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CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland

Issue 77 - 2 Sharaf 159 BE - 1 January 2003 CE




Dear Friends,

“The Century of Light”

The statement of 'Abdu'l-Báha in the early part of the last century, when he drew attention to the unity of mankind, is one that is close to every Bahá'í heart.

‘In like manner all the members of the human family whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent…. interdependent….HenceHence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century. Of this past ages have been deprived, for this century- the century of light - has been endowed with unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination’. (p.125 Promised Day is Come)

This will be worked through the Greater Plan of God, while we, His servants conscious of His will for us, are working out the disunities of the human race by building our Bahá'í Administrative structures and communities - The Lesser Plan of God.

As we move towards the third year of the 5-Yr Plan we are challenged by the many changes we have experienced. It is important for us to integrate the lessons learnt in this process. To this end the International Teaching Centre stated:

‘Because learning about the processes of the Five Year plan is primarily taking place at the grass roots of the community, the experience of institutions serving at the regional and cluster levels will be important in assessing progress’. (Paragraph 7 letter 1st May 2002.)

For this reason the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland held their second Institutional Meeting in Ballymena on Saturday 30th November. There will be more such meetings in the future as we strive, with love and humility, to understand what Bahá'u'lláh wants us to do. The Council extends its' love to every member of the community. It is in such testing times the richest rewards can be gleaned if we allow Bahá'u'lláh to guide us.

With warmest Bahá'í greetings,

Council Officers

The Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland has elected the following officers for the comuing year:

Chairman: Dr Keith Munro
Vice-Chairman: Mrs Patricia Jamshidi
Secretary: Mr. Edwin Graham
Treasurer: Mrs. Pat Craig


From the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom

From time to time, the National Spiritual Assembly receives disturbing reports that Bahá'ís, in various parts of the country are being specifically and systematically approached with appeals for money.

These appeals often seem genuine but the National Assembly advises the friends to exercise the utmost caution and wisdom in dealing with them since they usually turn out to be fraudulent attempts to exploit the goodwill and sincerity of the believers. Other religious communities are also often being approached by the same people. Any such requests for money should be immediately reported to the National Spiritual Assembly.



Not long ago Mr David Hofman, former member of the Universal House of Justice was visiting Paraguay. In the course of meeting with the Bahá'ís he was asked, "What is the House of Justice's thinking regarding training institutes; what is their motivation?" Mr. Hofman's answered the question by posing his own question: "What was the single most catastrophic event in the history of Christianity?" He got various replies including the splitting of the Catholic church, the crucifixion, the Crusades, etc. But no one cited the answer Mr. Hofman was looking for:

‘The conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine was the most catastrophic event in the history of Christianity. Recall that he converted and pronounced everyone in his domain was now Christian. Literally, in one day, hundreds of thousands of pagans became. There was no way to train them, no way to ensure they were grounded in the fundamentals of the Faith of Christ. As a consequence, they brought with them all their pagan beliefs and practices into the Holy Religion of Christ and polluted it forever. Friends, the Universal House of Justice believes it would at best be irresponsible to allow the same thing to happen to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh’.


Equal Wings Seminar- First Bahá'í Event in Draperstown

Excellent press coverage in the Mid Ulster Mail and Northern Constitution was given this major residential event of the Association of Bahá'í Women (Northern Ireland). It was held over the weekend 9th -10th November 2002 and when the final count was made some 30 men and women had participated in the workshops, plenary sessions and arts classes. Six participants were not Bahá'ís. Visitors from afar greatly enhanced sessions. Zarin Hainsworth-Fadaei represented our national Office for the Advancement of Women while Corrine Alexander and Anne Corcoran represented ABW-Republic of Ireland. The event was a great success at all kinds of levels and ABW wishes to thank all those who took part and assisted with the organisation of the event.

 Baha'i women's event  Association of Bahá'í Women (Northern Ireland) Core Group together with members of the ABW-Republic of Ireland and Zarin Hainsworth-Fadaei from the Office for the Advancement of Women.


Warsaw, Poland. (28 November- 1 December 2002)

The European National Youth Committees Meeting in Warsaw, was attended by over 120 youth throughout the continent of Europe representing 33 different countries (three came from Northern Ireland). After a 3 hour flight from London to Warsaw (and a 3 hour delay) we met Rahim Mazlum (an EBYC member) and various other youth from Sweden and France at the airport. Once we made it to the hotel, we met the rest of the 100 or so youth over dinner.

The main programme started at around 9:30am the next morning with a devotional followed by an introduction from the EBYC on the main focus of the meeting. Two letters addressed to the participants at the gathering were read out, the first of these coming directly from The Universal House of Justice specifically for this event and the latter from the EBYC.

Two main aims for this meeting were outlined, the first, was 'to consult about the future work that might be undertaken by National Youth Committees, in securing victories for the Faith throughout the continent', the second, was to 'explain the method and the meaning of the decentralisation of the EBYC's functions, which will in turn lead to its eventual dissolution in the coming months. This was the first that many of us had heard of the eventual dissolution of the EBYC! Over the next 3 days, there was a mixture of talks from the EBYC as well as from Councillors from Ukraine and Germany about the decentralisation of powers to various institutions. The main discussion over the weekend though centred on this particular passage from a letter sent to the 8th ASIAN Youth Conference in Thailand in December 2001 which set down the two pressing requirements for the Five Year Plan:

The first is the steady flow of believers through the sequence of courses offered by training institutes for the purpose of developing the human resources. The second, which receives its impetus from the first, is the movement of geographic clusters from one stage of growth to the next.”

Various moving and inspiring presentations (including a one hour audio-visual) were shown throughout the conference and the arts played a pivotal role in the success of the event. The final night ended with entertainments followed by a very moving devotional. The following day, we left for home, inspired, enthused and with a greater understanding of the changing and always important role of the youth in Europe as well as being somewhat saddened to be leaving all the friends that we made behind. ‘I found it an inspiring, productive and moving experience which I will never forget.’ said one of our own representatives.


Teaching and proclamation at a time of sadness

At the age of 89 years and 10 months, my mother, Gertrude Amy Lake passed away on the 7th October, a month after suffering a fall in her home. She had lived in sheltered accommodation in Omagh, since Christmas 1993 and for the past 6 years had been in accommodation very close to our home.

While Mum was not a Bahá'í, there was a short Bahá'í Funeral Service for her, essentially comprising prayers and readings. It was held in the common room of St Julian's House, the sheltered housing development where, lately, she had lived. About 70 chairs were set-out and latecomers stood outside the room, in the lobby. My brother, Ian, welcomed the guests and I gave a short biographical talk. All her granddaughters read… The service was finished-off by a friend's singing the Prayer of St Francis and by members of the Derg Valley Choir, with which I have been singing for the past almost 7 years (about ten members [singing SATB] were able to come). We performed a piano-accompanied hymn of Charles Wesley (very appropriate as my Mum and Dad nominally were Methodists). It was the emotive ‘And can it be’, to the tune ‘Sagina.’

A frequently-received comment was to the effect: ‘…best funeral service I've ever been to…’ The Funeral Director also was most impressed… The event was both simple and dignified. Since it was all in the same room, we were able to move seamlessly into ‘refreshment-mode’.

While Mum was deprived of her 90 candles, they were lit for her funeral service... I must say that the event was a tremendous ‘full stop’ to my mother's Earthly life and was a truly cathartic experience, for my family and for me! Also, I have submitted a short biographical article, mentioning the Faith and a photograph of Mum to North and West Housing Ltd's ‘house’ magazine

Malcolm Lake

The Vision of Townshend in the Czech Republic

Early in October 2002 I flew to Prague for a fortnight in order to meet the friends. They have 8 local Spiritual Assemblies and a National Assembly. They were interested to here about our Council and our clustering process,. In Caske Bodayvitsa there are four or five Bahá'í homes and we were in and out of them - it was so homely. One young new Bahá'í rang me and came round immediately for a cup of tea. We found that she was a wonderful translator. I was invited to see the George Townshend International School. When Ardawan Lalui heard that I had known George Townshend. Personally, he asked me to speak at Assembly at 7.30am! I did some research and the talk seemed to go down well. Two days there made a great impression on me. The school would like at least one British student. They already have one from the Republic of Ireland. Thirty other nationalities are represented and teachers come mostly from Europe. The students have two periods of Bahá'í studies weekly and three Bahá'í prayers are said each morning. During my stay we had two firesides, one devotional, a feast and a tip-top meal on the 19th October. We met lots of people in cafés and altogether it was a most exhilarating time!

Vida Backwell

PS: A Night to Remember ‘Tahirih in Omagh’

I would just like to add an additional comment to Malcolm's excellent report published last month. That evening, we had a glimpse of the impact Tahirih’s words and verse must have had on her contemporaries in the wonderful joyful and powerful recitation of her poem, The Promised Day is Come by Lady Rosemary Salisbury. It brought tears to the eyes and joy and yearning to the hearts of those of us who had the privilege of being in the audience that evening. Think how powerful it must have been in the original language.

Dorothy Riordan


'Pebbles in a pond'

Malcolm Lake offers a heart-felt plea for press releases

Recently, when attending the excellent Association of Bahá'í Women event, at the Rural College, in Draperstown, I must admit that I was (to use a North of England term, immortalised by Les Dawson) vexed, when I discovered that no press lead had been prepared.

To set it out the situation concisely: Bahá'ís, generally, are very busy people and one person-with a little inspiration and the information to hand-can save communities' press officers time and lots of it, when it is all added-up! With a press lead, the individual press officers have no excuse for not making a submission. I don't know how many press releases will have resulted from the event in Draperstown! For me, the one to the Omagh newspapers took some time to write and get sorted out and would have been a lot easier if we'd had a pre-prepared one.

We, the Bahá'ís of Northern Ireland have to try and develop a proclamation and publicity culture! One way of moving towards its achievement is by communities, that organise events, ensuring a press lead is made available-for visiting communities to take away with them-from each and every event. Follow-up press releases maximise the effect of Bahá'í events and I really don't understand why a press lead is not an integral part of the thinking of organisers. Finally, many of we Bahá'ís may be ordinary people, thrown into doing things for which we are not specifically trained. That, however, is no reason for us to behave amateurishly!

As the title of this article suggests, this is the third one that I have written, along these lines, in recent years. Weekly newspapers are read from cover-to-cover, each copy probably by several people. Further, the Irish diaspora is spread all-over the world. By putting articles into the local press-not only can your locality be affected-your item of news can be read by Irish people, receiving local newspapers and others, in places that you could not even dream of. Perhaps, in this day of e-mail and computers, the Northern Ireland Bahá'í Community should endeavour again to hold a "Press Officers' Seminar". The last one was cancelled for lack of participants.


Recognition of Bahá'í marriage in Northern Ireland is coming closer!

The Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 was laid at Westminster this week. This is the formal process whereby a draft Affirmative Order is presented at both Houses of Parliament in advance of debates being scheduled.

The draft Order reforms and simplifies the law in relation to the formalities for and preliminaries to marriage. It creates a new system of universal civil preliminaries and will afford couples wishing to marry a greater freedom of choice as to the location of the marriage ceremony. It is anticipated that the Order will be debated in Westminster in the coming weeks although its main provisions will not come into force until late 2003 at the earliest in order to allow for operational changes to be made.

The draft Order and Explanatory Memorandum may be found on the Department's website at

Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland




13th January - 24th January 2003
Omagh Library, Spillars Place, Omagh.

The exhibition will be on during World Religion Day, and the Omagh community have arranged their meeting in the library so that people will have access to it. The programme will have a matching theme.

27th Jan - 24th Feb 2003
Magherafelt Library. Magherafelt.

World Religion Day in Omagh

Meetings starts at 1530 sharp on 19th January 2003 in Omagh Library (Spiller's Place)

All and your friends are very welcome!


Newtownabbey Spiritual Assembly has decided to hold a Naw Ruz Party in 2003. Wheels are in motion and details of date and place will be announced later. (If it is as good as other years-WOW! EDITOR)
Dates for your diary-Fuller details later

Welsh Spring School 2003

Thursday 17th - Sunday 20th April

CommuNique is the newsletter of the Baha'i Council for Northern Ireland ©National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom

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