Bahai News - Baha'is have dual celebration

Baha'is have dual celebration

Religion scene

By Phil Anderson

The Capital-Journal

Baha'is around the world will celebrate one of their most important holidays today, when the Birth of the Bab is observed.

The day will be even more special for local adherents of the faith, when they celebrate the founding of the Baha'i community in Topeka in 1906.

The celebration will take place at 7 p.m. today at the Topeka Friends Meetinghouse, 603 S.W. 8th. Devotions, historical presentations and games will be featured in the program.

The Bab, the Prophet-Herald of the faith, was born in 1819. He foretold the coming of Baha'u'llah, considered the founder of the Baha'i faith.

In addition, he called on people of the West to respond to the new day of God, said Duane Herrmann, historian of the Baha'i community of Topeka.

The Baha'i faith, along with Judaism, Christianity and Islam, traces its lineage to Abraham, Herrmann noted.

"The Bab announced in 1844 that a new chapter of the Abrahamic religions had opened and humanity was entering its age of maturity," said Herrmann. "In this new age, we are to realize the oneness of all of humanity, going beyond seeing each other person on the planet as a neighbor, to knowing that we are all one family."

Although it is one of the newest of the world's major religions, experts say the Baha'i faith ranks behind only Christianity in terms of geographic diversity, with 5 million adherents in 232 nations.

In the 1890s, the first Baha'i community of Kansas was established in the Dickinson County town of Enterprise. When Rose Hilty moved to Topeka from Enterprise in September 1906, she established the first Baha'i community in Shawnee County.

Kathy Hamilton, chairwoman of the Topeka Baha'i Assembly, said the numbers began to increase and by 1910, a small group had developed. Good records weren't kept until the 1930s, she said.

"What we have found has been exciting," Hamilton said. "Sometimes history is dry, but this history ... some of the people in this history are definitely characters!"

Tonight's presentation will discuss some of the individuals who were members of early Baha'i communities in the Topeka area.

Among chief Baha'i teachings is its emphasis on the equality of races, sexes and religions.

Karen L. King, a New Testament scholar and expert on early Gnostic Christianity, will discuss "Early Christian Diversity and Contemporary Christian Identity" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Andrew J. and Georgia Neese Gray Theater in the Garvey Fine Arts Center on the Washburn University campus.

She will speak at the annual Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies.

Karen King is the department chairwoman and professor of New Testament studies at Harvard University Divinity School. She is finishing a commentary on the gospel of Mary and a study on the origins of gnosticism.

Call 231-1010, ext. 1542, for more information.

Christians from across Topeka are invited to participate in the "We Are 1" benefit concert at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at Topeka Bible Church, 1101 S.W. Mulvane.

The program, featuring the interdenominational City Band of Topeka, will be recorded for later compact-disc distribution in the Topeka area.

Proceeds from "We Are 1" compact-disc sales will benefit the Topeka Rescue Mission and Crisis Pregnancy Outreach of Topeka.

A freewill offering will be received for these agencies at the "We Are 1" concert, which is being sponsored by the National Day of Prayer Committee of Topeka.

Kansas will be honored at a special worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday at Washington National Cathedral, Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues N.W. in Washington, D.C.

Pilgrims from the state and Kansans now living in the Washington area will be invited at the service to reflect on the recent terrorist attacks and challenges facing the United States.

As part of its national ministry, Washington National Cathedral offers prayers for the people and leaders of each state on an annual basis.

The cathedral, the sixth-largest in the world, honors each state with a major observance once every four years. This is the first major Kansas State Day.

"As a national house of prayer for all people, the cathedral convenes Americans of many faiths who are united in their prayers, especially in this time of national concern," said Ray Foote, director of the National Cathedral Association. "On October 21, we will offer thanksgiving for the people and state of Kansas. We invite all to attend."

The state flag will lead the procession into the service, and it will remain on the chancel steps in the cathedral for the following weeks. Kansas attendees will be selected to read Scripture, bear communion elements and offer gifts to the poor.

The Lawrence Civic Choir will perform the service prelude at 10:30 a.m. Deacon Joseph A. Thompson of Topeka, senior deacon at the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas who has been honored for his longtime community service, also has been invited to participate in the event.

A recent article on "The Original Easter" in Westar Institute's "The Fourth R" magazine will be the topic of discussion from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday at First United Methodist Church, 600 S.W. Topeka Blvd.

Westar Institute is a nonprofit research and educational organization devoted to the advancement of literacy in religion.

Plans are being formulated for the group to meet monthly for study and discussion. For more information on the group or to obtain a copy of the article to be discussed, call the Rev. Susan Candea at Our Savior's Lutheran Church at 266-5313.

"The Quest for Knowledge, Truth and Values in Science and Religion," a national telecast presented by the Trinity Institute, will air live from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday in the Great Hall of Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 701 S.W. 8th.

The event will be broadcast from Harvard University Memorial Chapel and will focus on how newly emerging scientific views of the human being fit within the world's religious traditions.

Dr. Jane Goodall will be the featured speaker, with other presentations by Paul Davies, William Newsome, Manuela M. Veloso, Terrence Deacon and Thomas Odhiambo.

A soup and salad supper will be offered at 6 p.m., with participants asked to bring cookies or other treats. A freewill offering will benefit world peace initiatives.

An audio Webcast can be heard at

Call 232-5412, 235-3457 or e-mail for more information.

The eight Catholic parishes in Topeka collected a special offering of $45,873 on the weekend of Sept. 29 and 30 for disaster relief in New York and Washington, D.C.

According to the Rev. Norbert Lickteig of Christ the King Catholic Church, 5973 S.W. 25th, the amount was sent for relief in both areas.

Lynda Regan of Petaluma, Calif., will be the featured speaker at the 27th annual Mayor's Prayer Luncheon at noon Nov. 16 at the Ramada Inn Downtown, 420 S.E. 6th.

Regan is chairwoman and chief executive officer of the Legacy Marketing Group, which employs 525 people and had $40 million in revenue in 2000.

The event is sponsored by the Christian Business Men's Committee of Topeka.

Tickets are $10 and are available by calling Lisa Campbell at 233-8300.

Violinist Jaime Jorge will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus. He will perform a variety of music, including favorite hymns to contemporary praise songs.

A native of Cuba, Jorge has played in a multitude of settings, ranging from high-school auditoriums to Carnegie Hall.

The concert is sponsored by the Wanamaker Seventh-day Adventist Church. There is no admission charge, and a freewill offering will be received.

Christmas in April of Topeka and Shawnee County is beginning its fourth annual effort to assist elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners in Shawnee County.

The program provides repairs and renovations for individuals meeting eligibility requirements. Painting, porch construction and roof replacements are among projects completed by volunteers.

The fourth annual Rebuilding Day will be April 27.

Individuals wishing to apply to be a recipient of the program may call 272-0749 by Nov. 1 or write Christmas in April in care of First Christian Church, 1880 S.W. Gage, Topeka, 66604.

Phil Anderson can be reached at (785) 295-1195 or

See SCENE, page 4F

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