Archive for December, 2008

Global Interfaith Grassroots Leaders & Youth Acknowledged at Global Assembly in Mayapur, India

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008


Global Interfaith Grassroots Leaders & Youth Acknowledged at Global Assembly in Mayapur, India

December 2008 –The United Religions Initiative (URI) held an unprecedented global gathering of 300 grassroots interfaith leaders, from 44 countries, including over one hundred young leaders. From November 25th to December 6th, 2008, in Mayapur, India, URI’s second Global Assembly was a combination of hard work and joyous celebration.

Billed as a pilgrimage, the URI Global Assembly offered for many a first experience of traveling outside their country to meet a beautifully, wildly diverse and loving gathering of URI colleagues. Aligned by the purpose and principles of URI and working on interfaith projects worldwide, hundreds of members were able to speak face-to-face, learn from one another’s successes and build further alliances within the URI network and beyond. One young woman from Uganda reported, “I am the only person in my CC who can read or write. But all of the other women tell me that they love URI because it is the only thing that gives them a voice in the world.”

Positive outcomes from this gathering were abundant, and ushered URI into a new level of maturity in the world of international interfaith action. Authentically led from the grassroots, and fully including Indigenous and minority voices not always heard, URI members created their own regional development plans, and articulated their most urgent issues and visions collectively to the newly elected URI Trustees.

Official business included acknowledging the retiring Global Council Trustees who served judiciously from 2005 to 2008, swearing in the twenty-eight globally elected Trustees who will serve until 2012, and electing officers and establishing committees to carry out the work. Yoland Trevino, an indigenous woman from Guatemala, living in the US was elected to serve a second term as Chair. Shlomo Alon, from Israel, and Marites Africa, from the Philippines, were elected as Vice-Chairs. URI Founder, Bishop William Swing, was elected to serve another term as President. Rabbi Doug Kahn from the US was elected to serve another term as Treasurer, with Anas al Abadi from Jordan as Assistant Treasurer. P. K. McCary of the US was elected to serve a second term as Secretary with Pelecinah Josiah Pele from Nigeria as Assistant Secretary. The Rev. Charles Gibbs was affirmed to continue serving URI as Executive Director.

The pre-Assembly Young Leaders Program galvanized bright and talented new leadership for URI and a strong collective interfaith youth voice for peace. They held trainings on leadership, interfaith dialogue and other peacebuilding skills and also participated in service projects – painting a peace mural and planting trees with local the village schoolchildren. They stayed on for the Global Assembly and energized everything. At the end they created a Youth Council, took multiple applications to start new Cooperation Circles (URI membership groups, started an interfaith environmental initiative, planned a retreat in Indonesia, and started working on a presentation of the Council for the Parliament of World’s Religions meeting in Melbourne, Australia, next December.

The theme for the Global Assembly gathering at the ISKCON (Krishna Consciousness) World Center in Mayapur, “Pilgrims of Peace: Many Paths, One Purpose,” was powerfully affirmed by the successful engagement of so many diverse people, cultures, faiths and action projects as well as the dedication of URI members and their commitment to peace through building respectful relationships.

For more info about the 2008 Global Assembly and other URI work, please contact:

Sam Ruben, Communications
United Religions Initiative, San Francisco Office
(415) 561-2300

United Religions Initiative (URI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of enduring and daily interfaith cooperation in order to end religiously motivated violence, and to the creation of a culture of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. Founded in 2000, with a central hub in San Francisco, California, URI has 400 Cooperation Circles representing over 100 faiths working on community-based projects, which serve over one million people, in more than 70 countries worldwide. Having attained special consultative status with the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations in 2007, URI’s network continues to grow and expand in areas of interfaith peace building, conflict resolution, economic development, heath, ecology and education. For more information about URI visit:

For Further Information on URI’s Projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and North America -