April 2011 Bulletin

URI in North America Logo

URI in North America Logo

April 2011 ~ Volume I, Issue 8
United Religions Initiative

Quote of the month
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.
………………………… Rumi

In this Issue

What is “Sharia Law”? 
Read this excellent article posted by the Center for American Progress. It’s important to know what Sharia is and what it is not when supporting our Muslim brothers and sisters.

URI Greeting Cards are still available at a price everyone can afford.  $5 for 5 cards + $1 S/H. Great as gifts to share with others, or for casual notes year-round. Order yours today. NO MINIMUM ORDER!

Sandy Westin
Regional Coordinator
1735 W State of Franklin Rd, Suite 5-296
Johnson City, TN 37604
(423) 262-8099
Roger Eaton,
Communications Coordinator
San Francisco, CA
(415) 933-0153

Spring Leadership Retreat to Convene

Big Apple
On the weekend of April 29-May 3, your hard-working Leadership Council will be holding its annual Spring Leadership Retreat in New York City.

Preparations are underway for a Bioregional Gathering and reception being held Saturday, April 30, at the Nicholas Roerich Museum from 4-8pm.  If you would like to attend, drop Sandy Westin a note so we’ll have your nametag ready.

Watch for news of the outcomes from this spring’s retreat in the May newsletter. This month’s newsletter is being abbreviated to free up time to prepare for this important retreat. Between now and May 7, send in any news of your CC’s plans and projects to be included in that edition – especially for any summer events you’d like people to know about.

small ornate bar

North America Welcomes a New CC

The Euphrates Institute has recently been inducted as our region’s  newest  Cooperation Circle. Located in Elsah, Illinois, just 30 miles north of St. Louis, the purpose of the Euphrates CC is to improve relations between the Middle East and the West by providing educational, cultural and interpersonal dialogues and programming focused on what unites rather than divides us. Board Chair Byron DeLear announced a two-day summit “Our World Beyond 9/11” to be held at Principia College in Elsah October 27 and 28, 2011. “The summit is inviting thought-leaders, conflict transformation experts, policymakers and interfaith community representatives to present key challenges of the past ten years, as well as showcase burgeoning trends of hope and examples of peace, wherein true solutions lie,” DeLear said. 

Rebecca Tobias, URI in North America Global Trustee, informs us by email that the Euphrates Instititute and URI Global have issued a joint press release under the heading “Euphrates and URI Reach Out to American Muslims”.

More information is available on the Institute’s website and on Facebook.  

News from North American Cooperation Circles

Orange County, CA:  Sande Hart of the S.A.R.A.H. CC reports, “It was a great honor to have been at this amazing Universal Freedom Passover Seder. Another Ruth Broyde-Sharone success! A rabbi, imam and reverend conducted the Seder followed by representatives from all traditions reading the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights.

San Francisco, CA:  Michael Pappas of the San Francisco Interfaith Council CC announced “The SFIC has been selected among 600 candidates to be a host site by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation for two Faith Act Fellows who will be with us for the next year, beginning in September.”

News from our North American Affiliates

Jonathan Lace of New Jersey, and David “Sky” Enroth of Seattle have joined our region as Individual Affiliates. Welcome!  Sky, who has been an active part of URI from the beginning, mentioned “I remember all the good work we did at the URI Global Summit at Stanford University in 1998 that has led to the future worldwide development of URI. Its ongoing work represents well the Ghandi quote contained in your email.”

Notes from the Editor:

If your URI CC or Affiliate organization has a website, we’d love to share reciprocal links with you.  Contact Roger Eaton to arrange an exchange of logos and links to make this mutual benefit possible.
Have videos, photos or reports about your CC or Affiliate’s events and programs to share?  Send them in! The deadline for submissions for each bulletin is the 5th of the month. Material for our website is accepted at any time.
Please forward this Bulletin to others in your organization so they can be aware of what’s happening in URI beyond your community. This will also allow them to manage their own subscription to these bulletins if they wish.

Our region has renewed its
membership in the North America Interfaith Network, so that means all our
Cooperation Circles have done the same! 
You can therefore take advantage of member discounts in attending the
NAIN Connect conference

scheduled for July 24-26 in Phoenix.

Women of Spirit and Faith

wsf logo

wsf logo

Women Spiritual and Religious Leaders

Convene for Inspiration, Exploration and Collaboration

The Bay Area will host women spiritual and religious leaders at the ALCHEMY OF OUR SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP: WOMEN REDEFINING POWER April 28 – May 1.

The gathering is a place for women whose leadership is nurtured by their spiritual practices to connect with each other. It is open to all women from a wide variety of backgrounds, in an environment which seeds inspiration and collaboration.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, a best-selling author and international lecturer on topics of justice, peace, human rights, women’s issues, and contemporary spirituality in the Church and in society.
  • Award winning filmmaker and activist Valarie Kaur who advocates on behalf of communities swept up in hate crimes, racial profiling, and immigration policies since 9/11. A third-generation Sikh American, Valarie has been called “one of the most exceptional speakers/thinkers “in the next generation of public intellectuals.
  • Naomi Tutu, daughter of Nobel prize winner Desmond Tutu, who “blends her passion for human dignity with humor and personal stories” informed by the challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa.

The purpose of the three day event is for these women to nurture soul and spirit; bring their voices to the most important political and spiritual conversations of our times; and walk away equipped to take action in their personal and professional lives and to reshape the dialogue in their communities.

A special thank you to Women of Spirit and Faith Networking Partners! In turn, affiliates to and members of URI – North American Affiliate may register at the special rate of $310 now!

The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.

For additional information, please contact womenofspiritandfaith@gmail.org or (206) 973-7339.

Reverend Guo Cheen

Women of Spirit and Faith

March 2011 Bulletin

URI in North America Logo

Deborah Moldow and Rick UlfikDownload the flyer to learn more, then visit the 11 Days website and register your own organization’s programsand events scheduled in the next six months that relate to any of the 11 themes described. We will be lifting up that kind of work, large and small, local and global, in a way previously unimaginable.  Join the chorus for change!
Deborah Moldow and Rick Ulfik announced the campaign’s launch in New York City on March 11, six months before 9/11/11, at the 88th birthdayof the late Robert Muller, former Under Secretary of the UN.  Robert was known to be a lifelong activist on behalf of peace, and a frienBarbara Muller, widow of the late Robert Muller, addresses the gathering in honor of her husband.d of URI and all it stands for.

Watch for announcements coming in the next few weeks concerning opportunities for organizations, corporate sponsors and individual donors to underwrite the coordination of each of our 11 themes. We are bringing the agents of change together in a way which will empower all involved. Join the chorus calling for a better world!

In this Issue

Re-thinking your URI newsletter.  Read more…

Launching a Speakers Bureau. 
Read more…

CC Management

Life and Times of a CC by Anne Roth, Global Council Trustee: Sometimes it’s time for Spring cleaning. Read more…

Meetup Announcements

NAIN Connect is coming up in July – and your dues are paid! – Read more…


URI Pioneer Paul Chaffee retires from managing the Interfaith Chapel at the Presidio, and agrees to join the Wisdom Keepers of URI in NA.  Read more…

URI Greeting Cards are still available at a price everyone can afford.  $5 for 5 cards + $1 S/H. Great as gifts to share with others, or for casual notes year-round. Order yours today. NO MINIMUM ORDER!

Sandy Westin
Regional Coordinator
1735 W State of Franklin Rd, Suite 5-296
Johnson City, TN 37604
(423) 262-8099
Roger Eaton,
Communications Coordinator
San Francisco, CA
(415) 933-0153

URI Members Speak Out Against Injustice

Los Angeles, CA: Rev. Leland Stewart of the Unity-and-Diversity World Council, a CC of URI, says “The Time is Right for Convergence”.  Read more…

Washington, DC: Global Trustee Rebecca Tobias attends a number of important events to counter Islamaphobia and highlights “Today I Am a Muslim, Too!” Read more…

News from North American Cooperation Circles

San Francisco Interfaith Council has provided a list of Japanese Disaster relief agencies.  Read more…

Sarasota, FL: Making a Difference: Healing Racism at Sarasota High School — Report from The Center for Religious Tolerance, a URI Cooperation Circle in Sarasota, Florida.  Read more…

Orange County, CA: SARAH responds to hate speech. We decry these actions, and stand with all people who uphold the values of decency, inclusiveness, and equality for all people. Read more…

News from North American Affiliates
The World Peace Prayer Society: Children’s Peace Pals Contest – Children from around the World are invited to submit their artwork to The 14th Annual Peace Pals International Arts Exhibition and Awards. Winners and top selections will become part of a worldwide tour! Deadline for Entry, July 30th, 2011.

Unity Production Films, producer of the DVDs provided through our Affiliate, 20,000 Dialogues, announced recently the launching of a new website, www.princeamongslaves.org, to expand dialogue and understanding of Muslims in early America.

News from Global URI about Japan

URI Prays for Japan
As news spread about the devastation in Japan following the earthquake
and tsunami, prayers from URI members around the world began pouring
into our listserves.
  Read More…

Wisdom or Fatal Folly? Crisis in Japan

Jonathan Granoff and Rhianna Tyson Kregor write about the threat of nuclear energy in the Huffington Post.  Read more…

URI Recommendation

World Sikh Council America Region has launched a Japan Aid Campaign urging generous contributions from the Sikh community: 888-340-1702 * contact@worldsikhcouncil.org * www.worldsikhcouncil.org

Notes from the Editor:

If your URI CC or Affiliate organization has a website, we’d love to share reciprocal links with you.  Contact Roger Eaton to arrange an exchange of “widgets” to make this mutual benefit possible.
Have videos, photos or reports about your CC or Affiliate’s events and programs to share?  Send them in! The deadline for submissions for each bulletin is the 5th of the month. Material for our website is accepted at any time.
Please forward this Bulletin to others in your organization so they can be aware of what’s happening in URI beyond your community. This will also allow them to manage their own subscription to these bulletins if they wish.


By Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.Leland Stewart honored by Yoland Trevino and Charles Gibbs of URI, 2010
Unity-and-Diversity World Fellowship
6 February 2011(11)

This is a new cycle of human power.  It is the hour of unity among all
peoples, and of the drawing together of all races and classes.  –Baha’i
Faith, Science and Spirituality, page 170

Sorokin, an internationally known sociologist formerly of Harvard
University, once said in his Law of Polarization that in a time of
crisis two things are happening simultaneously.  One is that the crisis
gets worse, and that is what we see all around us today.  At the same
time, however, the increasing seriousness of the crisis also produces
its opposite, which is love and understanding and the coming together of
forces calling for transformation.  In Egypt we now see the gathering
of these energies demanding change and a new life for its citizens.

It is time for all of us to come together in the name of truth and
love.  We need to understand each other better and to find common ground
upon which to base our lives.  We need to go beyond the limits of money
and personal prowess and find the spiritual meaning of life.  Above the
glass ceiling of fame and fortune is the discovery of soul awakening
and eternal values.  The enlighted life grows out of the commitment to
truth in the spirit of love.  

To change our society for the
better calls for the practice of nonviolence as a way of life and a
specific process of working together.  It calls us to work for peace,
justice, and a sustainable environment.  Change may come through
concerted action in our halls of meeting, but it may also require us to
gather on the streets of our nation and world to insist that truth
replace untruth, love replace hatred, and light replace darkness.  This
is a time of convergence, of coming together to solve the problems of
humanity and to preserve life in all its forms.  In the innermost
recesses of our life we need to find our truth and to devote ourselves
to its realization.

The United States has solved certain
problems connected with establishing democracy, but other problems have
arisen, some of which are uniquely ours and others are common to the
rest of the world.  We have established a voting system that works
fairly well.  We have set up an educational system that is designed to
serve all youth, and we are attempting to improve it as we go along.  We
have a variety of other  accomplishments, for which we are to be

But we have many areas that need serious
attention at this time.  One is the abolition of nuclear weapons from
the planet.  The new START Treaty was signed on Saturday by the United
States and Russia, but it is only a first step.  We have to pay more
attention to caring for the environment and seeing that we are not
overwhelmed by the many ecological challenges that face us.  We have a
long way to go to assure justice for all citizens regardless of race,
culture, or religion.  Getting our educational system to be on a par
with those of other countries is likewise needing serious attention.

in all, it is time for the citizens of this country to step up to our
rightful place in the leadership of the world.  We need to stop waging
wars and pay much more attention to applying diplomatic solutions that
show our respect for all peoples and our desire to live in peace and
harmony with everyone.  In short, we need to be more willing to share
with others and not act in a belligerent or exclusive manner.  Then we
will discover that we have a lot more friends and supporters around the

In the Spirit of Unity-and-Diversity!!!
(Unity-and-Diversity World Council is a cooperation circle of URI in North America.)

Rethinking Your URI Newsletter: Shifting Gears in URI N.Am. Communications – Keeping in Touch With and Through URI

by Sandy Westin, Regional Coordinator

the past 2-1/2 years since I’ve been working with the North American
region of URI, a number of changes have come about in ways we keep our
Cooperation Circles and Affiliates informed of the region’s development,
as well as the achievements and ideas of those within our network.  The
region’s website (urinorthamerica.org or uri.org/na) this year grew to a
previously unimagined scope in the resources it presents. In addition,
what started out as an occasional, then a quarterly newsletter has
shifted into one issued monthly, supplemented by occasional special

All this communicating yields both benefits and costs to our region. 

  • Benefits
    in keeping you, our expanding URI community, informed of developments
    and resources that can impact and inspire your local work and
  • Costs
    in postage and printing have been kept limited in terms of dollars
    since moving the newsletter from a mailed to an e-mailed medium about a
    year ago
  • Other
    costs, however, have burgeoned.  What started out as a newsletter with
    only 5 or 6 brief articles that took perhaps 2 or 3 hours to put
    together has persistently grown to where this month’s edition has no
    fewer than 24 items that seek to be included. All deserve to be shared
    with you, but the time it takes to write or edit that many articles has
    expanded to two or more days each month. Hard choices need to be made.

I prepare to get this month’s newsletter out the virtual door, I am in
discussion with several on the global and regional staffs with input
from others to explore several alternatives.  As soon as a clear
direction has been established, I’ll share it with you in a distributed
announcement.  For the time being, however, this month’s newsletter will
be limited to items from myself and others on the North American
Leadership Council, with just headline links to announcements and
articles from the global organization, our CCs and Affiliates.  You will
find those complete articles posted on our website.   

To help
us in shaping our region’s communications in a way that will meet your
needs, please take a moment to answer a brief online survey, and to
forward this email to others in your cooperation circle or organization
so they can offer their input as well.  

[Click here to take survey]

we’ll keep news flowing to you that you can use to strengthen your work
on behalf of building a world of interfaith peace, justice and healing
for all.

URI Wisdom Keepers

Paul and Jan ChafeeOur thanks to Paul Chaffee, retired Executive Director of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, for volunteering to serve on our new URI in North America Wisdom Keepers Circle. Our Leadership Council will be able to call on Paul from time to time for his advice and counsel and we continue developing the region’s organization.  His more than 10 years’ experience with URI will be invaluable in that role. If anyone else would like to join him as a “Wisdom Keeper”, we’d love to hear from you. Thanks, Paul.

Launching a URI Speaker’s Bureau
               by Sandy Westin, URI in North America Regional Coordinator
public speaker
The Education Committee of our regional Leadership Council is hard at work developing  policies and protocols to make it possible to launch a URI Speakers Bureau for North America in the near future.  This program will provide speakers for any community to feature in local presentations. They will offer talks on URI, its Purpose and Principles, as well as workshops on peacebuilding skills.  Some will be members of our own Leadership Council who are willing to travel throughout the region to share their thoughts and experience.  Others might be people who are in your local area and have a message they’d like to share with others.  Stay tuned for further developments.  If you’d like to be part of shaping this exciting new program, or have something or someone you’d like to be considered as it grows, contact John Denker, chair of the Education Committee.

NAIN Connect in JulyNorth America Interfaith Logo
Our region has renewed its membership in the North America Interfaith Network, so that means all our Cooperation Circles have done the same!  You can therefore take advantage of member discounts in attending the 2011 NAIN Connect conference scheduled for July 24-26 in Phoenix.

The Life and Times of a CC

Since the Charter Signing of 2000
when the first 75 CCs were constituted officially, URI has seen some wild
roller-coaster rides among the Cooperation Circles and their constituents.  As of now, we have roughly 525 CCs in 79 countries
– so SOMETHING is going well!

One of the curiosities we have
noticed over the years has been a definite “sag” in the energy of a CC when its
charismatic founder runs out of steam and needs to pass the leadership on to
someone else.  Very often, that second
leader has either attempted to copy the style of the founder – or simply let
things ride.  Sometimes CCs were founded
with a great deal of energy to create something like an event, or to address a
local issue. Once the group found that producing the event or tackling the
issue took more energy than they had realized, creating a subsequent event or
finding a new issue to address raised some resistance.  They had to then face the question: Without
the event/issue, who are we?

Other CCs began with discussions,
with gatherings, with fellowship, with a project and have been able to maintain
their focus through the years.  Some
began as pre-existing, well-established non-profits whose goals and dreams were
in line with URI’s PPP’s, and have been ticking along well with their own

Because the staff and leadership of
URI cares what happens to our CCs, we do our best to stay in touch.  Here in URI North America, we have actually
assigned each member of the Leadership Council to maintain a relationship with
the contact people of each of our region’s CCs.  That outreach resulted in some
surprises!  Some contact people had no
idea that their title came with actual responsibilities.  Some CC members had forgotten they were part
of URI, or even forgotten how they began as a CC. 

Over the past couple of years, the
Interim Leadership Council and now the Leadership Council, along with the
Regional Coordinator has been getting creative in offering every kind of
support for CCs in our region that we can imagine.  We have a host of resources on our website
now (urinorthamerica.org or uri.org/na) 
to help our CCs  grow, and Sandy
offered a series of “Campfires Calls” last year for those CC people who wanted
to explore options in defining their next steps and potential projects.  We’ve also opened doors to bring our sister
organizations and individuals into our community as Affiliates, thereby
enriching both their networks and our own with news of their work on behalf of

The quick survey about our
communications that is included in this newsletter’s first article is yet
another way we’re reaching out to find how we can continue improving. Our aim
is to provide the help, support, and resources we can to strengthen our CCs’
ability to live out the PPPs of URI in their local communities.

If your CC is in one of those low
spots that occurs in the growth cycle of every organization and  needs any kind of support, let us know. You
can call on your liaison person on the Leadership Council for confidential counsel,
or contact our Sandy Westin as our Regional Coordinator. If you just need a “fallow season” before your CC gets restarted, we’ll be glad to support that,

The leadership and staff of our
region wants to empower your CC in becoming and doing whatever you choose to be
or do, even if that is just a prayer for a time of peace and quiet.

Anne Roth
Global Council Trustee, North America



In times of crisis communities of faith are first responders. As the world responds to the crisis in Japan, aid agencies are on the ground working to bring relief. At this critical moment for Japan, the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC) offers this comprehensive list of faith-based and non-sectarian aid agencies and encourages your generous financial support.
Adventist Development and Relief Agency http://www.adra.org 
American Friends Service Committee http://www.afsc.org 
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee http://www.jdc.org/ 
American Jewish World Service http://ajws.org/ 
Baptist World Aid/Baptist World Alliance
CARE  http://www.care.org 
Catholic Relief Services http://crs.org/ 
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee http://crwrc.org/pages/crwrc.cfm  
Church World Service http://www.churchworldservice.org 
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship http://www.thefellowship.info/ 
Episcopal Relief & Development http://www.er-d.org/HaitiCrisis  
Heifer International http://www.heifer.org/ 
International Orthodox Christian Charities http://www.iocc.org/  
Islamic Relief http://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/haiti-earthquake-appeal.aspx 
Lutheran World Relief http://www.lwr.org 
MAZON Jewish Hunger Relief http://mazon.org/ 
Medical Assistance Program http://www.map.org 
Mennonite Central Committee http://mcc.org/ 
National Baptist Convention http://www.nationalbaptist.com/  
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries http://www.ncm.org/ 
Outreach International http://www.outreach-international.org/  
Project Hope http://www.projecthope.org 
Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/ 
The Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmyusa.org 
Southern Baptist International Mission Board http://www.imb.org/main/default.asp 
Tzu Chi Foundation: http://www.tzuchi.org/tzuchi.php 
UNICEF USA: http://www.unicefusa.org/?gclid=CKi9_aShvZ8CFSgFagodaVN-zA 
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee http://www.uusc.org 
WORLD VISION  http://www.worldvision.org 
World Relief/
   National Association of Evangelicals http://www.ministrywatch.com/home.aspx

Making a Difference: Healing Racism at Sarasota High School

Report from The Center for Religious Tolerance
A URI Cooperation Circle in Sarasota, Florida

In following our mission and thinking globally while acting locally, our training coordinator and URI liaison, Dr. Deri Joy Ronis, is providing teens with a safe space for ongoing conversations and hands-on activities to learn to eradicate prejudice and bias.  From November 2010 to February 2011, 40 teens from Sarasota High School met with Dr. Ronis Dr. Deri Joy Ronis of the Center for Religious Tolerance with Kelvin Carranza and Kayla Wolnik.for an hour, boys one week, girls the next, for a total of 15 weeks.  The students shared that – besides this being their favorite class! – they felt free to verbalize their feelings about issues confronting them today. Topics included fear of bullying, what is happening in the world, not wanting to have to go into the army, problems at home with their families, and conflicts with their parents. The biggest issue was having tools to express anger without being verbally abusive or violent. Most said their parents needed to know how to communicate without yelling. Many students also described how they had been affected by people judging them for the way they wore their hair, or for their background, and felt that learning not to stereotype was very useful. Two students stepped forward to compete in the Rotary Club of Sarasota Bay’s speech contest.  Kayla Wolnik, a sophomore, spoke about domestic violence among in teenage couples: “If a teen finds themself in a dating situation that is dangerous, either emotionally or physically, they need to find a way out.”  Kelvin Carranza, a freshman, talked about his Honduran and Cuban roots, and spoke about his own experience with bullying.  He stated: “I believe that if students can be taught, like I was in Dr. Deri’s class on healing racism and bullying, to learn the skills of how to get along, then they could excel more at being friends and helping each other.”  

The Healing Racism study circle was funded with a grant from the Rotary Club of Sarasota Bay Foundation.  The study circle will continue for the rest of the school year with a new group of students, with funding from CRT.  Discussions are underway concerning possible expansion to other schools in the fall.

SARAH Responds to Hate Speech
We, the women of S.A.R.A.H., (Spiritual Alliance for Religion and Hope) a grass roots women’s organization dedicated to interfaith understanding and cooperation want to express our shock and disappointment by the recent actions of Congressmen Ed Royce and Gary Miller, Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Paul and Rabbi David Eliezrie. These high profile leaders joined with and supported a noisy and hate-filled crowd of protestors outside the Yorba Linda Community Center on February 13 shouting angry and bigoted epithets as a group of Muslim men, women and children went inside to attend a fundraising event to help homeless people here in the United States.
We decry these actions, and stand with all people who uphold the values of decency, inclusiveness, and equality for all people. We ask our U.S. Congressmen and Rabbi Eliezrie to reconsider their actions and instead, choose a pathway of reconciliation with the people who attended that fundraiser on February 13. Their actions perpetuate religiously motivated violence and we are demanding a statement, apology or retraction to their bold and evil statements.
We ask our leaders, both political and religious, and people everywhere to denounce these actions as violent, irresponsible, and hate-filled. We can no longer stand idly by and see hatred for any one people being tolerated.
““Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
“We must never forget the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference.” –Ian Kershaw
Please forward this on to your friends, social networks and circles of influence. We are the Ones we have been waiting for.
Spiritual Alliance for Religion and Hope

Email from Rebecca Tobias, URI Global Council Trustee for North AmericaMuslim woman with American flag painted on face

Dear Friends,

Today, I am a Muslim too!

This afternoon’s rally will be held at Times Square, from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Speakers will include Christian, Islamic and Jewish religious leaders, along with members of the entertainment industry, who will also show their support and solidarity in, “a unified stance against a rising Islamophobia caused by anxiety, misinformation, and ignorance.”

Here in the US our Brothers and Sisters in Islam this week will be the subject of specialized hearings in Congress that seeks to root out, “the radicalization of Muslims in America.”

The intention of these hearings has caused many to be concerned in our community–myself included–as they will do nothing to engender cooperation, goodwill, nor understanding–much less foster a sense of ‘safety’ in any practical way.  

Since 9/11/2001 hundreds of organizations and Muslim community councils locally and nationally have fully partnered with law enforcement agencies to provide invaluable support, and have designed, backed, and implemented multiple initiatives that have served our nation honorably and effectively.

Politicians’ recent saber-rattling on the run up to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks may score points in the ballot box for fringe candidates bent on polarizing our nation,  but will do little to address the deep sense of trauma and loss that the US still has yet to come to terms with,  only reasoned conversation can do that–and nothing about this week’s upcoming inquest resembles meaningful or substantive community building dialogue.

As a Jew whose family was decimated in the Holocaust of Europe, I have developed a hyper-vigilance to the insidiousness of injustice, it’s become an instinctual part of of my consciousness. Experience has taught me that violence takes many forms, and domination triumphs often imperceptibly, circumstance by circumstance–it begins by shutting down opportunities and silencing voices.

I recall the words of Irish philosopher Edmund Burke who taught, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

Well, today I will celebrate in spirit alongside a multitude in NY who have refused to allow naysayers and fear mongers to co-opt the conversation–and share the long list of religious leaders, community organizations and institutions who will rally in support of our greater Islamic community so that you too can know their names, confident that we stand among many friends.

In Peace and with All Blessings,


Mar 6 2011
Major Rally Planned For Times Square, NYC On Sunday At 2PM

Community Leaders, Local Officials and Religious Leaders Join Together to Protest
Targeting of American Muslims & Arabs in Upcoming Congressional Hearings
On Sunday March 6, 2011, a broad coalition of over 75 interfaith, nonprofit, governmental, and civil liberties groups came together in Times Square (42nd Street and 7th Avenue) in support of equitable civil rights for the Today, I Am a Muslim, Too, rally.   Taking place in response to upcoming Congressional hearings led by Peter King (R-LI), rally-goers stood  together against bigotry caused by anxiety, misinformation, and ignorance, to show Congress a united American community which seeks to strengthen – not dilute – our bonds of friendship and trust.  Organizers of this rally believe one can be a loyal Muslim as well as a loyal American without conflict.

“As invested Americans, we acknowledge the important work of the Congressional Committee on Homeland Security,” said Russell Simmons; Chairman of RUSH Communications. “However, we’re concerned the hearings will send the wrong message and alienate American Muslims instead of partnering with them, potentially putting their lives at risk by inciting fear and enmity.”
Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), has suggested that the hearings should be “broadened in such a way that other ethnic communities and faith communities can attest to the tremendous contribution and solidarity that American Muslims have for our country.”
In addition to Simmons and Rabbi Schneier, additional guests expected to appear include; Imam Shamsi Ali (Islamic Cultural Center), Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (Cordoba Initiative), Rev. Bob Chase (Intersections), Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein (Central Synagogue), Katherine Henderson (Auburn Theological Seminary), Rev. Chloe Breyer (Interfaith Center of New York), Rev. Amandus J. Derr (St. Peter’s Church), and many other religious, community, and political leaders.  There will also be a performance by UN Goodwill Ambassador Salman Ahmad of Junoon Band.
Alarmed at the demonization of an entire community, hundreds of civil liberties groups have signed letters opposing the hearings as they are currently planned, including a petition circulated by Faith in Public Life.   On February 1, 2011 a letter to House Majority and Minority Leaders John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, protesting the bias evident in King’s hearings.

Thanks to all who are supporting the event, the list is below:

1. Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
2. Interfaith Center of New York
3. Auburn Seminary
4. Central Synagogue
5. Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
6. Queens Federation of Churches
7. Federation for Middle East Peace
8. Park Avenue Synagogue
9. Partnership of Faith
10. Long Island Interfaith Alliance
11. Fellowship of Reconciliation
12. Action International Center
13. Long Island Catholic Diocese
14. Episcopal Diocese of New York
15. Shalom Center
16. St. Bartholomew’s Church
17. The Tanenbaum Center
18. Jewish Theological Seminary
19. Interreligious Federation of Queens
20. Midtown Churches
21. World Council of Religious Leaders/Jainism Community
22. Martin Luther Center for Non Violence
23. Buddhist Council of New York
24. Egyptian-American Associations
25. Union Theological Seminary
26. NYC to Stop Islamophobia
27. St. Peter’s Churches
28. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church
29. Alliance of Civilizations
30. Sikh community, Flushing Queens
31. Clergy Living Wage in NYC
32. Freedom of Religion USA
33. EmblemHealth
34. The Convergence Project
35. Intersections
36. Interfaith New York disaster services
37. Fiscal Policy Institute
38. New York Neighbors Coalition
39. Clergy beyond borders Conference
40. The Shalom Center
41. Same Difference
42. St Paul and St Andrews Church
44. Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
45. Marble Collegiate Church
46. Multi-faith Voices for Peace & Justice
48. Pax Christi Metro New York
50. Interfaith Arts
51. The Sikh Coalition, USA
52. The Sikh Community, Queens – Flushing
53. Saint John the Divine
54. Saint Peter’s Church
55. International Federation of Rabbis
56. Chautauqua Institution
57. National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
58. Interreligious Federation USA
59. Faith House Manhattan
60. East West Association of Sikh Women for World Peace
61. Clergy for Living Wage (Rev. Peter Hetzel)
62. Cathedral of St. John the Divine
63. Mennonite Central Committee UN Office
64. Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
65. Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice
66. International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
67. New York City Labor Against the War
68. The Dialogue Project
69. Local Faith Communities
70. Riverside Drive Church
71. Kolot Chayeinu / Voices of Our Lives
72. Chhaya CDC (Seema Agnan)
73. Judson Memorial Church
74. New Sanctuary Movement NYC
75. Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
76. Citizen Action of New York
77. Congregation at Ansche Chesed
78. Kolot Chayeinu-Voices of Our Lives
79. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Imam Shamsi Ali: shamsiali1@aol.com
Alexandra Ben Othman: alexandra.ben.othman@gmail.com
Sadick Abubakr: garba19@engineer.com
Media: Leyla Turkkan: leyla@catalystgroupsite.com
Para español: Katherine Vizcaino: kat.vizcaino@yahoo.com

Besides that list the following celebrities are backing the event as well.

Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons, Kim Kardashian, Diddy, Adrian Grenier, Heather Graham, Common, Susan Sarandon, John Legend, Rachel Roy, Q-Tip, Kelly Bensimon, Rev. Al Sharpton, Juelz Santana, Rev. Run, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jermaine Dupri, Lorraine Bracco, Jim Jones, and Djimon Hounsou.
Rebecca Tobias

Rebecca Tobias
Program Director

Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics

United Religions Initiative
Global Council Trustee, North America

Our region has renewed its
membership in the North America Interfaith Network, so that means all our
Cooperation Circles have done the same! 
You can therefore take advantage of member discounts in attending the
NAIN Connect conference

scheduled for July 24-26 in Phoenix.

Make Waves For Change!

We The World Logo

All you need is a telephone to participate from any location!
To learn more Click Here (www.WE.net/water)

Pre-Registration required.  Send an email RSVP to TeleForum@WeTheWorld.org

You will be sent a telephone number and pin# by email to login to the Tele-Forum.

Featured Speakers include:

Maude Barlow – “The freshwater crisis is easily as great a threat to the Earth and humans as climate change (to which it is linked)”

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is also an executive member of the International Forum on Globalization and a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.

Maude is the recipient of ten honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Award, and the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award. She is also the best-selling author or co-author of 16 books, including the international best seller Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water.

Gemma Bulos – “It takes a single drop of water to start a wave.”

Gemma Bulos is the Director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative, a program of Women’s Earth Alliance in partnership with Crabgrass. Prior to her work with GWWI, she was the Founder of A Single Drop for Safe Water ASDSW in the Philippines, where her team developed an award-winning social entrepreneurial model for the provision of sustainable community driven water and sanitation enterprises. In just over 4 years, her programs have provided over 150,000 people access to improved water in 8 countries

Julia Walsh – “Water should be used to sustain life, not destroy it.”

Julia Walsh is a co-founder and Program Director of Frack Action, a grassroots campaign working to stop the dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing (“Fracking”) in gas drilling. Fracking has been linked to over 1,000 incidents of groundwater contamination across the US, including many cases where people can actually light their tap water on fire. Frack Action has been instrumental in passing a moratorium on fracking in New York State.  Previous to Frack Action, Julia served as a young elected official on the Village Board in New Paltz, NY and has been an NGO Representative to the UN since 2003.

After the speakers’ presentations there will be time for listeners to ask questions and interact with all speakers.

Please join us and help Make Waves For Change!

February 2011 Bulletin

URI in North America Logo

          Quote of the month
                         African proverb – “If you want to go fast, go alone.
                                                  If you want to go far, go with others.”

In this Issue

> Sandy’s travels in SF
> Bioregional Gatherings
> Young Leader Grants
And more…
> CC Reports
> Resources, Resources
> Spring Sale on URI Cards

CC Management

Getting SMART: How can you tell if a program plan is doable? Read more…

Tracking Time: What does it take in person-hours for URI to thrive in our region? Here’s a tool to help compile the big picture.  Read more…

Meetup Announcements

Bioregional Gathering Announced in NYC. Read more…

Planning Begins for a Bay Area Bioregional Gathering this Fall.  Read more…


“I Spy With My Little Eye…” Global URI announces its second annual photo contest. Get clicking (and whirring!)

Annual Circles of Light Gala coming up March 5.  When URI puts on the ritz!

Come Play in URI North America’s  Sandbox – Our regional planning teams have openings for a few creative people. Whether for a short time or year-round, volunteering pays dividends to all parties – the person, their CC and your region. Read more…

Annual cycle of CC Contact Registrations – After a couple of false starts due to technical errors, a physical registration of CC contacts for 2011 will be going out in the mail soon to those CCs not yet heard from. Please take this opportunity to discuss with your core group who will serve as contacts to the region and global levels of URI for this year.


Bringing a Dream to Life by Anne Roth, Global Trustee.

Anne Roth


Sandy Westin
Regional Coordinator
1735 W State of Franklin Rd
Suite 5-296
Johnson City, TN 37604
(423) 262-8099

Roger Eaton
Communications Coordinator
San Francisco, CA
(415) 933-0153

A Visit to the Bay Area
by Sandy Westin, Regional Coordinator

For 10 days in January, it was my delight and privilege to visit with numerous URI and other interfaith leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was also able to spend three days in the global office working with my fellow URI staff members.  Here are just a few of the highlights. Read more and see photos …

  • Women’s Circle of Service CC – Ardey and I attended their winter meeting in the East Bay and had the honor of addressing their group
  • MLK Day Parade and festivities – These events were organized and produced by Michael Pappas, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of San Francisco, who is also a member of our North America Leadership Council.
  • Interfaith Reception at the Presidio – I was gratified to be the guest of honor at a wonderful gathering of Bay Area interfaith leaders.
  • Meeting with a Social Psychologist – I facilitated a meeting with Dr. Chuck Tate of San Francisco State University and others to discuss how prejudice develops and can be successfully addressed.
  • Community Interfaith Breakfast – I was invited to be the guest speaker at this monthly meeting in San Leandro, and enjoyed the opportunity to introduce many of those present to URI.

 Julian Sandy and Mark

Sandy Westin meets with Julian Foley and Mark Mancao of the URI global office to share ideas about effective communication.

small ornate bar

News from North American Cooperation Circles

Numerous! World Interfaith Harmony Week yields tremendous participation by URI members. Read more…

Hendersonville, NC: Their 2011 Academy for Peace catalog lists an incredible variety of program ideas. Read more…

Bedford Hills, NY: Unity Made Visible CC hosted an introduction to Mormonism on Feb. 3, and “In Harmony: An Exchange of Music and Fellowship” On Feb. 13.  Read more…

Los Angeles and Orange County, CA: The SARAH CC joined 20 other peace organizations as part of Peace Sunday sponsored by Unity-and-DIversity, also a URI CC, this year in Santa Monica. See it here…

Ardey Turner at Women's Circle of Service

Ardey Turner, Board Chair of URI in North America, chats with members of  the Women’s Circle of Service CC at their winter meeting Jan. 15.

News from North American Affiliates

(Note: All URI Multi-Region CCs and Multi-CCs with members who live in North America are considered Affiliates of our region.)

URI Women’s Coalition:  A garland of prayers was spread throughout the world by this MCC on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the revolution in Egypt. Read more…

13 Moon Walk for Peace:  Audri Scott Williams and her crew, those “Energizer Bunnies for Peace”, are now in New Mexico.   Read more…

Scarboro Missions, in cooperation with the Kansas Chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Global Faith in Action brought their Golden Rule curriculum to the Wichita, Kansas in a series of seminars last month. Read more…

News from Global URI

URI’s Young Leaders Program Steering Committee has selected the fifteen Young Ambassadors from around the world which will provide them with focused leadership training, support from URI, and resources and seed funds for their local projects. Two or three young people from each region will each be expected to set up a CC and run a service project. Their costs are being covered to attend the regional training programs, one of which will be held in Washington, DC the first weekend in April at American University. For more information, contact Matthew Youde, Coordinator of the URI Young Leaders program.   Read more…


Notes from the Editor:

If your URI CC or Affiliate organization has a website, we’d love to share reciprocal links with you.  Contact Roger Eaton to arrange an exchange of “widgets” to make this mutual benefit possible.

Have videos, photos or reports about your CC or Affiliate’s events and programs to share?  Send them in! The deadline for submissions for each bulletin is the 5th of the month. Material for our website is accepted at any time.

Please forward this Bulletin to others in your organization so they can be aware of what’s happening in URI beyond your community. This will also allow them to manage their own subscription to these bulletins if they wish.

Trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, January 13-22, 2011
               by Sandy Westin, URI in North America Regional Coordinator

Why did I go?

To get up to date with the status of URI on a global level, and at the hub office specifically.

To give the hub a better acquaintance with what our region is doing and planning.

To meet with Bay Area CCs and contacts of potential CCs and Affiliates.

What did I do? MLK Day Dignitaries

Attended the winter meeting of the Women’s Interfaith Circle of Service CC in the East Bay, and was given the honor of addressing their group. A copy of that meeting’s minutes is available on request.

Attended the festivities which Michael Pappas’ produced and managed in honor of Martin Luther King Day, including marching in the downtown SF parade to the Yerba Buena Arts Center where several dignitaries spoke, including Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.
Friendly Police Officer at MLK DaY
Spent two nights in Sally Mahe’s home in Marin County, and most of three days in the hub office where I met with the fundraising and communications staff teams, and was guest of honor at a brown bag staff luncheon on Wednesday. 
Spent valuable one-on-one time with Sally Mahe, Barbara Hartford, Debra Bernstein, Charles Gibbs, Marc Mancao, Ray Signer and others.

Facilitated a discussion and meeting with Sally, Debra, Dr. Chuck Tate of San Francisco State University’s Social Psychology Department, and Iftekhar Hai – a national and Bay Area leader of Islam and long time supporter of URI. Several very valuable things came of that meeting, not the least of which was bringing the scientific and academic world’s awareness on studies of prejudice and religious discrimination into URI global’s sphere and vice versa, a connection which promises to continue. A report on that meeting’s outcomes is available on request.
woman with dove and PAZ sign
I was honored by Michael Pappas and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio CC by being the guest of honor at a reception in that center Thursday evening.  It was attended by 15 leading interfaith figures from around the Bay Area including Rita Semel and Paul Andrews, two of our “URI Pioneers”, as well as Ardey, Roger, Paul Chaffee and several members of the United Nations Association of the Bay Area who are expressing interest in building closer ties with URI in NA as a result.

Spent two nights in the Russian Hill home of Paul Chaffee and his wife, Jan, right on the Hyde Street cable car route. Seeing the sparkling city all around from their rooftop will always be a favorite memory from this trip for me.

Had lunch and a productive visit Friday with Howard Sambol, my long-term life coach of some 20 years, in Marin County. Discussed how his current work with The Promise Game program might be relevant and useful to members of URI. We may find ways to work together in the future.

Met with Dr. Koya sahab and his wife, Annie, in Hayward for dinner Friday evening. Dr. Koya is an active leader of Fiji ex-pat Muslims in the Bay Area and Central California.   

Ardey and I attended the monthly Community Interfaith Breakfast in San Leandero, which is attended by many  followers of  Rev. Sun Myung Moon Saturday morning. After showing the latest URI DVD and addressing the group for half an hour, I left for the airport and home, leaving the group in Ardey’s capable hands for fielding further questions about URI.

Dusk at Immigration Point near the Presidio.

What ideas did I share with CCs, others, and the hub office?

  • How our LC has formed, developed its leadership, and designed its renewal processes in the past two years.
  • How we make decisions through use of the Baha’i model of consensus building.
  • How we envision becoming more financially self-sufficient.
  • Responded to various questions on “How have you all achieved so much in so short a time?” to which I typically responded, “We have an incredible team!”

What ideas did I come away with?

  • A vision statement of where I would like to see our region going. Our Leadership Council will explore these ten ideas to see what further ideas we might incorporate into this statement as part of our Spring Leadership Retreat.
  • From the meeting with Dr. Tate I gained a new awareness of how URI can become more impactful in addressing xenophobia and cultural prejudice in its many forms.

Cooperation Circle Management

When someone asks “How many person-hours does it take to run your CC?”, what do you say?  We have the same challenge when asked about what it takes to handle our region’s many tasks.  

Whether we use the answer to fill out a grant application, or just to respond to a potential volunteer, it will be becoming more and more important that we be able to come up with a good number we can use to answer such questions.  In 2011, therefore, we’ll be asking all our CCs to work with us to do just that.  Here are some factors you might be thinking and talking about in advance with your CC team:

Who serves as your CC’s core volunteers or members?

What activities do they do each month to plan, produce and organize your CC’s events and programs? This includes email, phone calls, meetings, getting supplies and refreshments — all that it takes.

How many hours does each person put in on a typical week doing these tasks?

Jot down this formula somewhere in your records so you’ll have the results handy when we ask about your CC’s volunteer hours:

(# of core members) X (average hrs/week) = T hours/week for URI

If you want to do a bit more math to get that final number more accurate, you may create subtotals for people in different kinds of roles in your CC: Leadership council members, committee members, the Chair or Facilitator of the CC, etc.  Next time your North American Leadership Council Liaison person calls, please share your findings with them.  We’ll be putting the numbers of our CCs together with the volunteer hours we spend

What we come out with doesn’t have to be auditable or even incredibly accurate, but any number is better than what we have now.  We’ll share our results with you when the data’s all pulled together in about May. We suspect the final number is going to be a bit of a shock to us all! But that’s what it takes to realize visions.  And thanks for all you do to make URI’s dream of building a world of greater interfaith harmony possible.

Meetup Announcements

As was mentioned in the January newsletter, we are aiming to see at least two Bioregional Gatherings held somewhere in North America during 2011.  These “subregional assemblies” will make it possible for members of URI CCs and other interfaith organizations within a radius of 100 miles or so to come together for networking, workshops on best practices, and just plain fun with minimal cost and travel.  

Our first BRG for 2011 is already on the books.  It is scheduled for Saturday, April 30, in New York City.  If you’d like to receive an invitation (the venue’s space limits us to 40 guests), contact Ardey Turner ASAP.  RSVPs will be taken on a first come, first served basis.  With several representatives of the UN expected to attend, this promises to be an exciting event!

Tentative plans are already being formed for our second BRG of 2011 to happen in late fall, possibly in early November in the San Francisco Bay Area.  If you’d like to take part in helping to put that event together, contact Tomiko Nojima.

If you’d like to explore the possibility of hosting another BRG either in 2011 or planning ahead for 2012, please get in touch with Sandy Westin. Together we can create some incredible events.

Bringing a Dream to Life

In June of 2000, nearly 350 people met in Pittsburgh, PA to sign the Charter of the United Religions Initiative.  During that conference, participants from different geographical regions broke into discussion groups.  Under the leadership of Paul Chaffee and with the generosity of the delegates from North America, plans were made for a first Regional Assembly to be held in June of 2001.  Our location would be in Salt Lake City, which was gearing up for the incoming winter Olympics of 2002 at that time, with Dr. David Randle as coordinator.  It was a big, colorful, impactful conference that included Appreciative Inquiry, art, music, friendships born, group dreaming, and even dancing in the aisles.

One of the fruits of that conference was the design of an organizational structure for the North American region.  It took a dozen people two full days of workshops to come up with the key questions that would guide us into the future.  Being a pack rat of sorts, I still have my original copy of the  amazing 9-point design that captured those key questions.

As we break forth into 2011, ten years later, we can look at what we have built together on the foundations of that dreaming. Our first key question was: Who will coordinate what we do? We now have a Regional Coordinator with an office in Tennessee, and a Leadership Council (LC) made up of selected representatives, officers of the corporate body, and committees of people from around the region, with annual process in place for renewing its membership.

Who will facilitate communication, keep us connected, and share knowledge? We have a Communications Committee which includes the Regional Coordinator, Roger Eaton in San Francisco, Lance Trumbull who has rebuilt our website, and people throughout the region who contribute to our newsletters.

Who will keep us mindful of our Preamble, Purpose and Principles? The whole LC is working separately and together to anchor bioregional gatherings, nurture the Cooperation Circles, and design region-wide programs and projects that will offer support to the whole.

Who will ensure resources for our future? We have a new Fundraising Committee that is working on creative solutions for producing income, as well as programs that will allow us to nurture CC projects, keep our LC people on the move, and bring us together in locations around the two nations for face to face meetings twice a year.

Who will mentor potential leaders? We are working on new programs for Leadership Development, non-violent and other forms of communications training, and asking for constant awareness on the part of our members for people with gifts that may be able to enhance the future of our whole region.

Who will support on-going awareness, building and growth of URI North America? We have an Outreach Committee of the LC that is constantly nurturing relationships with individuals and organizations as potential CCs, and potential Affiliates.  Our Affiliation program is growing as more and more groups discover they can be in relationship with URI through this creative form.  Public relations are now in place that include downloadable documents to share, a new website, continual interactions and public presentations.

Who will love, care for, and develop new CCs? We have a CC Community Committee that offers support, information, dialogue, and access to many resources for both current and newly emerging CCs.

Who will keep our relationships alive? This area, originally called Resonance, is the essential heart of our ongoing efforts to create synergistic links and networks with other organizations who share our values.  We are now an official member of NAIN — North America Interfaith Network — and have established Affiliate relationships with several organizations who are now in mutual communication with us.

The idea for an Education Committee has surfaced only recently, and we will be exploring the possibilities of developing interfaith education at a number of levels for our region.

The last “point” on the original 2001 “star” was called Continuity.  Who will collect and preserve our stories? We are seeking someone for whom this kind of work is a calling, who can be alert to the constant flow of communications with CCs, affiliates, and potential groups as well as our URI global sisters and brothers.  We have members within URI-NA who have a variety of gifts for recording, producing, and publishing such stories, but no one yet has stepped forward to track the process.

Considering that the planning for what is now the Regional Coordinator/ Leadership Council core of our regional organization came out of the URI North America Regional Assembly held just 21 months ago in May of 2009, I would say we have accomplished a great deal in these few years.  We look forward to your input, your gifts, and your ideas as we grow forward.  Any of the regional committees underscored in this article would be delighted to add new members from any of our CC’s or Affiliates. Just let us know of your interest and/or questions by emailing Sandy Westin at swestin@uri.org. Please know that “communication” is a two way street, and that we value what you have to share with us.

December 2010 Bulletin

URI Greeting Card

If this is all that has been keeping you from supporting our region with your tax-deductible gift, you still have time to include it in this year’s charitable donations by following the link to PayPal from our website or sending a check to URI in North America, 1735b W State of Franklin Road, Suite 5-296, Johnson City, TN 37604. Either way, you will receive both our thanks and a letter of appreciation suitable for use in filing your 2010 taxes whether as an individual or on behalf of your organization, business or corporation.

I. Money Matters: A Fundraising Tool for All

Within the coming week, each of our North American Cooperation Circles and Affiliates will be receiving a two-fold gift in the mail. Five glossy 4″x6″ greeting cards bearing the URI logo are being sent to each Primary Contact person with our thanks for serving as our information bridge to their organization. But beyond just serving as a lovely gift, we’ve produced these beautiful all-purpose cards at an exceptionally low cost so they can be purchased in bulk and resold at any price. Each CC can keep the difference to help fund their programming in the New Year. Similar cards from UNICEF and other nonprofit groups can cost as much as $2.00 per card, so there is an income potential built into the low price of only $8.00 for a set of 10 cards and envelopes when buying 5 or more sets. We’re keeping them affordable for individual purchases as well at just $12.00 per set for a limited introductory period. Ask your group’s Primary Contact person to show you the cards when they arrive, or check them out on our website at the new online shop.

II. Money Matters: Keeping Printing Costs Down 

If you live anywhere near an Office Max store, you can participate in a group buying program we’ve just established for all of URI throughout North America. At present it’s just for use in their printing and copying department, but it may expand to include office supplies and technology purchases — we’ll see. For now, to get the URI discount, just give this Retail Connect number to the clerk when you get ready to pay for your copying or printing: 8888-0001-05883-90503. And here’s a neat feature: You can order a printing or copying job at one Office Max store and have it printed out and available for pickup at another store, anywhere else in the US!

III. CC Programming – North America Picks a Regional Theme for 2011

At its recent Fall Retreat, the North America Region’s Leadership Council agreed to establish a theme to guide our region-wide services and programming in the coming year: “Tending the Human Garden”.  How might that theme be interpreted in your community? It can encompass a broad variety of focal areas in keeping with our URI Purpose and Principles. One concern we see throughout the US and Canada is “Islamaphobia” — the fear a growing number of people have about what they perceive as the threat to our way of life represented by the Islamic culture, and by extension, by those of the Muslim faith and tradition. This fear takes many forms, from discrimination and shunning of Muslims at one end of the spectrum to vandalism and outright violence on the other. As an organization dedicated to ending religiously motivated violence, we feel that those of us who stand up for the United Religions Initiative need to find ways to address this fear with programs, education, and initiatives appropriate to needs of each local area. Many groups are already reaching out to build bridges to the Muslims in their communities. Please share with us what you are doing in your area, or ideas your CC might have that would need broader support.  As we move into the New Year, let’s find ways to work together to make a positive difference on this and other aspects of “Tending the Human Garden”.

IV. CC Programming — Have a FUNATICAL Good Time

Reprinted with permission from the North America Interfaith Network Fall newsletter PlanetPix Media & Entertainment Group, is producing an exciting tour entitled “FUNATICAL: Taking Comedy to the Extreme! ‘We Come in Peace’ Tour” to break stereotypes between mainstream Americans and diverse Americans, including South Asian, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, and Persian communities across America in a three city tour. This tour is designed to build bridges of peace between communities in addition to educating Americans about different cultures and religions through comedy. Visit the website at www.funaticalcomedy.com for more information about our LA, NYC,and DC based shows from December 2010-March 2011. Note from Sandy: (Psst – Beware – some consider this concert to be R-rated for profanity.)

V. Action Item: Send Holiday Card to Pres. Obama for Peace in the Middle East 

A recently published public opinion poll shows that most Americans, Israelis and Palestinians support American efforts to mediate Palestinian-Israeli peace. Two thirds of Israelis would support some form of withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967, and most want Israel to do more to promote comprehensive peace with the Arabs.  If the two state solution collapses, about 42 percent believe there would be conflict for years to come. Very few believe the Palestinians would give up or that there would be a one-state solution.   For details click here.

We encourage you to send a Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Christmas card to the President to show your support for continued US leadership for peace in the holy land, and urging him to work for peace with justice and security for both Palestinians and Israelis. If you have not done so yet, CLICK HERE.

VI. CC Programming – United Nations General Assembly Accepts by Consensus Establishment of “World Interfaith Harmony Week”

Reprinted with permission from the North America Interfaith Network Fall newsletter, October 31, 2010 by Judy Lee Trautman

I recently received an email from HRH Prince Ghazi of Jordan, the personal envoy of HM King Abdullah II, that imparted wonderful news of a resolution of the United Nations to to designate the first week of February every year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week.  Hopefully NAIN member organizations will want to support this wonderful week.  Indeed, we ought to celebrate the spirit of this week every day.  Here  is the text of the email:

In the Name of God
Dear Friend,

Salaam. Forgive the intrusion. I am writing to seek your help and involvement. On October the 20th, 2010 — a few days ago — the United Nations General Assembly unanimously established the World Interfaith Harmony Week. The resolution was first proposed by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan on September 23rd 2010, and I myself had the honour of introducing and explaining it at the UN. (Please see enclosed speech with resolution at end.) The operative text of the Resolution says, remarkably:

World Interfaith Harmony Week

The General Assembly,
1. Reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace;
2. Proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs;
3. Encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples and other places of Worship during that week based on Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, or based on Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions;
4. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the General Assembly informed of the implementation of the present resolution.

We believe this idea has the potential to do a lot of good in the world by:
(1) ‘Co-ordinating and uniting the efforts of all the interfaith groups doing positive work with one focused theme at one specific time annually, thereby increasing their collective momentum and eliminating redundancy.
(2) Harnessing and utilizing the collective might of the world’s second-largest infrastructure (that of places of worship — the largest being that of education) specifically for peace and harmony in the world: inserting, as it were, the right ‘software’ into the world’s religious ‘hardware’.
(3) Permanently and regularly encouraging the silent majority of preachers to declare themselves for peace and harmony and providing a ready-made vehicle for them to do so. Moreover, if preachers and teachers commit themselves on the record once a year to peace and harmony, this means that when the next inter-religious crisis or provocation occurs, they cannot then relapse into parochial fear and mistrust, and will be more likely to resist the winds of popular demagoguery.’

However, your help I very much needed. Specifically, we need and gratefully ask you to:
(1) Write a personal email or letter of support for this initiative and post it at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place:
(2) Forwarding this email to all those on your email list who you think might be interested in it and them to their friends and so on as much as possible (please do not worry about this email address as it is set up for this purpose and I will not be using it for anything else).
(3) Posting any resources you think would be important to theme of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place.
(4) Organizing yourself an event or simple a sermon or a lecture or an event on the first week of next February on the theme of Interfaith Harmony.
(5) Recording your event at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place according to your own country.

Harmony and Peace need work, and the real beneficiary of love and charity towards our neighbour is always ourselves, but we fully appreciate if you cannot do any or all of this and thank-you anyway,

Salaam and best wishes,

The full text of Prince Ghazi’s speech is to be found at

A note from Sandy Westin: World Week of Interfaith Harmony. What a perfect opportunity for URI Cooperation Circles to put together local observances of this new global recognition sponsored by the Jordanian Embassy!. Here are just a few of the possibilities your CC might consider doing to participate locally in this global event:

  • Work with local middle school geography teachers and homeschooling parents to build awareness of some of the world’s religions – their beliefs, practices and holidays.
  • Facilitate a penpal program for kids of different faiths to get to know one another via email, snail-mail or social networking media – either in their own hometown or from another URI region across the world.
  • Host an interfaith celebration of music and dance offerings from several of your community’s different faith traditions, with costumes, banners, and food representing the many cultures present in your area.

Do let us know what your CC develops to celebrate this historic recognition of the importance of interfaith peacebuilding so we can include it on our region’s website calendar.

VII. Programming in CCs: Seattle’s Circle of Love CC Hosts a New Year’s Eve Interfaith Celebration

The annual New Year’s candlelight and prayer service at Green Lake on Friday, December 31st at 3:30pm with a pre-event dialogue at 1:30pm. This wonderfully diverse and spiritually uplifting gathering will feature presentations and prayers from the Yogic, Byakko – Divinity , Buddhist, Bah’ai, Wiccan, Jewish, Islamic, Traditional Christian and Mystic Christian traditions. Contact the Interfaith Community Church at 206.783.1618 or interfaithcommunitychurch@yahoo.com for more information. 

VIII. Programming in CCs: Seattle is “Warm for Winter”

WarmforWinter, which is both an ending homelessness awareness and direct gifting project, is sponsored by the URI CC, Interfaith Network of Washington State. Since Thanksgiving 2006, the WarmforWinter project has given 25,000 handmade hats and scarves to individuals awaiting affordable homes in Washington State. Twenty-four interfaith and ecumenical “Blessings of the Hats and Scarves” services have graced our communities in recent years. For more information, see the project’s website and our CC’s website.

IX. Nurturing our Network – Progress Report from the Trail of Dreams Multi-Region CC

Moon Walk for Peace

Greetings All,

We have now been on the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace for two months. Needless to say we are having an inspiring walk through communities with our Peace Flame, the flame from the Sacred Fire of Thunder from Six Nations, Canada (Diane Longboat) that connects us to the legacy of the Great Peace Maker. We have walked from Macon, GA,  where we walked with a mother whose son was murdered on 10-10-2000, allegedly by law enforcement officers (see my website: www.audriscottwilliams.com for the video); to Valdosta, GA where we had the opportunity to engage in interfaith activities with the community through our hosts, Linda Bennett Elder. We then journeyed to West Palm Beach to walk through the community there and see the 150 families who have come together to support urban gardening. We ended our walk at Coleman Park to see the gardens the youth at the center have planted with our host Greg Richardson and beloved Umoja.

Along the way we visited with a sculptress, Joan Baliker, in Ormond Beach who just finished a sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,; the Kashi Yoga Center hosted by our United Religions Initiative sister Swami Anjani and participated in teachings with Ma; we then headed to Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL and visited Sacred Lands, did water ceremonies, walked and showed the film, Four the Next 7 Generations (a film about the 3 Indigenous Grandmothers); then on to Tallahassee, FL for more of the same. The highlight of the walk continues to be the people we meet. Imagine in one day we are walking along the road and pass a man on a bike riding across America AND a lady with one leg completing her journey around America. How is it we all end up on the same stretch of highway in Florida on the same day?

Of course gratitude for the families who invited us into their homes and cared for us — strangers/family — like Susan and her family in Valdosta, and Jennifer and Bill in Tampa, Florida; and who took care of us when the RV broke down and it took nearly three days to get it fixed — like Janet Windwalker Jones/BGD Elder. We are also grateful to the churches who have supported us along the way: Victory for the World, Stone Mountain, GA; Christ the King, Valdosta; Unity of Tampa, Tampa, Florida; and Unity of Tallahassee.

And now as we head to New Orleans, the hospitality of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center really motivates us to keep going and to celebrate peace with every step. So, if you are near New Orleans this weekend check the schedule here and join us if you can: http://acabnola.blogspot.com/

The team is holding up well. Art coordinates our day to day walk and spends many hours buried in maps to make sure we are taking the best route and coordinating drop points so we make our miles. He is still the master walker, capable of doing up to 24 miles a day if necessary. Mary coordinates our activities in each city and our sponsorship solicitation. Dave is the overall picture and video taker, video editor, and assists Elizabeth with the websites. Elizabeth is our web master and keeps the site up to date. Karen is the bookkeeper, tracking all of our receipts and coordinating the food purchases (she makes a mean pot of greens as well). Baba Ojiji keeps the car and the RV in check. Mama Natalie continues to be the matriarch of the walk. I am the visionkeeeper for the walk. This is the current team on the road but we also have Swami Jinendra, Melodie, Rod, Kai and two little ones Tixo and Jude. That makes 13 members of the team on the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace!

We have formed alliances with Om Sounds; WorldBed, Inc.; For the Next 7 Generations; Center for Spiritual Democracy; Encouragement Ministries, Inc; and World Bridge Media. See our websites for more information.

Now, for all of you who have asked how you can help, here is the link to our websites:
www.13moonwalk4peace.com and www.communitiesofpeace.ning.com.

You can donate directly through our Paypal account at either site or you can mail a check to The Spirit of Truth Foundation c/o Michael Ware at 3604 Skip Jack Court, Abingdon, MD 21009. In addition, if you are in an area where we will be, come and donate some walking miles. We are a relatively small team and we cover about 40 miles a day. We have actually walked nearly a 1,000 since we left Atlanta. We can use some help making more miles. So put on your walking shoes and come walk 5, 10, 15 miles a day for whatever period of time that you can. If you would like to be a host in one of the cities we will be walking through or would like to help us coordinate activities there, click this link to see what cities are on the schedule: http://www.13moonwalk4peace.com/tour/
Call Dave or Mary for more information: 570-220-9249. Please visit and engage with us on the Communities of Peace site, our virtual walk site.

Much Gratitude and Love,

Audri Scott Williams

X. Nurturing our network: URI Star certificates

During the regional council’s Fall Leadership Retreat last October, the subject came up of “How can we show recognition and appreciation for the tremendous work being done in interfaith peacebuilding by our CCs, as well as other organizations and individuals?” After some discussion of creative possibilities, one of our newest LC members, Katie Ward of San Diego, volunteered to create a URI certificate of recognition which could be awarded to anyone by anyone in honor of their work on behalf of interfaith peace. The certificate “URI Star” template, which can be downloaded from our website (at XXXX), can be printed out using any color computer printer on two sides of a sheet of white paper or cardstock. Two certificates appear on each sheet. We would love to know who receives these colorful certificates so we can extend the region’s appreciation to them as well. So please send in word of the individuals and organizations to whom you award a “Star” to Sandy. Let those stars shine!

XI. News of our Affiliates: Paul Chaffee on Scarboro Missions and Toronto’s Interfaith Community

Reprinted with permission from the North America Interfaith Network Fall newsletter, November 9, 2010 by Paul Chaffee

Years of reading the Bay Area Interfaith Connect newsletter does nothing to quell my amazement at the multitude of interfaith activities reported here every month. So tempting, sometimes, to think of the San Francisco Bay Area as an interfaith one-of-a-kind! A week in Toronto last month completely banished my provincial temptations. — Paul Chaffee, October 30, 2010

Jan and I were invited to Canada’s biggest city by interfaith activists. Their work had been featured here at NAINConnect 2008. Now they wanted us to witness the interfaith ferment on the northern shores of Lake Ontario.
Our host was Scarboro Missions, a small Catholic order with decades of global social justice engagement. A strong and abiding commitment to interfaith activities led the Order to create a new department — Scarboro Missions Interfaith (SMI).

Paul McKenna, who leads SMI, is creator of the Golden Rule poster, the simplest and most powerful interfaith tool in the world today. Having hundreds of thousands of posters distributed in 20 languages (so far) is remarkable by itself. But the poster tells only a small part of Scarboro’s interfaith activity, in Toronto, in North America and the world.

Our first morning at Scarboro we watched 50 bussed-in 11th graders being introduced to world religions in a five-hour workshop by Kathy Murtha. It was a pure joy, actually astonishing to see how much fun they had, how much information and wisdom they absorbed, and how serious, still, and creative a rambunctious bunch of teenagers can become with a master teacher. (This happens four times a week; new students every time. They started the program for Catholic schools. Now public schools are sending busloads as well. The students’ favorite part of the workshop? Two sessions during the day given to meditation.)

Paul McKenna and his team organized a dozen meetings for us with religious leaders from all over Canada’s largest metroplex. They wanted Jan and me to see and hear what they are doing and in return to share a bit about the San Francisco Bay Area interfaith culture. We spent most of one day with two dozen young adults and their mentors from around the region. We met and broke bread with leaders from the Interfaith Council and visited the sites of a variety of multi-religious educational ventures and service providers. The historic and ongoing Jewish-Christian engagement and cooperation, with Muslims as full participants these days, is impressive and fully glocal (global & local) in focus.

We spent most of the last day at the University of Toronto, a subway ride downtown. Modeled on Oxford and Cambridge, UT has numerous theological faculties and religious studies programs along with 30 chaplains (two for most traditions, including Pagan and Humanist, and including LGBT representation). On top of this is a new Multi-Religious Building where prayer and meditation goes on most hours of each day in a variety of traditions. Everyone’s invited to the free talk-about-any & everything-tea-and-muffins party each Wednesday, and you can attend assorted interfaith programs each week. The day before we visited, they hosted the Dalai Lama. Strong on hospitality. Altogether, very high on the Wow!-meter. It sounded and felt like the 21st century happening in beautiful new ways.

At the end of the day, even those most involved in Toronto’s interfaith culture can’t keep up with all the multi-faith bubblings in their midst. Feels just like the Bay Area. That equivalency suggests the power and goodness of the multifaith relationships growing spontaneously, willy-nilly across North America. We may not know it, given the thousands of miles that separate these two remarkable global communities; but Greater Toronto and the Bay Area, each with about 5 million souls from all over the globe, share a new kind of interfaith culture, a vital source of hope and satisfaction for the glocal religious community-at-large in coming years.

We have all sorts of things to learn on both sides of a Bay Area-Toronto interfaith relationship. One thing, though, is absolutely identical in our communities — the best part of the work is the relationships which develop. The people we met in a week came from every tradition imaginable — gracious, friendly, wise, engaged individuals happy to interact as soon as you meet. They were just like the people here at the Presidio Chapel in San Francisco and the thousands who are involved in interfaith relationships around our beautiful Bay. Getting to know one another is not only the work at hand, but the reward. Makes for a joyful journey and a joyful homecoming.

XII. A Global Trustee Footnote with Anne Roth

The View from Here

Except for the green wall in front of me, you can’t see much from this desk – until you look closer. There’s a post-card up there about the Multifaith Calendar, there’s a copy of the Golden Rule poster, there’s a photo of Sandy and Rebecca and myself standing at the 10th Anniversary banner in Amman, Jordan last June, there’s a calendar for this fast-disappearing year from my friend at the Colorado Mediation Center, there’s a photo of Yoland Trevino swearing me in as a Trustee (taken by Barb Hartford) and the certificate itself. There is a list from my studies of the Enneagram that I call “The whole Star of the evolved soul.” It says: “Perfection without anger, Caring without neediness, Image without vanity, Creativity without darkness, Knowledge without superiority, Organizing without paranoia, Planning without escapism, Leadership without controlling, Peacebuilding without amnesia.”

And there is a bumper sticker that says: “The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.” It’s a quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist and priest whose amazingly insightful work was silenced by the Holy Office of the church until after he died. 

The other thing I can see from here is the whole world. My little computer in front of me makes it possible for me to be in touch with all of you. We zing e-mails back and forth from Ethiopia and Jerusalem, from Hebron on the West Bank and San Francisco on the other west bank. We share ideas from Seattle to Tennessee to New York.  We introduce people to one another whose skills can enhance each other’s work. And we tweak documents and suggest plans as the work goes forward.

What else I can see is the phenomenal progress that the team has made within URI North America over the past couple of years. If you’ve ever watched Ty Pennington on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, you’ll recognize the pattern. It takes a while to get the plans out, the plumbing connected, the foundations laid. When the walls start to go up, the speed increases until it feels like a blur. With the foundations in place, our walls are going up fast: new embers on the Leadership Council, new ideas for fund raising, new plans for 2011, new plans for the website, and a process that is falling into place so that people can find clear pathways to offer their ideas, their hopes, and their input.

Part of that new process will be getting the members of the Leadership Council and the members of the Cooperation Circles into direct contact.  We need to know who we’re serving, and we need to know how best to serve

you. We want your input, your ideas, your needs. And as we move forward, we need to know what direction you want this fast-growing region to go. Our Affiliates are lining up and joining us as well, and they have gifts to share and ideas to bring to us. For me, the most exciting part is seeing it coming together and seeing what our CCs and Affiliates are doing to make this world a better place.

Peace to you and yours, Anne Roth

XIII. Indigenous Wisdom Ceremony: Carry Souls to Higher Ground — photos and reporting by Rebecca Tobias, URI in North America Global Trustee – complete report

Beginning at sunset on the evening of August 21st, and culminating under the pale light of a waxing moon, members of the Southern California interfaith community joined together taking part in an outdoor Mayan Sacred Circle Fire Ceremony lead by Indigenous Spiritual Guide and Elder Tata Apolinario Chile Pixtún who had come from Guatemala to share his time honored vision and wisdom with us. Global Council Chair, Yoland Trevino accompanied him throughout the spiritual journey which was expressed in the ancient language of  ‘prayermakers’ of Mesoamerica. The eveings ritual was held in honor of Mother Earth, and to celebrate our reverence for the bounty that earth provides, circle member brought personal offerings of incense, fruit, food and flowers to leave in the sacred circle as we each reflected deeply upon our place in the cosmos.

The evening’s garden setting in the foothills of Seirra Madre lent a contemplative splendor to the ceremony as we shared our hearts in word, music, dance and song. As the sun went down and the air cooled, candles and talismans of the Earth were carefully set in their place as we prepared to give thanks and grateful blessing for She who sustains us body and soul.

Completing the event was a feast under the stars.

Check out the homepage of our regional website at www.uri.org/na for op-ed pieces that are put out occasionally. Consider them nutritional supplements and food for thought. Responses welcome!

See you next month.

Everest: Trek for Peace

Nepal’s famous mountain panoramas begin as soon as we lift off from Kathmandu airport and don’t stop until we return. The first section to Namche passes through the spectacular and forbidding Dudh Kosi gorge. In the midst of the Himalaya we explore Sagarmatha National Park, staying in the Sherpa villages and summer settlements nestled in the valleys.Towering above is a galaxy of breath-taking peaks: Ama Dablam, Cholatse, Kangtaiga…


– (Note: the image you see above of Mt. Everest is what you will be seeing on our Trek for Peace!)

Click here to learn more about the Trek for Peace

Training for Peace…

Not only can I hike anywhere, but having the extra 30+ pounds on my back really helps the conditioning process. Plus – and just as importantly, it is really a wonderful way to bond with my son; he is an extension of me (literally and figuratively) and while on my back he has a wonderful front row seat to the beautiful nature that is passing him by. He will often sing and make all sorts of unique and interesting sounds, usually just before falling asleep! I am blessed for the place where we go everyday is just 5 minutes from my house and we usually spend at least an hour out in nature and on the trails…

Working out and simultaneously bonding with my son – life is good!

Lance and Kaden Trumbull Hiking

Message from Sandy Westin, Regional Coordinator in North America

Workplan for URI NA

All Primary and Secondary Contacts of our CCs were sent the 2011 Work Plan and Budget on November 17th. They have been asked to review it with others in their Circle and get any input back to me by December 1st so we’ll have time to incorporate any changes or additions before submitting it to the global office.

Sandy Westin, Regional Coordinator
Phone – (423) 262-8099
Fax – (423) 262-8419
1735 West State of Franklin Rd
Suite 5, Box 296
Johnson City, TN 37601

Roger Eaton, Technology and Communications Coordinator
cell (415) 933-0153
San Francisco, CA