Baha'i News -- RACE UNITY DAY; Community celebrates cultural harmony

RACE UNITY DAY
Community celebrates cultural harmony

By Renee Mizar
Sun Staff

Strands of golden sunlight streamed down on a cultural tapestry Sunday afternoon at Bremerton's Evergreen Park.

Racial diversity and harmony were the focus of a picnic celebrating Race Unity Day. The event, sponsored by the Baha'i Community of Bremerton, was open to all and featured food, sports and games with prizes for the kids.

"We are here to make the community aware of how important racial unity is," said Gayle Donohue, a Baha'i from Port Orchard. "To intermingle with all cultures and religions is important to understanding each other and to arrive at a more peaceful world."

The Baha'i Faith, established in the mid-1800s, promotes unity and tolerance among all religions, cultures and ethnic groups. Baha'i's five million worldwide followers believe in one God and seek to eliminate prejudice and achieve global harmony.

"We consider ourselves world citizens and work and strive each day to make it a better place," said Mary Washburn, a Baha'i since 1972. "It is a life of service and we serve in whatever capacity we can wherever there is a good cause."

Baha'i's are involved in a variety of community activities, including local events such as parades, picnics and an annual booth at the Kitsap County Fair. On a global scale, many serve as "pioneers" and spread the Baha'i message to people of different countries.

"The purpose of religion is to help us live up to our potential, like learning to be kind and caring for others," said Gina Hoefler, a Baha'i for the past 26 years. "It has given me peace and purpose and helped me understand what I need to do when times are tough."

Although there are Baha'i temples worldwide, the Baha'i have no central church or clergy. The group's administrative affairs are conducted by local, national and international assemblies, each containing nine members. Washburn said although the local assemblies organize their own activities, they often come together for events such as the picnic.

Washburn said the first Baha'i assembly in Bremerton was established in the early 1930s. There are several different clusters of Baha'i's throughout Kitsap County, each grouping based on geographic location. Washburn estimated more than 100 Baha'i's in the county, with about 30 residing in Bremerton.

"The concentration of social contact with the Baha'i's brings the best of each other together," said Donohue. "It has given be a better understandIng of how easy it is to make changes in one's immediate environment."


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