The Scottish Bahá’í, No.32 – Summer, 2003
bahá’í council for scotland
|Mention of Faith in Church of Scotland General Assembly|
The following letter was sent from our National Spiritual Assembly to the Universal House of Justice on 21st May this year.
Dear Bahá’í Friends,
The National Spiritual Assembly was very pleased to receive a report from the Bahá’í Council for Scotland of an event that is of historic importance in the context of the religious life of Scotland.
On May 18th 2003, Mr Allan Forsyth, Chairman of the Bahá’í Council for Scotland had the bounty and privilege of representing the Bahá’í Council for Scotland at a session of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The Church of Scotland is the Established Church in Scotland. In the 2001 Census almost 50% of the population of Scotland claimed association with the Church. The annually held General Assembly is the forum in which the Church debates its affairs and determines its policies. One quarter of the clergy and the leading elders of the Church attend each Assembly. The General Assembly always takes place in Edinburgh.
The Church of Scotland has no individual “Head”. The General Assembly appoints a Moderator each year, and he is the Church’s official representative.
This year, for the first time, the General Assembly received representatives of the non-Christian faiths of Scotland. During the session, the outgoing Moderator, the Right Reverend Dr. Finlay MacDonald, gave an address reporting on his year in office. He stated that one of his two major themes for the year had been to progress interfaith dialogue in Scotland, and he outlined a number of events during the year which he had either initiated or participated in. The Faith had been represented at all these events.
The outgoing Moderator then listed the non-Christian faiths represented at this session of the General Assembly; these included the Bahá’í, Buddhist, Jewish and Sikh faiths (the Muslim and Hindu representatives, though invited, did not attend). The Moderator then asked the representatives of these faiths to stand and invited the General Assembly to show its appreciation. The ovation from those gathered was warm, sincere, long and very moving. Mr Forsyth reports that, as the only ethnic Scot amongst the representatives of the non-Christian faiths and as one who had been brought up in the Church of Scotland, it he had found the occasion particularly poignant.
After this address, the incoming Moderator, Professor Iain Torrance, congratulate Dr. MacDonald on his interfaith work and stated that this work was exceptionally important for the Church. Professor Torrance again listed the faiths represented in alphabetical order.
Mr Forsyth further reports that, as he was taking his leave, Dr. MacDonald, the outgoing Moderator, mentioned to him that he felt that those present had witnessed an historic moment. It is surely relevant to point out that relations between the Bahá’í Community and the Church of Scotland have developed at a much faster pace since the presentation of the Message to the Worlds Religious Leaders to Dr. MacDonald in June 2002.
The National Spiritual Assembly warmly congratulates the Bahá’í Council for Scotland for an achievement which, in the context of Scottish history, represents a public recognition and acknowledgement of the Faith by a body that carries considerable weight in Scottish religious and political life.
With loving Bahá’í greetings,
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the UK
Barney Leith, Secretary
Suspicious phone calls again
There has been another incidence of an individual trying to obtain money from the Bahá’í community by deception. It followed the same pattern as previous occasions – an individual makes an appointment to meet up with a Bahá’í to discuss a family tragedy. The true motive however being to play on the sympathy of the Bahá’í to gain money.
If you receive a call from an enquirer wanting to arrange a meeting, and you suspect it is not a bona fide call, then one way of dealing with such a situation is to ask the caller to identify him/herself. Ask for a number at which you can return their call at a later time (a public phone box is usually used).
If they are unable/unwilling to provide you with this information then you should say that you really cannot help them/continue with the present conversation.
If you do agree to meet an enquirer for the first time, please bear personal safety guidelines in mind by e.g. meeting in a public place, asking someone accompany you, etc.
Any enquiry calls via the Council for Scotland’s Freefone number (0800 038 1844) that arouse suspicions, will not be provided with local community secretary details unless identity confirming details are forthcoming.
This type of call is rare with most callers being genuine, usually asking for literature or details of events in their locality. However, we hope that this warning will help community secretaries feel better able to deal with such a situation should it arise again.
Child Protection and Medical Forms
Organisers of residential events must send copies of completed Child Protection and medical forms to the National Spiritual Assembly and to the Baha'i Council for Scotland (Venus Alae-Carew 14 Minden Crescent, Dumfries, DG1 4EB). For a copy of the medical or child protection form please contact Venus (see “Who’s who” page for contact details). More information will be included in the Autumn edition of the newsletter.