“Difficult Questions” Addressed by Racial Forum

An audience of more than 50 people participated in a discussion of challenging issues faced by the Bahá’í community. The August 9 Regional Council’s Racial Justice and Unity Forum featured three presenters: Van Gilmer, Sahar Sattarzadeh, and Masud Olufani, in a panel discussion moderated by Gwen Etter-Lewis.

Each presenter selected one of five questions they received ahead of time and shared their personal reflections.

Toledo Race Amity Festival Eases Tensions

“In a time when racial tensions continue to churn across the country, members of the local Bahá’í Faith community are working to foster friendships to bridge the divides,” commented Alexandra Mester in her May 21, 2021 article in Toledo’s The Blade.

More than 30 people attended a Race Amity Festival May 14 at Wildwood Metropark in person, while more attended virtually, she reported. People of varying backgrounds and faiths, including Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Bahá’í, listened to speakers and participated in group discussions. Activities also included ice-breakers, music and dance performances.

Youth and Peace Building

On June 14, a handful of youth demonstrated the power of devotional meetings to use Bahá’u’lláh’s Words to transform lives and build community.

The gathering on Zoom, attending by more than 50 participants touched hearts, opened minds and awakened souls — through music, visual arts and the power of the Creative Word.

“That was among the more powerful and inspiring presentations I’ve seen/participated in…” wrote Dennis Stafford of Columbus, Ohio.

Pandemic Grows Meditative Devotional

Here is how my meditation class became a devotional meeting for a few Bahá’ís and lots of other interested souls.

The format starts with guided relaxation to achieve a meditative state. Then I recite topical quotations from varied religious traditions, including a generous selection of my favorite Bahá’í Writngs, interspersed with music on my flute.  We end with silent meditation to allow the sacred nature of the Writings to transform our hearts and souls.

Afterwards, some will stay to chat about their reactions to the quotes. This was the time for a lot of teaching by the Bahá’ís in attendance, since so many of the “Community of Interest” admired the beautiful quotes. 

Race Unity Day Becomes Race Unity Week

Update: Detailed schedules added.

Race Amity Day, a tradition started in 1921, will take on special significance this year, given the enormity of the events of the past 12 months.

In Columbus and Dayton Ohio, the Bahá’ís and Interfaith Forums will coordinate a series of in-person gatherings that will also be streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live.

The following weekend, Dr. Eric Dozier will lead a musical reflection on the history and significance of Juneteenth.

Michigan Governor Meets with Baha’is

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer met via Zoom with members of the Bahá’í community on March 9, in response to a letter she received from Paul Harrison of Ann Arbor. After consulting with the Ann Arbor Spiritual Assembly, Paul had asked for an appointment to present her with a certificate of appreciation for the work she has been doing for justice and equity in the state. The governor wanted to meet with Baháí’s before setting up a meeting to receive the certificate.

Multi-Racial Living Experience — Focus of March RJU Forum

The March 1 session of the Racial Justice and Unity Forum explored the Multi-Racial Unity Living experience (MRULE), a 25-year (and counting!) effort to build multi-racial community among undergraduate students at Michigan State University, and the insights it offers for those concerned with community building and racial justice and unity. 

The three presenters gave an overview of the origins and inner workings of the program and its development over time.

April 12, 2021 — Light Up the Night and Your Neighborhood

Akin and Gayle will share insights they have gained from grassroots community-building initiatives in their neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana — inspired by messages from the Bahá’í World Centre to contribute to the betterment of the world at the local level. They felt a deep desire to get to know their neighbors and have their neighbors come to know them. Taking one small step at a time led to numerous creative developments resulting in new friendships and activities.