Dr. William F. Vendley

Secretary General
Religions for Peace

Dr. Vendley is the Secretary General of Religions for Peace International. He is a member of its World Council which consists of 60 senior religious leaders from all continents. He coordinates the activities and projects of Religions for Peace’s World, 90 national and 6 regional councils.

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace by working to advance multi-religious consensus on positive aspects of peace as well as concrete actions to stop war, help eliminate extreme poverty and protect the earth.

William assumed leadership of Religions for Peace International in 1994. He is a pioneer in advancing multi-religious cooperation to help resolve conflict and advance development and has facilitated the establishment of multi-religious councils around the world. For example, in the immediate aftermath of the civil war in Bosnia, he facilitated the Inter-religious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina which served Bosnia religious leaders in their efforts to heal their society and re-build a single, multi-ethnic Bosnia. He also facilitated the establishment of the Inter-religious Council of Sierra Leone in the midst of a ten-year civil war, supported the successful multi-religious mediations between the rebels and the government and was requested to assist in the formal peace talks in Lome, Togo. He has supported multi-religious efforts to prevent conflicts, mediate among warring parties and heal societies in the aftermath of violence in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Iraq and other countries. He is actively working in the Middle East with religious leaders in Israel, Palestine and neighboring states to advance peace. He is convinced that principled multi-religious cooperation can be an authentic expression of committed religious faith and that multi-religious efforts for peacemaking provide unique strengths that complement those marshaled by governments and bodies like the United Nations.

William co-founded the Hope for African Children Initiative to address the needs of African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The Initiative resulted in an initial US$ 50M being raised to equip African communities, particularly grassroots religious congregations, to provide needed services to vulnerable children. This work provided the base for a substantial expansion of relief and development work by more than ten African inter-religious councils affiliated with Religions for Peace.

William is an advisor to a number of governments on matters related to religion and peace. He advised President Obama through his service on the Multi-religious Cooperation and International Affairs Task Force of the White House Faith Based Council.

William lectures frequently in academic, governmental and other forums. He is a theologian and has served as a professor and dean in Roman Catholic graduate schools of theology.

Born and raised in Indiana, he earned his BA from Purdue University (1971) and was the recipient of its Distinguished Alumni for Science Award in 2005. He has an MA from the Maryknoll School of Theology (1976) and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Fordham University (1984).

William is married to Mrs. Yasuko Vendley, and they reside in New York City.