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Organizational Design

“URI is creating tools and methodologies that are allowing it to grow deep roots while its rapid global growth is sowing seeds for…cooperation and peace across the world” -- Kevin Jones and Mark Beam of Collective Intelligence

URI is a grassroots, decentralized network for peace and social change that enhances local initiative through global connections. Our unique design allows for border-crossing among faith traditions, member organizations and regions; propels rapid, self-replicating growth; and extends our chartered principles into partnerships to transform communities and entire regions.

URI is comprised of hundreds of member Cooperation Circles, groups of at least seven members representing least three different religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions who subscribe to the Preamble, Purpose and Principles of URI’s Charter. Cooperation Circles are connected to one another and the whole of URI by eight regional anchor points: North America; Africa; Asia; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; Middle East and North Africa; Southeast Asia and the Pacific; and Multi-Region, whose issue-based CCs span multiple geographic regions

Cooperation Circles participate in governance by electing Trustees to the Global Council, which oversees URI’s strategic growth. Decisions are made using processes that engage URI’s membership, and follow policies and guidance provided by the Global Council. The Executive Director, through authority granted by the Global Council, manages staff and leads day-to-day operations.

Global Assemblies of the URI community are held periodically to give CCs an opportunity to deepen connections, share best practices, and align strengths. These important gatherings increase the community’s capacity to carry forward global initiatives; share and implement visions of collective actions for peace, justice and healing; build cross-regional partnerships; inaugurate a new Global Council; and celebrate the tremendous collective achievements of URI.

Rights and Responsibilities of Cooperation Circles

Each Cooperation Circle has the right, in accordance with URI’s Preamble, Purpose and Principles:

  • To organize in any manner and around any issue or activity
  • To determine its own process of governance and decision-making
  • To choose to combine with or join any other URI CCs
  • To participate in the selection of Trustees to serve on the Global Council
  • To use the name URI and its related names, logos, and images
  • To review and forward to the CC Approval Committee applications for membership from those seeking to join

Each Cooperation Circle accepts the responsibility: 

  • To act in accordance with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles
  • To determine its own process of governance and decision-making
  • To encourage and ensure that its own members act in accordance with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles
  • To actively work toward achieving the Purpose in accordance with the Principles
  • To adhere to bylaws and operating procedures as they evolve in the life of URI
  • To communicate best practices, stories and highlights of activities with other parts of URI
  • To develop financial and other resources to meet its own needs
  • To share financial and other resources to help meet the needs of other CCs
  • To pay any dues and/or offer such appropriate contribution as the Global Council may establish
  • To keep accurate and current records of its members, financial transactions and activities
  • To indemnify and hold the Trustees, URI, its employees and representatives, harmless from any liabilities arising out of or in any way caused by a URI CC’s breach of any provision of the articles, bylaws or operating procedures

Global Council

The Global Council of Trustees (GC) is URI’s primary governing body. Elected by Cooperation Circles, its purpose is help make real the vision and values of the Preamble, Purpose and Principles and ensure the long-term health and vitality of the organization. It is responsible for developing financial and other resources to meet the needs of URI, accepting applications for membership, and managing the organization’s affairs. The central spirit of the Global Council is not one of control, but rather one of service, informed by the aspirations of the whole URI community to be a positive force for peace, justice, and healing in the world.

Trustee Selection

We use the term trustee in its truest sense: URI Trustees carry the trust of the entire global URI membership, charged with representing their interests in the larger body. The Trustees of URI are exemplary leaders who manifest the vision and values of the Preamble, Purpose and Principles through their actions, and have a deep commitment to serve the whole of the URI community.

The majority of the Global Council’s seats are filled through regional elections in which Cooperation Circles select up to three Trustees for their region. The Global Council may also appoint several Trustees to ensure optimum diversity and to meet the need for particular expertise. Trustees are elected every three years. Founder and President Bishop William Swing and URI’s Executive Director also hold seats on the GC.

Learn More

URI’s bottom-up structure means that it is constantly evolving as an organization, growing and changing to reflect the interests of its constituent members. Explore the links above and in the sidebar to learn more about our history and charter; click here to read our bylaws; or, for a closer look at URI’s creation, a four-year process that involved hundreds of stakeholders, we recommend that you read Birth of a Global Community, a book co-authored by Executive Director Charles Gibbs and Director for Organization and Regional Development Sally Mahé. To purchase this book, contact URI.