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United Religions Initiative (URI)


Abstract The United Religions Initiative (URI) is a growing global community of individuals, organizations, and associations working to build cultures of peace and justice for the benefit of the entire Earth Community. Care for the Earth is central to URI’s vision and values, which are clearly expressed in its Charter, the foundation and guide for all URI activities. Among other stated commitments to diversity, inclusivity, and nonviolence are the following: “We unite to heal and protect the earth” (Preamble); “The purpose of [URI] . . . to create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings” (Purpose); and “We act from sound ecological practices to protect and preserve the Earth for both present and future generations” (Principles). Members from different traditions and locations around the world are continuously creating the URI through their shared vision, partnerships, and projects. Although its global coordinating office is located in San Francisco, URI is a decentralized, non-hierarchical, and inclusive organization with regional staffing in seven geographic areas (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, North America, and the Pacific). Self-organizing Cooperation Circles, which operate locally and are connected globally, form the core of URI. To qualify as a Cooperation Circle, a group must have at least seven members from at least three different religious, spiritual, or indigenous traditions. Through locally initiated actions, people from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds draw upon their resourcefulness, creativity, and religious values to deepen their understanding of other faiths and contribute to positive change in their communities. Circles take on cooperative projects of various kinds, some of which focus specifically on environmental concerns. In India, for example, Cooperation Circle initiatives include: tree planting, water and waste management, environmental programs for youth, and the restoration of cremation grounds. Circles in the United States, such as Spiritual Alliance for the Earth (SAFE) in the San Francisco Bay Area and Faith in Place in Chicago, also focus on environmental issues. In addition to the Cooperation Circles, which form the heart of the Initiative, URI is supported by its Affiliates: individuals and organizations that share its values and participate in some of its global projects. At present, there are more than 200 Cooperation Circles with more than 15,000 members in fourty-seven different countries. Together, they represent over eighty-eight religious, spiritual, and indigenous traditions and consist of women, men, elders, youth, and people from different cultures and nations who share a common vision and commitment to the URI Charter.
Religion Inter-religious: Christianity
Geographic Location International
Duration of Project 1993–Present
History The origins of the United Religions Initiative (URI) date back to an inter-religious service commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations (UN) in San Francisco held in 1995. When first asked to host the event in 1993, Bishop William Swing of the Episcopal Diocese of California decided to launch a worldwide initiative to build an enduring global organization dedicated to creating cultures of peace and justice for the entire Earth Community. URI held the first of five Global Summits in 1996, the last of which was the URI Charter Signing in 2000. In addition to its global summits, URI has sponsored numerous regional summits and gatherings around the world. Since its founding, over a million people have participated in URI events. The Initiative has organized inter-religious projects in more than sixty countries and generated a global, inter-religious, community of Cooperation Circles and Affiliates.
Mission Statement “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.”
Partner Organizations The Chaordic Alliance
Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions
Habitat for Humanity
International Interfaith Organization
Social Innovations in Global Management
United Nations
World Peace Prayer Society
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information The United Religions Initiative
P.O. Box 29242
San Francisco, CA 94129
Ph:       415.561.2300
Fax:     415.561.2313
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)