BAHÁ’Í WORLD CENTRE — As thousands of conferences encircling the globe are now coming to an end, people from all walks of life are seeing how consultations at these vibrant gatherings have harmonized different points of view in the pursuit of plans that apply spiritual principles to issues and challenges facing their societies.
One of the special features of these gatherings has been the participation of officials, traditional chiefs, and community leaders, who have conveyed their appreciation for how these discussions are infusing neighborhoods and villages with a renewed spirit of hope and a heightened consciousness of humanity’s oneness.
Provided below is a sampling of some of the insights and perspectives voiced by officials and leaders—many of whom participated, followed by images and videos of a small fraction of the many conferences that have taken place since the News Service’s last report.
Reflections of leaders on the spiritual principles of consultation, peace, and unity
The mayor of Bucharest, Nicușor Dan, addressed conference attendees, stating: “Only by discussing and organizing together can we see the problems that affect us and the solutions that can make our lives easier and more pleasant.”
The county commissioner of Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Thorsten Stolz, sent a video message, stating that the conferences are promoting “peaceful cooperation.” He continued, “I believe this fundamental idea is more important than ever, especially today. Unity is achieved as we approach each other, and talk with each other as you do during these conferences, removing prejudice and developing an understanding for each other. … Let us all do one thing in particular in line with the idea of your conferences: to improve the world a little more each day.”
Mayor Tobias Wilbrand, at the conference in Egelsbach, Germany, referred to the title of the conference “Together for the betterment of the world”, stating: “Not against each other or in confusion, but with each other. That is the motto of this conference, and… this seems to be exactly the right motto for our time.”
One of the traditional chiefs at a conference in Danamadji in the Moyen-Chari Region, speaking on behalf of his fellow chiefs, stated: “This gathering has opened our eyes. We reflected on the past 100 years to see how we have governed, and now, with new insights, we look to the next 100 years. We now see how important it is to reflect together on the problems that undermine our territories and to find solutions together. For example, we see how Bahá’í educational programs for young people are inspiring them to contribute to their society’s progress.”
Mahamat Hassane, one of the chiefs in attendance at a gathering in Chad, stated: “These conferences will play an important role in the peace-building process in a country all too familiar with myriad crises, violent disruptions, and injustices.”
A village head in the Tamil Nadu region who attended a local conference stated: “The Bahá’í principles of harmony, peace, cooperation, and unity can only be applied through education. … Bahá’í educational programs assist us to see how education can contribute to the transformation of individuals and the community. My wish is that these efforts reach new heights in our village.”
Raju Arjun Dhatrak, a sarpanch (village head) who attended a conference in Hinganvedhe in the state of Maharashtra, addressed various social issues, including the devastating effects of alcohol consumption on families. “It’s very important that we have these conferences regularly, because the Bahá’í principles that we’re exploring are giving us a new perspective on how to build for the future.”
Celio de Jesus da Silva, former leader of the Kiriri people in the state of Bahia, stated: “The Bahá’í principles build unity and strengthen our traditional culture. Although the Kiriri people already value cooperation and working together, the Bahá’í teachings can further strengthen our culture.”
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A conference held in Bakua Kenge, a locality in the Kasai region, brought together some 500 women leaders. In an article about the conference, Clémentine Biongo—a member of a delegation from the city of Kananga—was reported as saying: “This conference is organized in this border city to strengthen the capacities of women leaders of this region on approaches for the preservation of peaceful communities. Women play a very important role in building peace—without their participation there will be very little effect.”
Patti Cooper-Jones, member of the Board of Supervisors for Prince Edward County, Virginia, described the impact of local gatherings as “a light in this dark world we live in.” She added: “We are very thankful… for the vision [of peace] ”
Member of Parliament Wong Chen, who attended the conference in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, stated: “We have many social problems, such as inequality. What we are learning in these discussions is that at the heart of these issues is a spiritual problem.”
In his opening remarks at a local conference in the Pacific Island of Yap, one of the Satawal Island chiefs, Ignathio Emaipiy, stated that unity, cooperation, generosity, and selflessness will be strengthened in the community through the plans that emerged at the conference. “These are the good things the community has been trying to do but didn’t know how to make happen,” he said.
In an article published before several recent gatherings in Bahrain, the state news agency of that country wrote: “The two-day conference… will bring together all components of Bahraini society and will provide an opportunity for the participants to contribute to serving the diverse and cohesive Bahraini community.”
The article continued: “The conference will highlight the importance of community service as an expression of the individuals’ sense of responsibility towards others that allows them to be active participants in shaping their community by contributing to public prosperity, understanding social reality and doing their utmost to meet others’ needs.”
In a letter addressed to the conference, the minister of education, Kitlang Kabua, expressed her appreciation, stating: “Unity, human welfare, and world solidarity are the pillars of this Faith. As the minister of education and, ultimately, member of our community, I stand by these pillars and strongly believe in cultivating our people to be competent and compassionate global citizens with a strong cultural and spiritual foundation.”
The village head of Yang Kaew, who attended a local gathering, stated: “This conference has helped to make our village a better place. We have come together as one to work for the betterment of the community and to help the children, who are the future, to learn about love and unity. I would like to see more gatherings like this where everyone is helping each other.”
A glimpse of recent conferences held throughout the world
At this gathering in Sector 1 of Bucharest, Romania, the city permitted the closure of an entire street for a three-day community festival inspired by the series of conferences.
The mayor of Bucharest, Romania, Nicușor Dan, and his colleague, Clotilde Armand, the mayor of Sector 1 and former member of parliament, attended the gathering in that city.
In her remarks at the gathering, Mrs. Armand stated, “To a mayor, what you are doing here is like bread and honey. I’m happy you are taking advantage of this open space to create a community event.”
Across Chad, many conferences, both large and small, are bringing together friends, neighbors, coworkers, and civil society leaders. Many traditional chiefs attending the gatherings have expressed appreciation for the conferences, saying that discussions on the application of spiritual principles, such as unity in diversity, to social issues has provided a hopeful outlook on the future.
Pictured here are participants at gatherings in the cities of Batumi, and Tbilisi in Georgia. At the conference in Batumi, the regional representative of the State Agency for Religion Issues, Abesalom Aslanidze, stated that the gathering had, “an atmosphere of kindness, understanding and acceptance of the diversity of people.”
Ksenia, a participant at the gathering in Tbilisi, said: “My horizons and perception of the world have expanded. During these days, the belief that there is much more light and goodness in the world has become even more rooted in me.”
In Germany, the county commissioner of Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Thorsten Stolz, sent this video message to the conference.
Some 500 women leaders gathered for two days in Bakua Kenge, located in the Kasai province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (left). That gathering has inspired other similar conferences, such as the one in Bakua Mbuyi (right), which saw over 1,000 participants.
In the city of Elk Grove, California in the United States, mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen attended the conference there and presented an official government resolution (bottom-right).
Seen here is a gathering in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, in which member of parliament Wong Chen (top-left) attended.
Pictured here are gatherings in the cities of Guaye and Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, which saw chiefs and officials attending.
Members of the indigenous Kiriri community attended gatherings held in the state of Bahia, Brazil. Top-right: Celio de Jesus da Silva, a former leader of the Kiriri people in that state.
Pictured here are gatherings that took place throughout New Zealand. At the gathering in Waitaki, the mayor, Gary Kircher, stated: “Having a conference, which is focusing on community, which is focusing on being together, on inclusion, is something that very much fits with the vision that the Waitaki District Council has, and that we want to see for the whole district.”
In the county of Kaua’i, Hawaii, mayor Derek Kawakami issued an official proclamation for the conference in that area. The document reads, in part, that the mayor wishes “to thank the Baha’is of Kaua’i for their hard work throughout our community, and encourage all citizens to attend this special event.”
Pictured here are some of the many conferences held throughout Togo. At a conference in Naware (top right), some 24 village chiefs attended the gathering of some 100 participants.
Stephan Färber, head of the municipal council in Offenbach, Germany, attended the conference held in that city. The gathering featured many discussions and musical performances.
Seen here are some of the attendees at gatherings in Da Nang and Can Tho in Vietnam.
Over a thousand gatherings have been held across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bringing together traditional chiefs, various civil leaders, and local residents. Many of these leaders have expressed the desire to continue the conversations at these conferences and have already arranged for additional discussion forums to involve more people in localities throughout that country.
Pictured here are participants of a gathering in the Twin Lakes conference in Prince Edward County, Virginia in the United States. Top-center: Patti Cooper-Jones, member of the Board of Supervisors for that county
In Yap, a Caroline Island in the Federated States of Micronesia, one of the Satawal Island chiefs, Ignathio Emaipiy (top-right), and two community leaders attended the conference seen here.
Seen here is a gathering in Egelsbach, Germany. Top-left: Mayor Tobias Wilbrand.
Seen here are gatherings in a few localities in Sierra Leone.
In Bahrain, a conference brought together some 350 people to consult on plans for the progress of their society. The state news agency of that country published multiple articles about the conference.
The conference in Bahrain was covered on national TV, as seen here in this video, and in online newspaper articles across multiple media outlets. In this video, one young participant notes: “The topic of youth and social transformation was an important element of the conference, which is important because young people represent a new generation that is conscious of fostering peace in their country.”
This video is an extract from a national television report of a conference held in Kiribati.
Over 200 conferences and gatherings are currently underway throughout Kenya. Pictured here are gatherings in Matete, Namarambi, Namawanga, Nandi-Kapsabet, and Lutali.
In Canada, hundreds of participants gathered for this conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“We’re seeing how Bahá’í community-building activities can strengthen bonds of friendship in a neighborhood, leading to greater change among residents, with ripple effects that go beyond the grassroots,” said Martha, a young person at this gathering.
Pictured here is a conference in Mexicali, Mexico, featuring traditional dance, artistic presentations, and thoughtful discussions about social betterment. Participants had the opportunity to gather in small groups and explore questions such as, “How can consultation as the basis of decision-making contribute to spiritual and material progress?”
Here is a video produced of the national conference held in Tlokweng, Botswana, which saw some 350 participants.
A conference in Riga, Latvia, included activities for social action, such as cleaning a nearby park.
This video features scenes from the conference in Riga, Latvia.
This conference in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, featured artistic expressions, and presentations on the various Bahá’í community-building activities that are building capacity for service to society.
Representatives of Bahá’í institutions in Zimbabwe gathered over three days to discuss upcoming conferences in that country.
Pictured here are some of the youth who participated at a conference in Moldova. One of the activities included a collective art project inspired by a traditional moldovan carpet, which was titled a ‘carpet of unity’ (top right).
Seen here are two conferences held in Moscow, Russia.
Pictured here is a conference in Budapest, Hungary.
A conference in Stockholm, Sweden, brought together participants from diverse regions and featured many artistic expressions, including a Ukrainian artist who used sand painting to tell a story about peace.
Seen here are images from a three day conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Seen here is a neighborhood conference in the city of Graz, Austria.
In Brisbane, Australia, hundreds of participants gathered for a conference filled with musical presentations, artistic expressions, and consultations on plans for activities that contribute to the material and spiritual progress of communities in that city.
Groups of youth and women are seen here at gatherings in Sierra Leone.
One of the themes explored at gatherings in the United Arab Emirates has been the important role that youth and children can play in contributing to social transformation. Seen here are some of the young attendees at recent gatherings.
Pictured here are participants at different gatherings in Rome, Italy. Bottom-Right: An example of a collective art piece on the theme of unity in diversity.
In Cape Town, South Africa, some 80 neighbors and friends attended this local gathering.
Seen here is a sampling of the conferences held in different regions of India. Center: Auditorium on the grounds of the Bahá’í House of Worship in New Delhi.
Seen here is a conference in Thames Valley, United Kingdom.
Pictured here are a few of the many gatherings being held throughout Tonga as part of the global series of conferences.
Seen here are some of the many conferences that are taking place across Canada.
Children and youth at gathering in Barake, a village in Palawan, Philippines.
Some 300 people gathered for this conference in Zurich, Switzerland.
Seen here are gatherings held throughout Burkina Faso in Samandin, Tiebo, and Kasso.
Pictured here are participants at a conference in the Czech Republic.
Seen here is a gathering in Tartu, Estonia, attended by members of the community including the academic director of the Hansa School.
Pictured here are some of the many children and youth who participated at a conference in the north west region of Guatemala.
Seen here is a gathering in Garin Malam, Nigeria.
A video featuring scenes from some of the gatherings that have been held throughout New Zealand.
Pictured here is a gathering in Guinea.
Pictured here are a few of the conferences that have been held in Colombia.
This video shows scenes from a conference in Budapest, Hungary.
Across Mauritius, many gatherings have inspired activities, such as discussion forums for women to contribute to thinking about the progress of their society, and programs focused on the moral education of youth.
Pictured here are some of the conferences throughout Mexico.
Pictured here is a three-day conference in Guam, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands.
Conferences throughout India have brought together thousands of people from all backgrounds to explore how they can contribute to the material and spiritual progress of their society.
Pictured here are gatherings in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which consisted of vibrant cultural artistic expressions and consultations about the betterment of their society.
In Kenya, many people gathered for a conference at the site of the newly dedicated Baháʼí House of Worship in Matunda Soy.
People of all ages throughout the Philippines, in Pangasinan, Benguet, Occidental Mindoro, Cebu, Surigao del Norte, and the island of Mindanao, have gathered to discuss conference themes, which included educational endeavors that aim to build capacity for service.
A conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, featured many artistic activities that gave expression to the themes of the gathering—peace, the essential oneness of humanity, and selfless service to society, among others.
Here is a video featuring footage from the national conference in Luxembourg, which saw some 500 participants gather over three days. The multilingual conference reflected the diversity which exists in that country.
Hundreds of people from different backgrounds attended a conference in Luxembourg, which was conducted in eight different languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Ukrainian.
An article about the conference was featured in a national news publication which said, “Aware of the global challenges facing humanity, be it climate change, pandemics, wars and conflicts or widespread injustices, conference participants draw new hope as they rise together in selfless service to society. Through bonds of love and community, participants feel connected in a global effort to improve society.”
This gathering in Accra, Ghana, held at the National Baha’i Center of that country, featured an invitation to neighbors with the following message: “We request the honor of your presence and involvement to consult on how we might channel our energies into serving humanity and to promote progress within our communities.”
Pictured here is a gathering in Malawi.
Seen here are some of the conferences and smaller gatherings in the districts of Bardaght and Bardiya in the Province of Lumbini, Nepal. Government officials attended one of the conferences in Bardiya.
Seen here is a conference held in the city of Delft in the Netherlands.
Seen here is a video featuring a conference in Ireland.
Pictured here is a gathering in Eritrea.
Pictured here are gatherings across Russia, in Vladivostok, Saint Petersburg, and Novosibirsk.
Seen here are neighborhood gatherings in the provinces of Luanda and Moxico, Angola.
Seen here are some of the many gatherings in Spain, including a conference in Alicante which brought together some 500 participants, and a smaller neighborhood gathering in Almeria.
Seen here are conferences in the cities of Rwamagana and Kigali, Rwanda where participants discussed the Bahá’í community building efforts underway in that country.
Pictured here is a sampling of the conferences that have been held throughout Costa Rica.
Seen here are participants from the Noro and Taburiki communities of the Solomon Islands at a recently held conference.
Seen here are some of the participants from a gathering in South Sudan.
Seen here are some of the many gatherings that have been held across Eswatini.
Seen here is a gathering in Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela.
Seen here are some of the gatherings that took place in Hong Kong, both virtually and in person.
Pictured here is a neighborhood gathering in Matola, Mozambique.
The Bahá’ís of Greenland have launched a website to invite their fellow citizens to an upcoming three-day conference in the city of Nuuk.
Pictured here is a conference in the district of Ate Vitarte, Peru.
Pictured here are conferences in Junin, Huánuco, and Villa Maria del Triunfoi, Peru.
In a conference in Uashat-Maliotenam, an indigenous Innu community in Quebec, Canada, the children painted a large nine-pointed star, which is a symbol of the Bahá’í Faith. The gathering also featured traditional dance.
Pictured here are participants at a conference in Lucca, Italy.
Seen here are participants at a gathering in the town of Tivat, Montenegro.
Many people gathered for this conference in Barcelona, Spain.
Pictured here is a conference in Manazary, Madagascar.
Seen here are participants of a recent conference held on the grounds of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Santiago, Chile.
This video shows scenes from a three-day conference held in Ireland.
Seen here are gatherings in the cities of Bishkek and Tokmok in Kyrgyzstan. The national conference in Kyrgyzstan inspired many of the participants to hold local gatherings throughout that country.
Pictured here are participants at a conference in Daidanaw, Myanmar.
In Daidanaw, a village in the district of Kungyangon, Myanmar, participants gathered over three days to consult on how to build vibrant communities.
Pictured here are children, youth, and adults gathered in Rundu, Namibia.
Throughout Albania, participants at gatherings examined the role of individuals, communities, and institutions in building a spiritually and materially prosperous society.
In the Kontula neighborhood of Helsinki, Finland, some 40 participants gathered for a family festival, as part of the series of conferences being held in that country.
This video features musicians performing at a local conference in the neighborhood of Galatsi in Attica, Greece.
Seen here is a conference in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Seen here is a gathering in Singapore.
Pictured here are gatherings in Vila do Boa, a neighborhood in Brasilia, Brazil, and in Mogi Mirim, a city in the Brazilian state of São Paulo.
Here is a video of various conferences held in Laos, in the cities of Vientiane, Savannakhet, and Pakse.
Seen here are participants at a conference in Belmopan, Belize.
Pictured here are local conferences in Nellmapius, Khayelitsha, and Mogogoe, South Africa.
Local gatherings are being held in neighborhoods across the many islands and towns of Tonga, as seen in these images.
Seen here are various gatherings throughout Mexico.
Pictured here is a gathering in Santa Rita, Sao Tome and Principe.
In the United Arab Emirates, participants of all ages gathered for discussions on building vibrant communities dedicated to the promotion of peace.
A conference was also held at the Baha’i World Centre in the Holy Land, in which volunteer staff from countries throughout the world representing a cross-section of humanity participated. The two-day gathering included keynote presentations by members of the International Teaching Centre, region-based breakout discussions, and various artistic presentations.