In a Tuesday news conference, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions announced the site for the long-awaited 2015 Parliament. The first U.S. Parliament in 22 years will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 15-19 2015. The announcement was delivered from the Salt Palace Convention Center where the event will take place.
Salt Lake City was chosen for a variety of reasons, one of which is its natural beauty. The organization’s press release describes the terrain as “stunning the eye and moving the heart of all to protect the only earth we have.”
The mountain town certainly provides a majestic backdrop to a world interfaith event. However natural beauty wasn’t the only reason for the selection. Board trustee Andras Corban-Arthen is the chair of the site-selection committee. He explains,
Our site-selection criteria had to be pretty flexible and, more than anything, pragmatic. Since we lost Brussels (our previously designated host city) as a result of the European economic downturn a couple of years ago, we’ve been searching for another city that would provide us with the opportunity to organize the next Parliament as quickly as possible … while still enabling us to maintain the level of autonomy, as well as the quality of organization and programming … When Salt Lake City contacted us, we felt it was a good fit for us to meet a lot of our main objectives. While it’s very true that Utah is the Mormon stronghold, Salt Lake City itself has a much more diverse population.
That diversity includes interfaith groups as well as individual practitioners of a variety of minority religions. He adds, “Bringing the Parliament to Salt Lake City will encourage the further development of interreligious dialogue in the city. It should also provide a much more pluralistic outlook on important, controversial topics such as same-sex marriage and the ordination of women to the priesthood within a context that won’t be dominated by the dogma of any one religion.”
The Council has not yet decided on a main theme or focus for the 2015 Parliament. However, Corban-Arthen says, in general, the event will reflect contemporary concerns including “environmental destruction; poverty and economic disparity; violence; the erosion of human rights; racism; gender and sexual discrimination; the destruction of indigenous cultures.”
Tuesday’s announcement was made by a number of speakers, including Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid; Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson; Arun Ghandi, Parliament trustee and grandson of Ghandi; Andres Himes, Executive Director for the Charter for Compassion and Sande Hart, North American Chair for the United Religions Initiative. Present at the ceremony were two local Salt Lake Pagan religious leaders.
Corban-Arthen says, ” I would love to see a large pagan turnout in Salt Lake City. The Parliament has been very good to us: it was the first major interfaith organization to not only open its doors to us, but also to actually invite us to sit at the table.” He encourages Pagans and Heathens of any and all traditions to attend.CoG Interfaith Representative Aline “Macha NightMare” O’Brien is hoping to attend. After hearing the announcement she said, “Having been involved in the interfaith arena for some years, mostly locally and regionally, I’m thrilled that the Parliament will be convening on this continent…Until now, I’ve watch international interfaith mostly from afar, so I’m eager that there’s now a possibility for me to experience it up close and personal.”
Corban-Arthen encourages Pagans and Heathens to attend, not just those engaged in interfaith work, and he advises for all “to go with open hearts and minds, and to listen and to engage.” He says:
There’s an awful lot any of us can learn at a Parliament, not just about the teachings of other religions but, maybe more importantly, about living our spirituality and manifesting it in the world, about finding common ground, about confronting and transcending prejudices, theirs as well as ours. Many of us have found that the Parliament has been a life-changing experience; I certainly have.
Registration is now open and programming information will be available over the next year.
In Other Pagan Community News:
- The Bloomsbury Religious Studies sites has an interview up with Douglas Ezzy about his new book “Sex, Death, and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival.” Quote: “The book is both a rich ethnographic account of controversial Pagan festival and a provocative reflection on the role of emotions, symbols, and ritual in theories of religion. […] The book develops a theory of the role of symbols, emotions, and performance in religious practice, illustrated through an ethnographic account of a Pagan festival involving theatrically elaborate rituals that explore sex and death.”
- The 5th annual Pagan Podkin Supermoot takes place this Friday in Chicago. This meeting of Pagan podcasters will include a joint shopping expedition on Saturday, and attendance at the Chicago Pagan Pride day event on Sunday.
- Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has announced the publication of the companion book to their 2013 Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes academic symposium (covered at The Wild Hunt here). Quote: “Pop the champagne! At long last the proceedings of our April 2013 symposium with the University of South Carolina, ‘Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes,’ have been published by ADF Publishing- Ár nDraíocht Féin.” You can also purchase the book on Amazon.com.
- At Patheos.com’s Pagan channel, John Halstead has called for a joint Pagan community statement on the environment. Quote: “Let’s start with something practical. Let’s start with a Pagan Community Statement on the Environment. The Covenant of the Goddess has even given us a good place to begin. This is my challenge to you. If you are interested in being a part of the process of drafting such a statement, please let me know…”
- The latest issue of Circle Magazine has just been published. Founder and Advisor Selena Fox had this to say: “Just Published! Divinities issue of CIRCLE Magazine, Circle Sanctuary’s quarterly serving Pagans across the USA & around the world. My ‘Making Magic at Super Moon’ article & rituals is in this issue.” Circle Magazine is available in print, and as a digital download.
- The Toronto, Ontario Pagan community has been gripped with grief over the discovery of remains that may belong to a missing member of their community. Quote: “In an interview last week on CBC’s Metro Morning, Currie’s older sister, Jennifer, said she suspects her sister may be in a state of emotional distress. She also said her sisters suffers from paranoia. She is an avid cyclist and a member of Toronto’s Wiccan community.” A positive identification has yet to be made. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends, family, and community members of Kit Currie.
- The Pantheon Foundation has undertaken the creation of a Pagan events calendar for the Bay Area of California (and beyond). Quote: “At the recent All Pagans Organizing meeting held August 16 in the East Bay (other locations coming soon!) the Pantheon Foundation volunteered to take on the responsibility for establishing and maintaining a calendar of events for Bay Area Pagans, and anyone else who wishes to have their Pagan (broadly construed) events listed. The primary maintainer of the Calendar is Molly Blue Dawn, who will be converting her regular event list email into this new tool and moderating the submissions so we are not flooded with spam.” You can find this new resource, here.
- Covenant of the Unitarian Universalist Pagans have announced the launch of a revisioning process, which will include internal discussions, analysis, and public surveys. The organization says that its goal is to create a “mission and vision” for the next ten years. John Beckett is heading up the revisioning team and writes,”Our goal is to produce a mission and vision statement that will set the high-level direction for CUUPS and for building a shared sense of identity and purpose. We want to include all our stakeholders: CUUPS members, UU-friendly Pagans, and Pagan-friendly UUs – if you have an opinion on what CUUPS is and what it should be, we want to hear from you. The first public survey is online here.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!
[Correction: Andras Corban-Arthen and Phyllis Curott were not in attendance at the PWR ceremony on Tuesday. However, two local Pagans representatives were there among the other local religious leaders.]