Bicentenary stories: united in vision, united in celebration

Posted: 2017/12/27

The children, parents and friends at a celebration in Charlottetown, P.E.I. work together to create colourful and vibrant memories for the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh. Photo: Paul Vreeland

The following celebrations of the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh are the result of sustained action – some from years of prolonged effort and others from a period of more intense activity. Held in neighbourhoods and villages across Canada, they show the results of united vision and action.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island: Communal support for individual efforts

The whole of the Charlottetown Bahá’í community worked together to co-ordinate a mosaic of events and celebrations. A sign-up sheet was placed in the local Bahá’í centre where everyone could list what activity they planned to host and when, allowing everyone to cheer and pray for the efforts of others. Throughout the month of October, the cluster managed to host around 30 gatherings with over 450 friends of the Faith, each celebration learning from the last.

– Lomeharshan Lall

Hinton, Alberta:  A most welcomed guest

Hinton is a small city on the edge of Jasper National Park, home to a handful of Bahá’ís who describe themselves as “seniors with serious health issues.” Six months prior to the bicentenary, they started inviting people to a devotional gathering, but only a few people ever attended.

To celebrate the bicentenary, they put posters up around town and invited people to their celebration by word of mouth. They rented a room in the library, put up decorations and made a birthday cake. Six Bahá’ís came along with one friend. Then, a young woman arrived who no one knew. She was so happy to be there and asked questions throughout the entire social period, stayed to help clean up, gave her contact information and accepted a ride home from one couple. They now have plans to follow up with her and continue teaching her about Bahá’u’lláh.

– The Hinton Bahá’í group

Orleans, Ontario: Coming together through prayer

For over a year, a few families in the neighbourhood of Orleans – a suburb of eastern Ottawa located along the Ottawa River – have been holding weekly devotionals between several different homes. To celebrate the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, in addition to their usual devotional, this small group of friends planned a potluck dinner and made efforts to invite others to join them. Five friends from the wider community attended the celebration and were able to engage with “prayers of surpassing beauty that satisfy the soul’s longing to befittingly worship its Maker.”[1]

– Jacquie Fildes

Hay River, Northwest Territories: A diverse group of friends

To commemorate the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Hay River Bahá’ís hosted a gathering for 13 friends and acquaintances from all over the world. Written invitations were delivered to the new Roman Catholic Priest, who recently arrived from Ghana; and to the new Anglican Pastor and his wife. This priest had never heard of the Bahá’í Faith and was happy to accept a copy of the newly-released magazine The Bahá’ís.

The group ate a lovely dinner served by their hosts and afterwards viewed the film Light to the World. The guests were diverse: a young Filipino student – who happily recognized her native language on the screen – a young man from Africa and a man from Scotland whose wife was from the Czech Republic. Half of the guests had attended other events over the previous six months.

The friends’ last copies of the magazine were given out by the end of the night. To accommodate the interest shown, the group will be collaborating with friends from Yellowknife to follow up with their newfound friends.

– Rosalee Prentice

[1] From the Universal House of Justice to all who celebrate the Glory of God, October 2017