Cooperation Circles in the URI network share competencies. They experience a give and take of skills, ideas, resources, and good practices. Early in URI, Margaret Jones and her husband Malcolm started the San Francisco Peninsula Cooperation Circle (CC). The group gathered for interfaith dialogues and shared meals with people from different religions and spiritual practices every month for over ten years.
Currently, Margaret is in her nineties and enlivens her residential community with opportunities for interfaith conversation. URI is indebted to Margaret and members of the San Francisco Peninsula CC for their community leadership through the years and for their competence in creating these guidelines for creating a safe space for interfaith dialogue.
We begin each dialogue with one minute of silence and then read these guidelines together.
- Recognizing that the essence of us is love, we agree to honor and respect one another; we recognize that each of us and each of our belief systems are of equal value.
- We are here together to learn about different belief systems and to share and experience a personal growth process.
- We recognize that love is listening, and we agree to listen with an open heart, to give mutual support and to practice non-judgmental listening and sharing.
- We realize that when we have love and compassion for ourselves, then we are able to extend that same love and compassion to others.
- We are here to learn, not to give advice or to change anyone's beliefs or behavior.
- We share from our own experience by risking and exposing our own emotional state; in this way we find common experience for joining.
- We respect ourselves and each other as unique, and we recognize that each person's process is important, not our judgment of it.
- The roles of student and teacher are interchangeable, and they fluctuate from one to the other regardless of age or experience.
- We agree that we have a common goal of inner peace, and that it is from that place of peace that we come together to find the best answers for the work we are carrying out.
- We are willing to risk exposing our feelings openly and honestly without attacking others in order to create a space where clear communication is supported and joining can be experienced.
- We agree to keep in mind that we always have a choice between peace and conflict, between love and fear.
- We agree to confidentiality regarding what we share here. What is said during this very sensitive process must stay among the participants.