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Mar 09 2009

Help URI Grow in Every Way Possible

Dear fellow members in the URI Multi Region, On Saturday, March 7th, the URI global office held its annual Circles of Light fundraising gala. All of us who belong to CCs are grateful for the extraordinary efforts of Bishop Swing and the staff to support the growth and vitality of our global initiative for cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. Yesterday, Global Council chair Yoland Trevino was visiting the United Nations for a consultation on a proposed UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace. We had the opportunity to sit in the staff cafeteria overlooking New York’s East River and share a rare leisurely conversation about the URI and its future. I suddenly had a thought. I asked Yoland, “What are the Circles of Light?” The answer is clear: they are us, the Cooperation Circles of the URI that span the globe, bringing forth the best intentions of all of the religions, faiths and indigenous traditions of those who respond to the call and shaping them into common action. And yet, our URI governance calls on our Circles of Light only to sustain themselves. Our by-laws limit the financial responsibility of each CC as follows: Section 2.6 Responsibilities of Members. (vii) develop financial resources to meet its own needs; (viii) share financial and other resources to help meet the needs of other Members, including paying any dues which the Global Council may establish; and (ix) keep accurate and current records of its members, financial transactions and activities. The Global Council has not established dues, and is unlikely to do so in light of global financial inequity. We are never asked to support the whole or to “meet the needs of other Members,” except as individual contributors if we have made a donation in the past. As I chatted with Yoland, I grew uncomfortable with this situation. I am involved in two active CCs whose members might be happy to make a contribution to the United Religions Initiative – if they were asked. The appeal would be particularly compelling if the gift were to be presented as a gift from the CC (much the way we offer a gift when a CC is formed), and also if the gift were earmarked for regional expenses. Yoland wisely suggested that I approach the Multi-Region with this idea. We were pioneers in instituting regional Seed Grants for CC projects (thank you, Jonathan!), so perhaps we could also lead the way in asking our CCs to make an annual financial gift to the URI. We could do this each year at the time of the Circles of Light campaign, requesting that our own “circles of light” each make whatever contribution is comfortable for its members. (A collection of individual checks would be practical for U.S. CCs, where a tax deduction is permitted.) We all understand that a greatly expanded future for the URI will depend on each region’s ability to contribute to its own sustainability. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful start to have every Cooperation Circle in our region make a contribution at any level it chooses to help our light shine more brightly every year? I look forward to hearing your reflections. May Peace Prevail on Earth!Love, Deborah MoldowURI-UN(also Unity Made Visible CC, North America Region) - Celebrate the International Day of Peace, 21 September! -

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