Let the Parliament of the World’s Religions take you on a journey through story, videos and photos of an interfaith pilgrimage to remember the Sacredness of Water & the power of connecting with Sacred Sites of every faith.
From February 1st through February 7th, on the official observance of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, the Parliament joined international partners for Holy Land, Living Water. Presented by Unity Earth, the United Religions Initiative (URI), and EcoPeace Middle East, Holy Land, Living Water was a historic week-long pilgrimage across the Holiest Sites of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, along a path through the Jordan River Valley, where water has played a vital role in the sustenance of the region. Its scarcity has become amplified by climate change and population growth. In addition, some of the founding stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are set along the Jordan River banks and the valley contains sites sacred to half of humanity.
This event also commemorated the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week of 2020, with nearly 100 international delegates, among them Parliament Chair Audrey Kitagawa, from a wide array of cultural and faith backgrounds coming together to share spiritual practices, values and visions of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and harmonious world.
Parliament Chair, Audrey Kitagawa, participated in a panel and gave a speech as part of the U-Nite Concert. Enjoy recordings from the gathering below.
Want to learn more about the programming, explore short summaries and enjoy images from each day of the gathering below.
Dinner near Dead Sea
The journey began with an inspiring night of sharing, homogenizing, and messages of interfaith cooperation, hope, peace, and unity from the Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Ms. Audrey Kitagawa, Rev. Deborah Moldow, Chief Phil Lane Jr. and other prominent religious leaders. This welcome dinner, hosted by Executive Director of Unity Earth Ben Bowler, took place by the Dead Sea, famous for its religious significance and numerous mentions in the Bible. It is the lowest and most mineral-rich body of water in the world. The gathering set the stage for a week of visits to the sacred sites of the Holy Land.
The Parliament Chair and Unity Earth participants visited the sacred site of Mount Nebo, an important place of pilgrimage where Moses saw the Promised Land before he died. The group paid their respects at the commemorated site, the Memorial Church of Moses and the Siyagha (monastery). They gathered in front of the Brazen Serpent Monument, symbolic of the bronze serpent Moses created in the wilderness and the cross Jesus was crucified. Father Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam and Rev. Sylvia Sumter offered blessings, prayers, and messages of hope. Banners of peace, unity, and reverence toward water were displayed.
Water Ceremony on the Dead Sea
At sunset, Dr. Mindahi Bastida Muñoz led the group in the Four Directions Water Ceremony by the Dead Sea, a Native American blessing that calls on the Four Directions (East, North, West and South). The ceremony was conducted by First Nations elders who recognize the sacredness of water, the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of protecting our water from pollution. The ceremony on the Dead Sea was significant because of the reduced water flow.
Dead Sea Convergence
An ecology conference was held by the Dead Sea concerning the Holy Land and the Jordan River. Faith leaders from around the world discussed the intersection of faith, ecology, and the importance of water for supporting human life as well as its spiritual significance. Ben Bowler emceed the event. Yana Abu Taleb, Nada Majdalani, Ambassador Mussie Hailu, Professor Kathryn Libal, and His Highness Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi gave presentations. Gidon Bromberg moderated a diverse five-person panel of prominent faith leaders to discuss the ecological and spiritual significance of water in general and the Jordan River in particular. The panelists were the Parliament Chair, Ms. Audrey Kitagawa, Father Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, Rabbi Gabriel Hagai, Haji Syed Salman Chishty, and Ven. Dr. Phramaha Boonchuay Doojai.
May Peace Prevail on Earth Flag Ceremony
Various members of the group chanted for peace in a circle as they created a mosaic of flags representing all of the countries in the world.
Al-Maghtas Baptism Site at Jordan River
The sacred Al-Maghtas Baptism Site on the Jordan River is considered the third holiest place in Christianity. It is the official baptism site of Jesus, called Qasr al-Yahud, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The group gathered in the pavilion near the bank of the river for a prayer for the Jordan River. Religious leaders of different faiths gave their blessing to the River. Faith leaders from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Indigenous traditions blessed members of the group with the holy waters on the bank of the Jordan River.