News items on this page come from the Bahá’í community of Vancouver via its governing council, the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Vancouver, and the Canadian Bahá’í News Service, an agency of the Bahá’í Community of Canada that is under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, the national governing body of this community. International stories from the Bahá’í World News Service are also available here.
Event listings and coverage is provided by the Vancouver Bahá’í community. A few other public events are also posted at Meetup.com/VancouverSpirituality by personal initiative.
• The South Commercial Drive neighbourhood had an open exhibition at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre followed by a program consisting of devotions, live music, a multicultural dance, stories and an Indigenous ceremony. The evening ended with a vegan dinner and dessert. Nearly 140 people were in attendance on this auspicious occasion.• Two of the Baha’i ladies in Royal Oak went to shop for the Celebration. In Metrotown mall they were tired so one of them sat and said “Azizam” (my dear in Farsi) “Come and sit”. A Persian lady, out of nowhere, came and sat beside her and said “Your words touched my heart, it was different!” This became the start of a conversation and the two Baha’i ladies invited her to the Royal Oak Celebration. Sshe came and brought her son too. They were welcomed by others and next step is to invite this lady for the devotional gathering and fireside.• A young engineering student from Iran who just came to canada was invited to one celebration. Before coming he thought very little of the Faith, but his understanding of the Faith was completely changed as he saw so many diverse people have such reverence to Baha’u’llah. He said “tonight is an important night for my life” and is eager to learn more about the Faith.• I invited my hair stylist to the celebration. He later expressed that he would like to take the symbol of ‘The Greatest Name’ and also found the nine star symbol very intriguing. He said that as soon as he saw the symbol in the film he felt as though it stood for unity. He also said that it was very interesting for him to be at a celebration where the joy and sense of love and closeness was not due to alcohol. He felt that his heart felt drawn to the love which he felt in the hearts of everyone present. There was no judgement and absolutely no barriers. He was surprised at his own comfort and happiness. He didn’t think that Faith could be so easy and acceptable. He has asked for prayers which were recited during the devotional portion of the celebration.• At one gathering, a special guest from a local First Nation shared “Two hundred years ago a wonderful Gem was born. From that moment until this, His Faith has grown from Himself to all of you here in this room and all the way to many millions more. To me that is absolutely amazing. That’s amazing to me. A short 200 years ago one wonderful, beautiful Human Being takes His light, His experience, His knowledge, and develops this beautiful Faith. You are here this evening to celebrate the birth of the the first One. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.” Later that evening, a friend who was at the event posted to social media: “Baha’i Feast for Unity – Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah. I am so honoured to have been invited to this beautiful gathering of loving, caring, gentle spirits who came to share their love, light and beauty through their songs, stories, prayers, drumming, dance, acknowledgements, and food. It was pure magic to see the unity, love, and respect between the Baha’is and the indigenous people of this land. Let us mirror this celebration from this day forward so we can be the ripple effect of the beautiful truth that we are ONE. What a beautiful life we will create for ourselves and our future generations.”• One Baha’i friend had surgery this week and could not help with much of what was going on this weekend. Undeterred, she was resolved and wanted to do something to take part in this momentous occasion. She heard from her cousin in Toronto that a Baha’i visited her to gift her cookies to share the news of the 200th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth. She said to herself “I can do that!” So she baked three different kinds of cookies and visited 5 neighbours, bringing each a gift from her kitchen. They were happy to learn about the occasion and were pleased with the gift. She will continue doing this for the next few weeks with friends who live further afield.• One man attended a gathering on Friday without knowing anyone or even what the Faith was. We explored some of the central teachings of the Faith. He shared how he’s always believed there was God, and had been sensing lately there there were new forces operating in the world. Towards the end of the gathering we exchanged contact information, and he asked for reading material on the Faith. Fortunately the planning team had some flyers and a little book on the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah. That night when I got home, I sent him an email, sharing with him that there were two more celebrations taking place in the neighborhood and that it would be wonderful to see him again. A day later he replied saying that he would come to the Sunday gathering. I was so happy that he might come again; in our conversations Friday, he seemed so eager to hear about the Faith and to learn about the movement in the neighborhood. On Sunday night, it was so exciting to see him again. After the initial program, I was able to go and greet him. We shook hands warmly, and I sat down to join him in conversation with another of the Baha’i friends. We then had a deep conversation on the lives of Baha’u’llah and of the Bab. We talked about the transformative power of religion, and the effect of the Teachings on the society of Persia at that time. This led us to talk about the life of Tahirih and the principle of the equality of women and men. We explored the nature of progressive revelation, and how God has sent Teachers from time to time to assist humanity to learn what it needs to learn to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. At the end of the night, we embraced and made plans to meet up again. He was excited to keep reading the book on Baha’u’llah he had been given two nights before.
Our own in Bahá’í World News Service… click here
Activities and celebrations not only did not slow down as Sunday began, it continued strong and intensified towards the last hours toward the sunset on Vancouver’s West Coast horizon. As reports and pictures come in, they will be posted on this page.
• 350 friends, two-thirds of whom were friends of the Faith, joined the joyous community-wide Bicentennial celebration in Richmond on Sunday afternoon at the Sheraton Hotel. The guests included the Mayor of Richmond and three City Councillors, an MP, and two MLA’s including one who changed her flight to be able to attend. The uplifting program of artistic performances, multi-lingual prayers and a 15- minute clip from Light of the World – gave the friends a glimpse of the majesty and power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
One of the guests in attendance, a recently-met neighbor, was invited the night before the celebration, and came with his wife, daughter and mother-in- law. After the program, he commented to his friend, “This Bahá’i Faith is really interesting.” When asked what he found so interesting, he replied: “People look at you and you have this energy about you but it’s really because you are a Bahá’i that you have this energy. I can also learn and when I learn about the Bahá’i Faith, I will also have this energy. We don’t need to go around telling people that we are such and such or we are so and so, people will just recognize our energy and will recognize our demeanor and will want to know more about who we are. At that time, we can share with them we are Bahá’is and that’s how they’re going to learn and they will become Bahá’is.” He added, “You know, it’s really quite simple. There’s nothing complicated about this Faith.” The friend who invited him replied, “You got it man. It’s totally simple.” The neighbor later said, “Why don’t we have activities in our compound?” His friend replied, “Well you’re the first one so why don’t we start something?”• Tonight at 7:00 pm the lights at Vancouver City Hall turned off and then began flashing in rows from the top of the building to the bottom in honour of the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah.• A group of friends serving the children’s classes in the Vancouver neighbourhood of Kitsilano held a children’s festival to celebrate the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah with children and families. Around 100 people, both Baha’is and members of the wider community, gathered for this special celebration held at the local community centre. Children participated in artistic activities, made care packages for a women’s shelter, sang songs together, and presented stories of Baha’u’llah. One mother who has just started bringing her child to the children’s classes shared how the teachings of Baha’u’llah resonate with her and how moved she is by everything she has learned so far about the Baha’i Faith.
• Many of the children and junior youth from the hillside area of Edmonds gathered to do arts and play basketball in honour of the bicentenary. The Buckingham junior youth group came for a showdown. They said prayers for unity and then celebrated on the basketball court.
• A teaching team in Kitsilano held an open house exhibition in a gallery about the Baha’i Faith which was visited by 24 friends of the Faith. A few members went to the street outside the gallery to invite people to come in. One man was walking with his son and a friend. When they were invited into the gallery, the man was very curious. His friend insisted that he was not interested, but the man gave his friend his house keys and told him to wait for him while he visits the gallery with his son. As he entered the gallery and read about the Faith he became more and more interested. As the end of the gallery was a room with the Light to the World film playing. The man said “I want to watch this video. I want to know about Baha’u’llah”. As he watched the video he said “I guess I am Baha’i. Who do I contact to in order to become a Baha’i.” His son, who is a youth, also said he would like to serve as an animator.
• Burnaby’s Hastings neighbourhood is learning to incorporate service into their commemoration. After the celebration was held, children and junior youth made sandwiches for a nursing home in Burnaby. The remaining sandwiches was taken to a homeless shelter.
Some stories as we receive them:
Video Clip earlier in the day in Strathcona as preperation was underway for the exhibit and program in later afternoon. The posters you see in the video were produced by Maria Fernanda and are available in the Bicentenary Resource page.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issue a statement regarding the bicentennial of Bahá’u’lláh’s Birth on his PM’s website.
• The first photo is from a gathering in the Central Richmond that brought together 28 neighbours. The keynote address was given by a youth who first heard of the Baha’i Faith 10 months ago and himself is still learning about the Faith. In the winter he received a surprise visit and was invited to serve his community as an animator. Since that initial knock on his door he is now progressing through the institute courses and has started animating a junior youth group. In his opening remarks to the friends in the neighbourhood gatherings, this youth said the following words about Baha’u’llah: “His teachings have helped us as humans navigate this world through moral and spiritual guidance… The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program has drawn upon the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith in order to develop the spiritual capacity of Junior Youth, by illustrating concepts within the Faith using a series of books, activities, and service projects. We strive to guide the advancing Junior Youth both intellectually and morally using those teachings, which can be applied to any Junior Youth regardless of their beliefs or background. This is why as members and families of members of a Junior Youth group, we are honored to celebrate the Twin Holy Birthdays together. As well, we hope this celebration will be a great opportunity for families of Junior Youth to connect with the animators and each other to gain a better understanding of the program and build relationships with the community.”• Another gathering in the same neighbourhood embraced 22 friends, 15 from the wider community. In an extremely joyful event, they ate together then watched part of the Light to the World film in two groups (Persian and Chinese). They then introduced the core activities and invited all the guests to study and work together to serve mankind.• Over 200 participants, mostly First Nations friends, gathered at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre. Hours before the gathering a man, who nobody knew, arrived to smudge the gymnasium (smudging is a traditional practice that purifies a room for a special occasion with the smoke of sweet grass and sage). He said “This is the day our ancestors have been waiting for!” and as smudged the room he uttered prayers and was heard to be thanking the universe for this day. A few hours later, a dignitary who was invited from a local First Nation welcomed everyone with a prayer in his local language. Afterwards he said to everyone “I prayed that you would all recognize the truth in Baha’u’llah’s words”. Songs, dances, drumming, and contributions from the neighbourhood junior youth groups highlighted the rest of the evening. While watching a clip of the film Light to the World, one of the guests expressed to the Baha’i sitting next to her that she just realized that she too was a Baha’i.• Over 70 participants, including 17 friends of the Faith, came together in a neighbourhood gathering in the Riverside feast area. The children’s class prepared decorations, junior youth read passages of the Faith, music was performed, and the friends present watched 30 minutes of the Light to the World film.• About 100 people came to Dunbar theatre and watched the movie ‘Light to the World ‘• One family in Kitsilano hosted an all-day open-house with a program and lots of activities for children. Many families from the neighbourhood attended. One family were devout Christians. As Sheila was running upstairs to get something, the child of the Christian parents stopped her (in private) and said: “my parents told me you don’t believe in Jesus”. Sheila thought for a moment (not wanting to undermine the parents authority) and said “We believe all the prophets are from the same source and all religions are one.”. The child then said “That’s what I believe!”.• The fourth neighbourhood gathering in Edmonds occurred in a neighbourhood school.• A large gathering in Burnaby brought together 485 attendees in a spirited event. One friend of the Faith shared how happy she was to hear about the Bahá’í Faith at the event and how much the clips shown from the film Light to the World touched her.
At Sunset on Friday October 20th, 2017, the official two-day celebration of the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh began. Vancouver Cluster (Vancouver, UBC, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond & Mosqueam) is alive and pulsating with diverse, wide-spread celebrations — celebration that are at once festive-spirited as well as significant in community-building efforts. Click to see images of this memorable evening. Did you participate in any activity, and would you like to share your experience? Send your notes and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
• At UBC, 41 students gathered to watch the film Light to the World. Afterwards the students reflected on the station of Baha’u’llah and the concepts in the film by creating art.• 3 gatherings in Edmonds engaged 71 participants, include 38 friends of the Faith. One gathering was focused on youth and was filled with lively music. Two others focused on neighbours and families, resulting in the opportunity to form a new children’s class and study circle.• One of the teaching teams in Commercial Drive (Strathcona) hosted an event of 125 participants, mostly consisting of neighbourhood children, junior youth and parents. The young ones of the neighbourhood, along with their parents, presented on spiritual themes, interspersed with the sharing of songs, Writings, stories, dance, and drumming.• 66 friends attended two celebrations in the Aurora Feast Area in South West Vancouver. This small group of believers working together there has a wide range of activities spanning Friday through Sunday. Tomorrow morning at 10am they will be showing the film Light to the World at a neighbourhood theatre.• As the work day was ending, a Baha’i visited a friend in a neighbouring office in downtown Vancouver that we wished to acquaint with the Faith and to invite him to a celebration. They began talking at 5pm and the conversation led to them sitting in the office after work watching the entire Light to the World film about Baha’u’llah. 3 hours elapsed as they conversed about Baha’u’llah before they realized they needed to rush home to their families.• A family in Richmond hosted Chinese and Persian friends of the Faith and they viewed parts of Light to the World and afterwards engaged in a lively discussion about its ideas and concepts.• A team of Baha’is in Vancouver’s City Hall neighbourhood hosted a large diverse crowd that prayed, ate, and sang together in an extremely joyous celebration. Afterwards the host gifted each person a package of prayer cards and the new Baha’is magazine.
“On this two hundredth anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s appearance, the many who are part of this enterprise are reaching out to those around them with a simple invitation: seize this opportunity to find out who He was and what He represents. Put to the test the remedy He has prescribed.”
“Baha’u’llah taught,” Chief Bellegarde writes, “the importance of unity and justice among all peoples regardless of their race and faith.“
Watch the video Light of the World to learn more about the aspects of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh that Chief Bellegarde highlights in his message to the Bahá’ís of Canada.