Archive for the ‘URI Multiregion Blogs’ Category

Invitation to THE KEY in London at St. James’s Piccadilly

Sunday, June 19th, 2016


Why Mourning Orlando in Diverse Communities is Powerful and Necessary

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

From our friends in the North American Region – URI North America

Why Mourning Orlando in Diverse Communities is Powerful and Necessary

Why Mourning Orlando in Diverse Communities is Powerful and Necessary

With Sunday’s shooting in Orlando, Florida, our hearts break. We mourn. We grieve. We weep.

In this difficult time, we are grateful for those creating opportunities for ALL of us to be together, mourn together and heal together.

“Through our tears, we connect to those who suffer, and we humanize a situation caused by the dehumanizing actions of others.”

These are words from the Rev. Victor Kazanjian, Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative, a global grassroots community of people who stand for the equal inclusion of all people, not in spite of, but because of — and in appreciation of — our differences.

We are a community built on the conviction that there is power and beauty in our diversity. We believe that we – people of all religions, spiritualities and convictions – need each other, to bring peace, justice and healing to our world

In the good times, we need each other to build programs that educate students in the Golden Rule, to care for our homeless neighbors, to support refugees and immigrants. And, on days like today, we need each other to cope with our grief.

I have heard many complaints that vigils and prayers are not enough. And I agree that, if we stop there, they are not. But today, tomorrow, in the coming days, we need to BE together. Together, people of faith and no faith, create safe places for all to mourn. And only together can we “awaken to our deepest truths…to manifest love and justice among all life.” When we gather together, we tap into the power of mourning in community –  a power that transcends our individual capacities. We tap into something deeper.

In being in a place where what is unique about each person is appreciated, we come up with solutions — previously unseen — to help heal our communities.  We inspire one another and come one step closer to making our world a place where peace, justice, and healing prevail.

“As our hearts break, let them break open as we extend our love to all those who were affected, and our solidarity to those who feel increasingly vulnerable as the targets of hate and bigotry,” Kazanjian wrote on Sunday.

Today, many URI members and other interfaith organizers around the United States, are creating these spaces:

  • In Sebastian, Florida, the interfaith intentional community Kashi, dedicated their Sunday Evening Arti and prayers dedicated to all the victims and their families of the horrific shootings in Orlando.
  • In Phoenix, Arizona, Mayor Greg Stanton, Equality Arizona and allied organizations and faith leaders, including members of URI Cooperation Circles Sun Devils Are Better Together and Arizona Faith Network, convened a candlelight vigil in solidarity for the victims.
  • On Sunday, the San Francisco Interfaith Council invited faith leaders to assemble at Harvey Milk Plaza for a vigil to honor, remember and pray for the victims who lost their lives.
  • On Bainbridge Island, Washington, the community, including URI member Interfaith Council of Bainbridge Island/North Kitsap, gathered Monday for a community vigil and to write messages on scrolls that will be sent to both Orlando and Charleston. 
  • Multifaith leaders in Reno, Nevada on Sunday gathered to condemn the shooting and to light lamps in honor of those who have passed.
  • The Tri-Cities Interfaith Council in Fremont, California will gather Thursday for interfaith prayers and remarks before moving to stand at the intersection to show solidarity and be a presence to the community that we will not stand for these hateful actions and violence.
  • On Thursday the Sundial Bridge NorcalOUTreach in Redding, California will sponsor a vigil in solidarity with the communities, families, and victims of the massacre.
  • In Cary, North Carolina, the Community Peace Project and Islamic Association of Cary, hosted an interfaith and community vigil on Monday.
  • The Interfaith Alliance of Idaho gathered on the steps of the state capitol in Boise Sunday for a vigil and a call to exercise love and not hate.
  • In Austin, Texas interfaith leaders and the LGBTQI community gathered Sunday at the Texas State Capitol for a vigil.
  • In Olympia, Washington, Interfaith Works, Capitol City Pride and Unity in the Community held a vigil at Sylvester Park.
  • In Kingston, Ontario, Anglican Bishop Oulton sponsored a vigil Monday at Springer Market Square and encouraged parishes and individuals to contribute to an interfaith book of condolences that will be sent to the mayor of Orlando.

There are many more interfaith vigils and events than can be shared in this post; to read about them click here for a full list. is also a website that has been setup to track vigils, of all kinds, happening across the United States; follow that link for more information.

In these days, may we mourn and grieve and weep together. And, in these spaces and many others, may we also be inspired to act together, for the well-being of our communities, our countries, and the world.

The United Religions Initiative is the world’s largest network of grassroots interfaith peacebuilders, with 787 member groups in 95 countries all working with coalitions of people of multiple religions, spiritual expressions or Indigenous traditions to create cultures of peace, justice and healing. To find out how to get involved, click here.

Terrorist attack on Gay Bar in Orlando Florida

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Dear URI Family,

It is with great sadness that the members of the LGBTQ CC received the news of one of the most tragic shootings in America, the worst since 911. This occurred last evening as a gunman entered a bar, Pulse nightclub – a gay bar in Orland, Florida, and began shooting. In the end, according to CNN this morning, 50 were killed and at least 53 injured and many more traumatized.

 We send our condolences and our love to all of the victims and their families.


May Peace Prevail on Earth,


Audri Scott Williams

Finding Ways to Live Together

Friday, June 10th, 2016


“Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

~ Muhammad Ali


Since May of 2012, an idea was born to teach a curriculum that would make us better thinkers, better workers, and better activists for our community. Not everyone believed in the idea and even those who thought it a good idea, had reservations. But, someone gave enough credence to the person with the idea to let them try and try become something more. And because someone believed and supported it, this person was able to see the ideas of others and nurture them as well. Over the last few years, the IMPOSSIBLE became POSSIBLE, the POSSIBLE becomes PROBABLE and we know what happens to true PROBABILITIES … they become INEVITABLE.

What are the stories that came from believing? Those who believed, worked it and became something MORE. The MORE is what we will do for the next 3 months and if you believe in us, we will finish our time here with a bang. June is a month of envisioning your future, and we hope to incubate OUR HOUSE II in preparation of that MORE.

A new series of classes start on the 11th with VISIONING YOUR FUTURE, a creative way to think of one’s present and see one’s future. A donation of $20 provides you with all the material necessary to create your own visioning board. The sessions will be taught by Visioning Guru SheRYL DeWalt. For more information contact us at (713) 485-9214. 

More information is coming for the WHAT ABOUT CUBA? exhibition with Ashura Bayan and Nadir Nadiri on Sunday, June 26th. Cuba holds the current fascination for many here in America and two artists will help us sift through that fascination with wonderful photographs and memories. You don’t want to miss it. 

The last week in June will be the week-long peace camp (PEACE CAMP HOUSTON) at SHAPE Community Center, June 27th through July 1st. The event is FREE for children who register at (713) 485-9214. The time is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lunch is provided. Other peace camps are in Houston and many of our artists will be teaching and/or volunteering at all five.

In the meantime, support the work of Think Peace International by going directly to the site at For more information, feel free to email us at

Think Peace International 


Ramadan Kareem

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016


As our Muslim sisters and brothers begin the Holy Days of Ramadan, we give thanks for the beauty and wisdom, historic and contemporary, of Islam. 

At a time when this gift is too often obscured by prejudice and fears from non-Muslims, and violence and hate by those who would misuse Islam for their own political purposes, let us commit ourselves to knowing more fully Islam as a religion of peace and Muslims around the world as beloved members of our human family. And let us hear the words of the Prophet Muhammad, may Peace be upon him, from the Holy Quran (49:13) – “O humankind We [God] have created you male and female, and made you into communities and tribes, so that you may know one another.”  

To know one another as sisters and brothers requires examining the lenses of stereotype and prejudice that distort our understanding of one another. Let us then use this blessed season to become more aware of that which keeps us from truly seeing each other in the fullness of our humanity. Let us reject calls from extremists and politicians to demonize those different from ourselves, and even more, let us speak out instead about our common humanity, and also the many ways in which different religions and cultures enrich our lives, our communities and our world. In this way, “Ramadan Mubarack / Kareem” – Ramadan Blessings, bless us all.

In peace… Victor
The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian Jr.
Executive Director 
United Religions Initiative

Memorial Day Interfaith Prayer

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Memorial Day Interfaith Prayer

God of all peoples, to whom all life flows as the rivers flow to the sea, we call you by many names, approach you through many paths. Yet we are one human family seeking together clarity amidst confusion, love amidst hate, success amidst struggle and truth amidst illusion. Although our traditions may differ, we know that our understanding of Truth is greater together than when we are alone. 

We ask you to bless this gathering as we come together to remember all those from various faith traditions who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom. Be with our veterans today as we honor them, and especially be with those who continue to struggle with the physical and mental wounds of war, that they may feel your healing presence. 

Sanctify this gathering with your light. Be in our hearts this day as we depart from this sacred place. Help us to hear one another, respect our differences and honor everyone’s freedom of conscience.  Help us to find paths of nonviolence and acknowledge our limited vision, that through such humility we may find greater clarity of mind and purpose. And may the leaders of our world finally come to surrender to YOU rather than seek the surrender of others.

We pray remembering the great teachers and prophets that have come before us, AMEN.

George Wolfe

President Obama Visits Hiroshima, Echoing URI Prayer

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

President Obama Visits Hiroshima, Echoing URI Prayer

President Obama Visits Hiroshima, Echoing URI Prayer

 A screenshot from the Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons CC video featuring prominent figures praying for an end to nuclear weapons - view it here.

“Obama in Hiroshima Calls for ‘World Without Nuclear Weapons’” – Read the CNN article here.

Read URI’s press release here.

Today, Barack Obama stands in Hiroshima, Japan, honoring the residents of the city and all who were affected by the tragic nuclear bombing of WWII. He is the first sitting United States president to visit the city.

President Obama has called for a “world without nuclear weapons;” a thought echoed by many prominent leaders across the political spectrum. In URI’s own community, the Cooperation Circle Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons brings together a former Secretary of State, a former Secretary of Defense, several United States Ambassadors, a famous physicist, and more to raise their voices in calling for a world without nuclear weapons. 

“The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well,” Obama said.  This sentiment supports and amplifies the voices of URI members as they call for an end to the nuclear threat. 

Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons CC has just released a short video starring these veterans of nuclear negotiations as they join together to pray for nuclear disarmament:

  • The Honorable William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense under President Clinton
  • The Honorable George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State under President Reagan
  • Dr. Sidney Drell, Professor Emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator 
  • Ambassador James E. Goodby, former Strategic Nuclear Arms Negotiator with the U.S.S.R.
  • Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr, former Senior U.S. Diplomat 
  • Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute 
  • Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative Representative to the United Nations 
  • The Right Rev. William E. Swing, former Episcopal Bishop of California, and President and Founder of the United Religions Initiative 

As President Obama wrote in the guest book at the Hiroshima museum today, he hopes the world will “find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.‎”



Creating New Tools for Our Journey

Sunday, May 29th, 2016


We have gone through the first week of the five week workshop, “Creating New Tools for Our Journey”.  It’s not too late though to join an extraordinary group of people committed to living a wholehearted life without fear.  

Imagine a life in where curiosity beckons, creativity flows, approval is unconditional, perseverance is rewarded, trust is given, compassion abounds and the Divine present. This can all happen, no matter what the world looks like outside.  For it is within we will go to manifest what is needed to move into the space of a wholehearted life.  

If you join us, you can listen to the first week’s session and download the digital journal so you won’t miss a thing.  Once you register we will send you the password for the website page so you can get caught up.

Here’s a few comments from participants of the workshop about the first night:

“Wonderful exercise, thank you”
“The whole experience here is a revelation”
“A potent subject and amazing process…one that will continue on and on, I believe. Thank you!”

Register now so you don’t miss any more of “Creating New Tools for Our Journey”.
Take the next step with us and use the creative power of a Wisdom Circle to discover the tools to become the next best person you can be.


Prafull Oorja Needs Your Help– Join this exciting event fundraiser!

Sunday, May 29th, 2016


We are excited to announce “Stars and SuryaNamaskars”, an event in honour of International Yoga Day. This is a family-fun event, with activities for children, Surya Namaskar practice for youth and adults, and a special Yoga Nidra lead by Swami Yogaratna Saraswati.  Please join us in supporting our Children with Special Needs, and invite your friends and contacts. Register online today!

With gratitude,

Sowmya Ayyar
Executive Director

Prafull Oorja

Got COMMUNITY? Yes, We Do – 37th Annual Pan African Cultural Festival

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

37th Annual Pan African Cultural Festival