Retrospective: A Blossoming of Initiatives in the Midwest

A small flower rises above a blanket of snow.

While winter and pandemic hibernation may seem far in the past, several initiatives originally undertaken during the previous winter months have blossomed. 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. 

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Vibrant Marshallese Community Arises in Oklahoma

Twenty-five people pose for a group portrait in a community center.
Bahá’ís in Enid, Oklahoma, pose for a portrait taken before the pandemic.

In the early 2000s Enid, Oklahoma, had no Baha’i activities. Today, many of its more than 50 Baha’is are involved alongside friends in children’s classes, junior youth groups, study circles and devotional gatherings. 

What’s changed? The story starts with two Baha’i couples who each discovered the Faith on their own, along with the extended family of one of the couples.

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South Dakota Scholars Discuss Race Issues with Aid of Baha’i Principles

Webcam images of four women on a video call.
Study group participants in Brookings, South Dakota. Screenshot courtesy of Dianne Nagy.

Though it’s 200 miles from Minneapolis, the college town of Brookings, South Dakota, keenly felt the repercussions of George Floyd’s killing in May 2020, and the national turmoil surrounding race. 

Dianne Nagy, a Baha’i with considerable experience in local human rights activities, immediately got to work bringing Baha’i-inspired perspectives into the conversation. 

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Indianans “Light Up the Night” for racial justice

Three women hold candles at dusk. They wear face masks.
A few of the 100 or so people who attended the “Light up the Night” event in Fort Wayne. Photo courtesy of the Harrison Hill Neighborhood Association.

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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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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Public Health Protocols Guide Georgia Youth Camp

Two young people study together
Atlanta-area youth camp participants take part in one-on-one study. Photo courtesy of Jasmine Miller-Kleinhenz

Many U.S. Baha’i communities have moved nearly all activities that would usually take place indoors to online platforms since the pandemic broke out earlier this year. 

Yet not everyone has access to reliable devices, digital literacy, a stable Internet connection, quiet space or other resources that make online engagement possible, as the team coordinating activities in the Indian Creek neighborhood of Stone Mountain, Georgia, discovered. 

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