CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland
Issue 86 - 5 Mashiyyat 160 BE - 1 October 2003 CE
VISIT BY THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom met in Northern Ireland over the weekend 5-7 September. On the evening of 6 September a special gathering was held for the Friends. One of those attending gives this report
Almost a hundred Bahá'ís from all over Northern Ireland came together in the lecture theatre at the Derrynoid Centre, Draperstown, to hear from and meet with our National Spiritual Assembly.
The evening was opened by Dr Shirin Tahzib, the Assembly chairman, who expressed the love of the National Assembly for the Friends and introduced the members Two talks were given. Mr Rob Weinberg gave an information-packed but easy-to-follow PowerPoint style presentation on the three core activities Study Circles, Childrens Classes and Devotional Meetings and explained their importance and how they were taking hold in the Bahá'í community. However he emphasised the need to see them not simply as activities in their own right but as parts of a whole. The idea is that we pursue them all as an integrated programme of activities to secure the progress of the Faith. The Hon. Barney Leith, who is the Secretary of the NSA and its chief representative for External Affairs, spoke about recent events that had pushed the Faith into the media spotlight not just here but throughout the world. He emphasised that we must remember that the death of Dr David Kelly was first and foremost a human tragedy and the bereavement of a family.
There were some interesting contributions from the audience sgaring news of the increased attention the Faith is receiving in Northern Ireland and some questions to the National Assembly. After the formal part the members of the NSA and the Friends mingled over refreshments. Special tribute was paid to Pippa Cookson, who is pioneering from Belfast to Macedoniashe will be sorely missed.
We are all grateful to our National Assembly for this chance to meet with them.
The Baháís of Belfast have proclaimed the Faith throughout the UK through national radio.
A Place to Pray is a series being broadcast on BBC Radio 4, dealing with various religions. Monday 25 August's broadcast came from Belfast and had as its subject the Bahá'í Faith. It looked at two forms of worship, a tranquility evening of the sort the Belfast community has been running, and obligatory prayer. A variety of Believers - Northern Irish, Iranian, Indian, and Chinese - were featured and were able to give a good amount of information about the Faith, and the listeners also heard positively from two non-Bahá'ís who attend regularly.
The programmed came about because one of those attending the Belfast tranquility evenings spoke of them to a relative who works for the BBC, and the net result was some excellent nation-wide publicity for the Faith. Special congratulations go to Orang and Susie Agahi who were the main interviewees.
DEEPENINGS IN NEWTOWNARDS
The series of deepenings in Newtownards on the theme Teaching Christians More Effectively isproving very popular. Twelve people attended the latest one.The series is facilitated by Eddie Whiteside and to date we have studied together Christian fearsabout false prophets, the Anti-Christ, and the Beast, and how they cannot refer to Bahá'u'lláh.The most recent dealt with signs of the Second Coming and how they are fulfilled in theBaha'i Faith. The next part will be devoted to Christian Doctrines and how they relate to the Faith. The skills of finding one's way round the Bible are also covered - very useful !These deepenings are organised by the Spiritual Assembly and held on the first Tuesday of each month.
AND IN DERRY
Building momentum must start with the individual. That was the message of the latest Deepening in Derry, held on Friday 29 August and attended by Friends from Omagh, Coleraine and of curse Derry. Entitled Building Momentum this evening combined the popular video that was prepared for the Ninth International Baháí convention with a talk by Sarah Munro. Sarah delivered an excellent and thought provoking presentation, combining a PowerPoint presentation with group discussion.
Auxiliary Board Member meets with Assemblies
Auxiliary Board Member Denis Coyle meet with the Local Spiritual Assemblies in the Charles Dunning Cluster (Belfast, Newtownabbey and Castlereagh) on 27 August. The main purpose of the meeting was to help the Friends take more ownership of the Five Year Plan in their respective areas. After a small group brainstorming session Denis pointed out the general themes emerging from the group reports such as enjoyment, spontaneity, sustainability, energy, dedication, and sacrifice. The grass roots nature of the plan was stressed as was the need for the Spiritual Assemblies to take responsibility for their own areas. Ways in which three LSAs could work together were looked at. One suggestion was that Belfast Assembly could take on the responsibility of developing this discussion between the three Assemblies of what type of co- ordination was needed.
SERVING IN GUADELOUPE
Karen Jamshidi reports:
The summer holidays for me were not just a break, they were a chance for me to embark on a spiritually uplifting adventure and delve into the culturally rich and amazing islands of the Caribbean. Nuala Nagle and I joined each other in Guadeloupe, a French colonial island, and were introduced to the Bahá'í community who would be looking after us for the next six and a half weeks. We arrived on 10 June and for the first four weeks we were left to do our own thing, so we decided to visit the island of Dominica, otherwise known as the nature island. We met with the community there as well but not until after making very good friends with the locals. I have never encountered people in the western world who are as friendly as islanders. They are all so spiritually alive and they so giving and friendly, Nuala and I were made so welcome. They took us around the island and also took us to a reggae concert, which was really out of this world! Our trip to Dominica was one of the best experiences I have had in my life and I would recommend it for anyone who is wanting to do service, the Bahá'í community are so lovely and the island is truly one of the earth's natural beauties.
On returning to Guadeloupe Nuala and I became involved in the Dance Workshop, which was part of a campaign the local Bahá'í community were arranging for the next three weeks. Youth from France and Puerto Rico came to take part and a world class drummer came from Colombia. The atmosphere was very charged as people were helping and assisting with the project. Nuala and I had to learn the dances in a week. I have never participated in a dance workshop and therefore did not know any of the dances. I had so much fun learning them! Especially when I had to learn them in French! Although I had some difficulty in communicating with the other Baháís I used my limited knowledge of French and Nuala helped me a lot, but the unity between us all made it so much more enjoyable and productive. The whole trip was so exciting and I thoroughly loved the dance workshop. I was able to give newspaper interviews when I came home and also spoke on the radio about my time away.
The islands of the Caribbean are large in number and the culture is truly beautiful, I would encourage anyone, young or old, to visit the islands and absorb the atmosphere it is an experience that will change your life forever.
Province-wide celebration arranged by the Baháí Council for Northern Ireland
Sunday 12 October 2003