Australian society "enriched and ennobled" by Baha'i temple
SYDNEY — On the fiftieth anniversary of Australia's Baha'i House of Worship, dignitaries have paid tribute to its contribution to the life of the community.
"Our society is enriched and ennobled by the temple," said the Mayor of Pittwater, Councillor Harvey Rose.
"It's a beacon from the sea, and the land and the sky...a beacon which lights the way to a better world – a world where antagonism and division is replaced by one of unity, of construction and of hope," Councillor Rose told a reception ahead of a special anniversary service.
The Mayor added that the temple and the Baha'i community have "an important role not only in our community, but in the broader Australian community."
The reception held last Sunday launched a week of events marking the golden jubilee of the temple's inauguration. The service that followed was characterised by the Baha'i principle of unity in diversity – with singing in the Aboriginal Wirradjuri language, as well as Arabic, English and Samoan. Passages from Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Islamic scriptures were also read.
"A silent sentinel of faith"
Located in beautiful hills and bushland above Sydney's northern beaches, the House of Worship opened in September 1961 after four years of construction. It is one of only seven such temples in the world.
Open to all people, the purpose of Baha'i Houses of Worship is to provide a central gathering place for prayer and meditation as well as, in time, a range of facilities to serve the social and educational needs of the population.
Pittwater's Member of Parliament, Rob Stokes – who read at Sunday's service – said that the temple "stands as a silent sentinel of faith, of inclusion, of a real spiritual strength."
Activities marking the fiftieth anniversary have included daily programs at the House of Worship, a children's art show on building a peaceful community, and an exhibition. This coming weekend, there will be guided tours and a program at which visitors can sample Baha'i community building activities.
Last night, neighbors and visitors from further afield approached the illuminated temple along a candle-lit path for a special interfaith prayer ceremony to mark the United Nations International Day of Peace.
Australia's Channel 10 broadcast its three weather segments from the temple gardens. Other media coverage of the anniversary has included articles in the local press, mentions in the Sydney Morning Herald and an ABC radio breakfast show segment outlining the teachings of the Baha'i Faith.
"A momentous occasion"
In a special message, Barry O'Farrell MP – the Premier of New South Wales – wrote that the House of Worship's golden anniversary is "a momentous occasion not only for the Baha'i religion, but for New South Wales as a whole."
"The Baha'i community plays an important part of New South Wales' diverse social fabric, and it is important that we continue to promote and celebrate diversity, tolerance and community in the State," said the Premier.
"This idea encapsulates the ethos of the Baha'i religion as it seeks to unify all religions and humanity. This temple and the Baha'i community have indeed achieved this.
"I believe that there is a lot to be learned from the Baha'i Faith, which through its values of unity and equality has only enhanced the multicultural tapestry of New South Wales."