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For the Baha’i world, 2018 was marked by a wide range of developments. Stories in the past year, which began in the afterglow of the bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s birth, covered a diverse array of topics.
Twelfth International Baha’i Convention
More than 1,500 ballots were cast in the election of the Universal House of Justice on 29 April. In a rarefied and spiritual environment, this delegate from Alaska was the first to cast a ballot.
A new documentary film, A Widening Embrace, was produced through a creative, grassroots process in which local teams documented the efforts of their own communities to effect social change.
Houses of Worship
Participants enter the Colombia Temple for their first visit during the 22 July inauguration ceremony. Five groups of about 220 people each filled the Temple for a devotional program, which included prayers and readings from the Baha’i writings.
During the Colombia Temple’s inauguration ceremony on 22 July, dancers perform the song “La Cumbia del Jardinero,” which uses a metaphor of a gardener to describe the process of spiritual education.
The design of the national House of Worship in Papua New Guinea was unveiled in a joyous event on 21 March in the country’s capital city of Port Moresby.
In New Delhi, an educational facility was added to the Baha’i Lotus Temple, which continues to be a vibrant center of life for the city and beyond. The continental House of Worship first opened in 1986 and has had more than 100 million visitors. In Santiago, the Temple for South America has not only earned international recognition for its innovative architecture but is also a point of attraction and inspiration for people in Santiago and beyond.
Arts and Social Transformation
This scene from the play Daughter of the Sun depicts when Nasiri’d-Din Shah, the king of Persia, met with Tahirih, offering to marry her if she recanted her faith. Tahirih turned down the offer with poetry: “Kingdom, wealth, and power for thee / Beggary, exile, and loss for me / If the former be good, it’s thine / If the latter is hard, it’s mine.”
Members of the cast of Henry Box Brown act out a scene from the musical, which was staged at the world-famous Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In northwestern Zambia, where collective singing is an integral part of daily life, the Lunda people have been drawing inspiration from the Baha’i teachings to channel the power of music to unite.
Participation in the discourses of society
The Baha’i community of Spain co-organized a conference on 26 October on the subject of radicalization.
The Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity holds a series of seminars for university students to help them see their education as integral to their efforts to contribute to the transformation of society. Seminars for university students were held in more than 40 countries this year. These participants gathered at a seminar in Brazil.
Social and economic development
A new edition of For the Betterment of the World was published in April. The publication illustrates the Baha’i community’s ongoing process of learning in action in the field of social and economic development.
In the months following September 2017, when Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island of Dominica, the community united in reconstruction efforts. Here, youth and adults work together to build a greenhouse in the island’s Kalinago territory.
In its 9 November message to the Baha’is of the world, the Universal House of Justice announced the establishment of a new global institution to “promote and coordinate the efforts of the worldwide community in social and economic development.”
The development of Baha’i communities at the grassroots
Residents in the village of Ditalala, which means peace, have witnessed a profound transformation in their community, inspired by the teachings of Baha’u’llah.
In a series of podcast episodes, the News Service interviewed groups of Continental Counsellors about insights emerging from community building efforts around the world.
Finally, the new film A Widening Embrace, which was released in April and mentioned above, tells the story of transformation unfolding in 24 communities representing different realities and contexts. A trio of short films accompanying the documentary was released in September, describing more about the process of social change being seen in communities around the world.Access to the Holy Writings
A collection of more than 100 previously unpublished and untranslated selections from the Baha’i writings was published on 5 September on the Baha’i Reference Library, which was also updated with new site enhancements.
In September, a Baha’i prayer book in the Maori language was published, the first substantial collection of Baha’i prayers in the indigenous language. This photo shows a celebratory event announcing the publication at a local Maori community meeting grounds near Hamilton, New Zealand.
A year of historic anniversaries
A century and a half after Baha’u’llah’s arrival to the Holy Land, the Baha’i World News Service produced a special series of podcasts about that significant period in history. The 3-part series explored the context into which Baha’u’llah was arriving in Akka on 31 August 1868, the events surrounding the day of his arrival, and the series of extraordinary writings he penned, addressing the kings and rulers of the time.
This 1920 photo shows ‘Abdu’l-Baha walking from His house on Haparsim Street in Haifa. He worked tirelessly to promote peace and to tend to the safety and well-being of the people of Akka and Haifa.
According to an intrinsic law all phenomena of being attain to a summit and degree of consummation, after which a new order and condition is established. As the instruments and science of war have reached the degree of thoroughness and proficiency … the transformation of the human world is at hand and that in the coming centuries all the energies and inventions of man will be utilized in promoting the interests of peace and brotherhood. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 123.