Abilene will be well represented when the Parliament of the World’s Religions meets Nov. 1-7 in Toronto.


Rob Sellers

Retired Hardin-Simmons University religion professor Rob Sellers is chairman of the board of trustees of the parliament. And Dennis Land, a McMurry University graduate, is an ambassador.

And, a number of university students and others in Abilene are expected to attend. Land is recruiting others to attend. Anyone interested can contact Land at dennis.land@outlook.com or call or text 830-928-3163. For more information on the parliament, including cost to attend, speakers, schedule, etc., go to www.parliamentofreligions.org

Land was a student at McMurry when he attend the last parliament, which was held in Salt Lake City in 2015.  Now, he is a team leader in the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services Department at the Betty Hardwick Center.

Three years after Salt Lake City, Land hasn’t forgotten the exhilarating experience of attending a global gathering of people from all parts of the world who practice practically every religion that exists.

“I was actually overwhelmed” Land said, at the variety of languages, aromas, music, and worship styles. “It was just an amazing experience overall.”


Dennis Land

But Land wasn’t so overwhelmed that he doesn’t want to try it again. The parliament, with headquarters in Chicago, meets somewhere in the world every three years. This year, it will meet Nov. 1-7 in Toronto, and Land is on a mission to recruit people to go.

“I’m just trying to do some word of mouth outreach right now,” Land said.

In 2015, students from all three of Abilene’s church-affiliated university attended. Land is hoping for a similar turnout in Toronto, although travel may be more difficult and more expensive. Students get a special rate, $195 for a full pass, compared to $495 for non-students. Pricing packages can be found at parliamentofreligions.org

Theme for the 2018 parliament is “The Promise of Inclusion & the Power of Love.” More than 12,000 delegates are expected. The parliament is the world’s oldest and most diverse global interfaith event and is marking its 125th anniversary. The first gathering was held in Chicago in 1893.

Land earned a degree from McMurry in interdisciplinary studies and wrote his capstone thesis on servant leadership in an interfaith context. He also participates in the Abilene Interfaith Council and sees interfaith cooperation as vital in today’s multicultural world.

“Let’s figure out a way where we can at least talk,” Land said.


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