An ambitious “To-Do” list opened the commissioning of the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions, recited by the evening’s emcee, Rabbi Rachel Mikva, a Parliament Trustee, Professor of Jewish Studies and Director for Christian, Jewish and Islamic Studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary. She invited all to join her in the work to:
1. Bring an end to andro-centrism, patriarchy and oppression of women
2. End extreme poverty by 2030
3. Cultivate cultures of nonviolence
4. Manage the paradigm shift into the way we relate to the earth and all that exists in it and on it
5. Bring a little peace, love, joy and truth to the universe
She related her Parliament experience to Yom Kippur, the day of atonement when Jewish people spend a day in a synagogue working on “becoming the human beings we were created to be, and developing an amazing sense of solidarity with those who have been on the journey with us over these past days.” And though a jubilant end to a Parliament, the last words were also sobering. John Dayal, an Indian Christian activist working for the justice
or the “untouchables” of India, expressed gratitude for the Parliament, asking that in the future, the platform widen ever- further to give greater visibility to those most marred by the injustices of our world.
His call to action was joined by the powerfully charged reminders of the Imam from Texas, Omar Suleiman, who asked all to remember that extremists are not religious actors, and that allowing hate to go unchecked within religious congregations devalues the traditions that are helping to shape up and coming generations in an increasingly materialistic and secular world.
Abdul Malik Mujahid celebrated that the majority of speakers on the plenary stages and throughout programs were women, and honored three women in particular as the Parliament’s guardian angels during the global recession:
Dr. Mary Nelson, the Parliament board Vice-Chair who stepped in with 6 honorary PhDs and four decades experience as a community development leader to serve as Executive Director for the Parliament organization.
She led it out out of dire financial straits and into an era of new possibilities. Next, the Rev. Phyllis Curott, who served as the next Parliament Board Vice-Chair and championed the Women’s Assembly, and finally Suzanne Morgan, the Parliament’s Sacred Space Ambassador whose talents helped to curate the Parliament’s most sacred space yet. Morgan, a significant contributor, said that the Parliament was the best investment of her life.
She smiled to the audience saying “You are the return on my investment.”
And with that, more than 10,000 people departed for home, tired, but exhilarated by the challenges spelled out in their commitment books, now ever-more active members of a global interfaith movement.
With the announcement of a Parliament to be held every other year, the clock ticking on the the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and preparation to act, people of faith found the best in themselves and one another.
The heart of humanity, reclaimed.