Bicentenary stories: vast distances, intimate gatherings

Posted: 2017/12/29

A group of friends in Iqaluit, Nunavut huddle together before braving the -25° C weather to say prayers by the sea.

For the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’ís in several large, rural clusters in Canada found special ways to connect with friends and welcome them to their celebrations, despite the challenge of overcoming vast distances.

Stirling, Ontario: A spiritual renewal

In our rural village in Eastern Ontario, we struggled with how to befittingly recognize and celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh while also offering to support our larger, cluster-wide celebration. We decided to hold a home-based dinner a few weeks before the bicentenary to provide an introduction to the Person of Bahá’u’lláh.

We invited those from the community who had not been seen for some time: friends from Tyendinaga Mohawk Reserve, isolated Bahá’ís, along with new Bahá’ís still getting to know the community and a few other friends from surrounding villages and towns.

The atmosphere at this gathering was one of peaceful fellowship and celebration. Friends of the Faith were at one with long-time Bahá’ís. The light streaming through the window was a metaphor for the light that filled our souls.

– Mary Vander Dussen

Iqaluit, Nunavut: A chilly walk to warm the heart

The friends in Iqaluit, part of the Baffin Island cluster, bundled up early Saturday morning, October 21st, for a walk by the sea. Buffeted by cold winds and -25° C weather, they were carried by their prayers as they walked across the land before returning to the warmth of hot chocolate to watch the film Light to the World.

– Edith Sweetwater

Some of the friends travelled over two hours to attend the bicentenary celebration in Swift Current, Sask.

Swift Current, Saskatchewan: For friends near and far

Swift Current, the main city in the agricultural cluster of Palliser in Saskatchewan, became a gathering place for long-distance friends – some travelling for two hours to attend. The community invited people through emails and follow-up phone calls, booked a meeting room at a local hotel and welcomed 13 friends to the celebration.

Those who couldn’t make it were not forgotten: copies of the magazine The Bahá’ís were distributed so that those present could take them to friends and family who weren’t able to come.

– Marilyn Sargent

Lower Cloverdale, New Brunswick: Propelled into action

This small settlement near Moncton is home to one Bahá’í couple. They decided to invite family members to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh by joining them for supper and watching the film Light to the World in French. Seven came – six adults and one three-year-old – all of whom are French Acadians and staunch members of the Roman Catholic Church. They had never had an in-depth look at the Bahá’í Faith before and said they appreciated being a part of a global celebration.

Since this event, the Bahá’í couple has been motivated to continue reaching out to others in their home community. They planned a French fireside, another film viewing with a nearby Bahá’í and his neighbour and have started studying Ruhi Book 9: Gaining an Historical Perspective.

– Ron Sullivan