United Kingdom: Special reception at Westminster highlights principle of oneness
LONDON — A special reception at Portcullis House in Westminster recently commemorated an important milestone: the centennial anniversary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom.
The gathering explored efforts to foster social harmony, focusing on the important role of cohesive relationships among individuals, communities, and institutions in cultivating a more unified society.
Shirin Taherzadeh, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly, highlighted the principle of oneness as a foundational force in shaping these relationships. Drawing on Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, she stated: “We are all created ‘from the same dust.’ We are all members of one human family and co-stewards of one planet.”
She quoted Bahá’u’lláh, saying: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”
Mrs. Taherzadeh added that such unity is not uniformity but a celebration of diversity, vital to the fabric of a peaceful society.
The gathering of some 90 attendees was hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Bahá’í Faith, bringing together government officials, civil society leaders, journalists, and representatives of diverse faith communities.
The reception was enriched by the heartfelt contributions of several youth from New Cross in the London borough of Lewisham, who are engaged in Bahá’í moral educational programs. Their shared experiences highlighted the critical role of interactions between youth and Bahá’í educational agencies in unlocking the immense potential within young people to contribute to the betterment of society.
Elizabeth, one of the youth from New Cross, shared her perspective on how the programs have broadened her outlook, fostering a sense of responsibility toward future generations. “The Bahá’í teachings say that every child is a mine rich in gems of inestimable value which education can cause to reveal. I want to help the children find the gems within themselves, the spiritual qualities which they all possess.”
Alex, another youth, elaborated further, describing the impact of his participation in Bahá’í community-building initiatives. “This allowed me to express myself and taught me about choices that lead to hope and despair. I wanted to be a facilitator for another group of children straight away. I was motivated by the example of my friends. I wanted to help others like me and be a good role model.”
Echoing this sentiment, Caleb, another young person from New Cross, said that the educational programs taught him the value of being part of something larger than himself. “I have learned not only to be part of a neighborhood but also to be part of a family,” he said.
The transformative effect of these initiatives, felt not only by the youth, was also recognized by officials, as Member of Parliament Alistair Carmichael remarked: “These young people here have shown us the way by being involved with the life of their communities and dedicating their time and efforts to the education of younger generations.”
Through the accounts of the youth, attendees gained insight into a unique dynamic—when individuals feel empowered to serve, agencies effectively channel that energy, and the community provides nurturing support, a transformative process unfolds. This collaborative spirit fosters a profound sense of belonging that fuels the youth’s desire to contribute to the needs of their neighborhood. This atmosphere has not only nurtured personal growth but also fostered a stronger, more cohesive community, observed the youth.
These ideas were explored in a video produced for the occasion by the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs.
Reflecting on the development of the Bahá’í community in the United Kingdom, Patrick O’Mara, Secretary of the National Assembly of the United Kingdom, stated: “Over the past 100 years, the Bahá’í community has dedicated itself to promoting a shared identity that sees all people as members of one human family.
“Through collaborative endeavors with our fellow citizens, we have been learning to contribute insights from experiences that are relevant to the profound challenges facing our society.”