My story is a tribute to the unselfish, open-minded person who enabled me to find the Bahá’í Faith.
I was worshipping at a Baptist church, not the evangelical kind but a liberal, open-minded one, which is self-governing as such. But for some time I had been wondering about the connection between the various religions who all claimed to believe in the One True God. I had been to the local library and read parts of a translation of the Koran: Jesus Christ was obviously revered there and I was able to tell friends in the Catholic Church how much more there was about Mary, mother of Jesus, in the Koran compared to in the Bible. I felt unsettled at the time and was unable to say the Christian Creed or take Communion. I was also interested in the prophecies of St. John. Something was driving me on.
Meanwhile the Church to which I was attached was without a permanent minister at the time and I had been elected as a Deacon and Treasurer, so it needed my time as the Diaconate ran the church in the absence of a Minister. My feelings and beliefs, that a religion must be universal and connect to the previous ones, I had expressed to the man who was acting minister. He said it sounded like the Bahá’í Faith but he had no idea where they were based. One day he approached me with a card saying he didn’t know whether he should give it to me but it might be what I was seeking. It was an invitation to firesides from the Coventry Bahá’í Community, sent out to all the churches in the city where I then lived.
I rang the number as soon as I got home and spoke to a friendly lady. I had no idea where she came from or the background of the Faith so I just asked for directions and went along. Over several evenings I gradually learnt more, (these were speaker meetings, so unfortunately in a way I hadn’t enough time to ask all my questions) and I read books lent to me. Everything seemed right, logical (I was a scientist after all) and what I had imagined, so I had to find out more about this person, Bahá’u’lláh, of whom I had never heard. That was even more amazing than I could possibly have imagined. The Bahá’ís themselves also impressed me in various ways.
As they say, the rest is history. As soon as I could leave the Church I did; very hard to leave such lovely sincere people who kept assuring me I could return if it wasn’t right! Also it meant more work for them. I collected the new minister for the church on his arrival and said my goodbyes. He also sent me a very encouraging letter; at least they felt I was sincere in my search for the truth.
On hosting one of my first feasts I learnt that a Knight of Baha’u’llah was attending, and I hoped he would feel welcome, but I was not really prepared for the fact that he turned out to be a vegetarian and only drank weak herbal tea, both very unusual in those days.
I later moved to a small village with no Bahá’ís, but the vendor of the house we purchased knew about the Faith as she had hosted there a recital at which one of my earliest Bahá’í friends had played.
Years later, of course no regrets. I have had the bounty of going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land where, after we entered the prison cell of Baha’u’llah at Akka and were all sitting quietly on the floor, a huge storm broke out, with thunder and lightning really adding to the atmosphere! I also had the privilege of serving the Faith on various assemblies and committees, including two SACRES, interfaith and emergency planning groups, and was a founder-member of the West Midlands Faith Forum. I have facilitated meditation courses and now have the bounty of studying the Ruhi Institute courses. My one regret is never being able to do enough.
Stratford-upon-Avon, November 2015