Baha'i News -- Member of the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland Attends Jubilee Reception at Buckingham Palace

CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland
Issue 72 - 8 Kamál 159 - 1 August 2002


COUNCIL MEMBER AT THE PALACE

Member of the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland Attends Jubilee Reception at Buckingham Palace

As part of the Queen's Jubilee in June in Buckingham Palace and at the request of the Golden Jubilee Office and under conditions of confidentiality, the National Spiritual Assembly had nominated five Bahá'ís to represent the Bahá'í communities in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Two Bahá'í youth also attended the Buckingham Palace reception, having taken part in a multi-faith youth seminar throughout the day at St James's Palace. This seminar was also part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly was part of a line-up of religious leaders and representatives who were presented to the Queen, Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales in the Palace's White Drawing Room at the beginning of the reception. The representatives were presented to Her Majesty in alphabetic order by the names of the religions, and the Secretary of the Bahá'í community was, therefore, first in line.

Between 700 and 800 people from the nine major faith communities of the UK and from many interfaith organisations thronged the reception rooms in the Palace and there were wonderful opportunities to meet old friends, to make new ones, and to speak about the Faith to all and sundry, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and a Roman Catholic bishop.

As the reception drew to a close, the guests moved to the Grand Ballroom, where the Archbishop of Canterbury read a message of Loyal Greetings to Her Majesty on behalf of all the faith communities (the text had been agreed by the communities before the reception). During the reading, the leading representatives of the faith communities stood on the low stage in the ballroom in a line behind the Queen and Prince Philip. The Secretary of the National Assembly somehow found himself in the middle of the line, very close to the Queen and Prince Philip. This was a magnificent occasion and illustrated how well interfaith relations have developed in recent years in the UK. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much that some were still in full conversation 20 minutes after the end of the reception and Palace staff had to 'sweep' people out of the building.

The Bahá'ís representing our community at the reception were moved by the sense of occasion and the significance of the event. One of the Bahá'í youth said that the youth seminar had been an excellent event and that it had lifted barriers and increased understanding between the youth of different faiths. They hope that there might be another such seminar before too long. The people from Northern Ireland who attended the reception included many members of the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum, the Chairman of the Lisburn Inter-Church Project, the Chairman of the Cornerstone Community, the Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches as well as a representative of the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland, Edwin Graham.


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