Announcing “The Promise of Inclusion & the Power of Love” as its next theme, organizers of the 7th Parliament of the World’s Religions are looking for world-changing outcomes from the more than 12,000 delegates expected to convene in Toronto, Canada, November 1 – 7, 2018.
The world’s oldest and most diverse global interfaith event will mark its 125-year anniversary by bringing together leaders and followers of more than 200 spiritual and secular traditions to “pursue global understanding, reconciliation, and change” in the world’s most culturally diverse city.
According to organizers, the theme, The Promise of Inclusion & the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation, and Change, was inspired in part by the character of its host city.
In Toronto, advancing civic partnerships among faiths and guiding institutions to work for economic, climate, or racial and sectarian justice means solving conflicts in ways that reflect the Parliament’s methods: increasing the roles of the world’s next generations, women and girls, indigenous communities, and minority communities, including immigrants and refugees.
Dr. Larry Greenfield, Parliament Executive Director said the theme was chosen “because inclusion and love are what, in fact, we deeply believe are essential for realizing a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.”
“Growing global faith-based movements that are actively transcending old barriers are giving life to the 25-year-old mission of the Parliament— they will bring extremely convincing examples of how inclusion and love are already working in a time when the stakes are highest and, in certain cases, we won’t have another chance to get things right,” added Dr. Greenfield.
Choosing from 500 or more of the Parliament’s unique forums, participants and invited luminaries will be able to customize an experience that satisfies and expands their interests and strengths.
Programs will feature internationally renowned plenary speakers from religious, cultural, and civic institutions, moving cultural performances, artistic exhibitions, and expert trainings in movement building.
Chair of the Parliament’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Robert P. Sellers, is encouraged that “the thousands of people who have attended our international gatherings have consistently commented that Parliaments are informative and inspiring, exciting and motivating, deeply moving and life-altering.”
“We are ready to do more in Toronto. We must come eager to roll up our sleeves for the tough work of listening to one another to gain mutual understanding, speaking honestly but humanely in order to reconcile our different approaches to global problems, and thinking creatively and planning boldly to become change agents throughout the global community,” he added.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions’ origins are rooted to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the historic first convening of the World Parliament of Religions created a global platform for engagement of religions of the east and west.
Past Parliaments have convened nearly 50,000 people across the world in Chicago, IL, USA; Cape Town, South Africa; Barcelona, Spain; Melbourne, Australia; and Salt Lake City, USA.
Most recently held in the USA in 2015, more than 10,000 people traveled from 75 countries to “Reclaim the Heart of Our Humanity,” at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City.
Previous Parliament convenings have featured international luminaries and Nobel Laureates such as His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, President Nelson Mandela, President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Jane Goodall, Swami Vivekananda, Sheikh Balen bin Abdullah bin Humaid, Professor Dr. Hans Kung, Amma the Hugging Saint, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi David Rosen, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, Chief Arvol Lookinghorse, Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Maguire, Vice-President Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.