News from Around the Region

A handful of youth demonstrate the power of devotional meetings to use Bahá’u’lláh’s Words to transform lives and build community.

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Youth and Peace Building

Webinar with the Producers of “Luminous Journey” Dec. 5

Solutions to our nation’s ills are essentially spiritual in nature. Join us for an interactive webinar on December 5th at 7:00 PM EST with the producers of the film, Luminous Journey: `Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912, as they talk about the Bahá’í Faith and the visit of `Abdu’l-Bahá to many places in the United States — including Cleveland, Ohio.

Young Adults Building Capacity for the Betterment of Society

Discourse and Social Transformation: Achieving Coherence

University Graduate Seminar Announcement – 2022

Register by January 31, 2022

The Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity (ISGP) is pleased to announce the upcoming offering of its seminar for university graduates and young professionals in North America, to be held at the Louhelen Bahá’í School in Davison, Michigan from July 3 to 14, 2022, as conditions allow.

National Assembly Encourages Teaching Efforts in Honor of Robert Turner

Robert Turner, the first Black American Bahá’í and a soul noted by Shoghi Effendi as a Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Herald of the Covenant, is being honored on this commemorative year. The unveiling of a permanent memorial to Mr. Turner will complement the activities being held to honor the life of the beloved Master asContinue reading “National Assembly Encourages Teaching Efforts in Honor of Robert Turner”

Community Building in the “07”

Harrison Hill, a neighborhood in Fort Wayne, hosts a children’s festival to support local community-building efforts.

More than 100 children and parents attended for games, arts and crafts, face painting, storytelling, karaoke, and food trucks.

It was organized by neighborhood residents.

“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.


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News About the Region

from the national Bahá’í website for the United States,


Retrospective: A Blossoming of initiatives in the Midwest

Though diverse in focus, these initiatives shared a common thread of building networks of people in the Midwestern states dedicated to sharing Baha’u’llah’s teachings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio.

In Ohio, cluster teams came together to learn from each other as they strove toward the shared goal of advancing through the milestones.

… Participants also read the names of departed Ohioan Baha’is as part of a devotional program that concluded the gathering.

More at


Midwest Youth conference participants seek solutions to racism

Summer 2020 will long be remembered for protests against racial injustice that filled the streets of many U.S. cities. Young people have been at the forefront of this movement, impatient with the nation’s status quo — a feeling no doubt shared by many young Baha’is. 

The Midwest Youth Conference, July 18–19, sought to develop a response to this social reality. Held via online videoconference, it attracted 75 participants from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

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Ellie Mzehem
Warren, Ohio

My spiritual journey began when I was a very young child. I was raised by two wonderful parents who emigrated from Greece to the United States. Our home in Ohio was like the United Nations. My parents opened their home and hearts to people of all faiths and nationalities.

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Celebrating Progressive Revelation

At a celebration in Saint Paris, Ohio, guests were offered an opportunity to work on a timeline of the progressive revelations of Messengers of God; make prayer cards; assemble flowers of various colors and shapes and place them in “God’s Garden”; learn about the life of the Bab; and “search” for a “gem” as the Letters of the Living searched for the Bab.

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Prayer, preparation and courage fuel growth in Indiana communities

With two young girls — Zinnia, 3, and Radia, 7 — Paith MacQueen Gruszynski needed in-home childcare, and in her ad she specified she was looking to hire someone willing to help them create a “prayerful home.” 

Kyra Potts responded. They formed a quick connection and spoke frankly about their personal lives during their first phone call. “Paith said that she would pray for me every day,” says Potts. “I just felt God throughout it all.”

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Civic Engagement

Public connections flourish at Baha’i centers of learning

Through a relationship with Children’s Theater Company (CTC) of New York and community partner The New Standard Academy, Louhelen Baha’i School has developed beneficial relationships in nearby Flint using theater and education.

Together with CTC, local community organizations and Baha’i institutions, Louhelen presented musical performances for schools at the local community theater located at New Standard and the University of Michigan-Flint. The musical Henry Box Brown was so well received, a relationship developed allowing the Louhelen outreach team to provide Baha’i-inspired after school programming, says Louhelen Administrator Cam Herth.

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John Davidson
Grand Rapids, Michigan

I was a child in the small town of Peru, Indiana, in the 1980s. I was raised by an atheist father and a Catholic mother who was pretending to be a Baptist. My mom insisted that my sister and I go to church every week, and I often questioned what we heard there.

When the Baptist preacher said that Buddha was a devil, I looked at my mother and asked, “Isn’t Buddha just like Moses but in Asia?” She just smiled and nodded without saying a word.

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Gregory Lawton
Grand Rapids, Michigan

My early experiences with religion were interesting. My uncle, Addison Lawton, was an influential Presbyterian minister. When I was 5, my family visited him, and on Sunday I was brought up to the front of the church. Reverend Lawton lifted me up in front of the congregation to baptize me, but I reached and grabbed him by the wrist. “Watch it, Buster,” I said. “What do you think you’re doing?” Even at 5, I didn’t believe in compulsion in religion.

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Indianans “Light Up the Night” for racial justice

Harrison Hill is a historic residential neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is home to people of diverse ancestries — and for many that’s a cause for celebration. The decades-long marriage of two of the neighborhood’s residents, Gayle and Akinlana (“Akin”) Bevill-DaDa, exemplifies the possibilities for interracial relationships. Gayle is white and Akin is Black.

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Cleveland reflection enriched by participation of Congolese families

Congolese refugees living in the Cleveland area participate in a community-building conference at LouHelen Bahá’i School in 2019.

Under the shade of an enormous tree, Baha’is in the Cleveland, Ohio, area met on Aug. 4 for what one participant called their “best cluster reflection meeting ever.”

Reflection meetings are held every three months to review Baha’i-initiated community-building efforts in a cluster of communities and make plans for the next three months.

Attendance at these gatherings in the Cleveland area had flagged in recent years, says Ron Frazer, …

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Peace sculpture advances vision

for Michigan Baha’i property

More than a century ago, Muskegon, Michigan, was seen as a possible place to build the Baha’i House of Worship for North America. That singular honor eventually went to Wilmette, Illinois.

But a Baha’i-owned property in Muskegon, only blocks from a Lake Michigan inlet, has evolved in its own purpose. This past summer saw the dedication of a peace sculpture to enhance a meditation garden established two decades ago.

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Stories from the US Bahá’í Newsletter

… about communities in the Midwest Region

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