We take you on a journey celebrating the work of extraordinary people from across the globe, and offer an antidote to the despair and devastating news that have taken over our day- to-day lives. From a one-of-a-kind Christmas Eve celebration in San Francisco to the war-torn streets of the Middle East and conflict-ridden cities of Western Africa, join us as we explore extraordinary stories of cooperation across religious divides, receive wishes from around the world, and unwrap the present of peace.
INTERFAITH CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION
As part of the CBS Interfaith Special, the United Religions Initiative had the pleasure of hosting an interfaith celebration at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, California, USA, bringing together groups from different religious traditions and cultural performers from around the San Francisco Bay Area. This live event served as the heart of the televised special program.
Participants in the interfaith celebration at St. Gregory’s were treated to an evening of prayer, song and dance as representatives of many faith traditions all offered blessings and respect for their Christian friends on the occasion of Christmas Eve. The celebration uplifted and honored not only what made the contributions from each religion unique, but also celebrated the shared values from every tradition: love, hope, friendship, generosity, and light.
The celebration's message is that news stories of religiously-motivated violence are only one side of humanity. What rarely makes the news are the hundreds of thousands of people around the world, of all religions, who work together daily for peace. The actions of these people, of the friends and family of URI who engage in interfaith trust and cooperation to make the world a better place, are the "gift" we "unwrap" in this celebration.
STORIES FROM THE CBS SPECIAL
Every day, leaders within URI's global Cooperation Circle network work passionately and tirelessly to build peace in their communities. The CBS Interfaith Special features two examples of such people - people who have made it their lives' work to heal the wounds of violence, mend the rift between religious groups, challenge cultural conflict...and change the world for the better.
During the early years of the Iraq War, Janessa Wilder was working as policy analyst for the CIA in Baghdad. She recounts, “I was just a few miles away from the battles in Fallujah, sitting along the Euphrates River. I was so struck by the picture of calm and peace of the river. I realized that the life-force of the river was more powerful than the war going on. I decided then and there to make a change.” Janessa left the CIA, came back to the US and started the Euphrates Institute, whose goal is to bring warring religions together in down-to-earth conversations to address shared community issues.
Dr. Emmanuel Ivorgba dreams of “a peaceful world, one in which the smiles of humanity shine brighter than the sun itself.” In his native Nigeria, years of longstanding religious and tribal violence fueled by political strife and economic inequities have claimed thousands of lives and torn the fabric of society. Emmanuel has planted himself squarely in the epicenter of that violence, in northern Nigeria, to sow the seeds of peace between Christians and Muslims, Igbo and Hausa, rich and poor, farmer and herder, man and woman. Emmanuel leads URI's interfaith peacebuilding efforts not only in Nigeria but across West Africa, where he is equipping and creating rare opportunities for youth from different religious and cultural backgrounds to engage and powerful build partnerships with one another that bring real hope for breaking the cycle of violence and transforming conflict into cooperation and harmony.
WISHES AROUND THE WORLD
We all share a planet and we all share the hope that we can make things better. In every region, URI's friends are doing their best to make their communities, and the world, a better place.
We're pleased to offer a sample of wishes collected during the production of the CBS Interfaith Special from URI representatives around the world. Enjoy this collection of wishes from people of different religions, faith traditions and indigenous cultures, and think about how you would like to make life better for your human family.
Submit your "Wish For The World" to firstname.lastname@example.org