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


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. 

Invitation: Youth and Peace Building

The Racial Justice and Unity Forum invites all youth and interested adults of all ages to a special session of the Racial Justice and Unity Forum on June 14 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. sponsored by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Midwestern States. Created by past participants of the Michigan State University’s Multi-Racial Unity Learning Experience (MRULE), the session will explore such questions as:

  • How can we relate to one another on a deeply spiritual level?
  • How can we transform ourselves and work with others to transform our communities?
  • How can we work with others to bring peace and unity to the world?

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.

June Race Unity Events in Dayton — Join Online

Join the Dayton Ohio Interfaith Forum in June to celebrate the Centennial of the first Race Amity Conference.

Including a presentation on June 19th by Eric Dozier on the Significance of Juneteenth — Black Cultural Arts and Dialog — from Emancipation to today.

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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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