CHICAGO — Religious and spiritual leaders from more than 200 different faiths and traditions around the globe are meeting in Chicago this week for the Parliament of the World’s Religions conference.
Starting Monday morning, 6,500-plus leaders from faith, civic and grassroots backgrounds representing more than 80 countries will convene at McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center, where a keynote speech will be given by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.
“It’s definitely the largest interfaith gathering in the world,” said Stephen Avino, executive director for the conference. “Our theme this year is a call to conscience—defending freedom and human rights, and all people of faith, no faith and different ideologies could get behind that.”
Since the conference’s inception at the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893, the organization has focused on bringing a diverse group of people together who are committed to justice, peace and sustainability.
When the group gathers this week, Avino said they will brainstorm solutions to some of the globe’s most pressing issues, including climate change.
“We will also be focusing on women’s rights, the rights of indigenous people and the rights of the next generation,” Avino said.
Avino also said part of the beauty of the conference is that it helps build relationships between people who typically wouldn’t cross paths.
“So for example, when we had our parliament in Melbourne, there were nine interfaith organizations in the city of Melbourne,” Avino said. ” After the parliament left, there were over 40 different interfaith organizations.”
For more information on the Parliament of the World’s Religions, those interested can find more details on the conference’s website.
Avino also said those thinking about attending the conference can use the following codes for a discount on admission:
PoWRweek – $300 off on admission to entire conference.
PoWRDay – $76 off one day admission.
Along with Mayor Johnson’s keynote address Monday, other featured speakers include Cardinal Blase Cupich, retired congressman Bobby Rush, and a video message from Nancy Pelosi.