About the Preston Bahá’í Community
The Preston Bahá’í Community began in 1973 when Alan Woodhurst, living in Fulwood at the time, declared his belief in Baha’u’llah, the Prophet Founder of the Baha’i Faith, and was enrolled by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the U.K.
Five years later there were nine Bahá’ís in Preston and so they formed a Local Spiritual Assembly in May 1978 (fig 2 and fig 3).
The 80’s saw the world involved in peace movements and there was an initiative in Preston that resulted in a Peace Garden being opened on the corner of the Ringway and Friargate. The Baha’is of Preston were involved in this initiative as well as other different ones. They promoted a Message called ‘The Promise of World Peace’ from their supreme governing body, The Universal House of Justice, addressed to ‘All the Peoples of the World’.
They handed the Message to leaders of religion first then other leaders in civic, educational and other fields in person. In 1989 the Bahá’í Publishing Trust, following a number of Peace Moves conferences throughout Western Europe which inspired thousands of young people from every kind of background, released a record of the music and called it ‘Peace Moves’. Two of Preston Bahá’ís went on Radio Lancashire to promote it and it was much played at a youth camp in the home of a Preston Bahá’í couple.
The 1980’s saw a resurgence of persecution of the Bahá’í Faith in its native land of Iran and Preston Bahá’ís have been active in trying to help their beleaguered co-religionists there to get justice. We do this through every peaceful means – writing to newspapers, meeting with M.P’s to enlist their help, and more recently social media – in order to campaign for release of prisoners and prevent even worse persecution than already exists. This persecution continues today still.
From the 90’s and up to the present Preston Bahá’ís continue to proclaim and teach Baha’u’llah’s Message of Universal peace and brotherhood to whoever is ready to listen. We do this through a variety of ways including; joining in inter-faith activities (we were party to the founding of the Preston Faith Forum in 2003 and continue to support its activities), invitation to all to attend special events (such as our New Year celebrations on March 21st each year, Holy Day celebrations etc), guest speaker events, exhibitions (fig 9 and fig 10) etc. We participate in national Bahá’í events such as our local elections in December each year. Then the Bahá’ís of the Lancashire & Cumbria Unit elect our local delegate to National Convention- held the following April -at which time the 95 delegates from around the U.K. elect our National Spiritual Assembly.
Bahá’í communities around the world have in common our core activities which are; Devotionals, Study Groups, Children’s Classes and Junior Youth activities. These activities help develop a community that is self-subsistent (only Bahá’ís can give to our fund) and one whose hearts and minds are focused on service – to one another and to the wider community.