Conference to Focus on Religious Diversity

OGDEN, Utah – "Spirituality and Religion in a Pluralistic Community" is the theme for Weber State University's 6th Annual Diversity Conference, scheduled for Oct. 7-8 in the Shepherd Union Building.

The two-day conference will feature presentations by nationally recognized speakers along with workshop sessions on specific topics. Conference participants may choose from a variety of breakout sessions that will address such topics as religion in the workplace, a student panel on religious stereotypes, ministering during the Olympics and women in religion.

Event organizers say the conference is designed to create better understanding of religious diversity.

"Utah was colonized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to escape religious persecution," said Sandra Powell, chair of the diversity conference planning committee. "Utah continues to be predominantly LDS, and approximately 70 percent of the students attending Weber State are LDS.

"Divisions are perceived to exist in the community. For the most part, neither group wants religion to be a pervasive factor, but whether we talk about it or we remain silent, it is an important element in relationships and interactions."

The traditional one-day conference format with a single keynote speaker has been expanded this year to two days featuring three main speakers: Diana Eck, Chieko Okazaki and the Right Reverend Carolyn Tanner Irish.

Eck is a professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University. Author of two religious books, she heads the Pluralism Project – a Harvard committee aimed at studying the new religious diversity in the United States – a role she's held since 1991. She will speak at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Oct. 8 in the Shepherd Union Ballroom.

Okazaki is a lecturer, educator and author who served as a counselor in the General Relief Society presidency for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1990-1997. She was recently named a member of Governor Olene Walker's Commission on Literacy. She will speak at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 7 in the Shepherd Union Ballroom.

Irish became the fourth woman in the Episcopal Church USA to be elected bishop and head a diocese. She is one of only 12 female bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion. She is currently chair of the O.C. Tanner Co. Board of Directors as well as serving on many other church and community boards. She will speak at 10 a.m. Oct. 7 in the Shepherd Union Ballroom.
For a complete conference schedule, visit

The conference and workshops are open to the public free of charge. Those attending the conference are encouraged to park in the Dee Events Center parking lot and ride a free shuttle to campus. For more information call 626-6103.

Sandra Powell, Diversity Planning Committee Chair
801-626-6103 ·

Dr. Wangari Wa Nyatetu-Waigwa, Interim Asst. to the President for Diversity, 801-626-6338 ·

Rick Sline
, Diversity Conference Planning Committee
801-626-6535 ·

Travis Clemens, office of Media Relations
801-626-7212 ·