“Faith in Women: Women’s Dignity and Human Rights,” a pre-Parliament gathering on Thursday focused on women- the challenges they face and the gifts they bring to the world. The opening session featured greetings from indigenous grandmothers and noted women leaders from Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and other religious backgrounds. Workshops addressed the Earth and the Sacred, sexual violence against women, the role of the Divine Mother, Mormon Feminists, and women as global peacemakers, to name just a few.
The official opening of the Parliament on Thursday evening was led by a Native American drum circle and a procession of local indigenous leaders who danced and then welcomed the visitors to their tribal lands, the home of the Utes, the Shoshone, and many more.
The Governor of Utah noted that it was a lot easier for the over 9,000 attendees at the Parliament to get to Salt Lake City than it was for the original settlers. They came on foot, in carts, and on horseback, he said, but their dream was to find “peace and a place to practice their religion freely.” Those who gathered for the Parliament are seeking the same things- in a time “when religious harmony is needed more than ever,” those gathered for the next few days will devote themselves to learning about others, facing up to the challenges of the contemporary world, and finding ways to work together for the good of all.
Although the thousands of people in the room came from around the world and represented dozens, if not hundreds, of diverse religious traditions, they gathered with a common faith, one that United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon named in a message to the gathering: “a shared faith in humanity.”
It was perhaps more than a little ironic that after devoting a full day to women and their importance to the religious world that there were only a few women on the stage for the opening ceremonies, none of them making a major speech. Nonetheless, we enjoyed a rousing welcome to what was to come over the next few days.
This is the archive for the Bay Area Interfaith Connect, the former newsletter for the Interfaith Center at the Presidio .