URI – A Dream Come True
Do we pay attention to how our dreams come true? For Mary Page Sims, a compelling childhood dream burst into life when she met Bishop Bill Swing and participated in URI’s Planning Conference in 1999.
Here is her story:
In my 12th year, I had a dream which became a motivating force in my life. It went like this:
I was standing behind a lectern in my 12-year-old school girl clothes and I was teaching. This is what I said: “Don’t you realize there is only one God? So why do we constantly fight and bicker with one another? Our job is to love one another.” End of dream.
I found the dream disturbing because I knew it encompassed the world and I simply did not know what to do with it. I lived in a small town with just different expressions of Christian churches. But there was no question that my life would involve the Church and involve me in a quest for implementing a bigger vision.
After hearing Bishop Swing talk about the idea of URI, I wrote him and said, “I’m your girl.” He invited me to the 1999 Global Summit to find out what it was all about.
Arriving at Stanford in 1999 was the highlight of my life. I was one of 210 delegates representing 38 countries, 32 different religions and spiritual traditions, and 14 Indigenous communities. We met in a big tent in the center of which was a small table holding a candle. Around the table were three concentric circles of chairs which symbolized the circular model of leadership that URI practices. There were no presentations by experts on religion. We had fantastic facilitators who helped us offer our gifts. Our task was to create a Benchmark Draft Charter which we accomplished. The draft Charter was sent around the world for feedback. I realized that the organizational structure was based on the idea that where we are, the United Religions Initiative is.
I was captivated by a large map of the world which was upside down, Southern Hemisphere on top. Yes, that maneuver symbolized what we were to be about – willing to look at things differently – daring to dream and to create.
The religious practice agreed upon by all was silence and our time together was punctuated by a spirit of prayer. I was moved to tears at one point by the young people when they volunteered to lead the opening blessing. There were no words, just sounds, gestures, and eye contact. The message I received was, let’s do it, not just talk about it, let’s get one with becoming one global culture of peace.
I came home feeling called to plant seeds and share the vision of URI.
Mary Page was a founding member of one of the first Cooperation Circles of URI, the United Religions Initiative (URI) of Henderson County, where she served for 12 years as convener. She passed away in May 2014. Mary Page sent ripples of conviction and faith in URI’s Preamble, Purpose and Principles into URI’s global community that are still being felt, locally in Hendersonville North Carolina and around the world.
Read more posts in the Every Voice series, which presents thought-provoking quotes showing how people all over the world give voice to URI.