The 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) in Toronto, Canada from 1st to 7th November 2018. The Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) was represented at the Parliament by Hellen Mugo. The Parliament’s theme for 2018 was ‘The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation, and Change’, drawing from movements of goodwill and cross-cultural respect that characterize the interfaith movement.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions is a historical event with roots from 1893 Chicago when the city of Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition. The exposition brought together various spiritual leaders from around the world to share their perspectives and engage in dialogue thus serving as the birthplace of the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions. Today, the 1893 Parliament is recognized as the origin of formal inter-religious dialogue worldwide. Canada was the 7th host of the Parliament.
The 2018 Parliament invited peoples of faith and conscience to stand for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. This 7th Parliament of the World’s Religions featured over 500 programs and events across the following six major tracks:
- The Women’s Track: The Dignity of Women Across the World’s Wisdom Traditions
- Countering War, Hate & Violence Track: Peace and Love: Not War, Hate & Violence
- Climate Action Track: Care for Our Earth, Responsibility for Our Future
- The Indigenous Peoples’ Track: The Spiritual Evolution of Humanity & Healing Our Mother Earth
- The Next Generations Track: Interfaith Has No Age, Youth Voices for Change
- Justice: Advancing Concrete Change Toward a Just, Peaceful, and Sustainable World
Each major track represented serious concerns that humanity and all of creation is facing and was assigned its own day of focus at the parliament. Each day with its specific theme had many sessions scheduled including the main plenary and many parallel workshops and side events along the theme. There was also an exhibition area where different religions/ faiths and faith-based organizations displayed material and taught visitors about their work.
The Parliament brought together over 10,000 persons of faith and conscience from 80 nations and over 200 unique spiritual backgrounds. It offered diverse programming for all participants, from faith leaders to political leaders, scholars and activists, authors and entertainers to families and children – including artistic presentations like music, lectures, discussion forums, plenaries to interactive cultural experiences.
Among the participants and exhibitors in the Parliament was the International Partnership on Religions and Sustainable Development (PaRD), which brings together governmental and intergovernmental entities with diverse civil society organisations (CSOs) and faith-based organisations (FBOs), to work jointly for sustainable development and humanitarian assistance in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Besides its booth showcasing the work of PaRD and its members, PaRD held a workshop on Gender Justice and Peace for development, with panelists representing its work in gender equality and sustainable peace. The panelists included Hellen Mugo of CYNESA who talked about gender dymanics in Kenya & Africa and the role of religion in gender justice and peace.
CYNESA Board Member.