The idea for URI came to California Episcopal Bishop William Swing in 1993, after an invitation by the United Nations to host a large interfaith service in San Francisco, marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. He asked himself, “If the nations of the world are working together for peace through the UN, then where are the world’s religions?”

Through dozens of meetings with world religious and lay leaders, he discovered a thread of competition, a focus on expanding individual denominations, and little institutional commitment to building bridges. But in those at the grassroots of the world’s religions, he found a deep desire for cooperation and peace. From this inspiration, the vision for URI took shape: a supported network connecting people across religions and cultures in the service of peace and justice.

Bishop Swing hired a small staff in San Francisco, led by the then Executive Director Charles Gibbs. In partnership with Professor David Cooperrider from Social Innovations in Global Management at Case Western University and Dee Hock, developer of VISA and the Chaordic Alliance, they launched a four-year organizational design process that included meetings among hundreds of stakeholders of diverse religions, cultures and disciplines all over the world. What emerged was a group of committed founders who formed the heart of URI’s global community, and a highly regarded, inclusive Charter that provides a unique, grassroots-based structure and a set of principles for action on behalf of the common good. With the signing of this Charter, the global URI organization was born on June 26, 2000.

You are warmly invited to participate in the life of URI and become part of this extraordinary force for peace and justice around the world.