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International Conferences as Surrogate Universal Spiritual Celebrations

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In centuries past there were few events resembling what are now called conferences, esepcially those of an international nature. And when these did occur they tended to have a religious focus. Much more frequent were assemblies within the framework of a religion, whether in churches or temples. Despite exceptions, the decline in regular attendance at such events is much deplored. However this has perhaps been matched by a rise in attendance at international meetings. And although attendance at religious celebrations may have drifted for many towards an occasional occurrence (weddings, funerals, Christmas), attendance at meetings also tends to take place on an annual or less frequent basis.

On the assumption that gatherings perform a special and perhaps little understood function in society, it is therefore useful to explore the parallelism between conferences and religious gatherings.

Comparison of features of religious assemblies and international conferences

Religious assembly International conference
Church, Temple Conference centre
Steeple, Dome Distinguishing archtectural design feature
Altar (with appropriate symbols) Podium (with appropriate symbols)
Floral decoration Floral decoration
Crypt ?
Pews, Mats (facing altar) Participant seating (facing podium)
Organ Audio-visual system
Symbolic internal decor Conducive internal decor
Ceremonial aisle Principal aisle
Priest Facilitator, Chairperson
Orator, Solist, Cantor Keynote speaker
Choir Panel
Assembly response (Amen, etc) Audience response (Hear, Hear, etc)
Attentive behaviour Attentive behaviour
Ushers Ushers, Hostesses
Lesson Report
Pleas and calls for action, reform, etc Pleas and calls for action, reform, etc
Affirmation of belief Affirmation of belief
Testimony of the faithful Participant testimony
Resolution Resolution
Liturgy Repetitive procedure
Relgious study groups, scriptural classes, etc Study groups

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