The seed for the URI was planted in 1993 when the United Nations invited William Swing, Episcopal Bishop of California, to host an interfaith service in San Francisco. That night the Bishop found it hard to sleep … he told himself, “If the nations of the world are working together for peace through the UN, then where are the religions of the world?” From this inspiration, a vision took shape to create an organization whereby people of diverse faiths and from all sectors of society would cooperate for peace and justice for all.

From the first global summit in 1996 to the Charter signing in 2000, URI engaged thousands of people from diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to create the URI Charter. Five global summits and numerous gatherings and consultations took place in different regions of the world. URI used a highly effective methodology for positive change, Appreciative Inquiry, pioneered by Dr. David Cooperrider of Case Western Reserve University and the revolutionary insights for organizing offered by Dee Hock, founder of VISA international.

The results of this process are a URI Charter, interfaith action projects in over 50 countries, and an unprecedented network of Cooperation Circles and supporting members and Affiliates dedicated to making the Charter a lived reality all over the world. Today, millions of people are bringing their unique talents to URI and organizing profound acts of care, compassion, cooperation, education and peace building.

The URI Charter was developed through a four year global chartering process by several hundred women, men, and youth representing a diverse array of religions, spiritual paths and indigenous traditions. It inspires, grounds and guides all URI activity. Download the full Charter.