Scottish Gathering, Inverness


One has become accustomed to a high standard of both content and presentation at the Scottish Gatherings over the last few years, helped considerably by the attractive venue in Inverness, and this year was no exception. Don’t take my word for it, look at the
Very good; full of energy; loads of ideas; exciting photos of people coming together; it’s great. Nothing to change; it’s great! – Rosemary Sheppard
comments of others that were gathered by Nadia, Lucy, Carmel and Catriona; thank you girls.

After the initial devotional session, we were welcomed to the Gathering, on behalf of the Council, by Allan Forsyth. Kishan Manocha brought greetings from the National Assembly and Mr Semple was followed by beautiful a capella singing by Mo and Sarah.
The principal speaker at the Gathering was retired House member, Ian Semple, who is himself Scottish in origin. Mr Semple spoke eloquently and clearly on several
It is in a very nice venue; I think it is very good we got Mr Semple. – Rosie Keenan
subjects, including the history of the Faith, Ruhi, life in the Holy Land. He discussed his time as a member of several national institutions and, ultimately, the Universal House of Justice, the latter told with much humour. He had also kindly agreed to answer questions put to him by some of those present. These ranged from the addressing of extremes of poverty and wealth to how Bahá’ís should act in a time of war; from why the Scottish islands are so important to why women cannot be elected to the Universal House of Justice. All were answered in a
It has been special. I enjoyed Ian Semple’s talks and other speakers like him, and seeing everyone. – Sandi Humphrey
straightforward and easily understood manner. We look forward eagerly to Mr Semple’s next visit.
John Parris
John Parris spoke about the process involved in the purchasing of the new Bahá’í Centre in Edinburgh, explaining how it progressed through a fascinating series of crises and victories. He also mentioned how the money given by the Bahá’í community hardly impacted at all on donations to the National Fund – something which has never happened before.
I have enjoyed it so far; I like, especially, short, not long, talks and on time. – Tom Mackenzie
Carrie Varjavandi
Another matter of national importance was covered by Carrie Varjavandi who spoke about her ‘Time for Reflection’ experiences in the Scottish Parliament (see the spring 2006 edition of The Scottish Bahá’í). Those present were also able to see the official video recording of the event.
Saturday afternoon saw us breaking into groups (the Highlands and Islands being by far the largest!) for two workshops on the last and current Naysun Carew Five Year Plans. Questions, some challenging, were presented by a facilitator.
On Sunday morning, following a memorial for those Scottish Bahá’ís who passed on during the last year, Neysun Carew presented a beautifully compiled history of the life of Bahá’u’lláh.
The final session looked at the problems and successes of Scotland’s own ‘A’ cluster – Forth and Clyde.
Of course, no Gathering is complete without its entertainments. Sarah and Mo Mrs Whyte This year was no exception and on Saturday evening we were regaled with music from Jodi Cooper, Mo Hunter and Sarah St. Clair, Nassim and Ross Donald, and Jeremy and Carolyn Fox. We were able to enjoy Carrie Varjavandi’s convincing portrayal of Mrs Whyte telling of her encounters with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mona Helmy kept us all on the edge of our seats as she related the story
I have enjoyed it a lot, but didn’t understand the sessions with the adults. I liked the drama. – James Coogan
of Bahá’í martyr, Mullá Ali Tabrizi.

An aspect of the Gathering that is something of a closed book to many adults is the work being done, outwith the
The junior youth classes are really great; the atmosphere is really nice. – Andrew Coogan
adult sessions, for the junior youth and children. The individuals who take the children’s sessions, especially, see little or nothing of the ‘main’ programme, and the rest of us only become aware of their work during the short children’s and junior youths’
Loved junior youth club, and Mr Semple’s talks. – Mona Helmy
presentations on Sunday morning. As can be seen from some of the comments, the junior youth appear to have had a good time, including sessions with Mr Semple, Kishan Manocha and many others.
So, what made this Gathering (in my opinion) the best yet? Certainly the very high quality of the sessions and the drastic shortening of each session from 40 to 20 minutes helped maintain a constant feeling of freshness; I imagine very few people nodded off during any of the sessions! Finally, Naysun Carew, as master of ceremonies, must be congratulated
It has been very nice. I look forward to coming every year. It is really important to have children’s classes running. It is nice to know how many children you are having for the classes. – Lorrie Fozdar
on keeping the programme moving forward with nearly all sessions starting and finishing on or near time.
So, I would say that, if you can, do come next year; it will be an experience not to be missed.

Afterword
”In one of the youth sessions someone shared their experience of travelling that day to Inverness. On the bus was a woman they vaguely knew from home. This person immediately fired question after question about religion and her faith and was truly seeking answers. The youth telling this story shared with the group the fact that she felt that she was not really able to respond in a way she would have liked. In the junior youth class we also spoke about this in terms of memorising quotations and carrying prayer-cards with you to share with others. I felt that I was usually prepared, as I carry books with me for this kind of encounter. Straight after the junior youth session, we had a tea break and, during that time, a guest in the hotel approached and asked why we were there. I explained that we were friends and were members of the Bahá’í Faith. He told me he wanted to know more – very simply and very directly. I had no books on me – I was not prepared! So leaving him with someone to talk with, I dashed into the hall and grabbed a copy of the little book by Gloria Faizi. This man accepted it gratefully, kissed my hand to thank me – and it turns out he lives on the west coast near to me. I hope one day he will look in Audience the telephone directory and under ‘Bahá’í Faith’ get my number. That would be one home visit to really anticipate.„

I love seeing friends whom I don’t see very often. I like getting insights from all the other people. What I liked about Mr Semple’s talks was that they were easy to listen to. – Helen Munro
A few more photos