Following Colombia Temple opening, first visits begin
AGUA AZUL, Colombia — Marking the local community’s response to the opening of the new Baha’i House of Worship, hundreds of residents from nearby communities joined for prayers in a joyful gathering on Sunday.
More than 300 people – the majority of whom live a short walk from the Temple – participated in a special gathering to visit the Temple for the first time. Sunday’s gathering, called “My First Visit to the Baha’i House of Worship,” was held in the afterglow of 22 July’s historic dedication ceremony and included many of its elements such as the reading of a letter of the Universal House of Justice about the dedication, talks by a local mayor and the Temple’s architect, as well as musical and dance performances. “My First Visit” programs are scheduled for the following three weeks, allowing more people from local communities to participate in the Norte del Cauca Temple’s historic opening.
(Update, 17 August 2018: Since this article was published on 31 July, two additional “My First Visit” programs have been held, with a total participation of about 600 people. More than 900 people have visited the Temple for the three programs held so far. This coming Sunday will be the final such program. The Temple remains open for public visits throughout the week. With the series of special gatherings and daily public opening hours of the Temple, the House of Worship is taking root in the Norte del Cauca region.)
“Today, we are enjoying the fruits of the seeds we have nurtured for years,” said Alba Marina Fory Micolta from the nearby town of Primavera.
“Before there were so few of us, and now there are many of us. We are now a tree with many flowers, flowers with much energy, strength, and strong values,” added Ms. Fory Micolta, who decades ago became one of the first people in Norte del Cauca to embrace the Baha’i Faith.
Many people who made their first visit on Sunday described feelings of spiritual strength as a result of praying in the Temple.
“When I stepped in the House of Worship, I looked at the rays of light. It was impressive, because it is something that we can feel, that gives us strength, gives us life,” Gloria Amparo of Agua Azul described. “I felt this strength embody me. The Temple is something that we really need in our region.”
Jenny Nair Gómez, the mayor of the nearby town of Villa Rica, participated in Sunday’s visit and plans to attend the following three Sunday gatherings. She noted the importance of informing people from the neighboring towns about the Temple’s opening.
“We are very honored to be the host of this House of Worship,” Ms. Gómez noted. “It is more than just a physical structure. It is a site that will allow us to keep strengthening our spirituality, regardless of our beliefs.”
The House of Worship is a physical manifestation of the connection between worship and service present in the community-building activities of the Baha’is of Norte del Cauca. Its doors are open to all.
“Now that the House of Worship is open, we will feel a great spiritual impact in the surrounding area, in our people, towns, and villages,” said Mariana Lopez, a youth from the nearby town of Jamundi. “Everything will change.”