United Religions Initiative, the Charter for Compassion and the Golden Rule Project (both organizations are members of URI) – and spiritual and religious leaders around the world are teaming up to remind us all that the Golden Rule still matters. 

Join us on Thursday, April 5, for a 24-hour global virtual celebration of the Golden Rule, a universal principle shared by nearly all cultural, spiritual, religious, and secular traditions on Earth.

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Profiles of Women Who Make a Difference: Kay Lindahl

During the month of March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, URI North America is spotlighting four exceptional women involved in Cooperation Circles in the North America region. This is the third profile of the series, follow these links to read the profiles of Satya Kalra and Lisel Burns.

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By Robyn Lebron

To Listen is Divine

Kay Lindahl has been described as an inspired presence with passionate energy. Kay Lindahl has been described as an inspired presence with passionate energy. . Her entry point to interfaith was her deep interest in, and passion for, spiritual growth and community building. The unfolding of her journey has been fed by these passions and guided by spirit, which has led her to be involved in incredible projects, both personally and professionally, as a consultant, author and speaker. In the process of following these promptings, her connection to different people and organizations has continually expanded.

Most of Kay’s life experiences have evolved organically, as she explored the myriad of paths that she felt led to walk in her search for spiritual growth and meaning. For the past twenty-seven years the daily practice of Centering Prayer has been transforming her life by strengthening her relationship to Source. Kay describes what it is to her, “Centering Prayer as a form of silent prayer in which the intention is to be in the presence of the Presence.”

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Profiles of Women Who Make a Difference: Lisel Burns

During the month of March, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, URI North America is spotlighting four exceptional women involved in Cooperation Circles in the North America region.

By Robyn Lebron

Lisel Burns was raised in a cross-class background — a Navy brat who moved frequently with her family.

Then in 1967, a Mississippi summer civil rights project gave Lisel her life direction and solidified her calling. The project was based on a strategy to partner students from two northern colleges with students from Tougaloo College in Mississippi. The three colleges applied together for federal funding that would support a summer program that allowed high school and college students to spend several months on campus together.

This project was an effort to support brave African American high school students who made the personal choice to integrate into white high schools for the first time in history. These students suffered harassment and bullying throughout the previous year. The ultimate goal of that bullying was to get these students to drop out of high school. The unified project was designed to empower them to stay in school.
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Reflection: Prayer Parade

Ellie Anders Thompson traveled to the United Nations as part of a URI program to connect young adult interfaith leaders to the UN and each other.  Ellie is part of Golden Rule Project, an Affiliate of the United Religions Initiative North America. What follows is Ellie’s reflection on an interfaith service the group attended

By Ellie Anders Thompson

The gathering of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week was what I affectionately call a Prayer Parade. It goes like this, group of people from various religious traditions, sometimes non-religious, are asked to offer a prayer. At times the prayers are around certain themes, sometimes not, this time, around “world peace.” One after another folks of various faiths come to the microphone and say different versions in different languages of, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

In my humble opinion, it’s just not enough in interfaith work any longer. It is colorful, shiny, and curious, but it’s just not going to cut it when it comes to the challenges we are facing. We know the greatest sources of social capital come from these religious and non-religious communities, and they, therefore, have the greatest potential to actually do something to create the potential for peace. I am not sure gathering in a room with different headdresses and sing-alongs are the actions that will have long-term effects toward peace.

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Profiles of Women Who Make a Difference: Satya Kalra

By Robyn Lebron

Where did it go? ” she asked softly. She cupped both hands around her warm mug, as she gazed out into the brisk morning air from her deck chair. Perhaps she thought she would find it there.

‘Is it under that pile of papers on my desk? ” she sighed. “ Did I lose it at one of the endless meetings with people…the people who smile at me, and then tell me they don’t have time to get involved?” She sighed again, and stood up. Then she took a long, deep breath — as though she was filling her mind with resolve, and her heart with passion.

‘There it is!” She smiled, and went inside to start another day of changing the world.

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During the month of March, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, URI North America will spotlight four exceptional women involved in Cooperation Circles in the North America region. These women — and many others of you out there — are the heroines that legends are made of. Many of you have taken a dream, and made it a reality by selflessly giving to others, and we are proud to be associated with you all!

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Satya Kalra plays with school children.

There was so much suffering, everywhere she looked. Her scientific mind was reeling from the pain that her spirit saw in their faces. In India, the women and children are especially vulnerable.

Even after Satya Kalra moved to the United States in 1969, she never stopped thinking about all the people in need – both in her home country and in her new home. As her spirit searched for answers, Satya felt a “divine call” — so she turned her back on 35 years in the biotech industry where she was highly respected and turned her heart to those who needed her. She had two Master’s degrees, and plenty of accolades — but she gave herself to people in need without expectations of reward.

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Appreciating Diversity, Finding Inspiration: My URI Trip to the UN

Commission on Social Development Rico Ocampo

Rico Ocampo traveled to the United Nations as part of a URI North America program to help connect young adult interfaith leaders to the United Nations and each other and to promote World Interfaith Harmony Week, International Day of Peace. Ocampo is the Program Director of Camp Anytown, a Cooperation Circle member of the United Religions Initiative.

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“Diversity is a source of inspiration.”

Those are the words that were uttered from the Hungarian Ambassador to the United Nations, Katalin Bogyay. Those exact words were ingrained in my soul during an interfaith service that was part of my trip to New York City where I had the utmost privilege of attending the 56th Commission for Social Development at the United Nations.

This trip took place as part of a celebration for World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) and was put on by the United Religions Initiative (URI), an organization that has allowed me to look at interfaith through a worldwide lens. The trip is one that I will never forget and an experience that I will invariably hold close to my heart. My views on youth development and the world have fiercely risen and it is all due to the efforts of URI and their commitment to creating wider bridges between people of all beliefs.

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