The First World Forum of Spiritual Culture was held in Astana, Kazakhstan, from October 18 – 20, 2010. The Forum attracted over 500 inspiring and empowered creative change makers from more than 70 countries. Organized by the Kazakhstani government, the Forum called on representatives to combine their efforts and to make Spiritual Culture a priority in human civilization. 

During the Soviet era, a network of men and women, swimming against the tide, believed that spirituality and the rich mosaic of cultural expressions were important influencers in the way nations could shift foreign policy towards a more peaceful and sustainable world. The idea for the Forum began in the early 90s, as leaders in various countries, including former Soviet republics, realized that new “frame” was required for the advancement of secure and peaceful civil societies. A series of intercultural, international conferences could foster a global dialogue and active cooperation in working towards the things that make for peace. Michael Gorbachev wrote on the Forum’s site, 30 April, 2010, that, although a lot of things depend on government policy, without participation of civil society, policy cannot fix the challenges facing us all.
The Second World Forum of Spiritual Culture is planned for October 2013. At a panning meetingin October 2012, Rev. Robert Chase (USA), a member of the planning presidium said, “The Second Session of the World Forum must be colorful, dynamic, exciting and innovative, truly global and truly cross cultural... across lines of race, culture, ethnicity, class, gender and national borders. We must reach out to the world in new and bold and imaginative ways.”
“How do we do that creatively? Imagine just one example: The Paul Winter Consort and their colleagues in a new international ensemble, the Great Rift Valley Orchestra, is anxious to share with us the Flyways Music Project which traces the path musically of half a billion birds who migrate up the Great Rift Valley from Mozambique through East Africa to Israel/Palestine and into Europe and Central Asia. Could not these musicians and their music form a symbolic thread for our conference?”
Chase went on, “Technology itself must be woven into our gathering. We must celebrate our respective pasts, for sure; but the focus of our time together should look forward and not back. We must reach out aggressively to young people, speak the digital dialect and use communications technology... to bring the rich mosaic that is our world right here into our midst. We can do that now in ways we never could before.”
“On the other hand, we must engage one another, not podium to audience, but person to person, telling one another our stories, so that our gathering has both a hi-tech and a high touch component... We need to find interactive constructs and dialogical techniques that promote the exchange of music and art and drama and dance and that draw new artists and craftspeople to our table. Then, we must listen to these new voices, empowering them to carry the old stories forward while simultaneously making room for the new.”
The leadership of the conference endorsed this interactive, arts and technology approach to the format of the Second Forum. Plans are underway to bring a qualitatively new learning model to this decades-long effort to develop concrete strategies that reduce global violence and fear. Intersections International, along with the Great Rift Valley Orchestra, will directly impact some of the world’s most ardent and experienced “peace practitioners”—religious and secular—so that they, in turn, can influence policy makers in creating a more harmonious planet.
Rev. Robert Chase
Founding Director Intersections International