More than 2,600 people from the states of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming – and also from the Baha’i community of Alaska – gathered in Portland, Oregon, for one of the 41 conferences in the current four-month series.
The weekend of 6-7 December was the sixth of 18 consecutive weekends that will see conferences in cities around the globe. For many of the participants in Portland, it was the largest Baha’i gathering they had ever attended.
In attendance were Mr. Stephen Hall and Mrs. Joan Lincoln, members of the International Teaching Center who represented the Universal House of Justice, several members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and of the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, representatives of the Northwest Regional Baha’i Council, and members of the Continental Board of Counselors.
The conference opened with a prayer in memory of Counselor Rebequa Murphy by one of the students – now grown – from her children’s classes. Mrs. Murphy passed away unexpectedly just two weeks ago. “Counselor Murphy played a key role in planning this conference, and her memory brought a smile to our faces,” said one participant.
“The gathering started on a high note and continued to build throughout two glorious days, culminating in a universal outpouring of concrete commitment….”
The first day included reports from a number of Baha’is who shared personal experiences, including Lori Hendon of Benton County, Oregon, who commented on the importance of visiting the homes of friends and neighbors to share prayers and get to know people. “In this society, visiting and hospitality are underdeveloped,” she said. “We can’t build the new world order without relationships.”
One speaker referred to the rapid changes taking place in Baha’i communities around the globe as they work to respond to conditions in the world. “If you are feeling that things are going so fast you’re not sure what’s happening, you are not alone,” she noted.
She said that the various Baha’i core activities – children’s classes, activities for young adolescents, study circles, and devotional meetings – reinforce each other and help communities develop capacity to address their needs. “We have such riches – we need to share them with society,” the speaker said.
On Sunday, as in the other conferences, participants divided into workshops to discuss upcoming activities in their home areas. A number of the Baha’is from well-established communities offered to assist with endeavors in 19 priority areas, where the friends are striving to develop a higher level of Baha’i activity.
The Alaskans in attendance were enthusiastic and by the end of their own consultations in a workshop session felt that they could initiate intensive programs of growth by 2009. One speaker commented on the vast distances that people in Alaska travel, including one Baha’i who, for a year and a half, regularly made a 300-mile round-trip to tutor a study circle. It was also noted that some of the youth are becoming the most experienced members of the Alaskan Baha’i community.
After the conference, one participant summed it up this way: “The gathering started on a high note and continued to build throughout two glorious days, culminating in a universal outpouring of concrete commitment….”Return to top
For many of those at the gathering in Portland, it was the largest Baha’i conference they had ever attended.
Baha’is came from seven states in the contiguous United States and also from Alaska.
After workshops sessions on Sunday, representatives of some of the groups gave reports.
The conferences have similar formats, with a combination of plenary sessions, workshops, devotions, and performances of music and dance.
The Portland gathering was one of six scheduled for the United States.
Native American drums and prayers greet the friends at the opening of the Portland regional conference.
Workshops are a time for people to think about their own participation in future activities in their home areas or elsewhere.
Portland was one of four conferences held on 6-7 December, the sixth of 18 consecutive weekends in the current series of gatherings.
Young girls perform for the gathering.
People enjoy a song together.
Breakout session are held each day during the conferences.
Old friends meet up.
Simple lunches were prepared for all partcipants.
Mrs. Joan Lincoln, center, and Mr. Stephen Hall, right, were the representatives of the Univeral House of Justice in Portland.
Plenary sessions provided food for thought.