2007 was the centenary year of the Seattle Bahá’í Community, 1907-2007. Below are a few highlights and major events tucked in between years of consistent daily service, prayer, teaching and community development by hundreds and hundreds of Seattle Bahá’ís:
1905 – Colonel Nathan Fitzgerald of Tacoma teaches the Faith to Hyde Dunn in Seattle. They both travel to Walla Walla (1905-06) where they teach the faith to Clara Davis. Clara Davis and Hyde Dunn eventually marry and move to Australia. They introduced the Bahá’í Faith to Australia and New Zealand and are affectionately called Mother and Father Dunn. They are both later named Hands of the Cause.
1907 – Ida Finch, Mother of the Seattle Bahá’í Community becomes a Bahá’í.
1907 - April 15th, 3:15 PM, official signing and formation of the first Seattle Bahá’í Assembly at the home of John and Ida Finch, 2916 Beacon Ave. S. on Beacon Hill. The thirteen signers of this formation were: F.R.Wassene, Mary Anglin, Mrs. Julia Davie, Lydia (May) Rainey, Flora Weatherby, Dora A. Dunbar, Sara E. Lamon, Wallace Busselle, Ida A. Finch, Mrs. M.M. Rabb, Mrs. Lamon, Mrs. A.H. Harmon, Mrs. Lena Southard
1909-1912 – Kenzo Torikai becomes the first Bahá’í of Japanese descent in Seattle and the third Bahá’í of Japanese descent in the world. He later returns to Japan to live and teach the Faith in 1916.
1943 - Melba King, a Yupik Eskimo, becomes the first Eskimo Baha'i in the world. She was born in Alaska,1910. Blind from birth she later becomes the first blind college graduate from Central Washington University and later serves as the Secretary of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Seattle in the mid-1970s, taking notes in Braille and typing up the minutes. Her husband, Eugene King, a Tlingit native of Alaska, also blind, also served on the Seattle Assembly then. She is one of four blind believers in Seattle at this time.
1948 – Hoy Fon Look becomes the first Bahá’í of Chinese descent. He had just enrolled in Denver before moving to Seattle. Fon Look serves on the Seattle Bahá’í Assembly in the 1950s, the 1970s, the 1990s and the 2000s.
1953 – Seattle Bahá’í and artist Mark Tobey is profiled in TIME Magazine as one of several “Mystic Painters of the Northwest.” He hosts many events at his studio on University Way until 1960 when he finally leaves Seattle.
1955 – Marriage of Shirley Winship and Robert Ballard, officially and legally recognized as the first Bahá’í marriage in the State of Washington
1958 – Seattle Bahá’ís sell the Bahá’í Center on Aurora Ave. N. and send the money to Wilmette, to the National Bahá’í Center to help support the Mother Temple of North America
1950s-1990s – Many Seattle Bahá’ís depart from Seattle to pioneer to other lands in order to share the Bahá’í teachings around the world, including: Helen and Bill Wilkes who go to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in Africa. George and Bessie Washington go to Liberia, as does Arthur Banks. Fred and Elizabeth Laws are the first Bahá’ís to arrive in Basutoland (now Lesotho). Clyde and Pauline Johnson go to Paraguay. Robert and Christy Wilson, and later David and Wendy Burns go to Honduras. Vi Walkup goes to Uganda, Cynthia Selde to Mexico, Britt Johnson (Barer) to Norway where she was born, Scott and Billie Kay (Simmons) Bodie to Uruguay and eventually to Brazil, Dale and Nahid Eng to Hong Kong and eventually Taiwan, David Simmons to Finland, and John and Sandy Bolz go to Australia. Hazel and Prudencio Mori return to Prudencio’s homeland, the Philippines. Mary Farwell (Alston) goes to South Africa. David Takagi leaves for Peru and later settles in Venezuela, Beth and Gerry Lew went to New Zealand and Wes Baker went to Uganda where they all remain to this day. Wes is serving as the choir director at the Bahai House of Worship, the Mother Temple of Africa, in Kampala, Uganda.
1966 – Rainn Wilson, popular actor and Bahá’í, is born in Seattle. He is fondly remembered as a Bahá’í child and youth by the Seattle and Shoreline Bahá’í communities.
1969 – Anne Gould Hauberg, Art Patroness and Founder of the Pilchuck Glass School, becomes a Bahá’í.
1969-1970s – After Burl Barer, KOL/KJR radio disc jockey, becomes a Bahá'í he opens his home for weekly teaching gatherings, conducted by him and another Bahá'í, “Sleepy” John Davis. Many new young believers are introduced to the Faith in this home on Queen Anne. In the early 1970s Burl Barer produces late night radio shows on the Bahá’í Faith. For years he is a popular speaker at hundreds of Bahá’í events, frequently speaking and playing rock ‘n’ roll while teaching the Bahá’í Faith at the University of Washington.
1970, Oct. 14 – Visit by Hand of the Cause Enoch Olinga of Uganda, who speaks to a packed house of 350 Bahá’ís at the University Friends Center in the University District. He mistook Bill Rushing, long-time Seattle Bahá’í (from Detroit), as an African believer. Mr. Olinga also visits the friends in Yakima while in the area.
1970s – In the early 1970s the popular pop/rock duo of Seals & Crofts performed at numerous concerts in Seattle, often at the Paramount Theater. They always invited the audience to stay afterwards to learn about the Bahá’í Faith.
1971 – Mahin Pouryaghma becomes the first Bahá’í of Persian descent to be a student and nursing major at the University of Washington.
1973, August - Hand of the Cause Colonel Jalal Khazeh meets with Seattle Bahá’ís briefly while passing through SeaTac Airport.
1973, July - Over 100 Seattle and Washington Bahá'í youth converge on Oklahoma City for a National Bahá'í Youth Conference. Hand of the Cause William Sears speaks to the youth and Seals & Crofts have a mini-concert.
1973 – Windflower, a diverse Bahá’í singing group from Alaska, spent a week in Seattle touring and performing at concerts. Members included Bahá’ís of African-American, white, Chinese and Gypsy backgrounds.
1974, June 28 – Visit by Hand of the Cause Dhikrullah Khadem to Seattle, following his participation at the Western Washington Bahá’í Summer School at Seabeck on the Kitsap Peninsula.
1974, August - Over 120 Bahá’ís from the Northwest, including many UW Bahá’ís and the Jinai Singers, attend the International Bahá’í Youth Conference in Hilo, Hawaii. With about 1000 attendees, ours is the largest contingent from one location. Attending Hands of the Cause are William Sears, Collis Featherstone and Abu’l-Qasim Faizi.
1974, August – Hundreds of Washington State Bahá'ís, along with 5,000 other Bahá'ís, attend the National Bahá'í Teaching Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Hands of the Cause attending include ‘Amatu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, William Sears and Collis Featherstone.
1975 – The Tendertones were a popular quartet of young Seattle area Bahá’í women who sang Andrews Sisters and Pointer Sisters style doowop tunes and harmonies. They performed at many Bahá’í events. The Tendertones were Sue Bentler, Valerie Proctor, Gretchen Hewitt and Pasha Maceiunas-Mohajerjasbi.
1976 – January and February saw two visits to Seattle by Hand of the Cause Rahmatullah Muhajir. More than 500 Bahá’ís attended each event at the Seattle Center’s Northwest Rooms.
1980s – Influx locally and internationally of Bahá’ís from Iran as a result of the persecution of members of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran, the land of its birth. This has had a significant and positive impact on the strengths and resources of Bahá’í communities, in Seattle as well as throughout the world. The persecution of members of the Bahá’í Faith in its homeland, most recently dating from the Iranian Revolution of 1979 persists to this day.
1980 & 1982 – Global Ecologist, original Man of the Trees and Bahá’í (London 1924), Richard St. Barbe-Baker, visits Seattle and gives Bahá’í talks, returns in 1982 for visit shortly before his passing in Saskatoon, Canada.
1983, June 17-19 – Seattle sponsors the Northwest Regional Conference on “To Move the World: An Interstate, Multi-Ethnic, Grassroots Response,” for the friends to consult openly, frankly and lovingly on The Most Vital and Challenging Issue, Racial Harmony, recognizing it as a Divine Mandate. It was held on the University of Washington Campus, Terry/Lander Halls. Keynote speaker was Reggie Newkirk. While Bahá’ís were discussing ways to bring about world peace, gender equality and race unity, their Bahá’í sisters were being murdered at the same time in Iran for teaching the same thing to children:
1980s – In the late 1980s the Seattle Bahá’ís hold a number of firesides (informational gatherings about the Bahá’í Faith) at the Seattle Bahá’í Books and Information Center on Brooklyn Ave. NE in the University District, in English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French.
1986 – A copy of The Promise of World Peace is presented to the mayor of Seattle, Charles Royer, by spiritual assembly members Darlene Carlson, Allen Goldblatt, Bill Rushing and David Simmons.
1988 – Seattle hosts a “Vision to Victory” Conference at the Seattle Arena. 1800 Northwest Bahá’ís attend. The National Spiritual Assembly calls for a series of conferences throughout the country to increase understanding the significance of completing the Arc on Mount Carmel. David Hoffman, member of the Universal House of Justice, is keynote speaker. Two years later, Portland hosts a “Vision to Victory” Conference which numerous Washington Bahá'ís attend.
1989 – The Bahá’í Faith is one of the original Faith communities represented in the formation of the Interfaith Council of Washington. Pasha Mohajerjasbi was the original Bahá’í representative. Janet Tanaka and Nancy Coleman have also served as Bahá’í reps.
1989 – From Scotland, Physicist, Writer and Bahá’í Dr. Anjam Khursheed, of the University of Edinburgh, speaks at the Seattle Bahá’í Center.
1990 – From China, Film Director (of the popular “King of Masks”), Actor and Bahá’í, Tian-Ming Wu speaks about film and the Bahá’í Faith at the Bahá’í Center.
1991 – Grammy nominee and Parent’s Choice Award-winning singer and Bahá’í Red Grammer performs at the University of Washington’s Kane Hall and other venues in the Seattle area.
1992 – November, hundreds of Northwest and Seattle Bahá’ís, along with 30,000 others from almost every nation on Earth, attend the Second Bahá’í World Congress in New York City, the City of the Covenant. 1992 is declared a Holy Year, the 100th Anniversary of the Passing of Baha’u’llah.
1993 – Retired Universal House of Justice member David Hoffman speaks at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Arts Center following the Second Bahá’í World Congress in New York City.
1996 – November. The Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá’ís of Seattle and Bellevue honor United Indians of All Tribes Foundation and Director Bernie Whitebear for their 25th Anniversary of Service Work to Humanity and to recognize the continued friendship and collaboration between them and the Greater Seattle Area Bahá’í Communities. This event was attended by Governor Mike Lowry, King County Executive Gary Locke, US Congressman Jim McDermott, Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Area Director Larry Speakes, King County Councilman Larry Gossett, State Senator Jeanne Kohl and various American Indian tribal leaders. For 25 years the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Arts Center has been open to the Bahá’í for feasts, holy days, funerals, celebrations, and scores of other events.
1990s-2000s – Anna Powers, Laura Lee, Justice Beitzel and others create and sustain The Diversity Dance Workshop, later called Intersectionz, a Bahá’í-inspired and -sponsored arts program which uses dance and drama to teach about social justice.
1999 – Tapestry’s album of jazz, blues, doowop and devotional songs was released this year. Tapestry, a local singing group, sang traditional songs and composed and performed new songs at countless Bahá’í events throughout Puget Sound communities. Tapestry was made up of Kurt Asplund, Leslie Asplund, Wes Baker, Beverley Moore, Marsha Kuykendall, Pasha Mohajerjasbi, Cindi Roat, Tim Strong and Cleven Ticeson.
2000 – May 29, Spirit Run begins at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Arts Center. Nine Bahá’í youth run on foot 3000+ miles from Seattle to the Shinnecock Reservation in New York and eventually to the United Nations.