The 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions was held in Cape Town, South Africa from December 1-8, 1999. Nestled against Table Mountain and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town is home to a diversity of races and religious and cultural traditions. Religious, spiritual, cultural, and civic leaders, groups, and communities joined together in partnership with CPWR to make the 1999 Parliament an unforgettable gift to the world.
At the 1999 Parliament over 7,000 people from around the world –– teachers, scholars, leaders, believers and practitioners –– came together to experience astonishing spiritual and cultural variety, to exchange insights, to share wisdom, to celebrate their unique religious identities; in short, to be amazed, delighted, and inspired. At the same time, participants wrestled with the critical issues facing the global community, learning about the world situation, and seeking the moral and ethical convergence that leads to shared commitment and action.
The 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions was a celebration of hope and a vision of possible futures. It also gave powerful testimony to the good hearts and good will of the many thousands of people––from every part of the world, and from almost every religious and spiritual tradition––who believed that this gathering could indeed be the harbinger of a new day dawning.
It was not the intention of those who gathered in Cape Town to create a new religion, or to diminish in any way the precious uniqueness of any path. Instead, they come together to demonstrate that the religious and spiritual traditions and communities of Cape Town, of South Africa, and of the larger world can and should encounter one another in a spirit of respect, and with an openness to new understanding. They joined with one another in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation, seeking to discover new ways to rise to the challenges and the opportunities of life at the threshold of a new century. And they came with the realization that as each of us reaches out to the transcendent in her or his own way, somehow, we are no longer strangers to one another.