Baha'i News -- Newsletter of the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland

CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland

Issue 80 - 12 Bahá 160 BE - 1 April 2003 CE




Dear Bahá'í Friends,

The Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland sends everyone its love at the end of the Fast and the beginning of a new year, the year 160 BE. The last Council meeting was held in Londonderry in their Assembly's new centre which has been refurbished. In fact we learned that it was done swiftly in anticipation of the Council's visit. While there we took the opportunity to meet with as many of the friends as possible. It was wonderful to see the efforts they have made to create such a beautiful centre. With such evident enthusiasm it will no doubt be the focus of much teaching work in the future.

The Council is in the process of meeting with all Local Spiritual Assemblies. The last was with Newtownabbey, one of the three core Assemblies that support the Charles Dunning Cluster. The next meeting will be with Newtownards Assembly. The purpose of these meetings is to explore their services to the five-year plan and offer any assistance with any aspect of their essential and expanding work. We pray hard that all of our Assemblies will reform at Ridvan. Coleraine, a lapsed Assembly has eight adult Bahá'ís. What a wonderful gift to Bahá'u'lláh for Ridván it would be to see the re-formation of this very active community - especially in the wake of Clothier Valley Cluster being opened. Also, if possible, please try and support their activities.

When we celebrate Naw-Rúz remember that happiness is best shared. Ponder these words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. ‘Man is the life of the world, and the life of man is the spirit. The happiness of the world depends upon man, and the happiness of man is dependent upon the spirit.’ (P28 Happiness)

With warmest Bahá'í greetings,


Baha'i Council in Derry 
&ouncil met in the new local Centre in Londonderry on 23 February. To mark the occasion Patricia Jamshidi (right) presents a picture for the Centre to Elizabeth Palin, chair of the Londonderry LSA. The Council also took the chance to meet with the local community.




The National Spiritual Assembly has announced further devolution of responsibilities to the four Bahá'í Councils in the United Kingdom


The Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland wishes to inform the friends that our National Spiritual Assembly has devolved the responsibility for Bahá'í education of children to the Council. The Council responsibility will be:

This will have a direct impact on the development of Children's classes open to all and we would ask the community to pray for the guidance of this Council in the development of such an important aspect of the Five Year Plan.


Our National Assembly has given the responsibility of the work of the Association of Bahá'í Women to the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland. They state:

‘In order to align the work of the Associations of Bahá'í Women in the United Kingdom more closely with the processes of the five year plan, the National Spiritual Assembly has decided to transfer responsibility for directing, shaping and supervising the work of the Associations to the Bahá'í councils with immediate effect.’

The Council greatly looks forward to developing the integration of this very important principle into every aspect of Bahá'í life and that we continue to develop a community where the dignity of every individual is honoured and respected

CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland
Issue 80 - 12 Bahá 160 BE - 1 April 2003 CE




On Sunday 2nd March Bahá'ís from all over: including Omagh, Newtownards, Castlereagh and Ballymena came to consult with Dr Wendi Momen, Treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly, about the funds of the Faith. A chart of the contributions to the fund and the expenditure of the NSA over the last 5 years showed that there had been no decrease in contributions. Indeed contributions increased by over 30% between April 2000 and April 2001, and again by nearly 20% between April 2001 and April 2002. This is a total increase of around 50%. However, more money had been spent on account of two major events. These have affected the health of the fund:

  1. The purchase of Bridge House in Tonbridge, Kent, site of the National Sub-Office. This was accomplished in 2002. The NSA is convinced that this building is a valuable resource for the Faith with its roomy offices, some of which can accommodate 300 people. The mortgage is being paid by the rents from the other organisations occupying the building. Once the mortgage has been paid, the Bahá'ís will be able to use the whole building.
  2. The Universal House of Justice has asked the NSA to decentralise and distribute a greater proportion of the funds to the regional councils. From this year, the councils have been asked to become self-supporting.
  3. The NSA has invested in an expensive SAGE computer system to upgrade and automate the work of the Treasury.

Expenses of the NSA have therefore had to be cut back. Cut backs have included the following: Permanent posts at the National Office have been reduced, even though the work still needs to be done. The expense of the Bahá'í Journal has been reduced by reducing the number of issues per year to six.

About contributions, Wendi said that perhaps the single greatest factor which could increase contribution to the National fund would be if every tax-paying believer would make ALL contributions to the fund by gift-aid. At present the National Assembly would gain an additional £90,000 a year if ALL contributions were given by gift aid.

About contributions, Wendi said that perhaps the single greatest factor which could increase contribution to the National fund would be if every tax-paying believer would make ALL contributions to the fund by gift-aid. At present the National Assembly would gain an additional £90,000 a year if ALL contributions were given by gift aid.

Although contributions to the National fund have been increasing, the increase has been coming mainly from a restricted number of individuals. The Guardian said the Bahá'ís should develop a personal connection with each of the funds, local, national and international. Wendi encouraged all the Bahá'ís to give individually to the NSA . She said that giving to the NSA through the local fund is not enough. Some of those present said how they felt out of touch with the NSA. Wendi said that the NSA no longer sent out 19 Day feast Newsletters, because they were supposing that all the Bahá'ís were getting their news through 'The Bahá'í News Service' which is available on the internet. There is also a financial newsletter called Connections which can be obtained by all NSA Treasurers if they wish, either by e-mail or by post.  


I have been living in N'djamena now for a little more than 5 months and am sorry to admit that now for the first time, with only one month left to go, I am writing home at last, to send all of you my warmest love and prayers. I think of you all so often here. I wanted to tell you how blessed I feel to think that in Ireland and the United Kingdom the faith has such a firm foundation of unified believers, so full of enthusiasm, with such diverse talents and abundant resources and to know that I am a part of this strong and growing community. One thing that I have realised during my time in Africa is to appreciate how fortunate we are to live in the West, where education is so well developed and material resources are so readily available to us. Here in Chad where all these things are not taken for granted, the Bahá'ís walk a very difficult pathway, one paved with physical hardships and sacrifice.

It is so beautiful to see how spirituality is woven into the lives of the African believers and to feel the radiance of the faith glowing in their hearts and spilling out into this starving country which is in such great need of Bahá'u'lláh's healing message. This Christmas Sarah Pickett and I went with some of the youth (around 19 in all) from the city to study Ruhi book 7 in a smaller town south of N'djamena. Together we squeezed into an ancient hippie-van, in a terrible state of disrepair, to travel overnight, with no roads between the homes we were leaving and our destination which was Bongor. The journey was long and uncomfortable and the van broke down countless times before we arrived (having replaced the entire engine one piece at a time along the way!). We had to walk through an unfamiliar village to the Bahá'í centre where we would stay, carrying all our luggage in the middle of the night, without street lamps or sign posts to guide us.

When we finally arrived hungry and without sleep, we were shown an old shack with a tin roof and dirt floor, of course there was no running water or electricity (though this is usual in the city too). For one week we would sleep on the ground in the dust, wash with a bucket of water collected from the well and eat the same meal of boule (a traditional chadian dish - rice boiled together with flour until dense and sticky) twice everyday. We woke each morning before dawn to pray together and begin our study circle and we would work right through the day in the most wonderful of spirits, all the youth participating and happy to be together to deepen their understanding of the faith.

You see this is the kind of purity of motive and the beautiful simplicity of their love for Bahá'u'lláh! These youth will gladly and in a spirit of real joy make such efforts to walk the straight path of service! I look at the time I spent in Bongor with the youth as one of the happiest of all my experiences in Chad, the hardships seemed not to matter when I was surrounded by such love and while I had such an opportunity to serve the Bahá'ís and learn from them. But what I want to impart to you is the importance of serving the magical and beautiful faith we are so privileged to have discovered. We as Bahá'ís are illumined by the light of understanding God's design for humanity in this age, while so many others are lost in darkness. In the West it is perhaps less apparent, as the need for spirituality is often filled superficially by materialism. Here in Africa the need for religion is plain to see as people have so little material possessions and so they turn their faces towards God as the true source of meaning and joy in their lives. I am talking especially to the youth, who have such precious and unique opportunities to serve the cause of God. We are Bahá'ís! There are so few of us in the world today and yet we must not be discouraged by the irreligion and suffering which is all around us. We are not alone, Bahá'ís all over the world are working in unison to achieve the same goal, putting into practice in our everyday lives the beautiful teachings which Bahá'u'lláh brought, and together we can offer solutions to overcome the problems which exist.

We each have an important part to play in the spreading of this message and every little effort we make will contribute to the bringing about of peace in the world. We must remember not to focus on our little capacities, not to rely on our own tiny selves, but to have faith that we are bearing God's message and that we will be assisted and strengthened when we arise to share it with others. The Universal House of Justice encourage us to serve by holding devotional gatherings, organising and assisting with children's classes and by attending Ruhi study circles or even becoming tutors and offering to help others deepen their understanding of the Bahá'ís teachings. We must remember that these activities are not only for Bahá'ís but for everyone! We as youth can undertake them. We can use the arts to develop them and bring to them the wonderful spirit of unity and the creative energies and enthusiasm that exists among us and this will attract others!

Love from Bryony and Sarah  

Clogher Valley Cluster Opened

Following last months appeal for someone to open this one remaining cluster we now can announce that Harry Coyle has moved from Londonderry and settled in the village of Moy, near Dungannon. This is a very exciting fulfilment of this goal. The Council is still praying for increase in members of Coleraine and Newtownards.


The latest in the series of ‘Deepenings in Derry’ took place on 7th March. Dr Iain Palin dealt with the Universal House of Justice's Message to the World's Religious Leaders and showed how its contents are challenging to all and how they have been received across the world and across the religious spectrum. An effective and emotive PowerPoint presentation was shown as part of the evening.

The Passing of Una Dean (neé Townshend)

The Spiritual Assembly of Edmonton (Canada) recently announced the passing of Una Dean. They wrote to the House of Justice asking for prayers at the Shrines for her. The explained that Una had been Knight of Bahá'u'lláh to Malta. She was the daughter of the late Hand of the Cause of God, George Townsend and Nancy Townsend, and widow of Richard (Dick) Dean. She was born on 20 April, 1921, Una moved to Canada in 1957. Since 1995, a year after her diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease, she has lived in the personal care of two loving Bahá'í women, Betty Johnson and Elida Raynor. Una Dean leaves behind her a severely mentally handicapped daughter, Farrah. Una and Dick Dean were founding members of the Alberta Association of Families in Action for the Dependent Handicapped which advocated and was successful in accessing care for handicapped children.

In good health, Una was a devoted Bahá'í and rendered valuable service to the Cause in Ireland, England, Malta and Canada. She was much loved and well-respected by all who knew her. Presently, the National Spiritual Assembly is endeavouring to research Una Dean's Bahá'í history much to the gratitude of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Edmonton. Her funeral was held in Edmonton on Wednesday, 12 March.







THEME: ‘Nurturing Souls’

The new Residential Schools Committee, responsible for overseeing all residential schools is: Chairman: Anne Munro Secretary: Marie Whiteside Treasurer: Paddy O'Mara





(Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly to Bahá'í Councils)

Dearly loved Friends

The National Spiritual Assembly has now had an opportunity to consider your proposed dates for this year's Unit Conventions and pleased to inform you that the dates will be as follows:
*4-5 October for England
*18-19 October for Wales and Northern Ireland
*25-26 October for Scotland

The National Assembly would be most grateful if you could inform the believers under your respective jurisdictions of the relevant dates as soon as possible. In order to maximise attendance at this year's Unit Conventions, the National Spiritual Assembly kindly asks the friends not organise other activities and events during the relevant Unit Convention weekend.

With loving Bahá'í greetings, Kishan Manocha, Assistant Secretary




O, Sacred Day, O brand new year
We pray that God will hold us near.
Make us a vessel for Thy use
This special day that is Naw Rúz

May we begin our year anew
By helping others learn of you
So the name "Bahá'u'lláh" in song and prayer
Will reach God's people everywhere

O sacred Day that is Naw Rúz
May we consider others views,
And live to be seen as kind and wise
When strangers speak of the Bahá'ís


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