Baha'i News -- Baha'i Faith Plans New Meeting Place
Baha'i Faith Plans New Meeting Place; Eastside Community Now Rents A Hall In International
With the world sorely lacking peace and unity, members of the
Eastside's Baha'i faith are planning to build a $2 million center in
hopes of one day turning that around.
They have their work cut out.
"But that's the purpose of a Baha'i center in any town, or any
country," said Nasrin Tyler, a volunteer at the Baha'i Information
Center on Front Street in Issaquah. "We believe all the religions of
the world come from the same God, and we welcome them to come and
worship with us."
Tyler said the 19th century Persian prophet Baha'u'llah brought
the Baha'i faith out of his roots in Islam to offer a vision of
oneness as a 1,000-year goal.
That mission has barely begun, she said.
Tyler ticked off the faith's four principals: the oneness of
humanity; the equality of men and women; the elimination of
prejudice; and the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty.
According to Bellevue Baha'i spokesman Bill Griffith, the new
center will be the first of its kind for the area. Portland and
Vancouver, B.C., each have meeting centers.
Seattle's Baha'i community, which dates to 1907, does not. It
rents a hall at the Pearl Warren Center in Seattle's International
The Eastside community intends to create a 23,000 square-foot
facility on an acre of ground in the 16000 block of Northeast Eighth
Griffith said the building's arched-roof design was created by
Vancouver, B.C., architect Hossein Amanat, who participated in the
design of the Baha'is' world center in Haifa, Israel.
If permits are granted later this year, the building will rise
between a city water tank and the Schuster business mall opposite
Bellevue Fire Station No. 3.
The site is just two blocks east of Crossroads Shopping Center in
one of the region's most diverse neighborhoods.
It fronts a single-family residential area along its south
property line, but that won't likely be a problem, said a Bellevue
planning department spokeswoman.
As a religious center the facility requires only a city design
review before a general building permit is issued.
The Bellevue group's decision to build follows a national trend,
said Baha'i scholar Robert Stockman, a professor of religious studies
at DePaul University in Wilmette, Ill.
Wilmette is home to the faith's national center.
"The Baha'i faith grew considerably in the 1960s and 1970s," he
said. "People entered the faith when they were in college. Now
they've moved into middle age, have kids and are in their peak
earning years. So quite naturally they have money, now, to build a
center, and that's what we're seeing happen all across the country.
There is a growing concern about increasing the strength of Baha'i
Bob Wilson, a management consultant and an elected member of the
Seattle Baha'is' spiritual council, said he is "delighted" at the
"I think it's fantastic," he said. "We've all waited a long time
for this. It will be a regional facility for the Eastside, certainly.
We are working hard toward a center of our own. But certainly this
will be wonderful for us. We'll be able to participate in larger
gatherings over there."
As spokesman for the Eastside group, Griffith said membership in
the Bellevue area has reached the 300 level, about equal to
Seattle's, and needs the space.
The faith counts about 1,000 members in the greater Seattle area
with an estimated 2,000 around Puget Sound.
P-I reporter Gordy Holt can be reached at 425-497-0907 or
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