Under the banner of the Next Generation, the power, energy, and enthusiasm of today’s young leaders were prominently displayed at the 1999 Parliament. As presenters, participants, and performers youth at the Parliament demonstrated the importance of young voices in the effort to build bridges and find common ground between the world’s religious and spiritual communities.
The Next Generation’s primary contribution to the Parliament took the form of 6 afternoon gatherings. Thematically based, these youth-targeted lectures, discussions, and presentations helped to foster youth interaction with the Parliament at-large.
Young People and the Urban Experience
The Next Generation’s Response to A Call to Our Guiding Institutions, the key document of the 1999 Parliament
Honoring our Intergenerational Bonds
Youth Initiatives that Work
Open Space Conference
Each gathering was structured differently with an emphasis on dialogue and discussion rather than lectures and presentations. Attendance for daily gatherings averaged 200 participants, the majority of whom were international delegates. Next Generation organizers were encouraged by the fact that young people comprised the bulk of the volunteer force and played a large part in parliament at large.
On the morning of December 6th, approximately 50 young people attending the Parliament from around the world visited the SWACO youth center in the Mannenberg Township. That afternoon they returned to District Six to attend a youth-organized ceremony honoring the land and its people.
The Next Generation’s Capstone event was Parliament’s final evening plenary, Nurturing Transformative Community. It featured performances from community performance groups from Cape Town such as Mine Nawe, Africa Ablaze, and The Future of Africa gumboot dancers. Prayers offered from different religious traditions and narrative were interlaced throughout the plenary.
Twenty-five young people, selected from different communities around the world, who had reflected upon A Call to Our Guiding Institutions, played an active role at the Parliament Assembly. Before the Assembly convened to discuss the Call document, this team led an afternoon gathering with other members of the Next Generation to discuss the document and to hear the opinions of their peers before they attended the sessions.
At the Assembly, Next Generation delegates were treated as equals by some of the world’s respected religious and spiritual leaders, as well as leaders from a variety of guiding isntitutions. Members of the Next Generation Assembly team met regularly outside of the meeting to craft a joint statement to give to the larger body. This statement articulated the need for an intergenerational presence in interreligious dialogue and commented on both the importance and shortcomings of A Call to our Guiding Institutions. Individually, in a dramatic presentation that helped to bring the work of the Assembly toward its powerful conclusion, youth members rose in order around the room and said what they were committed to uphold in the Call. Responses ranged from working with HIV/AIDS in Florida, to creating a culture of peace in Brazil, to working across interreligious lines in Cape Town.
The Next Generation left the assembly with two very specific requests. First they decided to rally around a single cause that is already established—Jublee 2000—the eradication of the debt of the world’s 60 poorest nations. Members decided to support Jublee 2000 because it was an established concrete effort that would create positive change in the world. Second, they decided to ask that the 2004 Parliament be a youth-focused event.