What does it feel like to have two former U.S. presidents, two former U.S. secretaries of state and South African social rights leader Desmond Tutu offer rave reviews for your most recent book? Ask Bishop William Swing ’58 H’80 about A Bishop’s Quest: Founding a United Religions.
The former Episcopal bishop of California returns to his alma mater for a book signing Wednesday, April 15, at 4 p.m. at the Kenyon Bookstore, hosted in part by his Gambier publisher, XOXOXpress. He also will discuss “ISIS, Religion and Alternatives” Thursday, April 16, at 11:10 a.m. in the Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater.
Swing has dedicated a large portion of his life to reconciling religious differences, resulting in a 20-year odyssey creating the United Religions Initiative, a cooperative international religious group encompassing 689 member circles in 85 countries. Each circle represents at least three separate religions coming together to resolve local issues. A Bishop’s Quest recounts the creation of the San Francisco-based organization.
“Bishop Bill Swing’s mission to ‘connect peoples across religions and cultures in the service of peace and justice’ is inspirational, and his memoir motivates us all to do our part,” said former President George H.W. Bush of the book. Former President Jimmy Carter called the book an intriguing account of dialogues with the Dalai Lama, two popes, Mother Teresa, the grand mufti of Egypt and the archbishop of Canterbury, which ultimately led to the organization’s creation.
Jerry Kelly, owner of XOXOXpress, is thrilled that he was able to publish Swing’s book. College trustee Alan Rothenberg ’67 H’10 introduced the two. “When you have an author who delivers jacket blurbs from two former U.S. presidents, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a grand imam from Pakistan, the head of the American Jewish Congress and two former U.S. cabinet secretaries — well, that sets the bar pretty high,” he said. “We’re striving to keep up with this 78-year-old Kenyon alum whose energy just never quits.”
By Matthew Eley '15