Parliament of the World's Religions
was created to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
To accomplish this, individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal are invited and welcomed. Over 10,000 people from all walks of life and faiths will gather in spirited community in Salt Lake City from October 15-19, 2015.
This year, the Unitarian Universalist Association will be represented by a number of people including Rev. Eric Cherry of the International Office. Eric will be participating in several workshops and present at the UUA's booth in the exhibit hall
. Stop by and say hello! (here's a quick map
If you'll be attending this year's Parliament, please consider yourself warmly welcomed to an informal, BYOB (bring your own bagged lunch) UU lunch gathering
on Saturday October 17th from 12pm-2pm in Ballroom G: RSVP here!
Schedule of Events Related to Unitarian Universalism
Friday, October 16th, 12:15 PM - 1:45 PM
Jazz and Spirituality: Building Bridges to a Peaceful World
Saturday, October 17th, 8:15 AM - 9:45 AM
Faith In Action: How The Word's Religions Unite to End Torture
Speakers: Rev. Karen Tse, International Bridges to Justice
Room 155 F
Religious leaders from diverse backgrounds are responding to the call from International Bridges to Justice to stop torture as an investigative tool. They recognize that for peace, justice must be equitably served. Starting with an interfaith vigil in Davos, 2014, faith leaders at the grassroots and grasstops came together in a worldwide vigil against torture on the International Day Against Torture on June 26th. Thousands of people from across the globe - especially youth - connected their belief of peace with their house of faith and made it real in their community.
The strength in diversity came when all recognized that in order to stop war houses of faith must be active members of their towns, villages, and cities in making justice. This lecture by Rev. Karen Tse will share how this successful witness came to be, the transformation of the people who participated, and its lasting after effects to stop injustice and bring peace.
Friday, October 16, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
"We Welcome Your Story": Engaging the Religiously Unaffiliated at Harvard Divinity School
Speakers: Angie Thurston and Aisha Ansano (UU)
According to a 2012 Pew survey, one in five American adults is religiously unaffiliated, including one in three under 30. This growing population has become known as the “Nones,” in reference to their response on surveys about religious affiliation. Nones may be spiritual but not religious, agnostic, atheist, religious but not affiliated, or nothing in particular. Since Nones are largely of the Millennial generation, colleges are learning to provide for students who don’t claim an existing tradition, but are looking for community organized around big questions.
The HDS Religious Nones is a student group founded in 2013 to provide a home for the religiously unaffiliated at Harvard Divinity School. The group’s membership jumped from four to 35 in the first year, and now includes students who belong to communities of faith, in addition to those who do not. Join two founding members to learn about this fledgling interreligious community. We will briefly introduce the Nones in general and our group in particular, then lead a meeting just like we do each week on campus—including a check-in, discussion of spiritual practice and worldview, group song, and intentions for the week. We welcome those of no and any religious affiliation.
Friday Oct. 16th at 2pm
Sanatana Dharma and Earth Liberation: A Goddess-Based Path to a Sustainable Future
Dr. David Dillard-Wright (UU)
Dr. Dillard-Wright explores the Vedic principle of Rta or cosmic order as it relates to the more familiar ideas of dharma and karma. The deep ordering of the cosmos means that human beings must align themselves with Nature in order to avoid the great suffering to be unleashed by runaway climate change. The inner work of contemplation and the outer work of transformation are two moments in the life of the devotee, who wishes to stay on the benevolent side of the warrior goddess, also known as Durga, Kali, or simply Earth.
Saturday, October 17th, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Shared Session: Writing a Global Ethic, Let's Explore How to Bring Its Directives into Wider Conversation
Speakers: Rev. Myriam Renaud
Room 255 EF
The world is racked with violence, war, and innocent suffering. The Global Ethic, a remedy proposed in 1993, was ratified by the representatives who attended that year’s Parliament of the World Religions. Written by Hans Kung in consultation with more than 100 scholars and religious leaders, the Global Ethic’s four directives express the values, standards, and attitudes shared by the world’s religious and secular traditions. At the 2015 Parliament, twenty-two years later, our program features a panel of three scholars who will review the Global Ethic and then lead a practical discussion. The panel includes a Unitarian Universalist minister who analyzed the Global Ethic for her doctoral dissertation, a Catholic Vicar and seminary professor who worked with Kung directly and co-wrote the “Introduction” to the Global Ethic, and a legal scholar who specializes in international law and global ethics. Our other featured experts include all of you. The Global Ethic was intended to serve as the moral companion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Come share your ideas about the ways in which the Global Ethic is embedded in your religious tradition and brainstorm ways that it could achieve greater visibility in your own tradition and in world-wide conversations.
Saturday, October 17th, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Pathways to Peace: Healing our Environment and the World
Speakers: Rev. Rudolf Gelsey
Room 355 D
This inspirational, interactive program examines how the legacies of Perennial Philosophy, Abrahamic religious traditions, Eastern and indigenous religions help form the foundations of a common spiritual heritage that can shape our path to perpetual peace and a sacred experience of our environment and the earth. Every person has the opportunity to express and live the divinity and infinity. This divinity means infinite compassion and love.
Program Format: The workshop introduces via Socratic discussion the primary concepts and issues advancing perpetual peace and ecological sustainability from the standpoint of Perennial Philosophy, universal principles of spiritual traditions, and experiences of the sacred in nature and people. Participants have the opportunity to interact in small group discussions about problems and possibilities surrounding perpetual peace and environmental sustainability through brain-storming.
Opportunities for whole group discussion provide individuals and small groups the opportunity to share constructive ideas about how to advance perpetual peace, including abolishing the permanent veto power in the UN Security Council and formation of a world federation. Meditative interludes are planned that foster deeper reflection about our personal and collective roles in pathways to peace. The program offer structured time for encouraging participant networking in the interests of peace and environmental sanctity.
Sunday, October 18th, 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM
Prayers for the Earth
Presenters: Leslie Hugo (CUUPS leader), Andrea Bernstein
The Despacho is a central practice of the Q’ero Shamans of Peru; a prayer bundle which is fed with our breath and prayers in thanks, reverence and balance to the Earth and Nature Spirits. To these Indigenous people, this ceremony is an act of love and reminds us of the connection we share with all of life. In the Andean cosmology all life is Sacred, a gift to be lived and revered. This Sacred ceremony aligns our intent and gratitude with the earth. It also brings participants into alignment with their bodies, heart and wisdom as well as their community and all of life. During this ceremony, we will be leading an Ayni Despacho. The intention of an Ayni Despacho is to bring things into right relationship. All participants of this ceremony will have an opportunity to add their intentions to the Despacho bundle to bring the relationship with humans and Mother Earth back into balance and harmony.
Sunday, October 18th, 8:15 AM - 9:45 AM
Kwan Yin and the Dragon
Speakers: David Ernst (UU), Brian Kroeger, Callie Allred
Act I: Kwan Yin and the Dragon Characters: Kwan Yin Goddess of Compassion Dragon Little Girl/Old Man Townspeople Act II: At the Cafe Characters: Melody teenage girl Harry grandfather Tom grandfathers friend Synopsis: Compassion and action in story and conversation. Each of us has within ourselves a dragon and Kwan Yin. The dragon is not to be destroyed, rather it is to be brought into relationship with the internal self and the world around us. Compassion is the mode by which we can accomplish this task. The discussion at the cafe explores the impact of the tale on the protagonists.
Sunday, October 18th, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Children, Climate, Faith Symposium: How to Start a Movement
Speakers: Byron Breese, Tim DeChristopher, Bill McKibben, Mary Evelyn Tucker
Room 355 F
In 2012, in a rural Vermont town, an annual symposium was founded which surprised the established environmental activists and religious institutions. The Symposium created a new dialogue and foundation for the work of the faithful in climate change. We testified that climate disruption creates social injustice, especially for children. Most every faith and spiritual tradition teaches two truths, that children are to be safeguarded, and social justice is imperative. Previously, mainstream religious environmental movements had been rightly driven by a “creation care” argument; we chose broader provocations.
Past keynote speakers Bill McKibben, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Tim DeChristopher, and Starhawk felt the same coherence as every attendee. Around the shift in consciousness noted above, and the call of faith in each of us, a genuinely pluralist spirit and call to action arose. “I feel I am freer here to speak what I believe than I am even at Yale,” was how distinguished Yale professor Tucker put it.
Our panel, including organizers and past speakers, will share how faith sparked the creation of OCCF, and show how this organizations has opened a new conversation motivating action.
Sunday, October 18th, 1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Commit2Respond - People of Faith and Conscience taking action for Climate Justice
Speakers: Rev. Eric Cherry, Tim DeChristopher, Rev. Tom Goldsmith, Joan Gregory
Room 355 F
Climate justice activists Tim DeChristopher, Joan Gregory and Rev. Tom Goldsmith will share stories of faith-based environmental activism and commitment. These stories are local, national, and global. Their scope includes civil disobedience, mobilization, public witness, and personal change. Join them in an exploration of how the breadth and depth of the climate justice movement quickly expands when spiritual support and theological depth are matched with concrete commitments made by new and long-time activists.
Commit2Respond is a grassroots movement of individuals, families, groups, congregations, and organizations across North America and beyond. We are Unitarian Universalists, people of other faiths, and people of no faith. We are people of all ages, races, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. Together, we commit to take action that confronts the climate crises in three ways:
1) growing the climate justice movement
2) advancing the human rights of affected communities
3) shifting to clean, renewable energy.
Join us for this panel discussion. Share your commitments. Link-up with Commit2Respond
Sunday, October 18th, 5:15 PM - 6:45 PM
Nature Sings: Spirit of Our National Parks
Speakers: Art Lee
The lights go down, the spot and projector turn on, and you are transported to some of the most beautiful places on earth, our National Parks!
Art Lee combines his talents in an exciting multimedia show and live concert, years in the making because he wrote the songs, took the photos and experienced the adventures that are his stories.
Lee's songwriting usually starts with poetry. When exploring, Lee is fully occupied with photography, but the poetry and emergent refrain play on. Interplays of lyric with melody, past with present, distress with joy lead to surprising, even miraculous results!
Lee's photography is relentless and extreme. He’s hiked, backpacked, rafted and climbed thousands of miles in over forty National Parks and throughout the west -- altitude sickness, frostbite, ruptured discs, wild animal encounters, … all for moments in time!
Sunday, October 18th, 5:15 PM - 6:45 PM
Service as Pathway to Alleviating Human Suffering
Speakers: Manohar Singh Grewal, Mejindarpal Kaur, Rev. Eric M. Cherry, Dr. Michael Reid Trice, Naaem Baig, James Jardine
Room 250 D
Human suffering has been a major concern since recorded human history. This includes hunger, diseases, wars, natural disasters, as well as inequality in social structures and wealth accumulation. It is the sacred duty of people of faith to help fellow human beings in need and uplift them in the society.This interfaith panel discussion will focus on the concept of service in their faith traditions as a tool of reducing human suffering. This will enhance better understanding among world religions through service of the humanity.
Sunday, October 18, 5:15 PM - 6:45 PM
Conversations Among Humanists, Atheists, and Religious Believers
Presenters: Father Carl Chudy, Kathleen Green (UU), Lori Fazzino, Mel Lipman, Nadia Hassan
Room 250 D
In our search for common ground across the secular/religious divide we are seeking ways we can engage our unique takes on activism in our communities and world, together.
The program will offer a special focus on bridges in the secular/religious divide to witness collaboration and cooperation between atheists and religious believers. This is meant to counter the divisiveness in the secular/religious divide that is often used as an excuse for terrorism.
Sunday, October 18th, 5:15 - 6:45 PM
Interfaith Voices from Urban America
Speakers: Rev. Erik Martinez Resly (UU), Osa Obaseki
We know what interfaith collaboration looks like – but what does it sound like? The Sanctuaries in Washington, DC brings younger people of different racial and religious backgrounds together to promote spiritual growth and social change through the creative arts. In this performance, artists from The Sanctuaries will share their personal stories of hardship and hope through diverse artistic media, from spoken word poetry to hip hop and soul. Join us as we celebrate the overlooked voices of interfaith dignity and respect in an age too often stained by sectarian hatred and hostility.
Monday, October 19th, 12:15 PM - 1:45 PM
Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples
Speakers: Paula Palmer
Room 251 E
The Toward Right Relationship project, sponsored by the Boulder Friends Meeting (Quakers), offers this workshop in response to calls from Indigenous leaders and the World Council of Churches. The 2-hour experiential exercise traces the historic and ongoing impacts of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, the 15th-century justification for European subjugation of non-Christian peoples. Our goal is to raise our level of knowledge and concern about these impacts, recognize them in ourselves and our institutions, and explore how we can begin to take actions toward “right relationships.” We provide a Resource Kit with suggestions for continued study, reflection, and action.
In the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, we find the roots of injustice. In the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we find the seeds of change. How can we nurture these seeds to bring forth the fruits of right relationship among all peoples?
Paula Palmer from the Quaker community will repeat this workshop and will present a train the trainers workshop at First Unitarian on Monday and Tuesday evenings for the local community – all are welcome.
Monday, October 19, 12:15 PM - 1:45 PM
The Phenomenon of Evil
Speakers; Rev. Edmund Robinson (UU)
Room 250 C
Evil is an apparent reality and the concept is used to mobilize support for various measures to combat global terrorism as well as homophobia, sexism, poverty and other social ills. The concept has a long history in mythology, philosophy and religion, particularly in theistic belief systems where it is said to contradict the benevolence of God. In the Universalist tradition, I argue that the word has so much emotive content that its semantic meaning falls apart, so that its use inhibits rather than helps understanding of a particular situation and impedes attempts to deal with it. In particular, retribution, the deliberate infliction of suffering in retaliation for an offense, is not consistent with the teachings of Jesus or the public interest, and the obscene incarceration rates seen in the United States would be lessened if retribution were removed as a justification for criminal punishment.
Monday, October 19th, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Divestment 101 for Faith Communities
Speakers: Kathryn Albury, Sue Geary, Rev. Tom Goldsmith, Joan Gregory
Room 251 C
Climate change!! -- you’ve commented, written letters, marched and rallied, you’ve done the math, it’s time to DIVEST! Around the world, students are demanding that their education not be funded by the actions of the fossil fuel industry which diminish the health of the world in which their future will unfold. They are calling on college and university boards of trustees to divest from fossil-based energy companies. Faith communities are declaring that profiting from wrecking the planet is a moral issue and that it is time to divest from fossil fuels.
Fossil fuel divestment takes the fossil fuel industry to task for its culpability in the climate crisis. By naming this industry’s singularly destructive influence — and by highlighting the moral dimensions of climate change — the fossil fuel divestment movement is helping break the stranglehold that the fossil fuel industry has on our economies and our governments. First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City voted to divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry in May 2013 and successfully divested soon thereafter. Panelists from First Unitarian SLC will tell their divestment story and will share practical resources they have developed for teaching a divestment workshop for Utah faith communities.