Is Interfaith Changing for the Better?

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

By Robyn Lebron

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

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

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Profiles of Women Who Make a Difference: Kay Lindahl

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

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By Robyn Lebron

To Listen is Divine

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

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

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Profiles of Women Who Make a Difference: Lisel Burns

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

By Robyn Lebron

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

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

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

By Robyn Lebron

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

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

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

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

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Satya Kalra plays with school children.

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

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

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Ohio Interfaith Group Comes Together To Build Community and Understanding

By Robyn Lebron

URI North America is thrilled to welcome one of our newest Cooperation Circles. We know that we are stronger together!

SAFE ALLIANCE OF INTERFAITH LEADERS (S.A.I.L.), Columbus, OH

  • Contact Person: Greg Davis, Secretary, sail@uri.org
  • Purpose: The Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders is formed solely for charitable, religious, and educational purposes to foster peace, tolerance, and understanding among different faiths through constructive dialog, education, and community activities and service. The Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders will fulfill its purpose by creating an interfaith community among faith-based congregations, organizations, and individuals in the Northwest Columbus area who share an interest in working together toward mutual understanding and action for the well-being of all people, and to promote respect, friendship, and trust within our community.
  • Areas of Focus: Community Building, Interfaith and Intercultural UnderstandingandDialogue
  • Website: safeallianceofinterfaithleaders.org

“We value opportunities for people to come together, face-to-face, to get to know people from different faith traditions and backgrounds. We value opportunities to share with the public the fact that people of many different faith traditions and backgrounds can share common goals and be friends.”

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As Barb Anderson, president of Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders (S.A.I.L.), spoke about the organization’, she had a sense of pride in her voice.

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Alaska Interfaith Power and Light Builds Coalitions to Save Our Common Home

By Robyn Lebron

URI North America is thrilled to welcome one of our newest Cooperation Circles. We know that we are stronger together!

 

ALASKA INTERFAITH POWER & LIGHT, Juneau, AK

Interfaith Power & Light responds to climate change by promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the wise use of Earth’s resources. We want to educate people about global warming with a goal of helping the city and borough of Juneau adopt a plan to reduce its greenhouse gases by 80%.

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Alaska Interfaith Power and Light [AIPL] shows us that you can still make big things happen, even when you are small. With meager beginnings and the power of a dream, Travis Montgomery along with Uyanga “Angie” Mendbayar and a small group of residents in Juneau, Alaska set out to make a difference.

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Kids4Peace Seattle Helps Show Religion As A Force For Good

Kids4peace seattle

This piece was written by URI North America Storytelling Intern Robyn Lebron. You can read more of her work here.

URI North America is thrilled to welcome one of our newest Cooperation Circles. We know that we are stronger together!

 

KIDS4PEACE, Seattle, WA

  • Contact Person: Jordan Goldwarg, Northwest Regional Director, info@k4p.org
  • Mission Statement: Transforming Divided Societies into Communities of Lasting Peace. Kids4Peace is a grassroots interfaith youth movement dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hopein Jerusalem and other divided societies around the world. To achieve this mission, our programs build interfaith communities that embody a culture of peace and empower a movement for change. [For complete Mission Statement visit “Mission” ]
  • Website: www.k4p.org/chapters/seattle/
  • Areas of Focus: Youth, youth leadership development, youth diversity education
  • Program Areas: K4P Seattle runs three programs that focus on four key areas: 1) Interfaith education 2) Dialogue & Leadership skills 3) Social change 4) Community building.

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Youth camp works to end bias, bigotry and racism: “Ten years ago, I had never met a Muslim.”

Camp Anytown

This piece was written by URI North America Storytelling Intern Robyn Lebron. You can read more of her work here

URI North America is thrilled to welcome one of our newest Cooperation Circles. We know that we are stronger together!

CAMP ANYTOWN  – Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Contact Person: Rico Ocampo, Program Director,  campanytownlv@hotmail.com
  • Mission Statement: Our mission statement is “To create communities based on inclusivity, respect, and understanding through youth leadership and empowerment.”
  • Areas of Focus: Youth, youth leadership development, youth diversity education
  • Website: www.anytownlv.org

“We value youth because Anytown works from the premise that we live in a multicultural society and that young people are the nation’s future. Therefore, youth need to be sensitized to the experiences of diverse groups if- as decision makers- they are expected to make fair judgments in improving the quality of life for the entire nation regardless of ability, ethnicity, faith/religion, and gender.”

When Rico Ocampo, Camp Anytown’s Program Director, first heard about URI, it was at a conference in San Diego.

“I didn’t have a full grasp of what URI was … it kinda blew my mind!” Ocampo went onto to add that, because of that experience, he now knows he can reach out to others and learn from their programs.

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Martin Luther King Celebrations Bring Together People from All Walks of Life

By Robyn Lebron

As we ponder all the different messages that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. left as his legacy, there is so much to learn from: his call for freedom and justice for all people, his comments about peaceful protests for a righteous cause, and his profound quote about unity. “We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

There were countless celebrations and activities honoring the different facets of Dr. King’s legacy on Martin Luther King Day this year, but we will focus on two events that focused on his call for unity.

The Interfaith Roundtable of Kaua’i (IROK), a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, commemorated with a celebration of cultural diversity with the theme One Garden, Many Flowers. Al Albergate, co-chair of IROK, shared that the planning team chose this theme because of a desire to focus on unity.

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