The best qualities of the world’s many religions were on display in Salt Lake City, Utah last week where the Parliament of the World’s Religions convened.
Roughly 10,000 people representing 50 faiths attended, taking part in discussions focused on ending violence, tackling climate change and addressing income inequality.
The gathering also featured its first Women’s Assembly addressing religion’s role in empowering women and its responsibility for dignity and human rights of women.
Primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall spoke to attendees about uniting religious and spiritual communities to save the environment. More than 70 other speakers, including three Nobel Peace Laureates, covered issues from ending war to countering extremism with acts of compassion.
Nearly 1,000 volunteers worked behind the scenes as attendees put their faiths’ activities on display. Buddhist monks worked on an intricate sand painting as Sikhs served up to 7,000 meals at a time from their local langar — a community kitchen that feeds people of all faiths free of charge.
On the final day of the Parliament, the sand painting was brushed away to demonstrate the impermanence of this world and the Sikh langar donated thousands of pounds of unused food to a Catholic charity that feeds the poor in Utah.
The Parliament is the oldest and perhaps most diverse interfaith gathering in the world, dating back to its first meeting in Chicago, Illinois on September, 11 1893. Since 1999, it has gathered people of faith together every five years.
The board of trustees announced during the gathering that the Parliament would meet every two years now, instead of five.
Chairman Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid closed this year’s session saying that participants had been telling him all week, “This was the best Parliament ever.”
Photo: Ryan Hyde, CC
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