A SHARED ACT OF REFLECTION AND COMMITMENT TO WELCOME THE YEAR
A SHARED ACT OF REFLECTION AND COMMITMENT TO WELCOME THE
In what has been called a unique gathering in human history, the
Baha'i community joined the eight other major UK religions to celebrate
the New Millennium in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster in
the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
(welcomed by a fanfare played by trumpeters from the Blues and Royals),
the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, the
Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister, and Mrs Blair. In his welcoming
remarks, the Rt Hon Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media
and Sport, referred to the event as a gathering of the nine major
religions of the UK. The Prime Minister spoke reflectively and
enthusiastically about the unique importance of the event, showing as it
did the importance of faith and religion and emphasizing the government's
commitment to a tolerant, multi-faith future for the UK.
The event was hosted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and
the Inter Faith Network, who had planned it in consultation with The
Lambeth Group and members of the faith communities. Representatives of
all the major religions gave presentations on shared values such as
community, care and compassion, justice, and respect to an audience of
members of Parliament, faith leaders and faith community members from
across the UK.
Carmel Momen, Public Information Representative from the Office
of External Affairs, was involved in the planning of the event and
regularly attended meetings at the Department of Culture Media
and Sport for this purpose.
Mrs Joan Bowers of the Chester Baha'i community read from the writings
of Baha'u'llah on the issue "Justice as a Foundational Value", and gave
some personal insights into the importance of justice to her life as a
Baha'i. Wendi Momen and Barney Leith attended as senior representatives
of the Baha'i community, and a number of other Baha'is represented the
nations of the United Kingdom.
After the readings, presentations and music, senior representatives
of the Faith communities were invited to go forward (in alphabetical
order) to take part in the recitation of an Act of Commitment to mark
the year 2000. The recitation was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
BBC 2 TV showed 30 minutes of highlights of the event immediately
afterwards and there was national newspaper coverage the following day.
This event sent a highly significant public signal about the
acceptance of the multi-faith nature of UK society. It also marked
an important stage in the emergence from obscurity of the Faith.
The Baha'i Faith is one of nine faith communities represented on
the Inter Faith Network of the UK, the body that has played a most
important role in opening the door of dialogue between the
government and the faith communities. Because of this the Baha'i
community of the UK is now clearly in the public arena and is
recognized by three pillars of the Establishment (the Royal Family,
the Government and the Church of England) as one of the nine
major faith communities in the UK. This has important implications
for external affairs work at national and local level and can certainly
be used to help official bodies to understand the part the Baha'i
community is playing in public life now.
The text of the Act of Commitment was this:
"In a world scarred by the evils of war, racism, injustice and
poverty, we offer this joint Act of Commitment as we look to our
"We commit ourselves,
as people of many faiths,
to work together
for the common good,
uniting to build a better society,
grounded in values and ideals we share:
a sense of right and wrong,
learning, wisdom and love of truth,
care and compassion,
justice and peace,
respect for one another,
for the earth and its creatures.
We commit ourselves,
in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,
to work together alongside all who share our values and ideals,
to help bring about a better world
now and for generations to come."
©Copyright 2000, Wendi & Moojan Momen
Page last updated/revised 010900
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