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.
Learn more about the United Religion’s Initiative’s origin story here.
Meet URI North America’s entire Leadership Council here.
The Birth of URI
“If the nations of the world are working together for peace through the UN, then how can the religions of the world be brought together for a similar purpose?” From this inspiration beginning in 1995, a vision took shape to create a grassroots organization whereby people of diverse faiths from all sectors of society would cooperate to build peace and justice for all. Between 1996 and 2000, people from diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions worked together to create the URI Charter. Today, thousands of people around the world bring their unique talents to URI to create profound actions of care, compassion, cooperation, education, and peacebuilding. Learn more about the global URI organization by visiting www.URI.org.
The Heart of URI
At the heart of URI is a global network of locally organized “Cooperation Circles,” or CCs. Each CC is a local or virtual group that includes at least 7 members representing at least 3 different religions, spiritual paths or indigenous traditions. CCs organize around local needs and visions in accordance with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles of URI. These grassroots organizations are supported and served by eight URI regions around the globe, of which North America is one.
URI in North America
The North America region of URI, which includes the United States and Canada. There are currently about fifty CCs in our region, the majority located on the continent’s east and west coasts. Current initiatives for the NA region include:
• Improving communication and networking opportunities for CCs in North America.
• Increasing overall awareness of the United Religions Initiative across North America.
• Expanding participation and networking in URI throughout the US and Canada.
In 2009, a Leadership Council was formed from members of URI CCs to serve in guiding the development of a region-wide organization intended to provide support for the growth and strengthening of URI throughout North America. Since then, the region has established itself as a corporation and has been approved as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 charitable organization by the US Internal Revenue Service.