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.
“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.
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.
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.
How was this possible during the pandemic?
What insights were gained?
During the pandemic, the SE Neighborhood Team in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has advanced towards sustaining nearly 20 core activities, on the way to a vision of thousands of families engaged. Here are some insights from the team on the process of growth.
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.
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.