The Parliament of the World’s Religions

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Carolyn “Carrie” Prentice

By Carolyn “Carrie” Prentice, Colorado, United States

Editor’s Note: The first Parliament of the World's Religions was held during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was hosted by Swedenborgians, whose 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.

Since that time, modern Parliament convenings have attracted participants from more than 200 diverse religious, indigenous, and secular beliefs and more than 80 nations to its international gatherings in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004), Melbourne (2009), Salt Lake City (2015), Toronto (2018), and virtually (2021). The Parliament returned to its Chicago birthplace in August.

Longtime readers Carrie and Jerry Prentice traveled by train from their new home in Colorado to attend the Parliament and worked with other volunteers at the Urantia Book booth.

Attending a Parliament of the World’s Religions (PoWR) feels a bit like winning the Triple Crown. They are the world’s oldest, largest, and most inclusive gatherings of the global interfaith movement. And you can partake of the convening on different scales—big, small, and individual.

It features many religious leaders from around the world offering encouragement and insights in a big venue hall with multiple screens so that everyone in the audience can see and hear the speakers.

On the smaller side, PoWR offers a multitude of shorter and more intimate breakout sessions where people can meet to discuss specific ideas and problems, take part in Dances of World Peace, or meditate together in different ways.

And when attendees want to get up and move around and engage in personal conversations, they can go to what I think of as a Trade Show of Religions, where rows of booths offer books, objects, and other wares, as well as one-on-one interactions with people of different faiths.

My husband Jerry and I spent most of our time at the Urantia Book booth, talking with people who were drawn to the beautiful artwork of the booth’s backdrop. Designed by Gary Tonge, it features pictures from the four parts of The Urantia Book. Many passersby commented on the beauty and appeal of our booth.

As in previous years, responsibility for the double booth was shared by four Urantia organizations—Truthbook, Urantia Association International, The Urantia Book Fellowship, and Urantia Foundation. Volunteers took turns working at the booth, where we all fielded questions, sold books at a reduced price, and handed out customized booklets, bookmarks, and an assortment of quote-based postcards.

The overall theme of the PoWR—A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights—addressed many of the critical issues that the world faces today, including climate change and the environment, recognition of indigenous cultures, empowerment of women, the Divine Feminine, diversity, and unequal distribution of wealth and resources. Founded on the recognition of the whole human family, PoWR focused on inclusion and contemplation of the Divine.

As Jerry reflected after coming home, "The Parliament of the World’s Religions is doing what The Urantia Book tells us we should be doing," which is communicating that the core truths in all religions are exactly the truth, beauty, and goodness that the revelators exhort us to value.

2023 The Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago
2023 The Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago

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