South Australian dignitaries attended the formal opening of the Baha’i Centre of Learning (BCL) for South Australia on Friday, 15 November, 2013.
Members of Parliament present included the Hon Kelly Vincent, the Hon Jing Lee, Zoe Bettinson MP, and Tony Zappia MP.
Other dignitaries included Supreme Court judge, the Hon. Justice Thomas Gray and his wife, Dianne, and the following mayors: Gary Johanson (Port Adelaide), David O’Loughlin (Prospect), Lachlan Clyne (Unley), John Trainer (West Torrens) and Felicity Ann Lewis (Marion).
The re-opening of the historic former Flinders School of Music building at 275 Flinders St, Adelaide came after a $2.5 million refurbishment program paid for by voluntary donations from members of the Baha’i community.
Kaurna Elder Katrina Powell performed the welcome to country. Speakers included Professor Bijan Samali, a member of the national governing body of the Baha’i Faith, the National Spiritual Assembly, and Councillor Sandy Wilkinson, representing Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood.
Professor Samali said the refurbishment had been a long journey. He described the BCL as a gift to the South Australian community to help build a more “morally robust society”.
Councillor Wilkinson said he was delighted with the refurbishments because they complemented the heritage character of the historic building.
Musician Delia Olam sang a Baha’i prayer, “Blessed is the Spot”, accompanying herself on the cello.
An open day was held at the BCL on 1 December. Information was given on the four core Baha’i activities regularly held at the centre, local musicians performed, entertainment was provided for children, and a barbecue was organised for everyone attending.
The building was first opened in 1878, and was South Australia’s first two storey public school. It remained a primary school until 1969 when it became the Flinders Street Adult Education Centre and, later, the Flinders School of Music.
By the time the South Australian Baha’i Community purchased the building in 2003 it was in need of major repairs.
Those repairs were conducted in two stages. The final stage, including creating disability access and disability facilities, was completed recently.
Use of building
A spokesperson for the SA Baha’i community, Catherine Watkins, said the building would serve as a venue for educational and community activities of the Baha’i Faith, which has been present in South Australia since the early 1920s.
“The Baha’i Centre of Learning is a religious and educational institution established for the benefit of the people of South Australia,” Ms Watkins said.
“Its programs seek to draw on the best insights of both religion and science to help construct a social order based on a profound consciousness of the oneness of humanity, in which justice is the central organising principle, and the well-being and prosperity of all people is pursued.”
Ms Watkins said the building will also be made available to other organisations as a venue for education and training programs and other activities that support its primary purposes, such as promotion of the principles of world peace, human rights, the equality of men and women, sustainable development, and inter-faith cooperation.
South Australia Baha’i Centre of Learning