UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE Southeast Asia & the Pacific Regional E-Newsletter


The Bowes Awards were established by the URI to recognize and catalyze innovation and cooperation among Cooperation Circles and the individuals and organizations in their communities. CCs are doing amazing interfaith work throughout the URI community, and the Bowes Awards is to lift up model action projects in each of the eight regions, all which embody the Preamble, Purpose and Principles of URI.


The Awards are made possible by a generous financial gift from John and Frances Bowes, in honor of William K. Bowes, brother of John and noted venture capitalist, philanthropist and major supporter of URI.


Beginning in 2008 in Mayapur, India, the Bowes Awards will be given at URI’s Global Assembly. The award is a financial gift to support the project and provide scholarships to attend the URI Global Assembly and will be presented to the 8 applicants (one from each region) whose proposals stand out and can be a model of interfaith cooperation for others to replicate.


The 2008 Bowes Award for the Southeast Asia & the Pacific region was awarded to the Peacemakers’ Circle for its project on leadership training in the region. Ours is a region with clusters of island-countries separated not only by bodies of water, but by diverse cultures and beliefs of their people. Although there are numerous interfaith activities and initiatives already going on in various parts of this region, there is a need to build bridges that would connect people and help them to be agents of change. The Peacemaker’s Circle CC project would fulfill this need by providing a URI leadership training program that would create a core team of leaders who would help deepen and strengthen the sense of being URI among CC members, uniting all parts of the region to realize its vision to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings in this part of the world.


The Bowes Award Project, Leadership Training in SEAP Region will be conducted on March 16-18 in conjuction with the next Regional Meeting which will be held in Lanao del Norte, Mindanao (Southern Philippines)


URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East

(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)

As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.

As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.

We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:

* To stop the violence immediately.

* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.

* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.

We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.

And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.

URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.

We, the members of the Global Youth Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, wish to express our concern at the current situation in Gaza. Conflict creates hardship and fear for people on both sides and takes its toll on civilians, both young and old, and the livelihood of communities and economies.

As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.

We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.

They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.

We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.