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June 1, 2017

“Building Vibrant Communities”
Ottawa Bahá'í Conference Explores New Patterns of Community Life

First Nations Bahá'íOn May 13, 2017, approximately 250 community members from Ottawa and the surrounding region gathered together to learn about building vibrant communities. The group, consisting of Bahá'ís, young and old, their friends, and their family members, as well as interested individuals from the larger community, examined ways in which to engage other community members in the transformation of our neighbourhoods, walking the path of service together.
The programme opened with a drum song performed by a First Nations Bahá'í and was followed by prayers in several different languages, reflecting the diverse background of the members of the Ottawa Baha’i community.
The morning was filled with a joyful recollection of the development of the Bahá'í community in Ottawa from the arrival of the first Bahá'í in the 1940s to today’s community of 1,200 Bahá'ís plus about 700 members of the wider community who attend Bahá'í gatherings and participate in social projects along side of the Bahá'ís. The group was further inspired by stories of the Prophet-Founder of the Faith, Bahá’u’lláh, as well as stories of the newest Bahá'í House of worship just completed in Santiago Chile which highlighted the new patterns of community life and collective endeavour that this edifice has called into being.
Building Vibrant CommunitiesAfter lunch, Nancy Lavoie, secretary of the Bahá'í Council of Ontario, focussed the group’s attention on the special potency of this 6 month period which will culminate with the Bicentennial anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, on October 22, 2017. Reading from a letter written by the Council to the gathered friends, Ms. Lavoie said “The Light of Divine Unity is illuminating a path for the people of every race, religion and culture to walk, in order to learn together how to promote and uphold the wellbeing of the entire human family.” She went on to read “ the human family must celebrate and honour its sacred and wondrous diversity. We can do this by gathering together and labouring alongside each other, trusting in the unfailing design that Bahá’u’lláh has drawn, so that unity and justice can finally be allowed to light this dark and perilous world.”
The conference participants drew inspiration from the words of the Universal House of Justice which has stated, we must be “focussed on drawing people together to build communities that are havens of unity” and create “a new pattern of how society can be.” Attendees broke into smaller neighbourhood groups to study further and to create concrete plans to engage more and more neighbours in community-building activities.
Inspired by prayers, talks, and consultation and rejuvenated by artistic presentations and a shared lunch, participants left the conference ready to take action to engage their neighbours in community-building activities focussed on the spiritual and material betterment of all local residents.

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