Dear friends, peace and all good
We are happy to present you news from the United Religions Initiative in
Save the date
the Golden Rule Tour
March 2011 the Golden Rule Tour will take place with Peace Ambassador
Mussie Hailu from Ethiopia and Lone Klemmensen from Denmark travelling
around Europe and connecting URI CCs to promote the Golden Rule.
We want to sow the seed of inner peace in every human being that we meet.
We want the nations to bring human rights to the forefront of their
We want people to show respect, compassion and tolerance towards each other,
regardless of religion, age, gender, culture etc.
We want URI to be a VOICE that is being heard in Europe, standing up for
what is right and bringing people together.
BUT we need your help to organize events and talks in your local area or if
you have connections to other places in Europe. This will also bring your CC
a lot of benefits by being able to host one of the world’s most gifted
The concept note can be downloaded here.
Klemmensen, Coordinator for URI Denmark and URI Aarhus, member of the Golden
Rule CC and member of WIN CC
for a Seed Grant
Dear Members of the URI community, CCs
This is a reminder that the Environmental Satellite of the URI President’s
Council is offering seed grants to support URI Co-operation Circles in
“cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living
beings.” The seed grants place emphasis on supporting activities which
address climate change, and on activities which preserve the abundance of
life on Earth.
Information and applications are available on the URI website in Spanish and
Portuguese, as well as in English. The deadline for applications is February
Click on the following link to go to the website:
Please let us know if you have any questions regarding your application.
All the best,
Interfaith Harmony Week
We are seeking your help and involvement. On October the 20th 2010 the
United Nations General Assembly unanimously established the World Interfaith
Harmony Week. The resolution was first proposed by H.M. King Abdullah II of
Jordan on September 23rd 2010. The operative text of the Resolution says,
The General Assembly,
1. Reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue
constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace;
2. Proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith
Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs;
3. Encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the
message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world's Churches, Mosques,
Synagogues, Temples and other places of Worship during that week based on
Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, or based on Love of the Good and Love
of the Neighbor, each according to their own religious traditions or
4. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the General Assembly informed of
the implementation of the present resolution.
However, your help is very much needed. Specifically, we need and gratefully
ask you to:
(1) Write a personal email or letter of support for this initiative and post
it at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place. Please
mention your URI membership.
(2) Organizing yourself an event or simple a sermon or a lecture or an event
on the first week of next February on the theme of Interfaith Harmony.
(3) Recording you event to URI under email@example.com and at
www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place according to
your own country. Please mention your URI membership.
URI has just produced a most beautiful Tool Card to encourage URI CCs and
members to participate in this first World Interfaith Harmony
Click on the link below and you can see the article and download the tool
card from our URI website.
New! URI's World Interfaith Harmony Week Tool Card
World Interfaith Harmony Week - event in Helsinki on February 5, 2011
On February 5h, 2011 a World Interfaith Harmony Week will take place in
Helsinki at the International Cultural Centre CAISA. People from different
religions and convictions will gather to share their thoughts about harmony
and multifaceted views around the world. There will also be music and poetry
reading from different traditions, and a short DVD will be shown during the
event as well.
The event is organized by the Finland´s Interfaith Dialogue Network, which
consists of Kaupunki yhteisönä ry. / Living Together in Cities, Helsingin
Uskontojen Foorumi / The Forum of Religions in Helsinki URI, Religions for
Peace Suomen naisverkosto/ Religions for Peace Women of Faith Network in
Finland and Uskot ilman rajoja / Faiths Without Borders. The Network works
in fellowship with Parliament of the World's Religions, which has named
Helsinki as one of its Cities of Peace.
More information: Dialogue Network Coordinator Heidi Rautionmaa: firstname.lastname@example.org
the event "Islam, modernity and democracy" in the Netherlands
(Woodbrookershuis) on January 28-30, 2011
Ari van Buuren, president of The Steering Committee URI the Netherlands CC
is participating in an event entitled “Islam, modernity and democracy . He
will be speaking during this interreligious dialogue. The event will take
place from January 28-30, 2011 and focuses on the perception and role of
Islam especially since 9/11. The entire program (in Dutch only) is available
Also, he participated in a seminar about life, death and love on December
10, 2010, giving a speech and talking about his published book which is
based on the diary of his wife who suffered from cancer, as well as his own
diary, dealing with their spiritual experiences during her illness and
Europe Assembly "Walking the talk" Istanbul 2010 - October 27 -
European URI assembly “Walking the talk” was a very great success. All
of the fifty-six participants plus one young boy and a baby enjoyed our
gathering and experienced a very intensive and developing conference. Our
guest country Turkey presented itself in an extraordinary and hospitable
way, so all of us felt very warmly welcomed. Thank you to our friend
Semsettin from SIRF Ankara and his team from Istanbul Erdal, Yunus Emre and
Said. The staff at our conference hotel “Hotel Artemis Marin Princess”
did their very best to fulfil our wishes and make the conference run
smoothly and effectively as well. Ms. Nagihan from Bakhus Travel did a
wonderful job in helping us in every way, finding such a good hotel and
making many practical arrangements.
Most of the participants of the conference were new to URI. We specifically
selected people who wanted to join URI and register their own CCs as
well as people from existing CCs who want to help with this.
Many came from countries new to URI, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic,
Kosovo and Greece.
At the end of the conference there were at least ten people who wanted
to complete the CC application form.
During the programme participants developed their visions and action plans,
obtained training about SMART goals, brainstormed on fundraising ideas, and
discussed "burning issues" - topics of interest.
It was particularly nice having children with us as well.
year fifty-six wonderful people
from all over Europe and the world gathered in Istanbul, plus one young boy
and a baby.
Jessiee Kaur Singh from Australia joined us as a representative from the
global board, eight youth ambassadors from Germany, Lebanon, Morocco, UAE,
UK and USA joined our conference to learn about the European URI activities
as a part of their education program.
Altogether we had participants and team members from twenty different
countries. There were wonderful people from:
Australia; Belgium; Bosnia -Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Denmark;
Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Kosovo; Lebanon; Morocco; Rumania; Spain;
The Netherlands; Turkey; UAE; UK; USA.
We also welcomed a very large variety of eighteen different faiths and
Christians:- Roman Catholic/Unitarian (Greek and Russian Orthodox;
Protestant; Multicultural; Daiost
Christian; Hindu; Hindu/Vaishnava/ISKCON; Humanistic; Jewish; Mahayana
Buddhist; Mormon; Muslim; Sikh
Twenty-six of our participants were under the age of thirty-five, thirty
were older than thirty-five. There was a great balance of age which helped
us to make the conference a great success. The creativity and willingness to
take action in URI Europe were remarkable.
let you know more about our Youth participants during the URI European
Assembly in Istanbul 2010
There were twenty-six people under the age of thirty-five participating in
They came from the following countries:
Belgium; Bosnia - Herzegovina; Czech Republic; Finland; Germany; Kosovo;
Lebanon; Morocco; Romania; Turkey; UAE; UK; USA
The young participants came from ten different faiths and traditions:
Bahaii; Christian: Roman Catholic/Unitarian; Greek and Russian Orthodox;
Protestant /Lutheran; Hindu / Vaishnava / ISKCON; Humanistic; Jewish;
Mahayana Buddhist; Muslim
gratitude to many people who made this amazing teamwork so pleasant:
to Patrick Hanjoul for his fantastic leadership as URI Europe President,
- to Louis Mentens for the financial work, good spirit and presentations
(e.g. on SMART and others),
- to Deepak Naik for guiding us on the program and being a most fantastic lead
- to Aminah Bach for her fantastic - and sunny - work in the registration and
- to Elisabeth Lheure, Sheikh Bashir Dultz, Martin Gurvich and
Patrick Nickisch for their leadership in the program and the URI Europe
- to Semsettin Türkan and the five volunteers from Turkey for their
cheerful and helpful support, (Semsettin also made the contact with Ms.
Nagihan from Bakhus Travel, who helped us find a very good hotel and make
many practical arrangements),
- to Patrick Nickisch for the first draft of the report with the flipchart
- to Matthew Youde for co-ordinating the youth ambassadors and for filming
(he will edit a short "corporate image" video for URI
- to Sarah Talcott for the partnership with the Youth Ambassadors' program
- to Karimah Stauch for her fantastic organization of the conference and the
information about URI EUrope and URI Global, as well as about the great work
they continuously do
and last, but not least (!)
- to Jessie Kaur Singh for coming over from Australia - which made her our participant who had travelled furthest!
quotations from the participants of the Istanbul Conference
Stefania Sabo, Romania
“Walking the Talk in Istanbul”, or finding the first stone to build the
of the quotations that I love the most says “People come into our life for
a reason, a season and a lifetime”. This inspires me to learn from each
person I meet, to make connections and find the reason why I have met that
person. The conference URI Europe organized this fall in Istanbul had a deep
meaning for me as a person and for me as a worker in peace-building and
interfaith. Sometimes the family, the society you live in can shape your way
of thinking and acting, most of the time telling you, no you can’t do
that, or you don’t know. The title of the conference “Walking the
talk” was one of the things that really invited me to participate in this
conference. It is that feeling that tells you, that even if you have no idea
what will happen there, or the meaning of walking the talk is not quite
clear, you must go there because it will change something.
in Istanbul was for me a wake up to reality, stepping into a world of
contrast, a place where Asia and Europe meet, where people on the street
don’t speak the same language as you do. (Actually I was surprised to see
that most of the Turkish people I met know a few Romanian words and this is
really nice of them). It makes you feel so different, having the real
feeling that you’re not in “Kansas anymore”. The sacred opening of the
conference, the different prayers, The Golden Rule and the early morning
meditation made the “entrance into this world” more powerful, inspiring,
calming but also made me feel “awake and present”.
didn’t know what to expect from this meeting. Interfaith is a new theme
for me, mainly because I am an Orthodox and I was raised in this religion.
Starting my work as a volunteer at a Peace Institute showed me that actually
there is more to this life than only the things I know, and that was my
starting point when I wanted to know more. In Istanbul I saw a part of the
real world. People of different religions and beliefs, people from all over
the world, brought together by the same dream, made me realize that actually
I can show everybody back home that yes there is something more there, and
that just by starting with a “Thank you, and a smile” you really can
make a difference.
learned in Istanbul how important it is to have people around you who have a
strong dream, people with strong values and the power to go on, no matter
what. Inspired by the people around me, the Marmara Sea and beautiful
Istanbul I managed to put another stone on the “dream that I have”.
knowing how to be “SMART” (=Specific Measurable, Achievable, Realistic,
Time-based Goals) and how to use small pieces to build up a castle I managed
to find the best way to really “walk the talk”, and to have the strength
to ask the young people around me what spirituality means for them and to
make them aware of the diversity of beliefs that exist around them."
Anita Agagjyshi, Kosovo
“The United Religious Initiative conference "Walking the talk -
bringing interfaith action to each town in Europe" gathered fifty-eight
participants from twenty-one countries and twenty-four religious traditions
from Europe and respected participants from other parts of the world.
and talking to people from different cultures brings one up to a level of
respect and humanity. It made me feel stronger to start doing something for
the people I share a town with, a country, a region, a continent after all -
why all these borders? LET'S DO SOMETHING TOGETHER WITH THE WORLD. To be the
change we want to see in the world (Gandhi).
saw and found love to have seeds of peace all over which expanded into
circles everywhere and by creating our own circles they would expand into
other circles elsewhere. I will be one seed of peace as, having experienced
war myself, I know exactly what it means to be free and to live
quotations can be found here.
- booklet "Recommended DVDs for URI CCs"
URI has compiled a DVD booklet enumerating a number of recommended DVDs.
Films can be used during interfaith gatherings and can serve as effective
tools for peacemaking and for building interfaith relations. They are useful
for inspiring discussions with people interested in different religions and
Film categories include: URI events, outstanding personalities, peacemaking,
interfaith, interfaith/environment, inspiration-leadership, interfaith music
The booklet can be downloaded on the URI homepage, please click here
to follow the link. In addition, all CCs will receive a hard copy of the
The idea was inspired by learning about the work of the 20,000 Dialogues
team to whom we are thankful for their co-operation. On their website http://www.20000dialogues.org
you can find helpful information about how to introduce a film, how to
invite people to the event and organize it, as well as how to evaluate it
and break the ice during the program recommended for use during interfaith
Activities of URI
a talking group in Helsinki, Finland
Heidi Rautionmaa, URI and interfaith activist from Finland
Our interfaith dialogue network in Finland hosted a Viewing Party to
celebrate the 1st Anniversary of the Charter of Compassion.
While looking at the TED@UN
talk on the internet the group got the idea of organizing open meetings once
a month in the cafeteria to talk about the things that we as human beings
from different convictions and world views must consider.
The first meeting took place on December 15th, 2010 in
Taikalamppu, Helsinki and the first topic was related to the Golden Rule and
compassion. We are planning to record the events and publish the talks if
people accept this idea and if we find a publisher.
Peace and all good
evening of Baha'i Community, German Muslim-League Bonn (DMLB CC) and URI
The Baha’i Community Bonn and the German Muslim-League Bonn (DMLB CC)
continued their series of interfaith film evenings on December 17, 2010, in
cooperation with URI Germany CC.
This is a very special series of events of the two Baha’i and Muslim
organisations, building bonds of friendship and showing that cooperation
between the two communities is possible. To the best of our knowledge it is
Approximately 20 people gathered at the Baha’i Centre in
to watch a road movie about the pilgrimage to
of two generations. - Before the film, people enjoyed an evening meal,
conversations and socialising around the dinner tables. The film was
followed by a discussion and exchange.
In fact, during the whole time together harmony and friendship and a lively
exchange were experienced by all.
An interfaith planning team had selected the film, based on consensus:
Claudia Mohadjeri, Kurt-Rainer Daubach and Nadeschda Subow of the Baha’i
community with Sheikh Bashir and Karimah Stauch of the German Muslim-League
It was most inspiring to have Michael Schmiedel and his wife with us. Michael
is the contact person for Religions for Peace (RfP) Bonn/Cologne. Likewise
it was a great pleasure that Ellen Henseler, the senior member of the
, joined us for the film evening.
The Baha’i community’s hospitality was wonderful and heart warming, the
food excellent as ever.
The movie series will be continued at the end of March / beginning of April
Contents of this edition:
Save the date
*Support the Golden Rule Tour
*Apply for a seed grant
*World Interfaith Harmony Week
*Announcing World Interfaith Harmony Week - event in Helsinki on February
*Announcing the event "Islam, modernity and democracy" in the
Netherlands (Woodbrookershuis) on January 28-30, 2011
*URI Europe Assembly "Walking the talk"
Istanbul 2010 - October 27 - October 31
*DVD - booklet "Recommended DVDs for URI CCs"
Activities of URI
a talking group in Helsinki, Finland
*Film evening of Baha'i Community, German Muslim-League Bonn (DMLB CC) and
*Introducing SIRF - a URI Cooperation Circle in Ankara, Turkey
*URI Cooperation Circles in the Netherlands, Finland and Germany welcome
URI Europe Coordinator
*URI Affiliate on Romanian TV
*URI Europe team members participate in President's Council meeting
*URI Europe team discusses work plan 2011
Interfaith CC News
a Co-operation Circle
Europe Executive Committe:
Kiran Bali, United Kingdom
Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz, Germany
Martin Gurvich, Belgium
Patrick Hanjoul, Belgium
Elisabeth Lheure, Catalonia/Spain
Louis Mentens, Belgium
Deepak Naik, United Kingdom
Patrick Nickisch, Belgium/Germany
Karimah Stauch, Germany
to the Coordinator:
Co-operation Circles (CCs):
* URI Europe CC, Antwerp
zonder Naam CC, Antwerp
Convictions en dialogue CC, Septon
* VPiD (Vlaams Partnership voor Interlevensbeschouwelijke Dialoog -
Flemish Partnership for Inter Religious Dialogue)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
* Balkan as a Soul-Bridge CC, Sarajevo
- Centre UNESCO de Catalunya
- Associació UNESCO per al Diàleg Interreligiós
Aarhus CC, Aarhus
* Forum of Religions in Turku CC, Turku
* Religious Forum in Helsinki, Helsinki
URI's Christian-Muslim Circle of Helsinki
* Pacific Teams CC / PISEF, Moissy Cramayel
Muslim-League Bonn CC / DMLBonn
CC, Bad Zwischenahn
Germany CC, Bonn
Real Interfaith Dialogue through Glocal Encounters (BRIDGE), Rome
* Interfaith Dialogue Utrecht
Committe URI the Netherlands, Amsterdam
SNTL - Procesbegeleidersgroep Samenwerkingsverband Traumahulpverlening, Amsterdam
* Women’s Group IJsselstroom Zwolle and surroundings, Zwolle
* URI Romania - Int'l Ecumenical Center CC, Bukarest
Religions for Humanity CC, Moscow
* Center for Peace and Dialogue of Cultures, Dushanbe
Society for Intercultural Research and Frienship (SIRF), Ankara
* Ahimsa for Quality of Life CC, London
* Faith2Faith CC, Huddersfield
of Europe CC, Coventry
CC, Keswick, Cumbria
Recognitions and Awards:
United Religions Initiative (URI) has a consultative status at the United
Nations (DPI and ECOSOC)
*URI's "Travelling Peace Academy" was chosen by the Rio Forum
(28-29 May, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) of the UN Alliance
of Civilizations as one of the ten most innovative and successful
grassroots initiatives aimed at promoting mutual understanding among
people and cultures
*In November 2007 URI Europe was awarded with the "Golden Stars
Award" of the European Commission, Directorate-General for Education
and Culture. The award was handed to URI by EU Commissioner Ján Figel in