Government Ministers and Members of Parliament welcomed more than 80 Bahá’ís on 28 November to a unique event to pay tribute to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, 100 years after His visit to Britain.
It was the first time the British government had hosted a special reception specifically for the Bahá’í community.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921) was the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh and His appointed successor as head of the Bahá’í Faith. From 1910-1913, following His release from a lifetime of exile and imprisonment, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made a historic series of journeys to present Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to audiences outside of the Middle East. His two visits to the British Isles took place in September 1911, and from December 1912 to January 1913.
The reception was held by the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government. Welcoming the guests, Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP expressed appreciation for the contribution Bahá’ís make to UK society. He praised the “little bits of kindness” he had observed among the Bahá’ís and added, “We wouldn’t tick along quite so well without Bahá’ís in our community.”
Don Foster MP, Minister for Integration, told the gathering that, of all the significant people to come from his home constituency of Bath, he was proud to include Ethel Rosenberg, a founding member of the British Bahá’í community.
“You continue to distinguish yourselves in the professions, the arts and particularly in the vital areas of education and conflict resolution,” Mr. Foster told the Bahá’ís. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s “important truth” that “we should pursue peace together and differences of race and division between religions must cease is as true today as it was then,” he said.
Kishan Manocha, speaking on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, thanked Mr. Pickles for hosting the event, describing it as a “tremendous honour and pleasure.”