I am confident that never before, in the history of the Tabernacle, has there been a more religiously diverse series of performers, not to mention audience that gathered last night on Temple Square. Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Baha’i, Sufi, various Native American, African, and many more faith traditions represented at the Parliament of the World’s Religions attended. It was the annual “Evening of Sacred Music” sponsored by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, The Parliament of the World’s Religions. The LDS Church provided the venue.
Hard to choose a favorite number but highlighting two may give you an idea of what a mesmerizing program the attendees experienced. The Burundi Drum Group are made up of refugees from Rwanda and resettled in Utah. Their drums and dance, which are integral to their spirituality, were spell-binding. They entered stage right with huge drums balanced on their heads playing as they walked. How did they do that? The other out and out show stopper was a multi-faith children’s choir including Sikh, Christian, Baha’i, Jewish Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, and Jain children. At the end of both numbers, the packed house erupted into applause and stood in ovation.
Both groups were a visual and vocal testament that people of all religions can meet and work together. The entire conference has been collaborative and inspiring. I’ve read a handful of comments responding to news stories about the Parliament that are very negative. Some folk do not appear to see the powerful and positive influence that religion has to marshal and move billions of people in good and noble ways in the service of humanity. That daily influence is absolutely undeniable. If you agree—embrace the possibilities to engage in interfaith opportunities in your community. Opportunities will continue to present themselves. Approximately one decade ago, refugees like the Burundi Drum Group resettled on the Wasatch front and elsewhere. And make no mistake, Syrian refugees are on their way. Open your hearts and open your doors in anticipation to serve and come to know them.