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A Bishop’s Quest Kindle is the story of one man’s campaign to gather the best of religion to counter rising religiously-motivated violence, such as is currently seen with ISIS. United Religions Initiative is the outgrowth of those efforts — a global organization devoted to solving the root causes of religious violence. This fascinating book tells the creation story of URI through the adventures of its primary founder, Bishop Bill Swing of San Francisco.
A Bishop’s Quest describes Bishop Swing’s initial travels to confer with the great religious leaders of the world. These fascinating conversations reveal the admirable uniqueness of each faith and at the same time explore their limitations in cooperating with each other. In the course of six months of global travels, Bishop Swing had access to palaces and leaders on thrones, militant figures in compounds, and Cardinals in the Vatican; he preached in a jungle for seven days to 200,000 people. Since he began the pilgrimage with little knowledge of interfaith history, his travels provided a first-hand education as few people in the world have experienced.
Finally, the journey led to a crucial realization — that the competition engrained in religious institutions overwhelms their cooperative impulses. Should the Bishop pursue the creation of a United Religions for the leaders of religions, or should he take a completely different course and found a grassroots interfaith movement, a United Religions Initiative, that would one day, in the distant future, lead to a United Religions? With his choice of the latter, an entirely new adventure began.
With no money, expertise, or constituency, Bishop Swing faced the challenge of bringing people of diverse faith together to create a global community, a charter and an inspiring organizational structure. The core challenge he faced was one of organizational design, and to solve that he turned to the founder of the VISA card, Dee Hock, and to one of the originators of Appreciative Inquiry, David Cooperrider, for solutions. That is the focus of the second part of the book, and it is another fascinating, unique story.
From 2000 to 2104, the United Religions Initiative (URI) has become the largest grass- roots interfaith organization in the world. At a time in history when news stories are dominated by the atrocities that religious people perpetrate on innocent populations, the public wonders if anyone is doing anything about this. By means of Cooperation Circles in 85 countries, URI gathers people of different faith and value systems together to address local, and sometimes, global issues. Their approach involves a little bit of dialogue, and a whole lot of cooperative action. URI is convinced that, with long-term persistence, the energy that erupts between competing loyalties can be channeled for the good of local and global society. The formula works at a grassroots level and, increasingly, at regional levels throughout the world on a daily basis. Bishop Swing’s memoir relates in vivid detail now his hopeful vision became an effective network.