Canada prepares to join wave of global conferences

Posted: 2022/03/30

The series of worldwide conferences that will act as a “catalyst to the multi-year endeavor that shall succeed the…One Year Plan” have begun.[i]

In its 23 March 2022 message, the National Spiritual Assembly described the conferences in Canada as an opportunity for “…participants–children and grandparents, youth and elders, Bahá’í families generations-strong, and friends newly associated with the community– [to] explore themes that build understanding of conditions in the world and offer a channel for the longing to serve that has been awakened in every heart in this day.”

Ontario Regional Institutional Meeting 300x225

Regional Institutional Gathering in Ontario, February 19-20, 2022. Conference planning was a focus for regional institutional gatherings across the country.

Regional Bahá’í Councils are making plans for the over 80 conferences that will be held throughout the country from early April to late June. Councils estimate that most conferences will be between one to three days in duration, and that the number of participants at each conference will range from 30 in a few small communities, to a few hundred in larger communities, and even over a thousand in some others.

The aim of the conferences is to “give the participants an opportunity to gain greater insight into the nature of the spiritual enterprise in which they are engaged, a sense of the distance traversed thus far, and a deeper understanding of the exigencies of the current stage in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan.”[ii] Thus, the main themes of the conference materials worldwide are: Bahá’u’lláh’s vision for humanity; the distance traversed (a reflection of the endeavours of the Bahá’í community over the last one hundred years); building vibrant communities; educational endeavours and the training institute; and contributing to social transformation.

Regarding participation, a letter written on behalf of the House of Justice explains, “Given that millions of people at the grassroots across the globe are engaged in a collective pattern of activity that fosters a vibrant community life in villages and cities, the conferences should be organized such that as many of these friends as possible are able to attend.”[iii]

In light of this, thought is being given at the level of local communities and institutions to the spirit of excellence present in the organization of the conferences. One element of this is taking into consideration the vast diversity of participants and the languages they speak, as well as incorporating programs for children. It is also expected that arts programmes will bring a sense of joy and unity.

At the grassroots level, individuals, teams and communities are preparing participants to attend with a clear understanding of the purpose of the gatherings. This involves the efforts of individuals and teams engaged in the community building process to deepen together with those they are connected with.

In one community, the core team identified four families, each an expanding nucleus, who could begin to gather a group around them in preparation for the conferences. At least one person that is currently engaged in the core activities from each family was identified who could potentially serve as a grassroots facilitator at the conferences.

Initial conversations with these grassroots facilitators were carried out over several visits. In the first visit, conversations centred around groups of families thinking about the future of their children during the next nine years. Consultations involved thinking about the conferences as spaces they could use to plan out ways to systematically accompany the spiritual and intellectual development of their children.

Conference Web Page 300x152The logo for the website of the conferences in Canada.

As more friends begin to engage with others in home visits and conversations around participation, they can make use of the official website for the conferences in Canada, https://conferences.bahai.ca/, which is now live. This website describes in clear language the purpose of the conferences and the conference themes; it also contains a collection of the most recent films that show the efforts of rural and urban communities worldwide “to translate Bahá’u’lláh’s vision for humanity into action.”[iv] Friends can also register for the conferences by following this link: https://conferences.bahai.ca/en/register/.

 

[i] From the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’í’s of the World, Riḍván 2018.

[ii] From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 15 September 2021.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] From the description of the website page, https://conferences.bahai.ca/en/global-community/.