Winner is Melbourne for religion "Olympics"
The next World Parliament of Religions, an event likened to the "Olympic Games of religion and spirituality", is to be held in Melbourne after beating out Singapore and New Delhi in the bidding to host the 2009 event.
According to press reports, RMIT Professor Des Cahill, head of the Melbourne bid committee, said: "It is a credit to our multicultural and inter-faith climate that the world's religious leaders and their faith communities have chosen Melbourne for such an important event.
"It is like winning the Olympic Games of religion and spirituality."
The decision was made by the Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) following a visit to the Victorian capital in September this year.
The event, which is expected to inject more than $75 million into the state economy, will run for eight days during early December 2009 and will include more than 400 programs and performances relating to spiritual practice, religious identity, and intra- and inter-religious dialogue.
The city's harmony between religions and commitment to inter-faith understanding helped it to beat Singapore and New Delhi, according to a spokesman for the Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Mike Williams, the bureau's general manager, said the taskforce went to as many grassroots religious centres as possible during their week-long visit in September.
The bureau says the eight-day parliament, the world's biggest multi-faith gathering, will draw 10,000 participants from more than 70 countries - including leaders of the world's main religions and many less-known ones.
The successful bid is subject to completion of the financial plan.
The Federal and State governments are each contributing $2 million.
First held in Chicago in 1893, the Parliament brings together the world's religious and spiritual leaders and their followers to attend a series of conferences, congresses and debates where peace, diversity and sustainability is discussed and explored.
It is run by the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, a US based inter-religious organisation that cultivates harmony between the world's religious and spiritual communities, fosters their engagement with the world to achieve a vision of a peaceful, just and sustainable world.
Melbourne to host 'Olympics of religion (Daily Telegraph, 6/11/06)
Melbourne to host world religion 'Olympics (The Age, 6/11/06)
Faithful flock to Melbourne (MICE Melbourne, 7/11/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions
7 Nov 2006