2019 in review – A year of historic developments

The following article is from The Bahá’í World News Service. Photo copyright © Bahá’í World News Service


December 31, 2019

The Baha’i World News Service, reflecting on 2019, provides a brief overview of stories in the past year about developments in the global Baha’i community and a glimpse of the extraordinary worldwide celebrations that took place in honor of the second historic bicentenary.

200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab

October 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb, as the forerunner and herald of the Baha’i Faith, whose dramatic ministry paved the way for the appearance of Baha’u’llah. The bicentenary was celebrated worldwide at every level, from the grassroots to the international.

In villages and neighborhoods across the globe, bicentenary preparations began months in advance, prompting an unprecedented intensification of community building activities and an outpouring of artistic works to mark the occasion, reflect on its significance, and recall the momentous life of the Bab. In the lead-up to the anniversary, the News Service reported on these preparations and celebrations in each continent: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, and Europe. Based on what had been learned in 2017, the celebrations were much more broadly based on this occasion at the grassroots of society.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for December 2019

December 18, 2019

We were lucky enough last month to have two new attendees with personal knowledge of Iran, so we spent the majority of our discussion on background and the portrayal of Iran in the book Reading Lolita in Tehran. There were many issues raised and the information gave a more in-depth context to what was presented in the book.

The discussion was mostly about Tehran, because that was the focus of the book. It was wide-ranging and informative. It also included the role of women in Iranian society and the qualities of a teacher, as portrayed in the book and in general, since there are several educators in the book club.

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National bicentenary gatherings shine light on social themes

The following article is from The Bahá’í World News Service. Photo above: The celebration held in New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings included a presentation about this artistic Tapa cloth made in honor of the bicentenary that depicts the Shrine of the Bab amid 19 terraces on Mount Carmel. Photo copyright © Bahá’í World News Service


November 29, 2019 from WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Recent bicentenary commemorations for societal leaders were celebratory occasions as well as moments of reflection on the challenges of our time.

In some communities, leaders were moved to express their appreciation of the Baha’i community’s contributions to society during this special period. For example in Wellington, New Zealand, Member of Parliament Priyanca Radhakrishnan hosted a bicentenary celebration in the country’s Parliament Buildings. “I can see that the work that you do in Aotearoa is rooted in the values and beliefs of the Faith,” MP Radhakrishnan said, “for example inculcating values of love, unity, and kindness amongst children, encouraging young people to be constructive agents of change, and contributing to discussions across New Zealand on some of the challenges that face us as a nation.”

A conference organized last month in Kyiv, Ukraine, brought together religious scholars, representatives of different Faith communities, students, and others to explore how the common underlying values of religion can contribute to societal progress.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for November 2019

November 13, 2019

Book club for November was a small group due to weather. All members present read the same book: The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. This nonfiction book follows Mokhtar Alkahanshali, the founder of the Port of Mokha coffee company. In addition to the story of the founder and the coffee company, the book introduces the reader to the history of coffee in Yemen, basic information on coffee processing and quality control, and the role of coffee in society.

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Development of the Bahá’í Community Since 1963

The following article is from bahai.org.Photo of Delegates to the first International Bahá’í Convention in Haifa, in front of the International Archives Building, May 1963 © 2019 Bahá’í International Community


In April 1963, the centenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration was marked by two auspicious events: the first election of the Universal House of Justice—the highest institution of Bahá’u’lláh’s Administrative Order; and, a few days afterward, the holding of the first Bahá’í World Congress in London, at which its 7,000 participants demonstrated by their very presence just how dramatically the Bahá’í world community had grown during the preceding decade.

The community that the Universal House of Justice inherited had expanded rapidly as a result of Shoghi Effendi’s first global plan for the growth and consolidation of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’ís now resided in more than 14,000 localities in some 259 sovereign states, dependencies and major islands. Some 56 countries had National Spiritual Assemblies. Though still relatively small, the Bahá’í Faith was assuming the characteristics of a world religion. The cultural adaptability of the Faith and its potential to attract a wide diversity of peoples were increasingly visible; its collective life was also beginning to manifest some of the society-building potentialities enshrined in Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for October 2019

October 9, 2019

October’s bookclub meeting included discussions of several books presented by individual members. Two members brought the same book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. This book looks at the criminal justice system by following the story of an African-American man on death row, with a focus on injustice in sentencing and imprisonment, especially regarding the death penalty. Readers found it readable and very informative, but challenging due to the upsetting nature of its subject.

The second presentation was the August 18, 2019 issue of the New York Times Magazine, which focuses exclusively on the 1619 Project. The goal of this project is to re-examine the legacy of slavery in our country, timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the arrival in America of the first slaves. Its stated goals include telling the story of America truthfully, and learning accurate history as foundational to America’s identity. It also examines and catalogs contributions coming from the portion of Americans who were brought here involuntarily and their descendants.

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A message from The Universal House of Justice on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb

This month we are featuring the message from The Universal House of Justice on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb. Photo © 2019 Bahá’í International Community: Shrine of the Báb viewed in between the colonnade of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice


October 2019

To all who have come to honour the Herald of a new Dawn

Dearly loved Friends,

Consider with us. Whenever a divine Educator appears in the world, a Figure Whose teachings will come to shape human thought and action for centuries thereafter—at such a dramatic, seismic moment, what would we expect?

The appearance of every such Educator, as recorded in the Sacred Texts of the world’s great faiths, is a pivotal event that propels the advancement of civilization. The spiritual stimulus each has provided throughout history has enabled the radius of human cooperation to extend from the clan, to the tribe, to the city-state, and to the nation. And each of these great Teachers promised that, in time, another divine Figure would appear, Whose advent should be anticipated and Whose influence would reform the world. No wonder, then, that the coming of the Báb, Whose Birth two centuries ago we now honour, gave rise to unprecedented ferment in the country where He was born. The moment of His appearance, like the appearance of all such Figures, precipitated the release of powerful spiritual forces—but there was no accompanying spectacle. There was instead a late evening conversation, in a modest Persian dwelling, between a student of religion and his youthful Host, during which that Host revealed that He was the Promised One, the divine Educator His guest had been seeking. “Observe attentively,” He remarked, “Might not the Person intended … be none other than I?” It is this Youth, the Báb, that we acclaim as the One Whose coming—after an interval of a thousand years—shed the light of divine guidance once again upon the human world.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for September 2019

September 11, 2019

At September’s meeting, members discussed The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez. This is a story about two immigrant families who become connected in unexpected ways through the relationships of their teenage children. The characters in the story hailed from several countries in South and Central America and described the close-knit community they formed in their new American home. The reasons for immigrating were as varied and diverse as the characters and their traditions and culture provided an intimate view of Latinos living in America. It was revealing to see how some Hispanic immigrants view Americans and how immigrants, in turn, are viewed by their American neighbors.

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Bicentenary website to reflect worldwide celebrations

The following article is from The Bahá’í World News Service.


September 5, 2019 from the BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — A new international website for the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab was launched today.

The website will unfold in stages over the next eight weeks. Currently featuring artistic endeavors created for the occasion, and articles on the lives and teachings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah, the site will expand dynamically over time. A special letter from the Universal House of Justice about the historic anniversary will be published. Dawn of the Light, a feature film commissioned for this upcoming bicentenary, will also be released by the end of this month. The website is available in 10 languages—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili.

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Walking a Spiritual Path

The following article is from bahai.org.


The Bahá’í teachings emphasize that each person is in charge of his or her own spiritual development. While institutions exist to guide and release energies, and Bahá’í community life is to be characterized by an atmosphere of cordial consultation and encouragement, the responsibility for spiritual growth ultimately rests with each individual. Indeed, there is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith; the Bahá’í community can neither be described in terms of a pastor and congregation, nor as that of a body of believers led by learned individuals endowed with authority to interpret scriptures.

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