Bicentenary stories: London, Ontario

Posted: 2018/01/04

A children’s class encourages the crowd to celebrate friendship by putting their arms around each other at a bicentenary gathering in London, Ont.

Through a combination of dedicated effort over the long term and a campaign to revive friendships through home visits, a teaching team in a London, Ont., neighbourhood brought together over 100 friends to a gathering that celebrated the diversity of their community.

Kipps Lane, the focus neighbourhood of London, played host to an unexpectedly large celebration after those serving in the neighbourhood conducted a series of home visits to the families they knew.

For over a month the animators and children’s class teachers visited each family and spoke with them about the Person of Bahá’u’lláh and the significance of the bicentenary of His birth. Together, the parents and teachers deepened on His teachings for humanity and spoke about the oneness of mankind. Meanwhile, their children prepared for how they wanted to contribute to the celebrations.

Many Nepalese refugees have made Kipps Lane their home and these families have been increasingly involved in various activities over the last two years. More recently, there has also been an influx of refugees from Arab countries. The cultural backgrounds of those involved shone through in their celebration of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.

The event, held in the school’s auditorium, welcomed about 150 people and was a display of the unity envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh. The junior youth performed Nepalese dancing, the children sang songs and some friends performed Arabic drumming. Each presentation was introduced in the context of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, allowing families to learn more about the Person and life of Bahá’u’lláh through historical readings, Writings and clips from the film Light to the World.

“We were all very surprised at the number of families that showed up. People invited their family and friends to the celebration, so there were quite a few new faces,” wrote one of the junior youth animators in her report. “Of course, the fact that the program involved the children and junior youth increased participation from their families as well.”

Many of the guests said that they were impressed at the level of organization.  Now, those serving in the neighbourhood are following up with each family to hold screenings of Light to the World and invite them to start new study circles.

– Azeen Moradipour