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Religion — Parliament of the World's Religions will be held in Salt Lake City in October



Having attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, in 2004 and in Melbourne, Australia, in 2009, Newberg First United Methodist Church Pastor Bob Flaherty is an outspoken fan of the world’s largest interfaith gathering.

So when Flaherty was invited to host a preview for the 2015 event, which will take place Oct. 15-19 in Salt Lake City, he was more than happy to oblige.

He was even more pleased to learn that the parliament will give away one free invitation at the local event, which will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 28 at Newberg First United.

“If you can go, it’s a great event,” Flaherty said. “They’re planning for 10,000 people. It’s huge.”

The first Parliament of the World’s Religions was held in Chicago in 1893 so that people from different religious and spiritual traditions could share, learn, network and celebrate together in hopes of reducing the divisions that had arisen between them.

The Dalai Lama was one of the featured speakers in Chicago in 1993, when the event was revived, and will be featured again in Salt Lake City this year.

Other featured speakers include 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias, television and radio personality Tavis Smiley, Sioux tribe Chief Arvol Lookinghorse, humanitarian Arun Gandhi, United States Ambassador At-Large for International Religious Freedom Rabbi David Saperstein, Hindu author and environmental justice activist Vandana Shiva and many others.

The event in Newberg will be modeled after a typical day at the parliament, which includes observances of various faith traditions, interfaith and intra-faith workshops and plenary sessions with the headline speakers.

Flaherty and the local interfaith steering committee have arranged for a Zen meditation, which will be led by staff from the Dharma Rain Center in Portland; Native American flute music; a large group presentation; small group sessions and a closing observance.

“We’re compressing a whole day into 90 minutes so we can just give people a taste of what it would be like to be at the parliament,” Flaherty said. “The lecture piece or what would be the equivalent of the plenary session is going to be an overview of the history of the parliament and an invitation for people to participate in Salt Lake and learn about the themes for the gathering.”

Since the parliament may never take place any closer to Oregon than Salt Lake City, this year is a unique opportunity to attend.

The cost to register is $475 or $150 for students until June 30, after which group rates will also no longer be offered. That fee will be waived for one person that attends the Newberg event and signs up for the parliament’s email newsletter. The winner will be chosen by parliament organizers at a later date.

For more information about the preview event, call 503-538-5404 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To learn more about the Parliament of the World’s Religions or register for the 2015 event, visit www.parliament ofreligions.org.

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