Werwath[1] interview of gibbs


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Published interview of Rev Gibbs

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Werwath[1] interview of gibbs

  1. 1. VOICESHopefully, this Issue has embraced you in thoughts, and perhaps even visions of Global OD and theplace you may pursue in it. There are rainbows to follow and missions to be found when one con-siders this vast planet and the soul and spirit organization work that is waiting to be accomplished. We wanted to close with a dramatic symbol of the potential that lives in the center of our field ofOD. Surely, the United Religions Initiative is a sterling example of the power of a consultation thatsupports people working participatively and in process. —The Editors An Interview with Rev. Charles Gibbs of United Religious Initiative By Mark Werwath mmediately prior to the signing of the monality. These distinctions have led toI highlighted among the mass media. URI charter in San Francisco, I had the tremendous conflicts by taking the ‘them The URI is not a religion, nor is it opportunity to interview Rev Charles versus us” mentality to extremes. If you advocating any particular faith tradition,Gibbs, Executive Director of the United review the twenty one principles of the but rather it appreciates all the world’sReligions Initiative. The interview was URI, they revolve around respect, hospi- great faith traditions and, more than anconducted at a time when tensions tality, cooperation, bridge-building and ecumenical movement, it takes thisamong different religious organizations healing. These are important principles appreciation and turns it into action.were far different than they have been that are common to many of the faith tra- Specifically, the action is in linking peoplesince September eleven. It has been ditions alive in the world today. As a and supporting political causes that canknown for years that most of the conflicts foundation for the work inside of the help reduce religiously inspired wars.in the world are actually caused by, and URI, it is refreshing to see the positive It is against this backdrop and con-not mitigated by deeply held religious aspects of religion being emphasized text that this interview was conducted.beliefs. Most of the distinctions between rather than the conflicting side of organ- My aim was to understand both Rev.the world’s faith traditions are not as ized religion. It is the conflict which usu- Gibbs as a person involved in this move-important, in the grand scheme of things, ally emanates from the extremists in cer- ment and his personal motivations andas their similarities and commonalities. tain faith traditions, and is often what is background for this type of work, and atWhat they share is more important thanwhat divides them. This is a fundamental AU T H O Rtenet of the URI initiative and what Rev. MARK WERWATH is a Ph.D. student in Organizational Development atGibbs continually emphasizes. The Rev- Benedictine University. He is currently a consultant in program manage-erend came across as a deeply spiritualand committed man, and I am convinced ment and the application of OD principles in program management in thethat he had no idea what kind of reli- high technology fields. His background includes software developmentgious powder-keg awaited the world only engineering with more than fifteen years in new product development ata mere fifteen months after this interview Motorola. Mark is a part-time instructor of program management at North-took place. western University, DePaul University and the University of Chicago. Mark For too long religions have accented can be reached at markwerwath2000@yahoo.comtheir differences instead of their com-VO L . 3 4 | N O . 1 | 2 0 0 2 50
  2. 2. VOICES: An Interview with Rev. Charles Gibbs of United Religious Initiativethe same time gain an appreciative guns in Rio De Janeiro. All of these started like Rev Gibbs, it is being accomplishedunderstanding of the direction of the small and are connected to URI. Some began now. Perhaps, in our lifetimes, we will seemovement. I believe that this interview as simple as interfaith prayer service:. Prayer dramatic reductions in religiously inspiredcan also bring some degree of hope that vigils, peace marches, feed the hungry, etc. wars on our planet. The epitome ofa true inter-faith dialogue is occurring, which may very well be peace in thethat the initiative pre-dates the Septem- Q. What would you say the strategic Middle East and the peaceful resolutionber eleventh disaster, and that this work plan is for URI over the next two to of such perplexing problems as theis occurring at multiple levels but most five years? Jerusalem question. Especially since theimportantly at the grass roots level. To build the organization. URI is a self- September eleventh disaster, the need for organizing entit; as of June 26 when our this and similar dialogues has become global charter is signed in San Francisco, we abundantly clear. The role of the ODINTERVIEW WITH REVEREND CHARLES will have seventy five cooperation circles profession in creating the organizationalGIBBS already in existence ranging in size from mechanisms that enable the dialogue seven members to five hundred, and they are should bring hope to those of us whoQ: Why is the issue of uniting the spread all over the world. This is just a small pray for a sustained, self regulating andworld’s religions so important to beginning lasting peace. I am sure this is Rev. Gibbs’you? We need to develop the centralized sup- hope as well I believe the World’s religions have the port mechanisms to aid in the development ofgreatest accumulated wisdom and the best these circles: Global support network, Staffingvalues on the planet. In the past, this wisdom centers, Global coordination hub, Knowledgehas been misused and has been the cause of empowerment hub (to include best practices,much world violence and war. The world’s partners in leadership, peace building, pro-religions represent a treasure trove of moral grams in education, share the experiences,teachings and wisdom that can be construc- especially experiences of the sacred. Plannedtively applied to the worlds problems. Histori- interventions, conflict management, etc).cally, the world’s religions have collectively Fundraising, of course, and accountability.abdicated their responsibility to accomplish These clusters need to grow. Davidthe goals of peace and unity in the world. Cooperrider has been far more than just a For the first time in human history, we consultant in this process. He has committedhave the opportunity to address these issues of himself completely for a while now. This goespeace and unity. The human race, thanks to to what and who David is. He is a very spe-the technology that can bring us together and cial personthanks to the receptivity of the world faith tra- We are actually wrestling right now withditions, the time has come to bring it into right certain organizational issues that David isrelationship, to bring it into balance helping us with. The main theme of these issues revolves around the amount of centralQ. Of the hopes and dreams you support services that might be needed to keepbrought to this position, what have the clusters thriving. Should we have training,you seen become reality so far? IT, facilitation, Knowledge management and Our goal of enduring interfaith coopera- support groups of that type centralized totion has already seen its seed planted in many facilitate the growth of the clusters?places. We have managed to cooperate with The use of the world wide web willpeople who share a common vision. Some become a more important influence in theexamples: future. Already we have several e-groups The turn of the millenium, what we established and we see global developmentcalled the 72 Hours Project. It grew as a through people and through the use oflocally rooted peace building effort that technologybecame globally connected. It started as aglimmer and became two hundred projects I think the basic unasked but some-worldwide. A group in Pakistan held a twelve how answered question becomes, Whyday Peace march. Tens of thousands came out URI and Why now? It boils down to theto support this march. We got good coverage fact that it can be done now in a way thatin Brazil with our Viva Rio P roject which it couldn’t be done before. Thanks to thefocused on the disarmament of thousands of very clear vision and mission of people51 O D P R AC T I T I O N E R