Arizona Faith Network celebrates passage of new ID card law

The Arizona Faith Network, a URI Cooperation Circles based in Phoenix, Arizona, shares their excitement about a new city-wide ID card that they advocated for.

By Ms. Sandra Weir and Rev. Erin Tamayo

Have you heard the news? Last week, the Phoenix City Council voted to make the One PHX Identification Card available to city residents, expanding access to city services and promoting community safety.

We at Arizona Faith Network are blessed to serve as a part of the coalition behind these efforts, following the leadership of Ms. Viridiana Hernandez Soto, Executive Director of the Center for Neighborhood Leadership and AFN Board Member.

“AFN played a vital role by connecting the One PHX ID coalition with additional partners. The immigrant rights activists became more connected to faith communities, and the coalition was able to point to support by a large number of religious denominations and individual congregations. Over the course of the campaign many faith leaders spoke enthusiastically about the ID at forums and meetings.

In addition, several members of AFN have expert knowledge about the difficulties faced by particular groups in establishing their identity as residents of Phoenix. Those leaders shared their knowledge and networks generously, resulting in advocacy for One PHX ID on behalf of the previously incarcerated, refugees, homeless persons, and the different labeled.

Further, there are many persons whose identity includes the intersection of several characteristics that put them at risk of not being recognized as a member of our community.” Viridiana Hernandez Soto.

Arizona Faith Network adopted the 1 PHX ID early in 2015 after we were approached by immigrant rights leaders to organize a meeting of faith leaders around community needs regarding identification. The re-sponse at that meeting was so positive that we subsequently invited Viridiana Hernandez to give a presentation at our board meeting in March of 2015.

“Signing on to these efforts was not only important to AFN in order to respond to the needs of the community but it also helped us as an organization be able to reflect on our own understanding of “community,” who we were and what we want to become.” Executive Director, Rev. Erin Tamayo.

One of Arizona Faith Network’s first events was the community conversation “We are All in Community Together” where respected interfaith leaders shared regarding the importance of “community” from their own traditions. The event also featured the first-hand accounts of individuals who would greatly benefit from a Municipal ID and a call to action in support.

“The community conversation “We are All in Community Together,” event was monumental in establishing our own identity as an organization. It said first of all, we are now an interfaith organization; we have expanded our partnerships with the faith community and look to be more inclusive, developing new relationships and gaining new understandings. Just as important, it said, we are looking to help bring about positive change in our communities, not by marching forth alone but instead, by partnering with others who have experienced the need for change and who welcome the faith community around the table.” Rev. Tamayo

Throughout the last 20 months, Arizona Faith Network has had the opportunity to speak at various City Council Sub-Committee Meetings and full Council Meetings. We have written numerous letters in support and have encouraged our board members and organizational partners to do so as well.

We have taken part in delegations to council members, have attended press conferences and even took part in a march to City Hall when measures seemed to be stalled in bringing this initiative forward. The 1 Phx ID was even featured at denominational events around the state and at both of our annual meetings.

afn-2AFN has been blessed to be invited to serve on the coalition responsible for developing strategy and support for the 1 PHX ID efforts, under the leadership of Center For Neighborhood Leadership and Ms. Hernandez. As AFN has gotten to know the great work of CNL, our understanding of what we are looking for in partner organizations has solidified and we now lift up CNL as a prime example of what we are searching for in terms of our mission: “Being Together, Talking Together, Acting Together.”

What are the Next Steps?

The ID program will launch in February of 2017, with preregistration beginning in December of this year. The cost of the ID will be around $25 and will most likely be issued at two key locations in the city.

AFN will continue to serve as a strong member of the coalition, helping to promote the ID, sharing information with our faith communities on where the card can be obtained and how this will continue to benefit our community.

“It is my hope that this initiative which will benefit so many within the City of Phoenix will now soon be adopted by other municipalities and counties within the State of Arizona. Working together, may we expand our community efforts, partnering with others throughout the state to lift up the needs that have been expressed concerning the need for valid ID for all!” Erin Tamayo

Members and partners of Arizona Faith Network are invited to two events coming up soon to publicize and sustain the momentum toward implementation of the One PHX ID:

Press Conference

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 12:00 p.m.
Outside Phoenix City Hall, 200 W.
Washington St. Phoenix
City Council has been invited to gather with the coalition and the public to

provide inform on the significance of the One PHX ID and the opportunity for individuals to pre-register in late 2016, and to have an ID in hand by February 2017. Open to the public, no RSVP.

Community Celebration

Thursday, October 6
from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.,
location to be determined.

The celebration will include dinner and a discussion of next steps, including opportunities for AFN involvement. Invitations soon, with more information and RSVP.

A Requiem of Hope

 

“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?”

Shirin Ganji, Member of the Newmarket and Area Interfaith Council

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Verily, with hardship comes ease (Qur’an 94:5)

In my faith, I am reminded that misfortune is only a challenge of your character, and that there is rarely any difficulty that is not followed by relief. However, when faced with adversity, hope becomes questionable. It becomes the product of a constant self-struggle of whether to move forward or remain stagnant. But most of all, in any given moment it can be conjured up and it can be temporary.

However permanent or fleeting hope may be, it is, above all, empowering. In my experience, it has assisted me through moments of grief and distress.

Recently, I was on a road trip to Las Vegas, in which my purse with all my belongings including my passport, driver’s license, health card, SIN card, and credit cards were all stolen. Instantly, the desire for adventure came to an abrupt end, shrouding the night with concern and worry as I had a return flight to catch the next day. My friends accompanied me through this turn of events, and assisted me in every possible way. They inspired me to find hope in the matter and aided me in all the necessary procedures about reporting a stolen passport.

After searching all night, and slowly losing confidence in the search, they held my hands and each prayed with me for my safe return home. We each came from different backgrounds and belief systems but regardless, it ignited a beautiful expression of intent. It calmed me down, and deep in my heart everything felt like it was going to all wrap up nicely.

I retrieved a temporary passport from the Canadian embassy and managed to board a domestic flight to San Francisco, only to be faced with another road block. The airline had told me that, in order to go home, I was going to have to wait a day and cash up $2000. Out of fear of not being able to afford the trip back home I broke into tears in the middle of Union Square.

While sobbing in public, a homeless man from across the street made his way to the flower booth just outside the subway and purchased a flower. He offered me the flower and said: “Please don’t cry, everything will work out. I promise.” A man who seemed to have nothing consoled me in an attempt to spark optimism amidst a seemingly dark situation. I thanked him dearly, hopped on the train and called my booking company to get on the next plane to Toronto. Eventually, everything worked out! I got back home safely, and a month later, to my surprise, the Las Vegas airport sent me my purse with all of my belongings, as someone had returned it to the airport.

Throughout this experience, my hope was cultivated by the friends and strangers, from different identities, who supported me in my time of need. The questions of what I believe and who I believe in is left out of the equation. This is what inspires hope in me and in humanity: when we focus on the problems in front of us, and learn to lend a hand to every person who needs it.

What gives me tangible hope today is the collaboration between different faith groups and communities assisting each other in times of chaos and turmoil. Just as I was offered assistance through my journey, others require the same kind of treatment. Acknowledgement of this cause already insinuates a certain degree of awareness and how important it is to spread hope around the world.

———————————

Shririn Ganji is the co-founder of the Undergraduate Religious Studies Student Association, geared toward historical understanding of different religions and a more practical understanding of how religion is integrated in the public sphere. She received an Honors B.A from the University of Toronto, specializing in World Religions and Philosophy. She derives most of her inspiration learning about the various religions and cultures that exist in the world, and how many of these traditions are linked, and intertwined together.

Every Tuesday, the #TangibleHope Diaries series features responses from North American grassroots peacebuilders on what gives them tangible hope in the world today. See you next week! Learn more here.

 

Hope is only hope when…

“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?”

Bishop William Swing, President and Founder of the United Religions Initiative:

What fills me with hope is going out into the driveway in the morning to pick up the newspaper. I brace myself for the experience. I walk slowly and dawdle. I breathe in self-consciously. For a brief moment, I am in awe.  What is it that holds me in its power and glory? The sunrise!

Sunrise is so quiet.  No one owes it or can control it. Sunrise brings a blanket of undeniable freshness as if all the soiled garments of life had just been laundered.

It accentuates the beauty of everything it touches.

Sunrise has always worked its magic on me no matter where it has encountered me.  Picking blueberries in the hills of West Virginia, drawing water in jungle river in Papua New Guinea, walking hot streets in India, trudging roads above the Arctic Circle, walking into prisons, TB hospitals or mental facilities, filming in a desert in Judea, strolling along a beach in Rio de Janeiro, watching old couples ballroom dancing in China.

When the sun comes up, hope peeks through the gloom and whispers a word of promise.

It is morning in Burlingame, California, where I live, and I stand for the briefest of seconds holding my newspaper basking in the sunrise.  In my hand, I hold the incomprehensibly complicated news of a world gone mad, and on my face, I feel the light of infinite possibility. Hope is only hope when it is confronted by the specter of hopelessness.

I raised myself on the music of optimism.  “Oh its a good day for paying your bills and a good day for curing your ills.  So take a deep breath and throw away your pills, cause its a good day from morning till night,” says in 1940’s song. And I sang it on the surface of my life. But optimism only carries you as far as the edge of intractable suffering.  Then the journey can only be made by internalizing rays of hope that warm you from vast reservoirs of primal energy. Sunshine!  Or its equivalents! Or its Author!

Today’s prevailing hopelessness is captured in the phrase, “Religions have always fought in the past, and they will always fight in the future. You can’t change that.” There is a great deal of truth to that statement.  But there is a great deal of error in it, as well.  Religions have not always fought.  As a matter of fact, people of different and conflicting religious claims have consistently discovered practical ways of living side by side in far-flung locales and at various moments of history. They do today, all over the world, but this news will not be in the newspaper that I hold in the driveway.

Every day, I go inside my house, turn on my computer and get reports through the United Religions Initiative. These are real stories of people of all sorts of religions and other traditions, finding each other, tapping into good hearts, and discovering creative ways of serving specific needs.  To what do I attribute this newsworthy phenomenon?

I think that religious people pick up the absolution, the invigoration, the beauty of holiness that sunshine bestows, each day, on the earth.  Promiscuous grace bestowed in all directions, on the most undeserving as well as the most exemplar! Ordinary believers intuit that the One they worship is exceedingly generous and practical, and so they feel at home with other souls, of other traditions, who are inspired by Divine generosity and practicality. Together they publish a different kind of news — a digest of hope.

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bishopswing1-250_250Bishop William Swing is the President and Founder of the URI. He had the original vision of URI in 1993 in response to an invitation from the United Nations which asked him to host an interfaith service honoring the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. He  served as the Episcopal Bishop of California from 1980 until his retirement in 2006. In that capacity, he was a national and international leader in response to the AIDS crisis, co-founded Episcopal Community Services to address San Francisco’s homeless problem, and co-founded Community Bank of the Bay to support local businesses and the economy.

Every Tuesday, the #TangibleHope Diaries series features responses from North American grassroots peacebuilders on what gives them tangible hope in the world today. See you next week! Learn more here.

Teen Interfaith Leadership Council Goes to Santa Fe

Diane Fisher (Jewish) and Deacon Steve Herrera (Catholic) from the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council CC (SiVIC) took eight teenagers on an interfaith immersion experience in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The teens explored various religious traditions in Santa Fe, engaged in interfaith dialogue, and shared prayer practices and information about their religious traditions with each other.

Seeret, one of our Sikh participants said about the trip that “the in-depth experience of talking to an elder of a particular faith, and hearing words of wisdom and sage advice about life as well as the faith was exceptional and unexpected. I just thought it would be an introduction to faiths and then we’d look around and leave, but the fact that we were able to ask so many questions and have them answered with so much respect— that in and of itself made the trip wonderful.”

Understanding other religions can be more difficult than it sounds, so having an intentional space for that express purpose allowed for a more enriching experience. Carly, a Jewish participant observed that “on a trip like this you make friends and learn about new religions, and it’s a really cool experience. You learn so much and go to places you would never go otherwise, and are encouraged to appreciate your own faith more as you learn to embrace differences.”

Karen, a member of the Shinnyo-En Buddhist Order, remarked that it was nice “being able to share with other faith-minded teenagers, because often people think of religion as just some superstition that you believe in because your parents do. So sharing with people who also have faith, especially from different religions, understand that it’s something very much a part of us. Being able to have an understanding of other religions helps people to peaceably talk things through, as well as see things from others perspectives.”

Diane Fisher (Jewish) and Deacon Steve Herrera (Catholic) were the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council Cooperation Circle‘s board members who facilitated the teen interfaith immersion trip. They are Co-directors of the Teen Interfaith Leadership Council of Santa Clara County, affiliated with the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council Cooperation Circle. Deacon Steve Herrera produced the video.

Finding Friendship, Action and Hope in Korea

A Reflection on “Religious Green Practice”
URI Peace Camp – Seoul, South Korea
July, 2016

By Ganga Devi Braun

This summer I had the honor of joining a remarkably diverse group of young people from Korea and around the world in a cultural exploration of Seoul, South Korea. The 2016 URI South Korea Peace Camp gave rise, every day, to beautifully constructive interreligious dialogue.

The theme of this year’s camp was Religious Green Practice, and the framework and intention that ran throughout the week was the heart of the parent organization — the Preamble, Purposes, and Principles of the United Religions Initiative. As the URI North America representative, and the participant traveling furthest from home, this five-day experience was a complete whirlwind, and a few weeks later I am still overwhelmed by the friendship, love, and insights I found in South Korea.

Despite language barriers, cultural differences, and diverse religious beliefs, the camp was full of deep conversations, near-constant laughter, and a truly enhanced sense of the amazing possibilities that interfaith dialogue offers for peacebuilding in our world today. Coming from Kashi Ashram, a Cooperation Circle of URI and an intentional community containing members of many different generations, I am generally partial to learning experiences which are multigenerational in membership for everyone’s growth and further lifelong learning. This experience, however, has given me a new perspective on the transformative value of bringing a group of young people

Serferaaz, the representative from Europe, on the Han River Cruise, a cultural experience that fostered both immense fun and deep conversation.
Serferaaz, the representative from Europe, on the Han River Cruise, a cultural experience that fostered both immense fun and deep conversation.

together. Through near-constant selfie taking, the creation of a group chat, and the ability to break the ice through discussion of academic theses, recent books read, and our favorite animes, we all became friends remarkably quickly.

The ages of participants ranged from 20 and 30, our nationalities included Korean Mormons, Korean Buddhists, a Korean practitioner of Chondogyo, Bangladeshi Muslims, a Tajik Muslim, a Dutch Muslim, agnostics: Korean and Australian alike, an Anglican from South Africa, two Vietnamese Buddhists, and myself, a Buddhist-Hindu hybrid from the US, representing Canada and the United States.

Going into this, I certainly saw myself as representing Kashi more than North America as a whole, after all, I can’t really claim to share the ideas and outlook of all of the U.S.,and Canada; my personal outlook and opinions tend to be on the fringe edge of things. But the horrors and abuses being perpetrated in the United States during my time in Korea gave rise to many conversations about the state of the U.S. today, and how we’ve gotten here. It was a great surprise to many of my new friends that the United States has dual racial genocides at the core of our foundation, but it’s a necessary conversation, and I felt honored to be able to draw attention to issues as close to my heart as Indigenous rights advocacy and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Buddhist temple from the first day of the camp.
Buddhist temple from the first day of the camp.

Parama, one of my camp roommates and now a dear friend, was talking through different options for her pursuing her PhD in North America, and with a heavy heart I had to tell her that unless some fundamental changes occur in the next few years, she, a dark-skinned Muslim girl, would likely be much more safe in Canada than in the US.

On the other hand, Sazzad, also a young Bangladeshi student attending University in Seoul and Parama’s close friend, asked me thoroughly about the community I was visiting from, Kashi. I was happy to tell him that at Kashi, and certainly in many other places in North America, people of all backgrounds and religions are welcome and celebrated.

These sorts of conversations happened late at night and on the bus, and during meals, but much of our time was occupied with a rich array of cultural tours, temple visits, and forums with guest speakers and discussion groups. Through these experiences we received a remarkable crash course in Korean history, culture, and religious diversity. We visited Buddhist temples, the Mormon temple, the central mosque of Seoul, the Chondogyo cathedral, and many other incredible cultural and religious centers.

Venerable Jinwol offering us historical context and guidance on mindfulness as we visit the tombs of the nobility from the Joseon Dynasty
Venerable Jinwol offering us historical context and guidance on mindfulness as we visit the tombs of the nobility from the Joseon Dynasty

We all shared together how difficult the current transitions our communities are needing to go through are, and there was great comfort in recognizing collectively that our problems are not our own, that the challenges we are facing are universal and that we can better imagine and implement solutions together, with radically open dialogue. Sefirazz said something then that I’ll always remember, and that has been very helpful in me reformatting the way I conceive of those who don’t see eye to eye with me.

He said, “I think stubbornness is just keeping something alive. It’s keeping something alive and waiting for the next commandment.” This was incredibly illuminating to me, and it drew me to notice where, in my own life, my stubbornness arises, and to view it with compassion, seeing what I am trying to keep alive. Sitting with that as a meditation has since allowed me to let go of many things, becauseIi am now better able to see how things survive and thrive and take on a life of their own, and don’t really need as much the protection that I was so focused on.

This lesson was most impactfully driven home on the last day of the program, when we traveled to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a swath of land unoccupied by any humans between North and South Korea. I approached this outing with, I think, the solemnity and gravity that it deserves. As we drove nearer the DMZ, I was holding the image of this scar across the body of this nation close to my heart. I have been reading a lot of Joanna Macy’s work recently, and she teaches beautifully on honoring our pain for the world.

Sazzad from Bangladesh, myself, Ven. Jinwol, Hyanglae from Korea, and Daniel from Australia at a memorial at the DMZ.
Sazzad from Bangladesh, myself, Ven. Jinwol, Hyanglae from Korea, and Daniel from Australia at a memorial at the DMZ.

In anticipation of going to this place I knew to be wounded, I wanted to be as fully present as possible, so I reread some bits of Joanna Macy’s book, “Coming Back to Life” as the bus approached. This book is a guide to Joanna’s “Work that Reconnects,” which is a system for working with the horrors of our current reality, and helps people who seek to work to heal the world to do so most effectively, in a way that heals us as well.

A conceptual tool in The Work that Reconnects, is a spiral of mental steps that we can take, and never stop taking, that allow us to transform the world toward healing:

  1. The spiral begins with gratitude, because it quiets the frantic mind and brings us back to source, stimulating our empathy and confidence. It helps us to be more fully present and opens psychic space for acknowledging the pain we carry for our world.
  2. In owning and honoring our pain, and daring to experience it, we learn the true meaning of compassion: to “suffer with.” We begin to know the immensity of our heart-mind. What had isolated us in private anguish now opens outward and delivers us into the wider reaches of our inter-existence.

    Ancient trees under which generations of Confucian students have studied and debated.
    Ancient trees under which generations of Confucian students have studied and debated.
  3. Experiencing the reality of our inter-existence helps us see with new eyes. We can sense how intimately and inextricably we are related to all that is. We can taste our own power to change, and feel the texture of our living connections with past and future generations, and with our brother/sister species.
  4. Then, ever again, we go forth into the actions that call each of us, according to our situation, gifts, and limitations. With others whenever and wherever possible, we set a target, lay a plan, step out. We don’t wait for a blueprint or fail-proof scheme, for each step will be our teacher, bringing new perspectives and opportunities. Even when we don’t succeed in a given venture, we can be grateful for the chance we took and the lessons we learned.
  5. And the spiral begins again. There are hard things to face in our world today, if we want to be of use. Gratitude, when it’s real, offers no blinders. On the contrary, in the face of devastation and tragedy it can ground us. Especially when we’re scared, gratitude can hold us steady for the work that must be done.

It was through this lens that I approached the Demilitarized Zone, and my focus was on gratitude for my own freedoms and privileges, and honoring the pain that myself and so many others feel at the horrors of war, of separation,and of authoritarian rule that the DMZ represents. I arrived there and I prayed, and I read the plaques, and I did what I could to honor this suffering.

I was not, however, anticipating the beauty that I would find there. The greenery of the land beyond the fence was striking after spending so many days in the grayness of Seoul, and recognizing the new life in this place of death was the first moment of my journey into the next part of the spiral — looking with new eyes. I then came across a wealth of information about the unique ecology of the DMZ, that it is actually a global heritage site, and an incredible natural haven for thousands of otherwise endangered species. Species of birds, deer, fish, plants, and insects thrive here in the beautiful wilderness of this land which has been untouched for decades now. There is remarkable environmental harmony in this land in the absence of human destruction.

Of course, in moments like this, it can be all too easy to jump to the conclusion that the world in general would be perhaps better off without humans, but I am of firm belief that humans have, and can still, coexist symbiotically with a thriving ecosystem.

Prayer ribbons along the fence demarcating the DMZ
Prayer ribbons along the fence demarcating the DMZ

This was confirmed when I learned of Tongil village, the town in South Korea closest to the DMZ, which is populated entirely by families who were displaced during the war and separated from the rest of their kin who were stuck in North Korea. The village is modeled after the Israeli kibbutz and practices agriculture that works in harmony with nature, much like Sustainable Kashi, my home community’s permaculture initiative. I wasn’t able to visit Tongil, but I felt a deep connection with that place and the peacemaking that it represents.

I believe that physical spaces like Tongil and Kashi, as well as temporal places like the community built during this beautiful week in Seoul are and can be centers and a models for peacemaking in our increasingly fractured world, and as I arrive home to Kashi I find myself entering into the final stage of the spiral: I am going forth into action.

“Moving into All-Inclusiveness:” The Spiritual Heritage Education Network’s 7th Annual 2-Day Conference

 

The Spiritual Heritage Education Network, a URI North America Affiliate based out of Ontario, is getting ready to host their 7th annual 2-day SHeN* conference. This year’s conference theme is “Bringing Oneness to All” and highlights elements from certain practices that promote oneness, inclusion and the spirit of oneness.

Over the course of two days, panelists from a variety of faith traditions will draw from their experiences, expertise and practices to share tips for fully embodying the spirit of inclusion.

Click on the image below for an in-depth look at the agenda.

 

shen conference

URI Cooperation Circles Call for Solidarity, Action After Killings

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness – only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
PPPs in action

In the light of the recent killings both by and of police officers in the United States, several URI Cooperation Circles have issued statements and calls to action.

“All Lives Are Precious and Irreplaceable,” declared the San Francisco Interfaith Council in a statement penned by board chair G.L. Hodge. “Now is the time for us to work together on implicit bias, poverty, education for all our children, income inequality, safety and security for all — on all the issues which keep us from moving ahead as a strong, democratic society with equal rights for all. Violence is not the way….The San Francisco Interfaith Council, its Board and its members implore our sisters and brothers everywhere to shine the light of love and condemn the darkness of hate. We ask faith leaders everywhere to raise their voices against violence, preach messages of peace and redouble efforts on issues that will bring true equality.” (Read the full statement here.)

The Council has also announced that they are working with the Office of Diversity at USF and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission to offer “Implicit Bias Training” to San Francisco’s congregation leaders civil rights activists.

Following the killing of police officers in Dallas, the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County issued a statement of solidarity and sympathy and also called communities to action.

“While nonviolent rage, anger and lament are valid expressions in times like these, we also call on communities around the country to start meeting with their local police departments to discuss how to work together to make our communities safer for all.”

The Marin Interfaith Council expressed grief over all of those who have lost their lives in recent weeks.

“We hold in our thoughts and prayers those who have lost their lives and lost loved ones during the tragic events of the past few weeks. May we rededicate ourselves to build bridges of understanding, promote justice, create safe space for difficult conversations, and practice radically inclusive hospitality for everyone.”

The Arizona Faith Network, based in Phoenix, Arizona, is joining the call of local pastor Warren Stewart Sr. to urge President Obama, U.S. House Speaker Ryan and U.S. Senate President McConnell to convene a 2016 National Summit on Racism in America, which would acknowledge and address systemic racism in the United States. You can read more about this effort here.

 

Heartbroken, yet Hopeful

We are heartbroken, yet we remain hopeful.  We stand ‪#‎united‬ in our collective purpose, as part of the United Religions Initiative, 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.  ‪#‎Mogadishu‬ ‪#‎Istanbul‬ ‪#‎Dhaka‬ ‪#‎Baghdad‬ and the many other cities and communities around the world affected by violence.
We are heartbroken, yet we remain hopeful.
We stand ‪#‎united‬ in our collective purpose, as part of the United Religions Initiative, 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.
‪#‎Mogadishu‬ ‪#‎Istanbul‬ ‪#‎Dhaka‬ ‪#‎Baghdad‬ and the many other cities and communities around the world affected by violence.

URI North America Leadership Celebrates URI’s 16th Birthday

Today we celebrate the United Religions Initiative‘s 16th birthday. Our family has grown to include 787 Cooperation Circles in 95 countries! What a gift to be able to stand with so many at the intersection of our beliefs and our positive social change work.

When Bishop Swing was invited, by the United Nations, to host a large interfaith service in San Francisco, marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter, he asked himself:
“If the nations of the world are working together for peace through the UN, then where are the world’s religions?”

This year, URI North America Leadership Council members Fred Fielding, Sukhvinder Vinning (Chair), Adeola Fearon, Johnny Martin, Gard Jameson and former URI North America Regional Coordinator, Sandy Westin reflect on this milestone.

URI 16th Birthday

Learn more about the United Religion’s Initiative’s origin story here.

Meet URI North America’s entire Leadership Council here.