Our History

The Parliament of the World’s Religions is the world’s premier interfaith convening of civic, spiritual, and grassroots changemakers. The historic convenings are organized by our 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in the city of Chicago.

A Historic Legacy

The organization was founded on a mission to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and to foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to address the critical issues of our time. The Parliament was incorporated in 1988 to carry out a tradition and legacy that dates back to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the historic first convening of the World’s Parliament of Religions created a global platform for engagement of religions of the east and west.

Since the historic 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, modern Parliament Convenings have attracted participants from more than 200 diverse religious, indigenous, and secular beliefs and more than 80 nations to its international gatherings in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004), Melbourne (2009), Salt Lake City (2015), Toronto (2018) and virtually (2021). These Parliament Convenings are the world’s oldest, largest, and most inclusive gatherings of the global interfaith movement. Nearly 60,000 people across the world have convened in an enduring commitment to justice, peace, and sustainability through the lens of interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

Global leaders such as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, Nobel Peace Laureates Desmond Tutu and Shirin Ebadi, and President Jimmy Carter have addressed the Parliament Convenings throughout their history.


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Land Acknowledgment

The Parliament of the World's Religions is headquartered in the City of Chicago, the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations, and other tribes such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, and Fox. 

PoWR recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land. We remain committed to the advancement of dignity and justice for Indigenous Peoples’ and their communities in the region and around the world.


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