Creating Promising Futures Through Social Construction
The Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs is an Episcopal priest, a visionary and a poet who has dedicated his life to serving the sacred in the world, especially through interreligious and intercultural engagement. His new volume of poetry – Light Reading: Selected Poems from a Pilgrim Journey – is available at Amazon.com.
He recently became Senior Partner and Poet-in-Residence for the Catalyst for Peace foundation (www.catalystforpeace.org), providing leadership and support for CFP’s organizational evolution. Building on its eight-year transformational partnership with Fambul Tok in Sierra Leone, CFP is exploring a new phase of regional and global engagement focused on community-based peacebuilding, healthy whole systems partnerships and leadership development.
From 1996 until his retirement in 2013, he served as the founding executive director of the United Religions Initiative (www.uri.org). As executive director, he worked with thousands of colleagues around the world to guide URI’s growth from a vision to becoming the world’s largest grassroots interfaith network.
URI promotes enduring, daily interfaith cooperation for peace, justice and healing in 84 countries. A community where people from different religions, spiritualities, Indigenous traditions, cultures, races and ages see each other as sisters and brothers, who share a lived experience of their fundamental unity as citizens of Earth and children of a common Source, at the same time they celebrate their unique identities – all in service to the Earth community.
During his tenure, URI engaged in a global chartering process, which involved thousands of people, and included the planning and production of five global summits and eight regional conferences. The URI signed its global Charter in June 2000 and now has more than 600 member multi-faith Cooperation Circles, supported by a global office in San Francisco and regional coordinators on six continents. Their work includes peacebuilding, interfaith education, environmental awareness, human rights advocacy and building social cohesion; and across the globe touches over 2.5 million people each year. The URI is a Non-Governmental Organization with consultative status at the United Nations and was honored by the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations in 2011 for its innovative peacebuilding work. In his work for the URI, Charles traveled extensively, working with religious, spiritual and other leaders in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
He was a featured speaker at many international gatherings, including: the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, Doha, Qatar; the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Barcelona, Spain, Capetown, South Africa and Melbourne, Australia; annual symposia of the International Association of Sufism, San Rafael, CA; the United Nations; Unity in Diversity, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France; the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Currently, he is working on a book of reflections – I’d Like to Help: A Journey of Awakening. Excerpts are posted on this website. With colleague Sally Mahé, he co-authored Birth of a Global Community, a book on the birth of the United Religions Initiative. He contributed a chapter to Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding, published by the United States Institute of Peace, and co-authored, with colleague Barbara Hartford, a chapter in Positive Approaches to Peacebuilding. His essay, Opening the Dream: Beyond the Limits of Otherness, appears in the anthology, Deepening the American Dream. His reflection, Jesus Appeared to Babaji, appears in My Neighbor’s Faith. In addition, he has published many articles on interfaith work and has published blogs on the Huffington Post.
Charles brings to all he does a deep commitment to spiritual transformation and work for peace, justice and healing, and an abiding belief in the sacredness of all life in the Earth community. Before becoming the URI’s Executive Director, he served for six years as Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, San Francisco, CA. For six years previous to that, he served as the Executive Director of the San Rafael Canal Ministry, an interfaith ministry of service and outreach, primarily among immigrants and refugees, in Marin County, California. Before attending seminary, he earned degrees in theater arts and creative writing and worked in both fields.
As son, brother, husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather, Charles cherishes and is inspired by his family. He is blessed with dear friends and colleagues of diverse faiths and cultures around the world with whom he shares a commitment to serve the world through spiritual transformation and cooperative engagement for the good of all life on this sacred Earth. Mindful of the abundant blessings that come even through life’s biggest challenges, he seeks to live each moment in gratitude.