The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) history begins with the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, part of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This first formal gathering of representatives from Eastern and Western spiritual traditions is recognized today as the birth of the modern interreligious movement.
In 1988 a group of religious leaders, academics and local organizers started meeting in Chicago to organize the centenary Parliament of the World’s Religions. This group incorporated as the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. The centenary Parliament, a landmark event, was held in 1993 with 8,000 attending, including many eminent religious leaders. In 1994 the Council determined that the Parliament would be held every five years and subsequent Parliaments were held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1999; in Barcelona, Spain, in 2004; and in Melbourne, Australia, in 2009.
CPWR’s mission is to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
CPWR does this by serving and strengthening the global interreligious movement – manifested through commitment and activities of individuals, religious, spiritual and convictional communities, and institutions at grassroots, regional and interreligious levels – seeking to address the urgent challenges now confronting the human community and all life on Earth.
CPWR convenes the interreligious movement in all its rich diversity. All CPWR’s work is grassroots in nature and open to everyone.
A Parliament event is not a “conference” or organizational assembly but an event, which offers hundreds of programs including lectures, panels, workshops, rituals, meditations, other religious observances, artistic performances and more. Participants from throughout the world attend in their individual capacity and may be of any religion or spiritual group or without affiliation. They come from hundreds of local, national, regional and international religious communities and organizations.
The Council’s work is about cultivating interreligious harmony (rather than “unity”) and fostering shared commitment, coalition-building and collaboration. Such an approach respects, and is enriched by, the particularities of each tradition. CPWR seeks to create spaces where people of great diversity can work together for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
The Council is most famous for hosting global Parliament events, but their work is far more extensive:
- CPWR convenes the interreligious movement at the global level through Parliament events held every five years
- CPWR catalyzes grassroots movements in cities and regions through its Partner Cities Network.
- CPWR equips communities and their leadership by providing practical trainings and webinars in order to foster constructive engagement with the daunting challenges of the 21st century.
- CPWR connects the interreligious movement through PeaceNext.org – CPWR’s social network, and
- CPWR supports community-building through the vehicle of Sacred Space.
And CPWR continues to create innovative models to increase social cohesion in diverse metropolitan centers. In the face of ever-increasing migration and xenophobia, a new project is being launched in Malmo, Sweden, that will connect and mobilize mainstream religious communities to act as advocates for immigrant religious communities.
Goals for the Future
To bring the programmatic initiatives and illustrative models developed over the last twenty years to a global scale.
Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
70 E. Lake Street, Suite 205
Chicago, IL 60601