Parliament Of The World's Religions

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Irmeli Ivalo-Sjölie
Trevor and Kathleen Swadling
Trevor and Kathleen Swadling
Kathleen Swadling
Kathleen Swadling
Nigel Nunn
Nigel Nunn
William Wentworth
William Wentworth
Vern Verass
Vern Verass

By Irmeli Ivalo-Sjölie, Associate Trustee, Helsinki, Finland

Editor's Note: Over seven nights and six days, from December 3 — 9, 2009, the Melbourne Parliament welcomed over 6,500 people representing over 200 religious and spiritual traditions from more than 80 countries. Attendees chose from over 550 programs, including daily observances, intra- and inter-religious programs, symposia, expert panels, sacred performances, and art exhibits. The 2009 Parliament was an unforgettable exchange of all that makes the world beautifully diverse.

A few years ago, Werner Sutter and I attended the Urantia Association International (UAI) conference in Sydney, Australia. We met many nice Australians there and became friends with them. We have stayed in contact ever since.

When they informed us that the next Parliament of the World's Religions would be in December 2009 in Melbourne, Australia, and that the UAI national organization, ANZURA (Australia New Zealand Urantia Association), would have a booth and needed volunteers, we immediately called Air Canada and booked a trip to.

In 1893, the first Parliament of the World's Religions was held in Chicago and was hosted by Swedenborgians. Their theology and vision were inclusive enough to bring together the religions of the world – from East and West – to dialogue with each other for the first time in history. One hundred years later, the second Parliament of the World's Religions convened again in Chicago. Since then, there have been Parliaments held in various parts of the world every five years.

At the most recent Parliament in Melbourne, there were thousands of participants. At least four or five lectures and workshops were going on simultaneously: A plenary session was held every evening with notable speakers, including the Dalai Lama and former President Jimmy Carter.

ANZURA managed to secure the best location for The Urantia Book booth. It was located by the entrance to the exposition hall, so that when anyone entered, they walked right in front of it. Trevor and Kathleen Swadling set up the booth, and Vern Verass composed the panels. It was quite elegant!

Many attendees visited the booth, and some were very interested in the Urantia materials. A workshop was presented by the ANZURA group. Kathleen Swadling spoke first, followed by William Wentworth, president of ANZURA, and Nigel Nunn, the astrophysicist. Their presentation was an introduction to The Urantia Book and was titled, "What's Love Got To Do With It?" You can read the entire lecture in the latest Arena newsletter: http://urantia-anzura.org/index.php?section=30&module=navigationmodule.

Gard Jameson, Trustee of Urantia Foundation, and Paula Thompson of the Urantia Book Fellowship, conducted an instructional and experiential "Centering Prayer" meditation.

It was a 'once-in-a-lifetime' experience to see so many people from so many religions together in peace and harmony. May it one day be the same for the whole world!

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