Today at least 1400 friends celebrated the Birth of the Blessed Beauty in the cluster, approximately 500 of those being friends of the Faith. At least 20 celebrations occurred today in the cluster, and the following are a few updates and photos from Day 2 of this momentous weekend:
• 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.