Bishop Swing: Reflections on my recent trip to the UN

18 May 2014
bishop swing speaking

URI's United Nations representative, Monica Willard, invited me to participate in an interfaith service at the Church Center in the morning of April 30, 2014. The purpose was to gather the nuclear disarmament statements of all of the religions and interfaith organizations into one offering on an altar in order to direct the attention of the hundreds of people gathered in New York to focus on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The purpose was also to highlight the sacred and spiritual dimensions involved in the nuclear threat. The event was entitled “Nuclear Weapons and the Moral Compass.” 

It was, for a Californian, a deliciously rainy day. Everyone who attended was treated to a thorough soaking before entering the chapel. Thus the numbers were down from the hoped for expectation, but the buoyant officiant kept everyone's spirits high and on purpose. 
For my part, receiving the expressions of conviction around the issue of nuclear weapons, I had these few words to say: 

"These offering baskets provide a spot where songs of conscience coalesce to create a chorus of sanity, a sanity that springs from the heart as well as the head.  With these bold statements of faith, let us present to the Creator of the Universe the cry for life that each of us made at our births: the cry to live; the cry of the new generation; the cry of passing on the miracle of birth. So let our offerings be a cry out to the nuclear powers of this world, to cease and desist in their efforts to arms this world for self-destruction. We are wonderfully made and must never sell our inheritance for a bowl of security." 
In the afternoon, a large crowd gathered in the beautiful Trustee Council Chamber of the UN Headquarters.  Ambassador Libran Cabactulan of the Phillippines was instrumental in arranging this venue.  Dr. Jonathan Granoff of our URI Cooperation Circle, Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the Global Security Institute, was the Co-Chair, along with the Ambassador. 
Interestingly, quite a few members of our CC were featured speakers: Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Dr. William Vendley and myself!  And another CC member, Ambassador Thomas Graham, was acknowledged for his key role in nuclear negotiations over many decades. My remarks can be found here.  
In the evening at the Harvard Club, there was a wide-ranging conversation following up on what had been presented.  Two things were clear: 1) It was a stellar collection of people.  World Council of Churches, Buddhists, Nobel Peace Prize representatives, Mormons, World Evangelical Alliance, Roman Catholics, Muslims, and on and on, 2) Everyone in the room yearned for the start of disarming the world of its nuclear stockpile.  All of us benefited from being introduced to each other and to hear each other out.  Nuclear aloneness was overcome for a moment, and fresh possibilities for future cooperation were hatched. 
I came back from New York damp on the outside but fired up on the inside.  And very proud of URI.