REPORT OF A TRIP TO PARTICIPATE AT A WORKSHOP ORGANIZED FOR UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE (URI) FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION CIRCLES (CCs) BY THE GLOBAL SUPPORT OFFICE SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA USA 11th -15th March, 2015
Fifteen (15) Cooperation Circle (CCs) leaders from Africa, the Middle- East, South-East Asia, Asia Pacific, Europe and Unites States of America (USA), the URI Global Staff Office and the Environmental Resource Cooperation Circle (ERCC) met to share their wisdom, develop leadership for the launching of the Environmental Network and so establish a vibrant global network of related environmental Cooperation Circles. As one of the participants in this important workshop, I provide a report that is intended to motivate active participation of my colleagues in the interfaith environmental related civil society work, and to bring inspiration and understanding into the work of the URI Global Initiative.
Arrival/Travel: Departed Jalingo, Taraba State on the 8th of March, 2015. Left the country on the 9th of March 2015 from Abuja FCT and arrived San Francisco International Airport USA on Tuesday 10th of March, 2015. Was met at the Airport by a staff of the URI Global Office Deborah Jasso and was taken to the Hotel at the Mercy Center No. 2300 Adeline Drive, Burlingame.
Wednesday 11th March, 2015
After breakfast and familiarization with the environment of Mercy Center, the welcome and introduction, which also means the beginning of the workshop activities, began by 12pm. After the welcome, introduction and purpose of the workshop, Appreciative Inquiry followed, and this was led by Sally Mahe.
URI Charter, Preamble, History and the question of “What is URI” and “What is the URI Network?”
This session afforded the participants consideration by rehearsing the URI Charter and we had the opportunity to hear the President/Founder and CEO of URI Rt Rev. Bishop William E. Swing lead the session. This was followed by a contemplative moment for the Fukushima Anniversary by Rebecca Tobias, URI Global Trustee. With this, day one came to an end.
Thursday, the 12th of March, 2015:
A Meditation Session was conducted. There was a break, which ended by 8:00am. The day’s activity started by 8:30am. All participants, including Global Support office staff and the Rt Rev. Bishop Swing, participated in an environmental tour of the Bay Area including visiting Muir Woods and exploring the sense of place. We also had a visit to the URI Global Office in San Francisco in the Presidio. We visited the CuriOdyssey Museum and viewed the Wild View before returning to the Mercy Center at 5:30pm. After dinner, we looked at the overview of the schedule for Friday and Saturday, which included the Circles of Light event.
Friday, the 13th of March, 2015:
After the breakfast of the day, participants were at the venue at the Mercy Center for presentations of the Cooperation Circles (CCs). All invited participants made presentations, including my own presentation. This session was followed by reflections on the presentations, focusing on commonalities of themes in the presentations and concerns. After dinner at 8:00pm, we were treated to a musician from Uganda, invited as a CC to participate in the Circles of Light gala on Saturday too.
Saturday, the 14th of March, 2015:
After the breakfast, all participants moved to the meeting venue to address the emerging themes and concerns from presentations already given. After this item was considered, the next item was the review of the Cycle of Light. The conclusion of the review was followed by the all participants moving to San Francisco to undertake a tour of Grace Cathedral, take a general photo at the fountain and then move to the Fairmont Hotel for the Invocation Ceremony Gala dinner before returning to Mercy Center at 9:30pm.
Circles of Light URI Annual Gala:
Circles of Light is URI’s special annual event to present to the world. Invited guests experienced the theme of the Global Greening journey of URI. More than a third of URI’s Cooperation Circles are engaged in environmental issues and are actively exploring ways to realize, both locally and globally, the environmental commitments included in URI’s Preamble, Purpose and Principles.
Sunday, the 15th of March, 2015:
After breakfast in the morning, we proceeded to the meeting venue to have debriefings of the gala session. Thereafter, participants were asked one after the other to state what they have learnt about URI and their visit to attend the Environmental Workshop of the CCs. After this there was a small group discussion. After this, we also had a final discussion idea for the URI Environmental Network. This includes discussion of “Creating the Environmental Network.”
This was the conclusive session. The discussions included participants’ reflections on their togetherness as a CC. It was a beautiful session too, where appreciations and closing ceremonies were done, which included good-byes and thank-yous.
Monday, the 16th of March, 2015:
Breakfast and departure for all.
Having the opportunity to participate in the URI work globally was indeed an empowering one. It provided an opportunity for me to contribute and promote to the building of the enduring environmental, interfaith and peace work of URI. The workshop afforded me also the opportunity to learn from various best practices work and activities that other Cooperation Circles are doing in other countries.
- I learnt of the strength in unity with other Cooperative Circles in promoting life in our Earth community.
- Part of the lessons learnt at the workshop is that the opportunity increased my knowledge and skills of working with different strata of society to build and realize shared commitments for building a sound ecological practice that will aim to protect and preserve the earth for both the present and future generations.
- I learnt the beauty and sacredness in the preservation of historical sites and the environment.
- I learnt humility in the service to humanity as exemplified by the life of the President/Founder CEO of the United Religious Initiative (URI).
- I learnt to continue to devote myself to the service of humanity and work in serving the community where I live better.
I wholeheartedly appreciate the West African Regional Coordinator Dr. Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba, who deemed it fit to recommend our Cooperation Circle Center for Environmental Education and Development to join in building this global initiative.
Report of the Workshop in Photographs: