Reflections on the UK Bahá’í Youth Conference

The UK National Bahá’í Youth Conference from 1-3 January was a meeting of 346 friends at Warwick University, who gathered together for a weekend to discuss how the social and spiritual teachings of Bahá’u’lláh could be put into practice. Of course it was also an opportunity for young people to make new friends, reunite with old ones, and enjoy each other’s company, having been brought together by our common ideals. Despite being a non-Bahá’í I was cordially welcomed, and felt strengthened by the company of so many young people who share my wishes for world-betterment and the proliferation of spiritual principles. I was particularly impressed by everyone’s sincere desire to engage in service.

Perhaps the most significant event at the conference was a letter to the delegates directly from the Universal House of Justice, calling those who wanted to engage in the spiritual enterprise advanced by the Bahá’í faith to focus their efforts. In particular they encouraged us to contribute to the teaching of children’s classes and the animation of junior youth groups, and this message was followed by presentations from people who wanted to relate similar work they had done previously. Hearing their experiences really brought to light what is valuable in such classes, and just how valuable they are. I was impressed by the emphasis on moral education, which it seems has been a success in teaching children to be kind, thoughtful and honest. I suspect this is what young minds need most in a country where often religious principles are an object of study rather than a way of life, and morality is a matter for debate rather than a skill to be cultivated.

Feeling grateful for the opportunity to offer such service I agreed to help out with either of the projects as they arise in Cambridge. From the amount of people at the conference who also agreed to assist in this spiritual enterprise, it is clear that many others have seen the need for service and seized the opportunity while it is ripe. I can only hope that as a result of the gathering many will go on to realise their potential to cultivate good qualities, learn about what is most valuable in life, and contribute to the advancement of our civilisation.