As Rob Weinberg takes office as the Secretary for External Affairs for the UK Baha’i community, Barney Leith has recorded his initial feelings at the change here.
If you need a little background to this story, read on:
In the United Kingdom there has been strong dialogue between the Baha’i community, other Faith communities and political institutions for many years. The United Kingdom is still one of the hubs of international consultation and diplomacy and so there have often been important roles for the UK’s National Spiritual Assembly (governing body) to play in external affairs (where the Baha’is are involved in international activities outside of the Baha’i community itself).
Barney Leith has been on the National Spiritual Assembly since 1993 and became the secretary in 1998. He had such a passion for external affairs that his name became virtually synonymous with it. In 2005 he was not elected secretary but became the full-time Secretary for External Affairs, a role which had been created because the work-load had become too great for the secretary of the Assembly. He has prominently represented the Baha’is at major events and has also dealt with very delicate matters, such as human rights violations against the Baha’is, in a quieter manner at the appropriate levels. He was re-elected to the same role in 2006 but this year the holder of that office has changed to Rob Weinberg.
Rob Weinberg is an excellent choice for the role of external affairs. One can’t, however, help but feel a little stunned by the news of this change, simply because Barney Leith has done such a great job for a so long that it really was seen, almost, as “his” role. Barmey Leith is a keen blogger and some of his experiences as the Secretary of External Affairs have made it onto his blog. He has also written a very interesting and moving entry about the moment that the role changed hands.