Source: BahÃ¡’Ã World News Service
Some 750 Baha’is from Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe gathered in Lusaka last weekend for the first of 41 regional Baha’i conferences scheduled over the next four months in cities around the globe.
The unprecedented series of gatherings comes at the midway point of a five-year effort by Baha’is to decentralize many of their activities and organize study circles, devotional meetings, and classes for children and young people at the neighborhood level.
“I feel that the conference was exactly what we needed to inspire, encourage and boost our spirit...,” said Musonda Kapusa of Lusaka.
Participants came from all nine provinces of Zambia and from neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe. Five traditional African chiefs, all Baha’is and supporters of the Baha’i work in their areas, were among those who attended.
The 41 conferences – in cities from Abidjan to Yaounde, reaching geographically from Vancouver to Sao Paulo to London to Johannesburg to Ulaanbaatar to Auckland – are being held in response to a call by the Universal House of Justice, the elected body that heads the Baha’i Faith.
In a letter to the Baha’is of the world announcing the conferences, the House of Justice indicated that the purpose of the gatherings was to celebrate achievements in grassroots community-building, and to discuss the lessons learned and deliberate on how to involve more people in a particular approach to improving the societies they live in – an approach that combines spiritual development with community service.