Young are at forefront of celebrations

December 30, 2019
Young are at forefront of celebrations

Young people were at the forefront of celebrations large and small of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab, herald of the Baha’i Faith. 

In some cases, they initiated activities for their peers or community. In others, they made an indelible impression as part of a wider commemoration of the bicentenary. 

Universally, they gave expression to belief in a new day for humanity.

Striking a beautiful chord

A young Baha’i nursing student in Reno, Nevada, raced the clock to assemble and rehearse an ensemble for the community’s public celebration on Nov. 2.

He had scored the music for “The Queen of Carmel,” a majestic song inspired by the words of Baha’u’llah, prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, and performed it earlier with a few friends at a bicentenary gathering in his hometown of Fresno, California. 

Now he was asking Baha’i institutions in the Reno area to assist with the costs of staging a performance there.

With backing in hand, the young Baha’i secured the participation of eight local musicians — some students, some professionals — to play the piece’s harp, violin, bass, clarinet and trombone parts. A local voice coach agreed to sing with him.

He arrived from Fresno only the night before the celebration. And with an hour to spare, the ensemble had its one and only practice session of 20 minutes.

The celebration was a joyous one, arranged by an intercommunity planning committee and made possible by the labor of many Baha’is and friends to set up chairs, decorate the hall, and set out refreshments.

A former member of the National Spiritual Assembly, the national governing council of the Baha’i Faith, spoke, as did the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, who had recently visited the Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi, India.

Then it was the ensemble’s turn to lift spirits — to a standing ovation.

Uplifted and entertained all at once

Rainn Wilson chats with students and others visiting the Unity Museum in Seattle, Washington. Photo courtesy of Thomas Rohm

The University of Washington campus in Seattle was the setting as actor and media entrepreneur Rainn Wilson, a Baha’i and UW graduate, spoke on several occasions leading up to the Oct. 29 anniversary.

The first event drew 150 students for stories and a question-and-answer session as Wilson related his journey as an actor and creator of the SoulPancake media enterprise. 

In a reception afterward at the Baha’i-sponsored Unity Museum, about 80 students heard Wilson talk about his life and career challenges and the role of spirituality in addressing life’s challenges.

The same day, a free event titled “Philosophy, SoulPancake and the Baha’i Faith” drew 750 students to a major facility on campus. The hall was at capacity 30 minutes in advance and about 150 students had to be turned away.  

Wilson entertained his audience with anecdotes about his life in Seattle and at UW, his journey as an actor and his spiritual journey as a young adult facing the many challenges in our culture. 

UW Baha’i club members were ushers and hosted an information table at the entrance with invitations to Baha’i devotional gatherings and other activities on and near the campus. 

Other youth-infused activities

  • Youths from the King Estates neighborhood in Los Angeles gather for prayers on a beach at sunset. Photo courtesy of Kalim Chandler

    A teen in Howard County, Maryland, assembled a “Youth of the World Orchestra” to perform for the bicentenary.

  • In the King Estates neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, youths led dawn prayers in a park, a devotional in the evening and prayers at the beach at sunset.
  • Children, junior youths and youths in Palo Alto, California, created a video based on the bicentenary message of the Universal House of Justice, the global governing council of the Baha’i Faith.
  • A young person in Pullman, Washington, made a 14-minute video in honor of the bicentenary titled “One Big Family.”
  • The Baha’i Club at Georgia State University’s Clarkston campus hosted a celebration that included discussion of the House of Justice message. Three young friends of the Faith who had recently became animators, or junior youth group facilitators, made presentations about their experiences and the opportunities for all to find paths of service.
  • Junior youths and children in Burlington, North Carolina, made origami cranes as part of a community celebration.
  • Youths in Dallas, Texas, joined adults for dawn prayers before school.

 


Bicentenary celebration attendees in Fort Collins, Colorado, take in an art show with works created by young people. Photo by Jessica Kerr
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A visit to a sick community member is part of the service element of a junior youth camp in Fulton County, Georgia, leading to the bicentenary. Photo courtesy of Micah Streiff
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Young people in Kansas City, meeting a couple of months in advance of the bicentenary, cook up a few ideas for neighborhood celebrations. Photo by Afsaneh Zaeri
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A youth institute and junior youth camp in Minneapolis and nearby Roseville, Minnesota, helps orient young people to the lives and messages of the Bab and Baha’u’llah in the run-up to the bicentenary. Photo by Andy Hartin
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Members of the NAACP Youth Council of Oceanside, California, offer a presentation on the theme of racial justice at a bicentenary celebration. Photo by Farzam Sabetian
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