This December 3rd to 9th, the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions will be held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia. The world’s largest global interfaith gathering, it will include 10,000 participants from over 80 countries and represent dozens of religious and faith traditions.
The event first appeared in Chicago as far back as 1893, and since 1993 it has been held every five years. During the Parliament the world’s spiritual leaders and followers convene to learn about each other, to consider issues of global significance, and to promote interreligious understanding and cooperation.
Previous cities who have hosted the event since 1993 include Chicago, Cape Town, and Barcelona. This year, organizers found Melbourne to be an ideal location. Culturally vibrant and global in vision, the city and its state of Victoria is home to indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities as well as the major world religions—Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism among others.
The 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions will run for seven days with approximately 450 events including keynote addresses, seminars, conferences, debates, performances, concerts and exhibitions. Major speakers will include Mrs. Lally Warren, Chairperson of the Bahai Assembly in Bostwana; Jathedar Singh, Supreme Religious Authority of the Sikhs in India; Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University; Fr. Laurence Freeman OSB, Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation, UK; Professor Joy Wandin, Senior Aboriginal Woman of the Wurundjeri People, Australia; His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney; His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and many more.
Parliament participants will work with others and within their own traditions to craft faithful responses to global poverty and global warming, environmental care and degradation, education of the young and social challenges, voluntary and forced migration, artistic expression and spirituality, and the value of sports.
“In today’s world, understanding between people of different traditions is not optional—it is essential,” states the Parliament’s website. “The 2009 Parliament will give people of faith, spirit and goodwill new reason to say that peace is still possible.”
Representatives from ISKCON Australia are also expected to attend the event, although the specifics of their involvement have not yet been confirmed. Watch ISKCON News for more information closer to the date of the event.