“A motivating force of love”: Interfaith gathering at Vanuatu Temple inspires hope


TANNA, Vanuatu — Amid the chanting of prayers, the gentle call for oneness echoed in the Tanna House of Worship. The friends who had gathered under its canopy felt a soul-refreshing breeze. Though from diverse faiths, they knew that their greatest source of strength is their common humanity.

This gathering of chiefs and nearby residents held recently marked the 2nd anniversary of the temple’s dedication. The seeds of love and unity that were sown in their society decades earlier have, in these two years, given rise to a House of Worship that stands as a haven of peace.

A member of the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly of Vanuatu stated that “those who pray within its walls can feel the motivating force of love, a love that beckons people of all races and background, so needed in these troubling times.”

These words resonated deeply with attendees, whose hearts and minds, though weighing heavy with the turbulence of world affairs, felt drawn to be in one another’s company and to pray together.

Staff of the House of Worship and volunteers at the devotional gathering marking the 2nd anniversary of the dedication of the temple and praying for the movement of humanity toward a more peaceful world. Slideshow
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Staff of the House of Worship and volunteers at the devotional gathering marking the 2nd anniversary of the dedication of the temple and praying for the movement of humanity toward a more peaceful world.

“We have joined here today to pray together for the unity of all,” said Yawus Nikiatu, a chief from a nearby village.

Numanian Iokaulo, a member of one of the represented faith communities, added: “No matter our different backgrounds and beliefs, we all come from the same source.

“Observe the big trees here,” he continued, “they have many branches and grow so high, but their stem is one. We are many and diverse, but we are one.”

Natuman Walalo, an Under Chief of West Tanna, drew inspiration from the traditional dance of Tanna called Kaelalao to describe the centrality of the House of Worship to community life. “The concept of unity is portrayed in that dance. No individual can perform the dance alone because it relies on many people being synchronized, revolving around a central point.”

Attendees at the gathering include participants from diverse backgrounds and faith communities. Top, left to right, top: Chief Sam Lyn; Disline Iapum, Temple Director; Chief Yawus Nikiatu. Bottom, left to right: Bob Noakaur, Mackline Noklam, Nemon Nawia, Numanian Iokaulo, residents from communities; Chief Natuman Walalo. Slideshow
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Attendees at the gathering include participants from diverse backgrounds and faith communities. Top, left to right, top: Chief Sam Lyn; Disline Iapum, Temple Director; Chief Yawus Nikiatu. Bottom, left to right: Bob Noakaur, Mackline Noklam, Nemon Nawia, Numanian Iokaulo, residents from communities; Chief Natuman Walalo.

A member of the National Assembly highlighted the significance of the gathering, stating: “Your presence here today is essential to the process of fostering unity. Though we are small in number, the seeds that we have planted together today will grow into a large tree, providing shade for all. We must have full faith in this seed. Each of us is part of this special spiritual process.”

The bonds of love and unity at the gathering have rooted deeply in the hearts of participants, inspiring them to hold yet another gathering with many more people of diverse faiths and backgrounds in the surrounding communities.

An evening view of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Tanna, Vanuatu. Slideshow
4 images

An evening view of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Tanna, Vanuatu.



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