The Scottish Bahá’í, No.33 – Autumn, 2003
island community news
Report by Robert Bennet
We had a wonderful Jubilee Celebration
The presence of Knight of Bahá’u’lláh for Shetland Brigitte Lundblade (nee Hasselblatt) gave a special quality to the celebrations and when she arose to speak many of us were moved to tears. She was both a great source of laughter and a profound vehicle for an almost palpable experience of the spirit of the Faith. Also with us was National Secretary Barney Leith who had returned to Shetland after nineteen years with his wife Erica and who spoke about his years in Shetland and his External Affairs work, which has been very involved recently. Wendi and Moojan Momen came, both giving interesting and uplifting talks during our daytime programme. Wendi spoke about the ‘Ten Year Crusade’ and Moojan addressed the question of a change of culture. John Parris gave an excellent PowerPoint presentation entitled ‘Isaiah and the Islands’ which I would recommend to all. The final talk was given by Birgit Ahlnas, who had come from Finland and accompanied Brigitte to the UK. Her talk was called ‘Keys to Living the Life’ and in it she reminded us of the simple spiritual things we can do to be happy and positive as Bahá’ís.
There was an exhibition on both days of the weekend which had the St Mungo’s panels along with an A2 printed sheet about the Faith in Shetland, and Elma’s ‘Book of Remembrance’. There was also a booklet entitled ‘The Bahá’í Faith in Shetland’ which Audrey and I wrote. In addition there was a Tranquillity Zone in the exhibition arranged by Audrey and with help from Lottie Duncan.
The children had activities organised by Radina McKay and Audrey from 11am until 1pm both days and they produced a wonderful craftwork tabletop frieze based on the prayer ‘Blessed is the Spot.’
Golden Jubilee celebration
Our ‘Golden Jubilee Celebration’ was held on the Saturday evening in Lerwick Town Hall, and almost a hundred people came. We had both the Shetland Island Convenor and his Deputy present. Convenor Sandy Cluness gave a warm and cordial welcome to all our visitors acknowledging the good citizenship of the Bahá’ís and the presence of Shetland’s first native Bahá’í, Lilian Mckay. Other guests included Ministers of at least four different Christian denominations, local government officials, teachers, businessmen, friends new and old, inter-faith contacts and artists, the young and many family friends.
The programme, which was chaired by Alan McKay, went particularly well thanks to sensitive and informative talks by Brigitte, Barney and Moojan and complementary poetry and music by local poet (and uncle of Alan) Lollie Graham, exquisite piano playing by local musician Neil Georgeson who had met Lasse Thoresen in London and prepared one of his pieces, harp music played by Maureen Hunter-Merrick and two pieces of guitar music by Alan and me. The Spiritual Assembly’s consultation had produced a decision to include a short passage from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. This was read over harp music provided by Maureen and as the music finished there was no applause as might have been expected. Just a brief silence as if all present had somehow realized the sacredness of the words. The evening finished with a buffet that had been tastefully augmented by Mahzad and Soha Mazloomian. Mahzad had also created some magnificent flower arrangements and all this in the splendour of a stage-lit Lerwick Town Hall. I spoke to Lollie the next day and he said all of the family that went were raving about it.
I could go on but space is running short. We had a great party on the Sunday which included the Bahá’ís of Donside sharing their ‘History of Religion’ which really struck a chord with several of our friends, a delicious Persian meal again thanks to Mahzad and Soha, their many helpers, and musical items from Ross and Nadia, Nick, Alan, Maureen and Radina and our local group which encouraged lots of people to dance at the end producing a completely new version of a Scottish reel!
We had so many dedicated Bahá’ís present and it was a truly national event, strongly supported by both the Bahá’í Council for Scotland and the National Spiritual Assembly. Very importantly the Spiritual Assembly of Lerwick had written to the House of Justice in September 2001 and they replied assuring us of their prayers in the Holy Shrines. Well I can assure you all that these prayers gave great assistance to us and, with the sustained efforts of the Bahá’ís in Shetland, we had a resounding success.
As I finish, we would all like thank so many of you who played your part by giving us your whole-hearted prayers and support. Please be assured it was a great Jubilee celebration.