These are personal stories from participants of the
2015 Parliament of World’s Religions.
When I returned from my stay in Salt Lake City, I opened up the Urantia Book perpetual calendar to October 21st. It reads, from Paper 178,
As faith-enlightened and spirit-liberated sons… you face a double responsibility of duty to man and duty to God while you voluntarily assume a third and sacred obligation: service to the brotherhood of God-knowing believers.
I tried to classify our involvement at the Parliament according to this statement. Was it our duty to man? Was it our duty to God? Was it service to the brotherhood of God-knowing believers? I gladly realized that it was a satisfaction of all three obligations. Most activities at the Parliament united social cooperation, personal adjustment, and mutual spiritual nourishment. The Urantia Book affirms the universal indwelling of God’s spirit in the mind of every human being, and teaches that salvation is not necessarily a matter of intellectual creed or concept. These truths were especially apparent during the Parliament. Everywhere I turned, people were in readiness to acknowledge the divine light residing in the other. Even if that is not the conceptual framework within which the interfaith movement is currently operating, it seemed to be the substance of the experience.
Overall, the experience was unique, marvelous and encouraging. As those among the brotherhood of God-knowing believers, there is good reason for all of us to look forward with an increasingly sure hope and an enlightened good will in the midst of all our world’s problems.
I loved the experience so much. I learned something that I wouldn’t have had if I did not go.
Before I went to the parliament, I did not actually know what interfaith was. In my mind of imagination, a group of people who have different religions would be hypocritical or have sneaky quarrels about which religion is better.
However, it was way better than I thought it would be. Different religious leaders were talking about world issues such as climate change, nuclear weapons, woman’s rights, etc. I realize that it is not about figuring out how different we are from each other, but it is about working together towards the shared goals. The parliament of world’s religion definitely showed me the way we live together differently as a whole.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions was a very enlightening experience for me. It was incredibly gratifying to see all of these religious organizations coming together to find their unifying values. Looking around at the booths, and attending panels, it was very clear to see the consistent messages being put forth; tolerance, kindness, solidarity, peace.
As a secularist, it was surprising and wonderful to see that these powerful world leaders cared about the same items I am also concerned about, including climate change, nuclear weapon disarmament, and the growing wealth disparity. Religions are taking on important roles as not just custodians of the human spirit, but of the world, and mother nature as well. Seeing all these people come together as a force for good has greatly increased my ‘faith’ in the human race, and its future.
Before the fall of 2014 I had never heard of the Parliament of World Religions. And neither had anyone I told where I was going. Being part of a Fellowship of Urantia Book readers and an active outreach group, there was a large scale effort to minister to the event. As a group we had 4 different booths representing different themes. Many of us stayed in a very large house near the conference. This was an awesome experience, as we got to share our evenings and mornings. Everyone dispersed during the day but you would be hard pressed to not see a UB reader as you walked around, since there were over 100 there.
Some of my favorite things about the conference were: the Sikh Langar (they provided lunch every day), Meeting and discussing God with other faith backgrounds and seeing just how similar our beliefs really are, and the awesome workshops: my favorite being the screening of Bonsai People about Muhammad Yunis and microlending in Bangladesh. This was a unique experience that I could not possibly convey in words, or pictures. As is the usual with events like this: If you were not there, you will not know what you missed.
At the Parliament of the World’s Religions there was a striking presence of Native American culture. It was present most powerfully in the opening ceremony where war drums and tribal leaders in traditional dress created the opening atmosphere of the gathering. The native culture was most beautifully expressed in the outdoor courtyard, where two large tee-pees and an ever-burning campfire were the temporary home base for all who desired rest, warmth, or good company. At almost all times a person of the tribes was available to administer religious rites of smudging with burning herbs, casting of objects into the fire, and other simple ceremonies of intention. The children there were delighted to play games of ball, gymnastics, and make-believe. The elders stood in solidarity with any stranger; and many minutes were there passed in silent contemplation of & with the Great Spirit.
I was personally impressed by the elegance and beauty of the tee-pees. Simply constructed out of smooth conifer poles and modern factor-made canvas, they were pyramidal pictures of the most ancient homes on the planet. The skyscrapers of the city appeared crude when compared to the graceful, conical tee-pees. I meditated on how, with clear plastic tarp instead of canvas, a person could easily create a greenhouse teepee in which to live or to enclose some favorite fruit tree.
It is an awe-inspiring occasion when near ten thousand god-loving siblings unite in a single location to celebrate our individuality within the name of spiritual unity! Nostalgic appreciation will forever be embedded in my memory reserves and into the Supreme Being. Salt Lake City’s international gathering was the perfectly poised positive needed on Urantia just at this moment. What an era to be alive on our ever-watched world. I am so excited to be on the vanguard of the Truth being revealed with you!
Mine was a unique experience fulfilling my favorite ways to be of service, mothering, catering, and building relationships. There were no plenaries or workshops on my agenda; I enjoyed spectacles as I passed by, tribal dancing of the native Americans, an emotionally triggering orchestra, the amusingly meditative Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala artists, and a healing touch session from the Scientologists. The main intention of presence for me was nourishing community. Each morning, I awoke before dawn, and my twenty-four housemates, to prepare the meals for the day. This is our third event that anonymous donors have provided all organic foods for our clan. We had quite the spread for breakfast, with snacks to take-away for the long days. Most of us ate the Sikhs’ Langar at the convention center for lunch. Dinner each night varied in numbers, cuisine, and atmosphere. Communal living at these most special occasions has now proven to be the highest potency and efficiency of time with my tribe. The most precious memories are of greeting the smiling faces, eyes just opening, that smelled the quiches in the oven and fresh coffee brewing. Some of the best bounds were formed in those quite, early hours. After my alone-time for mental and spiritual posture practice, I delighted in eating cross-legged with a handkerchief over my hair being fed out of a pail. The Sikhs have something extra-ordinary going there, service through food.
Then I stood ground in two of the five booths disseminating our Truth, the Urantia booth and the YaYA’s Spiritual Unity booth. The experience of holding space in a booth is definitely becoming more comfortable as I do it more often. Being an ambassador with the help of the Northern Lights Society through their 2 x 2 = More Project a few years ago was my reintroduction to this kind of ministry. Praise be to our three leading organizations, the Fellowship, the Foundation, and the Urantia International Association, that have embraced the collaborative effort that the divine message is teaching us. There was yet another celestial enterprise with synchronizing the triangulation of energy of three Urantia-related booths. The cosmos arranged for 1God.com, Truthseekers, and the Spiritual Unity booth to cap the end of the display hall. Our invisible family, I can imagine, worked hard for us and rejoiced loud because of us.
My far-reaching, ultra-love emanations are targeting the continuously generous supporters of the youth and young adults. This celestially organized fifth movement is being taken much further with their passion for nourishing the rising generations. We had twenty-three beautiful brothers and sisters under forty-five years of age in our home for the week; also, there were other young adults that attended. It seems we comprised about one quarter of the Urantia students representing our ascensionary mission. Truly this gives us hope, for the immediate years to come, exploring kinship, leadership, and evangelism. The grateful sense of humble joy goes to the Urmia Project and the Victoria Clark Foundation. Our recent years have been graced with these youth-minded service organizations; their contributions are much more than financial. Mentorships, valuable friendships, and business partnerships have prevailed. If your prayers witness enthusiasm to support the youth and young adults in any way, please, donate to our cause. The time is now to help with scholarships, travel funds, food, ideas, blessings, and praise.
Visit the Parliament of the World’s Religions on YouTube