Global conferences: Fostering a culture of peace, contributing to social betterment
BAHÁ’Í WORLD CENTRE — A rising wave of conferences is sweeping across the globe, bringing together the well-wishers of humanity to consult about how they can channel their energies and desire to promote unity and serve their fellow citizens into addressing the needs of their societies.
Gatherings at the local, national, and international levels are enabling participants to gain insights from experiences in Bahá’í community-building activities, initiatives undertaken for social action, and efforts to contribute to prevalent discourses.
In some places, conferences have an overarching theme, such as the recent gathering in Bangui, Central African Republic, in which some 500 women from the surrounding area gathered to explore the role of women in social progress.
“The full participation of women in these gatherings is essential, because women are instrumental in fostering a culture of peace,” says Louis Isidore Tenzonko-Boazamo, a member of that country’s Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly. “This is why our very first in this series of conferences explored this theme.”
Conscious of the global challenges facing humanity—be it climate change, the pandemic, war and conflict, or widespread injustices—participants are finding a renewed sense of hope in humanity’s capacity for altruism, and they are feeling connected by bonds of love and fellowship with others in a global effort aimed at social betterment.
The images below provide a glimpse of the wider picture of the gatherings, which are gaining in momentum with each passing week.
This gathering in Argentina brought together members of Bahá’í institutions and agencies from across that country to prepare for the upcoming conferences.
This painting from Australia depicts the growing numbers of people who will, inspired by the conferences in that country, assist one another in their efforts to serve society.
The Bahá’ís of Australia have launched a website (left) to invite their fellow citizens to upcoming conferences. Seen on the right is a website created by the Bahá’ís of Perth.
Some 1,000 people of all ages from Western Australia came together for a conference in Perth.
Pictured here are some of the many children and youth who participated at the conference in Perth, Australia.
The conference in Perth, Australia, featured many artistic presentations that gave expression to the themes of the gathering—peace, the essential oneness of humanity, and selfless service to society, among others.
The Bahá’í community of Bahrain has prepared a video inviting their fellow citizens to the conferences that will be held in that country over the coming months. The video presents some of the aspects of community-building efforts in Bahrain, concluding with the words: “All are welcome to join us.”
Conferences have already been held in several places in Bahrain, including Al Malkiyah, Diyar Al Muharraq, and Saar, focusing on the theme of “Advancement and prosperity of society.” Upcoming gatherings will also explore the topics of coexistence and building a peaceful world.
Seen here is a group of people in Bangladesh at a three-day gathering aimed at preparing people to facilitate discussions at the upcoming conferences in Bangladesh. This was the first of many such gatherings to take place, in anticipation of the 42 conferences that will be held over the coming weeks and months, which will welcome thousands of people to consult about how they can serve their society.
Pictured here are conference planning meetings in various localities in Bangladesh, attended by members of local Bahá’í institutions and residents.
In Rajshahi, Bangladesh, members of the city’s Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly visited the mayor (right) to extend an invitation to a local conference. Participants at the conferences will examine the role of individuals, communities, and institutions in building a spiritually and materially prosperous society.
The members of the Local Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of Gawazi, Burundi (left), were among the attendees of a recent gathering in that country.
Seen here is a gathering in Toronto, Canada, which brought together participants from northern Canada and the country’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Pictured here is a gathering that was held in Richmond, Canada.
Seen here is a conference in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), which was focused on the role of women in fostering a peaceful society. The conference was attended by some 500 women from the surrounding region and was the first of 140 conferences that will be held in that country.
“For humanity to truly become united, women’s voices must ring out promoting peace and the equality of women and men. This is why we invited many women to this conference, so that we can work together toward this aim,” said Laurentine Senzengo, a participant of the conference.
The conference received coverage in the national media in the Central African Republic. This video is an extract from a national television report.
Pictured here are members of Bahá’í institutions at a gathering in Brazzaville, the Congo Republic.
An invitation prepared by the Croatian Bahá’í community for a conference to be held in their country, which also welcomes attendees from neighboring countries.
An invitation card made by the Bahá’ís of the Czech Republic.
Seen here are several different gatherings that have been held throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent weeks among members of local, regional, and national Bahá’í institutions to prepare for the many conferences that will be held in that country over the coming months.
“Each of us are returning home with immense joy and determination to make an even greater contribution to the progress of our country through community-building efforts, activities for social action, and by contributing to the discourses of our society,” says Bashilwango Mbaleeko, Secretary of the Regional Bahá’í Council of South Kivu.
Pictured here are other gatherings that have been held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Young people have played an important role in the planning and preparation of these gatherings.
This video provides glimpses of a gathering in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A gathering in Ecuador, pictured here, brought together over 200 representatives of Bahá’í institutions from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay.
“Even though we are all from very different societies, we’re united in our vision of building a peaceful world,” says Raul Gómez, member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Peru. He adds: “The experiences shared by everyone during these days clearly show that, despite the challenges facing our societies, a new culture marked by unity is emerging in places where community-building activities are under way.”
The Egyptian Bahá’í community held several conferences in neighborhoods across the country, bringing together groups of people from diverse backgrounds to consult about how they can work toward the betterment of their society. Seen here are gatherings in Batanoon, Cairo, Giza, and Al-Sharqiyyah.
Attendees in these gatherings were especially touched to hear about how Bahá’í educational programs are inspiring in children and youth a desire to serve humanity.
Seen here is a conference in Port Said, Egypt, which included discussions on building vibrant communities dedicated to the promotion of peace, artistic presentations, and a screening of the film Glimpses of a Hundred Years of Endeavour.
A major theme at the conferences in Egypt has been the important role that youth and children can play in contributing to social transformation. Seen here are some of the young attendees at recent gatherings.
A gathering near Frankfurt, Germany, with representatives of Bahá’í communities from several neighboring countries took place in the spiritually uplifting environs of the Bahá’í House of Worship for Europe.
This video shows the visit of participants from several European countries to the Bahá’í House of Worship during the gathering in Germany, bringing together participants from several neighboring countries.
A gathering in Germany brought together members of Bahá’í institutions from different regions of that country, as well as neighboring countries.
One of the youth who attended the gathering said: “This was a meeting that rekindled our hope for humanity and joy for service. So much can be achieved when there is unity.”
Bahá’ís in north-western Germany have prepared a newsletter inviting friends and neighbors to the conferences that will soon be taking place in their region.
In India, preparations for the many local conferences planned in that country have included sessions to train facilitators, as seen in these images.
Conferences are already taking place at the grassroots in neighborhoods and villages in several states of India. Pictured here are participants of conferences held in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
A mother who attended a gathering said, “I was very happy to see many other women at the conference, actively participating in consultation and conversing on issues that relate to their lives.”
Pictured here are participants of conferences held in Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, and Uttar Pradesh.
Many of the conferences in India are bringing together large groups of families living near one another. “We’re here to reflect about how we can all contribute to our society. These gatherings will significantly enrich the many conversations that will follow among the families,” said one participant.
Seen here are conferences in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
“This conference was enlightening for us,” said one participant, “as people from different households came together, in a common space, to share their aspirations for building a prosperous future and discuss topics that concern our community.”
As part of the upcoming conferences in Japan, a special exhibition will be held in May featuring artworks on the theme of vibrant communities that foster peace. Seen here is a poster inviting submissions for the exhibit.
As part of the series of conferences being held in Jordan, several gatherings titled “Conversations to build society” were held in Amman. Some of these gatherings included representatives of NGOs and faith communities who have been participating alongside the Bahá’ís of that country in discussions on coexistence.
The Bahá’í community in central Jordan produced this video, capturing highlights of a conference held in their region.
Seen here are some of the children who participated in the conference in northern Jordan. Among the topics discussed by parents and families at the gathering was the equality of women and men.
Participants at a conference in Weibdeh, Jordan, reflected Bahá’í community-building activities in their city, particularly on moral education classes for children and youth.
“When my children come home from their classes, they share stories about truthfulness and how we all need to love each other,” said one of the participants at the gathering.
Seen here are participants of the national gathering in Kenya, in which attendees are consulting about plans for upcoming conferences that will be held throughout that country over the coming months.
Pictured here is one of several preparatory gatherings that have been held in Kenya ahead of upcoming conferences.
A gathering in Malaysia brought together participants from that country as well as various other countries in Southeast Asia, including Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore who joined remotely through video conferencing.
Seen here are the participants of the national gathering in Mozambique where preparations were made for that country’s upcoming conferences.
A group of participants at a recent gathering held in Namibia.
A national conference was held in Windhoek, Namibia, in preparation for a series of 14 conferences that will be held in different locations across the country.
This video prepared by the Bahá’ís of the Netherlands invites their compatriots to the upcoming conferences in that country.
An artist in the Netherlands, inspired by the upcoming gatherings, has created this painting expressing the diversity and interconnectedness of the human family.
Pictured here are some of the representatives of the Netherlands Bahá’í community who attended the gathering in Germany.
The gathering in Germany featured sessions that allowed participants to express concepts and ideas from their discussions through artistic pieces. Seen here are representatives of the Bahá’ís of the Netherlands.
Seen here are representatives of the Bahá’ís of the Netherlands at the gathering held in Germany.
Participants at a national gathering in Karachi, Pakistan. A participant at the gathering says, “This gathering was a sign of things to come. The upcoming conferences will enable everyone to reflect deeply about the purpose of their lives, to examine the needs of our society, and to explore how they can contribute to building a peaceful society.”
Seen here are participants of another gathering in Karachi, Pakistan.
Many residents of Cerro Iglesia in the Besiko District, Panama, worked together to prepare for the first conference in that country, transporting supplies, arranging for health measures, and planning a range of activities for all ages.
The conference in Cerro Iglesia, Panama, welcomed more than 1,000 people, mostly from the Ngäbe-Bugle people who are indigenous to that region. One participant stated: “It was a beautiful experience filled with joy and camaraderie. We’re inspired to assist one another in our efforts to build a peaceful world.”
Another conference in Besiko district, Panama, in the community of Alto Naranjo.
Over 100 people from New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, gathered in Lae, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Hundreds more people from across the Pacific region joined remotely through video conferencing.
In this video, participants of the gathering in Lae sing a passage from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings. Confucius Ikoirere, member of the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly, says, “We look with greater eagerness to the convocation of more than 200 conferences in PNG over the next two months. No obstacle can stop the spirit of oneness that has been generated here.”
Participants at a gathering held in Lae, Papua New Guinea.
Pictured here are participants from Paraguay who attended a gathering in Ecuador, which brought together representatives of Bahá’í communities from several other countries in the region.
Seen here is a gathering held in a neighborhood in Qatar, which featured musical and other artistic presentations.
Seen here are representatives of Bahá’í institutions and agencies in Singapore who connected through a video call to a gathering in Malaysia.
A song by a musician in Singapore, prepared for the conferences in that country, includes the following quote from a message of the Universal House of Justice: “They are committed to the prosperity of all, recognizing that the welfare of individuals rests in the welfare of society at large…”
Some members of Bahá’í institutions in the Solomon Islands making the journey to that country’s national gathering.
Participants from Switzerland (top) and Austria (below) in a breakout session during the gathering in Germany.
In Timor-Leste, the country’s newly formed Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly met with members of other Bahá’í institutions in the country to plan for upcoming conferences that will be held in that country.
Seen here are the participants of one of three conferences held in Oecusse, Timor-Leste, thus far. The conference pictured here was organized by a group of young women who had recently returned from the national gathering in Dili. Among the attendees was the chief of the village who appreciated the gathering, stating: “I hope that many more people in my village will participate in Bahá’í activities that promote the wellbeing of society.”
A conference held in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, focused on the role of youth in contributing to social transformation. Participants highlighted that Bahá’í initiatives at the grassroots are developing the capacity of youth to resist negative social forces and direct their energies toward the common good.
Seen here are some of the participants of two local conferences held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Bahá’í communities of several countries in northern Europe—including Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom—as well as Greenland were represented at a gathering held in London. Participants also joined remotely through video conferencing.
Pictured here is one of the sessions at the gathering in London.
This is a video made by the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, inviting people to the conferences that will be held in that country.
Seen here are members of Bahá’í institutions from communities across Vanuatu arriving on the Island of Tanna to consult about the needs of their society and plan for upcoming conferences in that country.
The Bahá’ís of Tanna, Vanuatu, constructed a meeting space for the national gathering on the grounds of the newly opened Bahá’í House of Worship.
Pictured here are sessions of the gathering in Tanna, Vanuatu. “The vision of a hopeful future that this gathering has inspired in us is a brilliant one,” says a participant. “It is a vision of a community learning from its past and cooperating with others to build a vibrant society.”
Participants from the Bahá’í communities of Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe gathered in Zambia to reflect on the longstanding efforts in these countries aimed at social progress and to consult about upcoming conferences in their respective countries.
Pictured here are participants of regional gatherings in Zambia, during which plans were made for the many conferences that will sweep across the country in the coming months.