United Religions Initiative Europe

URI Europe Dialogue Letter

Issue No. 16          ***         May 2011 - September 2011 

Dear friends,

This Dialogue Letter once again brings you beautiful interfaith stories from URI's   global network, which has now over 500 interfaith Cooperation Circles in almost 80 countries worldwide. May their stories inspire you and give you joy.

Join us! You can join URI's global interfaith community for peace, justice and healing by registering your own interfaith circle: you simply need a minimum of 7 people from 3 or more religions or spiritual traditions, who work in line with the interfaith peace ideals of the URI Charter. Join us - you will find an international community: enrich us and be enriched!

Good wishes and enjoy!

URI news

URI Europe welcomes a new CC: Stichting Interreligieus Beraad Segbroek

With great joy we announce that a new Cooperation Circles has joined the URI Europe family. A very warm welcome to Stichting Interreligieus Beraad Segbroek in The Hague, The Netherlands. The URI Europe family now consists of 36 CCs in 15 countries.  Please find more information about this new CC as well as about Euro-Asia CC (Novisbirsk, Siberia, Russia), which had been welcomed in the last URI Europe Dialogue Letter and has joined URI Europe in April 2011.  

Stichting Interreligieus Beraad, The Hague, The Netherlands 

The purpose of the Stichting Interreligieus Beraad CC is to contribute and enhance peaceful coexistence in the multicultural and multi-religious district of Segbroek (The Hague, The Netherlands) as well as to contribute to contribute to and to enhance the liveability and the cosmopolitanism of this district. Activities include amongst others the organisation of theme meetings and participation in projects with other social institutions, such as a project to prevent and fight poverty. 

approval date:July 13th, 2011

TRADITIONS: Christians of protestant denominations and Roman Catholics, Muslims, Hindus and in the immediate future Buddhists.  

DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITIES: We are currently preparing a presentation of our CC in order to present the IBS during a meeting for which we wish to invite other CC’s from The Netherlands and hopefully CC’s from the rest of Europe. We have organized two theme meetings for the residents of Segbroek. The themes “the resumption of the IBS” and “No discrimation, but communication” were discussed by several speakers and celebrated with music and cabaret. Apart from this, we are currently participating in a project to fight and prevent poverty. Along with several other social institutions, we cooperate in a project to help find and support “the poor man” in our district.

Introducing Euro-Asia  CC 

The purpose of the Euro-Asia CC is to encourage people of our region to unite in the name of the common good, to promote interfaith cooperation between the people of all different creeds, different cultures and social status and to share with the people of the world with our Siberian heritage and to learn more about the heritage of other nations. 

approval date: April 6th, 2011

TRADITIONS: Christianity, Theosophy, Altai syoks: Todosh, Teleut, Tubal ar , Altai white shaman, Russian Kazaks, Russian Vedas etc.  

DESCRIPTION OF CC’S ACTIVITIES: At the time of application for membership in URI, our activities consisted mostly of sh ar ing information about URI and the ideas of what we can do together and ideas regarding organization (of events or the CC). Generally Russian and Siberian society is now less united than 20 years ago. The CC members like the idea of connecting with a global network, where people promote different events/goals, and we are at the same time united in the same purpose of peace, justice and healing. We are interested in reaffirming the traditional Siberian roots – the indigenous culture - which is a uniting and healing force.

On March 20, 2011, we had a founding, organizational meeting. After the meeting we joined  in a celebration for the spring equinox. Some group members have already been active in dealing with issues of peace justice and healing in their own way for a long time. Some members work with pensioners (the elderly), some with invalids, and some teach children. The group would like to share the wisdom of the indigenous people of Siberia . We have a lot of resource material and have already sent some of it for publication in newsletters and on websites. We would also like to learn from people around the world.

CC from Siberia



Young people from Europe participate in URI conference in Morocco

The annual URI-MENA regional assembly opened in Rabat, Morocco on June 22, bringing together 50 delegates from around the Middle East and Europe to talk about the role of interfaith cooperation in immigrants' integration. The conference addresses an issue that has considerable cross-over between the two regions, focusing on the challenges faced by migrants both within the Middle East and Europe and from the Middle East to Europe. It is being put on in partnership with ATNL MOROCCO/Comité Pilotage de Réseau Marocain, in cooperation with URI Europe, Iris Women CC of Jordan, Tineret Buzau 2007-Romania, and leading NGOs specialised in migrants and minorities issues in Europe and the MENA region. It was co-funded by the Anna Lindh Foundation. Also present at the conference were several 2011 URI Youth Ambassadors, who attended a URI youth leadership training, also in Rabat, on June 21-22nd. 



European Consciousness through Action for Peace Conference in Romania

European Consciousness through Action for Peace Conference in Romania (Apa/Baia Mare, Romania, 5.-12. August 2011)  

About 35 participants came together in Baia Mare, Romania, for a youth conference with the topic “European Consciousness through Action for Peace”.  

They were youth - mainly between 15 and 25, but also a few younger and older participants - from Romania, Switzerland, Germany, UK and Hungary.  

The programme included: icebreakers, expectations, ground rules; presentations of the partner organizations; sessions on identity in Europe today and about spirituality; several workshops on peace and conflict resolution; a session about reconciliation; open space programmes; an introduction to spiritual activism; a session about youth networking; action planning; evaluations; and study visits to the town and region.  

Among the plans generated for follow-up actions were the following:  

A project for Romanian-Roma friendship; volunteer help for cleaning up nature; actions for helping orphans; a project for spreading positive news via Facebook; activities for finding volunteers to support existing interfaith actions.  

A handbook with tools for Peace Action will be produced and disseminated.  

Partner organizations were: “Children for Children - Children for Peace”, Romania; “Zentrum der Einheit Schweibenalp”, Switzerland; “Magyarszágért Európában Egyesület”, Hungary; URI UK, United Kingdom and URI Germany, Germany. The programme was financed through the EU youth in action programme. URI Europe also gave a small financial contribution.  

The cooperation was a result of the URI Europe Assembly 2010 in Istanbul.


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Visit to URI Romania International Ecumenical Centre, Bucharest, Romania, August 13-14, 2011

By Karimah Stauch

August 13-14, 2011, I was able to visit the URI CC in Bucharest “URI Romania - International Ecumenical Centre”.  

Silvia Ruta who had been at the URI Europe Assembly in Istanbul 2010 and his wife Slavia were my hosts and welcomed me warmly, as did all CC members whom we met.  

The contact person for this CC is father Alexandru Stan. Father Alexandru is very well connected through his work for many years as a professor of world religions and theology in Bucharest and Targoviste. Besides being a priest and a professor he has translated various works, including works on world religions, into Romanian language. His library includes many important and rare books.  

Other members of CC include Marcela Ghilubenghian who has created the foundation “Sacred Treasure for Religions” (see http://www.sacredtreasure.org - including activity reports) and Ms. Anca Mihail.  

Silviu and his wife Slavia plan to found an additional URI CC in the near future and we discussed possibilities to do that.  

During the time in Bucharest, Silviu, Slavia and Anca took me to the International Ecumenical Centre. This was founded by Dr. Ion Popescu in cooperation with father Alexandru and others. A piece of land in Vulcana-Bai (about 1,5 hours from Bucharest) is dedicated to this center. Visionaries have - on the same ground in this valley - built a church, a mosque and a synagogue. It also includes space for offices and for a hotel/conference place. Due to lack of funding for running cost the building activities currently rest, but are planned to continue for the future. This can be an interesting project for an investor, because there are natural springs containing iodine and sulfur which can be used for medical treatment and spas. The church is in operation and being taken care of by a priest and monk, who has started building the hotel
next door.

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Activities of URI Co-operation Circles


Europe Golden Rule Tour

By Lone Klemmenson,  Coordinator for URI Aarhus CC and member of the URI golden rule CC  

Dear All,  

The Europe Golden Rule tour with Mussie Hailu and Lone Klemmensen finally got on its way this year, and started on the 14th of March and ended the 28th of March.

Several events in different countries had been arranged with most events in Denmark. However, only URI Aarhus CC got involved in this project despite the hope to bring the URI CC´s in Europe together in a joint project.

Unfortunely an unforseen circumstance forced Mussie Hailu to return to Etiopia almost as soon as he arrived in Denmark, so most of the events were cancelled.

We started the tour in Syddjurs free school teaching grade 8 and 9 in the golden rule and how to apply it in daily life. Grade 7 joined us when we watched the Canadian Golden rule film.

After a break, the whole school of 173 children were gathered for a talk. The children expressed great hope and many wishes that Mussie Hailu could bring to the African children that he meets.

Through support of other local organizations, the school children of the Syddjurs Free School are aware of some living conditions that other children live under in different parts of the world. The school supports a local Danish women who is part of the “100% to Children” organization which supports children that live in a dumping ground in Kenya by enabling them to go to school and provide medical treatment for the whole community.  

Mussie Hailu said that he was very inspired and had been given hope for world peace from his meeting with the children.

In the afternoon we taught the grade 6 students in a more interactive way, where they produced role plays on the golden rule and drawings.

In the evening we did a public talk at the local language school for adults and organic farming school. We spoke on the golden rule and URI. We showed the URI film “We Unite”. A loud cheer could be heard from the crowd when the situation in Kerela, India was mentioned. Some of the language school students came from India and they were very happy that URI in Kerela is trying to solve the situation.

The combination of the global peace effect via Mussie Hailu and the inner peace effect via Lone Klemmensen was very powerful and inspiring for all. It was good to test it out, so that when we go on our next Europe Golden Rule tour in 2012 (most likely in April), we will be better aware of each other’s strengths and how to implement our vision.

There were some extremely tough organisational lessons on this tour that we have learned from.

In the coming month we will ask the members of the URI golden rule CC to start taking a more active role. A website for the URI golden rule CC will be created so members are able to find each other in their area, so they are able to get together and work actively for the golden rule.

Lone klemmensen is now the secondary contact of the URI golden rule CC and can be reached on

On the 28th of March I was invited to attend a golden rule event in Sweden. There were several high-level religious leaders from different religions giving their versions of the golden rule along with performances of beautiful cello music, African dances, infinite tai chi and drums. I gave a lecture on the golden rule and URI. The response was incredible. I had expected the formation of one URI CC but during the interfaith dinner I learned 4 URI CC´s are on their way to apply for membership both from Sweden and Copenhagen in Denmark.

I could not have had a better birthday;  a day with purpose, peace, laughter, joy, universal love, unity and the beauty and universal light from the artists.

Great blessings to you all and may you all celebrate the golden rule day. This could be just being kind to a stranger or one in your family.

May peace prevail on earth.





URI Coordinator in Pakistan visiting Finland and Sweden

Father James Channan, URI Coordinator in Pakistan and a Dominican, has visited Finland and Sweden for 12 days, from March 31st – April 12th in order to attend the Social Forum and to give some lectures at universities there. The theme of the lectures at universities and at the social forum were also linked to the dialogue in Pakistan that Fr. James promotes as a URI person. 

Father James is a Pakistani Christian and Catholic priest, the head of the Dominican Order in Pakistan. At present, he is also serving as Director of the Peace Center in Lahore, a Catholic establishment of the Dominican Order in Pakistan. He is the Regional Coordinator of the United Religions Initiative Pakistan region. Pope John Paul II appointed him as Consultant for the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, at the Vatican from 1985-1995, and later on Pope John Paul appointed him as a Consultant to the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims from 2000-2005. His aim in life is to promote peace, social harmony and dialogue among believers of different religions.  

Amongst others, Father James met people at the SENSUS and at the interfaith center of the church of Sweden in Stockholm and visited the
Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission and The Parish Union of Helsinki, which is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. People were very interested in hearing about the situation in Pakistan and positively amazed about the dialogue activities that have taken place by Father James and URI Pakistan.  

Heidi Rautionmaa and friends have arranged the visit. Congratulations to Heidi Rautionmaa for her good work. And gratitude to the URI CC Forum of Religions and Convictions in Helsinki which is coordinated by Lars Silén.   


Fr. James Channan, Imam Hassan Fathollahpoor, Paula Kemell and Heidi Rautionmaa

Marko Näätänen with his mystic choir and Lars Silen with his folk music band joined the event in Helsinki


Celebrating the Spring Equinox

    By Galina Ermolina, Euro-Asia CC

Quite recently Russian Orthodox Church and all the Christians celebrated “Thousands Anniversary” of Christianity in Russia. In the Soviet time, churches functioned in big cities; with the coming of Perestroyka the situation came to it’s extreme, I would say. It is good that more churches were opened and more people started to think of God. What happened is that some members of authorities, who used to say “no God” only a few years ago, suddenly became “God believers”. With new times we got diversity in faith, which is very good, of course, if only priests wouldn’t proclaim that the only way to God is through Christianity.

Russia had a great faith, a kind of paganism, long, long before Christianity, so the church didn’t manage to completely destroy the old faith, traditions and ways. We had Vedas of our own, thousands of years ago. The Church had to adjust somehow Christian ways and traditions with the pagan ones. That’s why some celebrations are a mixture of both.

In Novosibirsk we have a unique Museum, the only one in the world -The Sun Museum (it’s story is quite interesting) and here, along with other Holidays the people celebrate four Equinox of the Year.

Let me tell you about the last one- the Spring Equinox which took place on March 20, 2011.

Before the beginning of the celebration we, CC “Northern Asia”, as applicants to URI had our first Organizing meeting in the Museum, and after that we joined the celebration, which took place in the main hall with the walls covered with Sun images of all the nations and civilizations. Musicians played “bilo”-a unique old metal bell made in the form of a plate, according to the ancient Russian tradition. Then we heard Tibetan gong, Altaian kamuz and Russian songs. After a short story about the ancient religion ways all the people went out to the yard to sing old songs and watch the Fire, burning Morana-an image of winter, made of straws and cotton. It is always a great fun for all the present people, old and young, for normally about a hundred people come to celebrations like this.

 When Morana burnt down, we were invited to have tea together.



For further recent activities of the Euro-Asia CC, please visit the following links:



Events organized by the Faith2Faith CC, Huddersfield, UK

               interfaith picnic
(leading theme: hospitality and welcoming those who are seeking sanctuary in the community)

cricket for social cohesion

The event helped to foster friendships and a shared
sense of belonging based on core social values. As people of faith
reaching out to the community, we enhance understanding and respect
between different ethnic, cultural and religious groups. Sport is an
important and fun channel towards incorporating values such as
acceptance and solidarity within society.


Many thanks to the coordination and photographs to Kiran Bali, coordinator of Faith2Faith CC.







We thank you for your interest, participation
and for your good work for peace, justice and healing!                  

Karimah Stauch
URI Europe Co-ordinator

and the URI Europe Executive Committee:
Kiran Bali , United Kingdom
Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz, Germany
Martin Gurvich, Belgium
Patrick Hanjoul, Belgium
Louis Mentens, Belgium
Elisabeth Lheure, Catalonia/Spain
Deepak Naik , United Kingdom
Patrick Nickisch, Belgium/Germany


Contents of this edition:

URI News
*URI welcomes new CC:Stichting Interreligieus Beraad Segbroek, the Netherlands
*Introducing Euro-Asia CC
*Young people from Europe participate in URI conference in Morocco
*European Consciousness through Action for Peace Conference in Romania
*Visit to URI Romania Internaional Ecumenical Centre

Activities of URI Co-operation Circles:
*Europe Golden Rule Tour
*URI Coordinator in Pakistan visiting Finland and Sweden
*Celebrating the Spring Equinox
*Events organized by the Faith2Faith CC, Huddersfield, UK

Join URI 
Interested in Interfaith Peace Work? Become a URI Member!
You can register an interfaith Cooperation Circle:
you just need a minimum of 7 members from 3 religions, spiritual expressions or indigenous traditions and support the URI Charter.
Individuals can become supporting or affiliate members.

Quick links:
URI Europe Homepage
Plans and Activities
European Interfaith CC News
Global Interfaith News
URI Charter
Join URI
Why join URI?
Found a Co-operation Circle

URI 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  

Karimah Stauch

Assistants to the Coordinator:
Aminah Bach
Ahlam Elyassir

European Co-operation Circles (CCs):

Basque Country/Spain:
* GUNE, Gipuzkoa

* URI Europe CC, Antwerp
Bond zonder Naam CC, Antwerp
* Convictions en dialogue CC, Septon
* PRISMA Group, Antwerp
*VPiD (Vlaams Partnership voor Interlevensbeschouwelijke Dialoog - Flemish Partnership for Inter Religious Dialogue)

Bosnia and Herzegovina :
* Balkan as a Soul-Bridge CC, Sarajevo

Bulgaria :
* EECC (East-European Educational Centre College), Plovdiv
*Evropress Club of Journalists
*Saint Apostel Hermas Center for Ecumenical Dialogue

UNESCOCAT - Centre UNESCO de Catalunya / AUDIR - Associació UNESCO per al Diàleg Interreligiós CC

URI Aarhus CC, Aarhus

Finland :
* Forum of Religions in Turku CC, Turku
* Religious Forum in Helsinki, Helsinki
* URI's Christian-Muslim Circle of Helsinki CC, Helsinki

France :
* Pacific Teams CC / PISEF, Moissy Cramayel

Germany :
German Muslim-League Bonn CC / DMLBonn CC, Bonn
* Unitheum CC, Bad Zwischenahn
* URI Berlin CC, Berlin
URI Germany CC, Bonn

Italy : 
Building Real Interfaith Dialogue through Glocal Encounters (BRIDGE), Rome

* Interfaith Dialogue Utrecht CC, Utrecht 
Steering Committe URI the Netherlands, Amsterdam
*Stichting Interreligieus Beraad, The Hauge
* SNTL - Procesbegeleidersgroep Samenwerkingsverband Traumahulpverlening, Amsterdam
* Women’s Group IJsselstroom Zwolle and surroundings, Zwolle

* URI Romania - Int'l Ecumenical Center CC, Bukarest

Russia :
* Euro-Asia CC, Novosibirsk

* Religions for Humanity CC, Moscow

Tajikistan  :
* Center for Peace and Dialogue of Cultures, Dushanbe 

* Society for Intercultural Research and Frienship (SIRF), Ankara

United Kingdom:
* Ahimsa for Quality of Life CC, London
* Faith2Faith CC, Huddersfield
Minorities of Europe CC, Coventry
URI-UK CC, Keswick, Cumbria

URI Recognitions and Awards

*The 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 Brussels.



We unite to provide a global opportunity for participation by all people, especially by those whose voices are not often heard.


Nos unimos para ofrecer una opoortunidad mundial de participación a todas las personas, sobretodo aquellas cuyas voces pocas veces pueden oírse. (Spanish)