‘Conversations & Beyond’ – UK Baha’i Community hosts interfaith event as part of National Inter Faith Week

“How often do you meet and have a conversation with someone new?”

“What is the role of religion in moving communities forward?”

“What gives you hope?”

These were some of the questions that were posed last week at ‘Conversations & Beyond: finding and achieving our common humanity’ – an interfaith event that was hosted by the UK Baha’i Community as part of the annual National Inter Faith week.

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Bringing together friends, neighbours and acquaintances from a diversity of faiths and none, cultures and backgrounds, the evening allowed for a space to explore the idea of meaningful conversations, to engage in them – allowing for participants to experience viewpoints and paradigms that differed from their own – and to contribute to building social cohesion within the local community.

As described by Lina Mar, the chair for the evening, “Interfaith week…is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the work done by local faith and interfaith groups, increase awareness of interfaith learning and cooperation, celebrate diversity and commonality and open up new avenues for communication and partnership.

It is in this light, of fellowship and communication, that we decided to focus our event on using meaningful conversations to bridge differences, and to form genuine friendships.”

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The event opened with the screening of the short film ‘London is Open’, that was made by the London Boroughs Faith Network, reflecting the rich diversity of London’s faith communities and highlighting the welcoming and open nature of these communities.

The main focus of the evening were the small ‘conversation cards’ that each guest received on arrival. Each of these cards had a quotation from the Baha’i Writings on one side, and a series of questions on the other. Each participant paired up with someone else in the room and engaged in conversation, based on the questions posed.

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These conversations allowed for the sharing of deep thought and reflection, as well as much laughter and a genuine sense of connection and building of friendships.

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Annual Reception of All Party Parliamentary Group on the Baha’i Faith Celebrates Twin Holy Days

LONDON, 7 November 2016 – UK Members of Parliament and the House of Lords joined a diverse range of civil society and inter-faith representatives in attending the Annual Reception of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Baha’i Faith to celebrate the Baha’i Twin Holy Days, commemorating the births of the twin Founders of the Baha’i Faith, The Bab and Baha’u’llah.

Alistair Carmichael MP, treasurer of the APPG, welcomed all those gathered and shared a message from Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, who acknowledged the role of the APPG in ensuring that the invaluable contributions of the UK Baha’i community towards unity of humanity are made known. Lord Bourne also added that, “It did not take long for me to realise that the Baha’i community has deeply-held beliefs regarding integration that mirror our own. And it continues to do so worldwide, with its ongoing work with the United Nations in the areas of gender equality, human rights and social development.”

Alistair Carmichael MP addresses those gathered at the Reception

Alistair Carmichael MP addresses those gathered at the Reception

Speaking on behalf of the Baha’i community, Fidelma Meehan, a member of the UK National Spiritual Assembly, shared reflections about the lives of Baha’u’llah and the Bab. She further referred to the letters that were addressed to the Kings and Rulers of the world by Baha’u’llah. Ms Meehan shared that in His letter to Queen Victoria, Baha’u’llah praised and commended the Queen for having ‘forbidden the trading in slaves’ and for having ‘entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people’ who He called upon ‘to be trustworthy….and regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth’.

Fidelma Meehan reflects on the lives of the Bab and Baha'u'llah

Fidelma Meehan reflects on the lives of the Bab and Baha’u’llah

Referring to Baha’u’llah’s exhortation, to be: ‘anxiously concerned with the needs of the age [we] live in, and to centre [our] deliberations on its exigencies and requirements’, Ms Meehan reflected on the efforts made by Baha’is across the UK and throughout the world to, together with their friends and neighbours, engage in collective acts of service in order to contribute to the transformation of our society.

“Through involvement in these community building activities and discourses”, said Ms Meehan, “we are coming to a deeper understanding of the two fold purpose in life that human beings have been entrusted with: the transformation of ourselves and the transformation of society towards universal peace; and that there is a deep reciprocal relationship between individual and collective transformation.”

Ms Meehan also took the opportunity to announce the launch of the new UK Baha’i website (www.bahai.org.uk), images of which were projected during the evening.

The guest of honour for this special occasion was film and television actor, Earl Cameron CBE, who has very recently received the singular honour of being the Inaugural Inductee in Screen Nation’s hall of fame to honour outstanding film actors of African or Caribbean heritage.

Guest of honour, Earl Cameron CBE

Guest of honour, Earl Cameron CBE

Mr Cameron reflected on Baha’u’llah’s principle of the oneness of humankind, as well as the role that the Baha’i Faith has played in his life, both personally and professionally. He commented: “I’ve never accepted any differences between people based on race, and as a young man I could never accept or understand the idea of a God who loved all creatures yet would separate human beings according to race or nationality or background. Reading the Writings of Baha’u’llah, I fully accepted the fact that humanity is one single race of people.”

The programme concluded with a brief devotional consisting of two Baha’i Writings sung to music by James Mohajer, the Government Relations Officer for the UK Baha’i Office of Public Affairs.

James Mohajer, Government Relations Officer for the Office of Public Affairs concludes the evening with a devotional programme

James Mohajer, Government Relations Officer for the Office of Public Affairs concludes the evening with a devotional programme

Mr Carmichael MP closed the programme by quoting the Writings of Baha’u’llah, “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”, and reflecting on the significance and timeliness of these words.

Guests attending the Annual Reception

Guests attending the Annual Reception

After the programme, the guests had the opportunity to engage in uplifting conversations and explore pertinent themes relating to contributing towards social cohesion and the betterment of our society.

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Guests engaging in conversation after the Reception

 

Welcome to the launch of our new website!

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The UK National Baha’i Community is delighted to announce the launch of its newly designed website: www.bahai.uk.org

Along with a new look, we have included some features that we hope will make visiting the site easier and a more interactive experience.

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Some of the main features of the site include a section on Baha’i beliefs, various aspects of community life, a section dedicated to sharing stories about some of the early British Baha’is, and a section exploring ‘Abdu’l- Baha’s visits to the UK.

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We will be rolling out new pages and functionality over the coming months, and hope that you enjoy visiting the new website.

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We invite you to start exploring!