By words and actions, people all over the world give voice to URI. Their voices remind us what URI means and inspire even more of us to speak out and spread URI’s message.
URI was born with humble and passionate curiosity, trusting friendship, generosity of spirit, and an expansive vision and bold aspiration to create something the world desperately needed. An important generator of URI’s first DNA genes was Dr. David Cooperrider.
Dr. David Cooperrider, a founder of Appreciative Inquiry methodology and a renowned professor of organizational development at Case University in Cleveland, Ohio, was a “first responder” to Bishop Swing’s vision for a “United Religions” in 1995. When first reading about the vision, David recounts,
"I asked myself… do many believe – did I believe – that religions together could be more of a worldwide force for peace and cooperation than bitterness and separation? I turned to [my wife] Nancy and said, 'If something like the UN among people of the world’s religions could be created, it might well help change human relationships more than any other kind of organization I know.'"
Could religions together be more of a worldwide force for peace and cooperation than bitterness and separation?
David called Bishop Swing and said, “We are infants in our understanding about how to create organizations of the kind you are speaking about. So it would be an amazing privilege to observe, document and learn.” Bishop Swing’s immediate response was, “We don’t need you in an ivory tower. We invite you right here to join us.”
David volunteered his expertise and that of his graduate students from 1995-2000 to help give birth to what was to become URI. As URI grew as an organization, David wrote,
"…I believe the URI, like the International Physicians for Nuclear War, can be one of the few organizations that is nominated for and receives a Nobel Peace Prize. The work of the URI is that important. It could happen in our lifetime."In addition to profound skills in organizational development, David invited all who participated in URI to bring their brightest visions. The brilliant vision of Indra’s net, based on a Buddhist Sutra, still inspires URI’s organizational design and aspirations.
"The cosmic web of interrelatedness extending infinitely in all directions of the universe. Every intersection of the web has a glistening jewel in which all parts of the whole are reflected. Imagine such an organization composed of reflections that endlessly amplify everyone’s strengths, sparkling and glistening."