It is with joy and celebration that we welcome the new Global Council Trustees from Africa, Asia, Europe and Southeast Asia and the Pacific!
Participation amongst CCs in the identified regions reached an all-time high: there was a 51% increase in number of CCs certified to vote for these elections (from 141 certified CCs in 2012 to 213 certified CCs in 2014), and an 85% increase in ballots submitted (from 104 ballots submitted in 2012 to 192 ballots submitted in 2014).
“It is with absolute delight that I welcome our newly elected Trustees to fulfill an important leadership responsibility on the Global Council, says Kiran Bali, Chair of the URI Global Council. “We are proud to have such a diverse range of skills and experience to ensure that URI continues to flourish.”
“I look forward to a continued partnership of service and cooperation with our outgoing Trustees, as well as the candidates who were not elected this time. I express my immense gratitude to all the members of Cooperation Circles who participated in this election process, ensuring that it was representative, democratic and effective.”
Ms. Bali continues to serve as URI’s Global Council Chairperson, having been appointed as an At-Large Trustee by the URI Global Council.
The following are the newly-elected members of URI’s Global Council:
Rattan Channa (Sikh, Kenya)
Mrs. Channa serves on the boards of the Sikh Women Society of Kenya, the Sikh Supreme Council and the Inter-Religious Welfare Council of Kenya. She returns as a Global Council Trustee for another term.
“[The URI Global Council] can act as a catalyst for promoting greater tolerance and understanding among different religious communities around the world, by mobilizing joint efforts to respond effectively to social economic and environmental needs of the people.” (Mrs. Channa)
His Grace Archbishop John Baptist Odama (Christian, Uganda)
Archbishop Odama is the Catholic Archbishop of Gulu, as well as the former Chairman of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (a URI CC) and current Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference. Archbishop Odama returns as a Global Council Trustee for another term.
“Dialogue and non-violence must be used to end conflict.” (Archbishop Odama)
The Honorable Elisha Buba Yero (Christian, Nigeria)
A reputable politician in Nigeria, Hon. Elisha Buba Yero also serves as a Board Director with the Interfaith Mediation Centre of the Christian-Muslim Dialogue Forum and as the Wakilin Kpope for Kaduna State (The Ambassador to the Chief and Traditional Ruler). An active member of the New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation, he returns as a Global Council Trustee for another term.
“I do believe that the URI Global Council can be most effective in helping URI grow in impact and sustainability by utilizing the vast experience, including financial resources, of its members.” (Honorable Elisha Buba Yero)
Dr. Kazi Nurul Islam (Muslim, Bangladesh)
A professor at the University of Dhaka, Dr. Islam worked with different religious scholars to establish the Warm Heart Association – dedicated to promoting inter-religious harmony. He later established the Department of World Religions and Culture, before leaving his country to study Judaism as a Fullbright Senior Fellow. Upon his return from the USA, he founded and now directs a Dialogue Center at Dhaka University, funded by the Bangladesh government. This is Dr. Islam’s first term as a Global Council Trustee.
“As long as I remain alive, I want to do my best to remove inter-religious hatred and enmity in order to keep my commitment [I made to my dearly departed] father.” (Dr. Islam)
Dr. Ravindra W. Kandage (Buddhist, Sri Lanka)
Dr. Kandage was a founding member of URI, and serves as the Executive Director of Sarvodaya Shanthisena Movement, a nationwide Sri Lankan network. Having trained under the tutelage of the Apostle of Peace, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne of the Sarvodaya Movement, he and his organization are committed to the ideals of peaceful coexistence and offer full support of interfaith initiatives. Dr. Kandage returns as a Global Council Trustee for another term.
“Having been directly involved in prewar and post war reconciliation processes, I tell you here and now that URI has provided me a greater impetus to bring forth religious and ethnic groups through interfaith activities.” (Dr. Kandage)
Professor John Kurakar (Christian, India)
Professor Kurakar is a renowned teacher from the St. Gregorios College in Kottarakara, and an author of books related to literature, history and the environment. He serves as the president of the Kerala Palliative Care Initiative and as the Chair of the URI South Asia region, as well as conducts an examination training center and publishing house in Kottarakara. This is his first term as a Global Council Trustee.
“I am proud to support Asia region through my contacts in different Asian countries.” (Professor Kurakar)
Marianne Horling (Humanist, Germany)
Ms. Horling returns as a Trustee for another term. Having worked within government and the telecommunications industry, she is well-versed in politics, organization planning and strategic alignment. She also has a passion for art and choral singing.
“I am aware that one of the important aims is to keep in touch with the existing network and to help in founding new CCs. Empathy and strategic thinking are needed to find solutions. I hope to become an asset to the URI Global Council and to URI as a whole.” (Ms. Horling)
Petar Gramatikov (Christian, Bulgaria)
Mr. Gramatikoff is a hierodeacon of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, as well a Doctor (Didiaskalos) of the Universal Orthodox Church. He is currently the Chief Expert in religious questions in the municipality of Plovdiv, as well as Vice President of the Eastern European Forum for Dialogue-Bridges NGO. He has been working for years in the field of human rights, defending the traditional view of Orthodox church in terms of respect for all beliefs, beside all theological conceptions. This is first term as a Global Council Trustee.
“I would like to stress in the work of the Global Council on the great need for an imperative concern for nature: There is an urgent need to promote an ethic of social responsibility on the management of natural resources and care for creation, something we called ‘stewardship for creation’.” (Mr. Gramatikoff)
Bart ten Broek (Christian, Netherlands)
Mr. ten Broek is a longtime friend of URI: he co-founded the Steering Committee URI the Netherlands CC in 2003, and attended the Mayapur Global Assembly in 2008. He works as a school director, a Gestalt Therapist, an advisor of a Dialogue House in the district of Segbroek in The Hague, as well as member of Interreligieus Beraad Segbroek (IBS), a URI CC. This is Mr. ten Broek’s first term as a Global Council Trustee.
“My deepest motives are the grassroots in the society. Of course I accept the knowledge and the motives of the religious and spiritual leaders, but they have to move along with all people.” (Mr. ten Broek)
Peter Mousaferiadis (Christian, Australia)
In 2003, Mr. Mousaferiadis established and founded a not-for-profit initiative called Cultural Infusion that is dedicated to creating intercultural contact for a positive change. Since then, Cultural Infusion’s education program “Discovering Diversity” is delivered to an annual audience of more than 200,000 students annually. He has also worked with international organizations to assist in the delivery of social cohesion outcomes as well as staging of events for clients including the United Nations, United Religious Initiative and the Parliament of World Religions. This is his first term as a Global Council Trustee.
“As a facilitator of programs dedicated to building cultural harmony and well-being, I believe I could bring these skill sets to URI at a global level. I believe conversation and active listening is central to building harmony during challenging times.” (Mr. Mousaferiadis)
Musa M. Sanguila (Muslim, Philippines)
Mr. Sanguila returns as a Global Council Trustee for URI SEA-Pac. He is the Chairman of Muslim Sharing Skills for Peace & Development, as well as the Director of Pakigdait, a grassroots interfaith, peace-building civil society organization and URI CC based in Mindanao, Philippines. He has participated in the Summer Peace Building Institute of Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va., USA, and completed a course in “Islamic Theology: Mazhab Shinazi” at Al-Mufid University, Quom, Islamic Republic of Iran.
“I am a believer of Islam and a peaceweaver of humanity. The gifts I bring to URI are that I am a peaceweaver, a grassroots interfaith peacebuilder and an NGO worker. I admire URI being a global interfaith network and I am compelled by the Preamble, Purpose and Principles.” (Mr. Sanguila)
Ros Sam An (Buddhist, Cambodia)
Mr. An is the deputy director of Santi Sena, a non-governmental organization founded by Buddhist monks that aims to improve working and living situations for Cambodians through programs in natural resources management, community peace building and alternative education. He is a member of the Interfaith Youth Circle of Cambodia CC and serves on the board of directors of Humanity Bright. Mr. An returns as a Global Council Trustee for another term.
“I understand that as a Global Council Trustee, I must use my existing skills to support leadership, governance and oversight, as well as fundraising by connecting other grassroots organizations who work in similar fields – regionally and globally.” (Mr. An)
“The Cooperation Circles have entrusted the newly elected Global Council Trustees with the sacred responsibility of URI’s global governance and ask them to work for the good of the whole of URI,” says The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr. “URI is honored that these new Trustees are willing to give of their time to help further the goals of promoting enduring daily interfaith cooperation, ending religiously motivated violence and creating cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We feel particularly blessed to have these newly elected Global Council Trustees as partners in our movement’s work.”
May these newly elected trustees receive blessings and support to fulfill the vision and values of the Preamble, Purpose, and Principles of URI. In the regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, we hold in gratitude all candidates who stood for leadership, all CCs who voted, and all who collectively serve the URI. May they serve URI with strength, love and joy.