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.
“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 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:
The same merciful God Who bestowed His favors in the past has opened the doors of His Kingdom to us. The rays of His sun are shining; the breath of the Holy Spirit is quickening. That omniscient God still assists and confirms us, illumines our hearts, gladdens our souls and perfumes our nostrils with the fragrances of holiness. Divine wisdom and providence have encircled all and spread the heavenly table before us. We must take a bountiful share of this generous favor. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 162.
“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.”