“The solemn charge which the Parliament preaches to all true believers is a return to the primitive unity of the world…The results may be far off, but they are certain.” John Henry Barrows, 1893
In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition, which served as the birthplace of the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions. Held on the shores of Lake Michigan, the World’s Parliament of Religions marks the first formal gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Today, the 1893 Parliament is recognized as the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide. A variety of spiritual leaders from around the world came to share their perspectives and engage in dialogue. A captivating Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda, addressed 5,000 assembled delegates, greeting them with the words, “Sisters and brothers of America!” His declaration introduced Hinduism to America. Buddhist, Jain, and Muslim speakers were also present at the gathering. An unprecedented number of 19 women spoke at this Parliament from various spiritual backgrounds, signaling the beginning of a global interfaith movement.