2009 Parliament of the World's Religions
The 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions brought together an estimated 8,000 people to discuss the theme "Make a World of Difference: Hearing each other, Healing the earth." Conference proceedings focused on the experience of indigenous communities around the world. Major speakers included Akbar Ahmed, the Dalai Lama, M. Din Syamsuddin of Muhammadiyah, and representatives of indigenous people in North America and Australia, as well senior leaders from the World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, and International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. Organizers believe that the Parliament's efforts to facilitate interreligious understanding are crucial to combating religious extremism in all forms.
Presentations were grouped according to seven sub-themes: Healing the Earth with Care and Concern; Reconciling with the Indigenous Peoples; Overcoming Poverty in a Patriarchal World; Securing Food and Water for all People; Building Peace in the Pursuit of Justice; Creating Social Cohesion in Village and City; and Sharing Wisdom in the Search for Inner Peace. Other topics of discussion included religion and science, HIV/AIDS, and religious perspectives on modern communication technology. (Katherine Marshall of the Berkley Center played a key role in shaping the event's poverty and development programming.) Participants also had the opportunity to visit local places of worship, and music and art events provided further opportunities for interaction across religious traditions. A parallel youth program led young people in guided discussions on themes including sports as a tool for peace and care for the environment. A coffeehouse venue and offsite service project also encouraged continued community engagement in these issues.