News from the Region

In a neighborhood in Grand Rapids, an initiative emerges for equitable housing. Inspired by local needs and an atmosphere of collaboration that developed in training institute activities.

Featured Article

Social Action: An Effort Towards Equitable Housing


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.

Sixteen New Core Activities Initiated by Neighborhood Youth in Grand Rapids

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.

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.

Yellow Springs Bahá’ís Discover New Racial Awareness

In the aftermath of the George Floyd incident, there were 23 consecutive weeks of Black Lives Matter rallies in Yellow Springs. These rallies were organized primarily by youth in our town, some of whom had gone through local Bahá’í children’s programs. Inspired by the rallies and in solidarity with our youth and BLM initiatives taking place around the country, Cyprian Sajabi, my wife, Elaine, and I held what turned out to be three consecutive Zoom devotionals on racial justice issues.

A Tiny Message of Hope During Pandemic Days

Dear fellow wanderers on the path,

Have you ever wondered why, if every heart has been prepared to recognize truth and accept the Blessed Beauty, that there isn’t more of a rush to enter this garden of delight available to all humankind? Even though I have some idea of the wonder of God’s timing in all things, I have become discouraged off and on. Until now. Here’s my story.

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Stories from the US Bahá’í Newsletter

… about communities in the Midwest Region

Midwest
Youth

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.

More at bahai.us


Ohio
Profile

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.

More at bahai.us

Michigan
Profile

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.

More at bahai.us


Michigan
Arts

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.

More at bahai.us

Indiana
Neighborhoods

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.

More at bahai.us


Michigan
Profile

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.

More at bahai.us

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