Congratulatory message from Prime Minister
Special guest Dr Peter Khan reads during the 75th anniversary service in the Baha'i House of Worship
A message of congratulations from the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was read to guests at a reception prior to a special service marking the 75th anniversary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, Laurie Ferguson MP, read the message and then said how strongly he identified with the Baha’i teachings, including the Baha’i Faith’s commitment to human rights.
“Your organisation is in the forefront of tolerance, debate and rationality,” Mr Ferguson said.
The reception began with a Welcome to Country by a representative of the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council, Mr Michael West.
A keynote speaker at the reception was Dr Peter Khan, a member of the international governing council of the Baha’i Faith, the Universal House of Justice.
Dr Khan said he wished to convey his greetings and congratulations to the National Spiritual Assembly, describing it as “one of the most mature and seasoned” of the 180 national Baha’i governing bodies in the world.
Dr Khan that from its foundation in 1934 the National Spiritual Assembly had gone about fulfilling the central mission of the Baha’i Faith -- to be a source of harmony, unity and understanding among diverse people.
In recent years, the Assembly had distinguished itself for its assistance to Baha’i communities throughout the Pacific Islands and in Southeast Asia and the eastern fringes of northern Asia, Dr Khan said.
A spokesperson for the National Spiritual Assembly, Dr Golshah Naghdy, told the reception that the Assembly was motivated by the central theme of the Baha’i Faith, the unity of humanity.
“That concept runs into every aspect of our relationships in all levels of our organisation,” she said.
The Assembly had a vision of a joyous, united society that was materially and spiritually prosperous, she said.
The chairperson of the event, Tessa Scrine, noted that the national governing body of the Baha’is in Iran had been founded the same year as Australia's but had been dissolved by the Iranian authorities in 1983.
“The Baha’is of Iran are continually in our thoughts and prayers,” said Ms Scrine, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly.
Among other guests at the function, held in the grounds of the Baha'i Temple on Sunday 26 April, were representatives of Sydney’s diverse faith communities, the Mayors of Pittwater and Warringah, prominent jurist Justice John Dowd, and two State MPs, Judy Hopwood, the member for Hornsby, and Chris Hartcher, the member for Terrigal.
Also present were 25 current and former members of the National Spiritual Assembly, including the first Aboriginal member, Elizabeth Hindson.
Following the reception, the participants attended the service in the Baha'i House of Worship, along with delegates to the annual national Baha’i Convention, and other Baha’is and guests.
Current and former members of the National Spiritual Assembly, including husband and wife Dr Peter Khan and Dr Janet Khan, were among the readers of the prayers and scriptures from the Baha’i Faith and other world religions.
The Temple resonated to the unaccompanied singing of the Baha’i Temple Choir.
Before the service, Baha’is queued to view a display of precious archival material.
The previous evening, Dr Peter Khan and Dr Janet Khan addressed some 2500 Baha’is at a special event marking the anniversary held in the Sydney Convention Centre at Darling Harbour.
This story was updated on 11 May 2009.