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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.
|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|
|Pews, Mats (facing altar)||Participant seating (facing podium)|
|Symbolic internal decor||Conducive internal decor|
|Ceremonial aisle||Principal aisle|
|Orator, Solist, Cantor||Keynote speaker|
|Assembly response (Amen, etc)||Audience response (Hear, Hear, etc)|
|Attentive behaviour||Attentive behaviour|
|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|
|Relgious study groups, scriptural classes, etc||Study groups|
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