BROCKVILLE — October 18, 2017. On Sunday, October 22, the Bahá’í Community of Brockville will be joining Bahá’ís around the world in celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet and Founder of the Bahá’í Faith.
Bahá’u’lláh was born in 1817 into a noble family in Tehran, Persia (Iran). From a very early age, He was known for his extraordinary knowledge, his keen intelligence, his uncommon wisdom, and his generosity and compassion. After recognizing the station of his forerunner, the Báb, and becoming a leading follower, He was thrown in a dark dungeon and bound in heavy chains. It is there that his station and mission as a manifestation of God was revealed to Him. He spent the next 40 years in prison and exile, during which time he wrote what would amount to 100 volumes of guidance for the establishment of a peaceful world civilization.
At the heart of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, whose title means “The Glory of God,” is the peaceful unification of all the peoples of the world, based on such principles as the essential oneness of humanity, the independent search for truth, the harmony between science and religion, the abolition of all forms of prejudice, the fundamental equality of men and women, universal education, and a just and equitable system of governing the world. “My object is none other than the betterment of the world and the tranquility of its people,” He affirmed.
Since His birth two hundred years ago, the worldwide Bahá’í community has grown rapidly. Today, there are more than five million Bahá’ís living in virtually every country on earth. It is the second most widespread religion in the world. The Bahá’í Faith was founded in 1844 and first came to Canada in 1898. It has been present in Brockville since approximately 1905, when the artist Percy Woodcock, his wife Aloysia, and their daughter May identified with the Bahá’í Faith after hearing of the Faith and meeting Bahá’ís in Chicago and Montreal.
There is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith. The Bahá’í community of Brockville is governed by a local nine-member council that is elected annually, the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Brockville. Individual initiative, participation, and service at the grassroots level is a fundamental part of community life. The Bahá’ís of Brockville currently participate in interfaith activities and hold a monthly multi-faith devotional meeting open to all. It is also establishing a junior youth spiritual empowerment program. The objective of this program is to assist young people in gaining a better understanding of their own potential, to enhance their power of expression, to help them recognize the moral issues underlying the choices they make, to help them explore their unique talents and to assist them in releasing their capacities for service to others and to the community.
The Bahá’í community marks several Holy Days each year. At this time each year, it celebrates the anniversaries of the birth of the Twin Spiritual Luminaries, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, who were born two years apart on consecutive days in the Islamic calendar. Both anniversaries are celebrated as one. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, and in 2019, the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb will be celebrated here in Brockville and all over the world.
The celebration on Sunday consists of an artistic program, bringing together local artists – musicians, poets, choral singers, dancers, and visual artists. It aims at expressing the essential oneness and beauty of creation. It is taking place at the Brockville Memorial Civic Centre at 2 p.m. Anyone wishing to attend can contact the Bahá’í community at firstname.lastname@example.org
A special film was commissioned for the bicentenary by the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the worldwide Bahá’í community. The film, entitled “Light to the World,” explains who Bahá’u’lláh is and what He has brought to humanity. A preview will be shown at the event on Sunday afternoon. The full film can be viewed at the Brockville Public Library on Saturday, October 28, at 2 p.m. All are welcome.