The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing


President and Founding Trustee

Bishop William Swing is the President and Founder of the URI. Bishop Swing had the original vision of URI in 1993 in response to an invitation from the United Nations which asked him to host an interfaith service honoring the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Bishop Swing served as the Episcopal Bishop of California from 1980 until his retirement in 2006. In that capacity, he was a national and international leader in response to the AIDS crisis, co-founded Episcopal Community Services to address San Francisco’s homeless problem, and co-founded Community Bank of the Bay to support local businesses and the economy.

Bishop Swing is an inspirational speaker and an author, most recently of A Bishop's Quest: Founding a United Religions and The Sacred and the Silly: A Bishop's Playful and Eventful Life. Both books are available on; the proceeds of book sales will benefit URI.

URI Stories

Why Sustainability Matters

The tenth item in URI’s list of principles – “We act from sound ecological practices to protect and preserve the Earth for both present and future generations” – might seem a little peculiar to someone who thinks of URI primarily as an interfaith organization devoted to peace.

My One Hour with Pope Shenouda III

Sixteen years ago today, March 20, I met the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda, III, in Cairo.  March 20, 1996 as an eventful day for me starting with the news of the death of the Sheikh of al-Azhar. Then I arrived early for another meeting, this one with the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr. Muhammed Tantawi.  When we were talking, the telephone rang and it was President Hosni Mubarrak who summoned him for an immediate meeting.   (Tantawi was soon after selected as the Sheikh of al-Azhar.)  As we finished our chat, Tantawi said, "when the light of one religion burns, it is a great blessing.  When the lights of  many religions burn together, it will be radiant and bring abundant blessings."  He counseled that the vision of a United Religions would be for the good of the world if it were "gently presented."

Stopping the Islamization of Europe?

In the 17th century, the logical conclusion to interreligious conflict was holy war. A handful of extremists would argue for that conclusion today. But for most of us, violence in the name of God, any God, is not an answer, it is a blasphemy. But if the point is not to take up arms in the cause of exclusive righteousness, then what can people do to cope with the very real changes happening in their communities?

Lessons from Asia Minor

I couldn’t resist. URI’s newest Cooperation Circle resides in Siberia. And here are its members forming a circle. Striking, isn’t it? How did we ever go from a dream to Siberia? I..