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Home History Brief History of the Santa Monica Bahai Community
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1948

The first Baha'is to reside in the City of Santa Monica, California are at this time unknown. However, on April 21, 1948 there was a sufficient number of adult Baha'is at least 21 years old (11 adults) to meet to elect the nine-member first Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Santa Monica.

1961

Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of California on March 8, 1961 (#410629) to incorporate as a legal entity the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Santa Monica, California.

1967

In June 1967 the first issue of the Santa Monica Baha'i Newsletter was printed (mimeographed), Volume I, No. 1, describing the Feast of Azamat (May 16). Feast hosts were Dave and Nancy Flores and eight community members were present. At the Feast it had been recommended to the Assembly that a monthly Newsletter be started to keep the Baha'is informed about what is going on in the Baha'i community. A chart of contributions to the Baha'i Fund showing the Baha'i-monthly goal minimum ($42, with $32 pledged to go to the National Fund) was initiated. It was noted that between the two Feasts of April 27 and May 16 that $77 had been received in contributions. The Declaration of the Bab holy day (May 22 evening) was observed with a dinner at Uncle John's Pancake House followed by a devotional program at the home of Ken and Arleen Wiley which 21 people attended (including 5 not-yet-Baha'i guests). It was also noted that at this time there were two weekly firesides being held: Sunday evenings at Martin Kob's and Friday evenings at the Flores' which was primarily for study/discussion.

1974, 1975 & 1976

 


1974

1975

1976

Total Assembly meetings held

28

47

59

Total Baha'i enrollments

3

6

9

Total Baha'i adults

48

64

72

Total youth (15 – 20 years old

---

5

8

Total children (under 15 years old)

untabulated

untabulated

18

 

Beginning 1975, the Spiritual Assembly set 8 major goals for the second year of the world-wide Five Year Plan and appointed committees to assist with their accomplishment:

  1. enroll nine new believers (achieved, see chart above)
  2. disperse nine Santa Monica Baha'is to goal areas (6 pioneers left Santa Monica)
  3. promote proclamation activities (highlighted by the Santa Monica Mayor Nat Trives City Proclamation declaring March 21 through 28, 1976 as BAHA'I WEEK in Santa Monica)
  4. stimulate Baha'i community life at all age levels (dawn prayers/breakfast; special event with visit and talk by Hand of the Cause Dr. Rahmatullah Muhajir on February 26, 1976)
  5. provide regular child education classes (classes held in Marine Park on Sundays)
  6. increase use of mass media for proclamation ('Discover Baha'i' banner; posters in busses and shops; Baha'i book displays in Public Library and Santa Monica College Library; radio, TV and 'Outlook' newspaper coverage was outstanding)
  7. actively develop extension teaching outside Santa Monica (goal city of El Segundo; Mayor and City Council presented with Baha'i book and 2 Santa Monica Baha'is pioneered to El Segundo and the Spiritual Assembly was formed in 1978)
  8. foster and encourage the activities of the youth and junior youth (club and committee directed many activities for this age group)

For the year 1975-1976, the Baha'i Fund Goal was $12,000 ($9,500 to go to the National Fund) which was exceeded by over $300.

The phone number listed for the Baha'is of Santa Monica (394-7971) had an answering system attached with a taped information message for the public who called.

Feasts and holy day observances were so well attended that they were no longer held in homes and community events began to be held in a rented space (Assistance League Hall on 15th Street).

1980

Following the revolution in Iran a large number of Baha'i families arrived from Iran swelling the Santa Monica community to a total of 142 (92 adults, 19 youth, 31 children). Among the key issues concerning the Assembly were translations at Feasts, the goals of the Seven Year Plan (1979-1986), and the need for a Santa Monica Baha'i Center. There were 5 enrollments (all youth) and the Baha'i Fund goal ($25,000) was exceeded by almost $3,000. Children’s weekly classes were held at Joslyn Park Hall through obtaining a City permit.

1986

At the conclusion of the Seven Year Plan, Santa Monica's Baha'i community had experienced some growth but it was primarily due to the arrival of Persian Baha'i families escaping persecution in Iran.

 

1979

1986

Total Adults

72

134

Youth

11

12

Children

30

34

Baha'i Fund Goal

$25,000

$40,000

The majority of the teaching and proclamation activities centered around the presentation of "The Promise of World Peace" statement from the Universal House of Justice. Distribution was made to the teachers of the Baha'i children in their public schools, to California Assemblyman Tom Hayden, to Santa Monica Mayor Christine Reed and the six City Council members, to each Public Library and to the Santa Monica College Library.

1992

At the conclusion of the Six Year Plan, the Santa Monica Baha'i community remained almost the same size, however an extraordinary change occurred in the level of financial sacrifice which was stimulated by the desire to assist in the building of the Arc Projects on Mount Carmel in Haifa.

 

1986

1992

Total Adults

134

142

Youth

12

9

Children

34

33

Baha'i Fund Goal

$40,000

$300,000

A Santa Monica College Baha'i Scholarship was awarded for the second year, continuing an annual award commitment. A presentation copy of the National's "Vision of Race Unity: America's Most Challenging Issue" with a letter from the Santa Monica Assembly was given to the Principals of Santa Monica's 14 public schools, the School Board, Superintendent, Mayor and City Council members and the Police Chief. The Santa Monica Baha'is participated again in the community's observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and a Baha'i quotation was included in the printed program. In a joint effort to assist the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Baha'i schools' development, the two schools adopted the name Thornton Chase Baha'i School under the direction of one unified School Board at two sites (Joslyn Park in Santa Monica and at the Los Angeles Baha'i Center). All teachers were trained with one curriculum. Registration in Santa Monica was 72 children and in Los Angeles 80 children. Several Baha'i children who attended Franklin Elementary School invited their teachers and Principal to a tea given by them and their parents where the children gave Baha'i speeches on the importance of education and the value of teachers.

1993

The Baha'i Holy Year (Ridvan 1992 - 1993) and the Second Baha'i World Congress held in New York (November 1992) created some local publicity. Considerable funds ($5,000) were expended on a newspaper advertising campaign in the "Outlook," Santa Monica College's "Corsair" and the Santa Monica "Sun" to "emblazon the Name of Baha'u'llah" using the World Congress Media Campaign to invite the public to attend Baha'i meetings and receive literature. However, the year saw only 4 enrollments (3 of them youth).

1994

During the first year of the Three Year Plan (1993 - 1996), Baha'i solo performer from Colorado Ladjamaya presented her program Cry for World Peace: the Black Experience‚ at Santa Monica College's Concert Hall which was videotaped by Santa Monica's CityTV (Channel 16) and then became part of CityTV's ongoing programming.

For the first time in Santa Monica, the 12 Baha'i students at Santa Monica High School formed a Club on campus and had the Los Angeles Baha'i Workshop put on a performance at noon at the High School.

Santa Monica's Main Public Library Auditorium was the site for a Baha'i public meeting entitled Concerning Children, Concerning Parents educators' panel.

1996

At the conclusion of the Three Year Plan, the Santa Monica community's size had remained stable:

 

1993

1996

Total Adults

150

140

Youth

16

14

Children

30

38

Enrollments

4

5

Contributions to the Baha'i Fund for the period of the Three Year Plan (including those earmarked for the Arc Funds) varied considerably:

1994

1995

1996

160,000

$305,000

$76,000

Whereas the key feature of the worldwide Plan called for massive expansion of the Baha'i community (entry by troops) which was not achieved in Santa Monica, greater success was accomplished in working on the triple-theme of the Plan: developing human resources of the Cause, fostering proper functioning of the local Baha'i institutions, and enhancing the vitality of the faith of individual believers.

Among many other successful programs held was a series of three special dinner deepenings for Baha'is called Spiritual Food for the Fast during the month of March on our spiritual obligations of Fasting, Obligatory Prayer and the Right of God (Huququ'llah). The Baha'i community participated with a Baha'i booth in the inauguration of an annual Santa Monica citywide community Festival held in Clover Park entitled Celebration of our Roots. In joint meetings, the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Baha'i Assemblies planned a discussion series on The Power of Unity (race and family issues) as well as a jointly held observance of the Twelfth Day of Ridvan. Our Santa Monica extension teaching goal area of Huntington Park developed and supported a health issues project and monthly bi-lingual family activities in a local park.

1997

For the opening year of the new Four Year Plan (1996 – 2000), the Santa Monica Assembly worked with the Baha'i community to respond to the emphases placed by the Universal House of Justice on the roles of individuals, assemblies, and communities in advancing the process of entry by troops. The Assembly invited all the Baha'i community to a dinner and community planning session (60 attended) to discuss the Plan and sign up to work in some area of Baha'i service in Santa Monica in response to the call from the Universal House of Justice, "May each inscribe his or her own mark on a brief span of time so charged with potentialities and hope for all humanity."

The Assembly described four broad areas for attention by the Santa Monica Baha'i community:

Worship, Unity and Fellowship:

Feasts, Holy Days, Devotional meetings, Community care, social gatherings, and other services.

 

Entry by troops:

Firesides, Proclamations, Extension Teaching (goal area of Huntington Park) and other services.

 

Centers of Baha'i Learning:

Thornton Chase Baha'i School, and various Institutes such as New Believers, Study of Baha'i texts, the Arts, Race Unity, Gender Equality, Youth, Career-mentoring, Parenting, and others.

 

Institutional Development:

Assembly training, External Relations, Public Information, Community Newsletter, and Facilities development.

 

A new spirit of individual and community enthusiasm was generated which brought about 7 enrollments during the year (4 of whom live in Huntington Park, the goal area). At the first Feast of the New Year, the Assembly announced a goal of trying to purchase a Baha'i Center for Santa Monica as soon as possible and an intensive campaign to raise the necessary funds began. Planning also began to observe the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Santa Monica Spiritual Assembly next year (May 1998) and to make the occasion a major proclamation opportunity reaching prominent officials of Santa Monica.

1998

Of special note during this second year of the Four Year Plan was the generous outpouring of financial support for the future purchase of a Santa Monica Baha'i Center. An energetic Center Task Force organized activities and the Center Fund was doubled in size. All other Funds were also supported, for a total contributions level for the year of over $400,000. And 5 believers were enrolled, including 2 youth in the Huntington Park goal area. The celebration of the Santa Monica Baha'i Assembly's 50th anniversary (1948-1998) was held in the Santa Monica Main Library Auditorium - a major proclamation event. The Mayor of Santa Monica, Robert Holbrook, signed a Proclamation about it and banners were placed across prominent streets (Wilshire Blvd. and Arizona & 4th Street) for several weeks announcing the Library event on May 17, 1998. The theme of the talk given was Building Community. Baha'i children read quotations on justice, peace, equality and education. Historical displays of the Santa Monica Baha'i community activities were placed in the refreshment areas. Many Baha'is who had previously lived in Santa Monica over the past several years returned for this celebration.

1999

During the third year of the Four Year Plan, a major national media initiative was undertaken centered on the issue of race unity which was supported financially by the Santa Monica Assembly as well as a focus of local activities. The Santa Monica Baha'i race unity task force distributed copies of the nationally-produced videotape The Power of Race Unity to Santa Monica educational and community leaders; it was shown on public access Century Cable channel 77 on November 11; and they organized firesides.

During summer the Central Court of the Third Street Promenade was taken over by the dynamic dancing of the Los Angeles Baha'i Youth Workshop who had recently returned from their Bulgarian teaching tour. The event received excellent publicity from the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.

There were ongoing youth gatherings and parent training institutes as well as all 9 members of the Spiritual Assembly went for a weekend Assembly training seminar held at the Bosch Baha'i School.

To stimulate more participation/consultation in Feasts, the Assembly selects a specific topic from suggestions for a focus-themed short (approximately 15 minutes) discussion which is publicized in the Newsletter a month in advance.

The Baha'i Lawyers' Association of Southern California, a newly incorporated non-profit agency, is being sponsored by the Santa Monica Assembly which has appointed 4 of its 7-member Board of Directors.

2000

During the concluding year of the Four Year Plan, the Santa Monica Baha'i Assembly focused efforts on training of its members as well as its volunteer staff of Thornton Chase Baha'i School teachers and individual community members through Assembly Training Modules, Core Curriculum teacher training and Fundamental Verities training. Feasts, Holy Days, firesides and devotional meetings were well supported with active participation and six people were enrolled this year in the Faith.

National's statement on the equality of women and men, Two Wings of a Bird, was presented to the Mayor and City Council in a televised City Council meeting. A Baha'i economist from London was guest speaker at Santa Monica College hosted by President Piedad Robertson, the SMC Associates and SMC Business Department as well as speaking at the RAND Graduate School and the UCLA School of Public Policy on globalization issues and distributed copies of the Baha'i statement on Prosperity of Humankind. Baha'i booths with literature were set up, as usual, at the 15th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day held at Santa Monica College and for the 9th annual Santa Monica Cultural Festival held at Clover Park.

Youth were very active on their campuses (high school and college) and six youth went travel teaching to China, South America and Eastern Europe during their holidays. In honor of Naw Ruz, a play written by a Santa Monica Baha'i, “The Key to the Hidden Treasure,” was performed by 50 children at Franklin Elementary School and the Assembly was one of the event sponsors.

While one of the important local goals during the Four Year Plan was to obtain a Santa Monica Baha'i Center appeared unachievable, at the last minute, on the night of April 20, the Assembly's offer to purchase a church property at 3102 Colorado Avenue was accepted with a three-month escrow to work out the contingencies. God willing, we will move into our own Baha'i Center during this next Twelve-Month Plan period (Ridvan 157 - 158 B.E., 2000 - 2001).

2001

During this One Year Plan (April 2000-2001) the greatest achievement for our Santa Monica Baha'i community of 250 adults, youth and children has been the purchase of our first Baha'i Center which was finalized the end of December 2000 for $1 million cash. Demolition and renovations are expected to take most of the year 2001 before we have full use of the buildings, although some space is leased to our Learn and Play Daycare tenant and is in use during this time. Celebrations and fundraisers around the purchase of the Baha'i Center continue to be carried out in reverent, hospitable and joyful events. The Assembly appointed a Steering Committee to discuss needs and develop policies for Center management and maintenance, programming and use, and community (public) relations.

The Assembly website at www.santamonicabahai.org and the Baha'i Information Phone (310-394-7971) have attracted numerous visitors/callers which provide a steady stream of inquirers about the Baha'i Faith and the Santa Monica community.

The National Baha'i Assembly met with 73 local spiritual assemblies in the greater Los Angeles County area in October 2000 (all 9 members of the Santa Monica Assembly attended) as well as the general Baha'i community regarding regional training institutes, the national media campaign, and youth service. The Santa Monica Assembly also attended the Urban Assemblies conference at the Bosch Baha'i School in Santa Cruz, CA. in Fall 2000 with 12 other Assemblies for discussions about empowering individual Baha'is and fostering the spirit of service and unity, institutional relationships and resources, and building expanding Baha'i communities.

Because youth (15 - 20 years) and junior youth (11 - 14 years), as well as children (under 11 years) continue to be a major focus of attention, the Assembly has held consultations with them to discuss their interests and needs. Many of our youth and junior youth participated in the Western Regional Council's Youth Forum in April 2001. The Santa Monica Thornton Chase Baha'i School continues its weekly classes held in the Memorial Park buildings led by college-aged Baha'i youth teachers who have received Core Curriculum teacher training. The national Baha'i monthly newspaper featured our Baha'i School in its December 2000 issue.

The Santa Monica College Baha'i Unity Club and the UCLA Baha'i Association have been very active on their campuses and received support from the Santa Monica Baha'i Assembly. One of the Baha'i college students participated on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Coalition and the program at Santa Monica College, organizing the Baha'i booth at the 16th annual MLK Day event at SMC.

The Southern California Baha'i Regional Training Institute offered a daylong Teacher Development Workshop attended by some of our Baha'i school teachers and trainers and one of the trainers went to Michigan to the National Teacher Training Center at Louhelen Baha'i School for an Advanced Seminar.

Baha'i firesides for inquirers into the Faith, Baha'i Feasts and Holy Day events, devotional gatherings and study classes have been actively supported and 8 people enrolled in the Baha'i Faith in Santa Monica during the past year. At Ridvan this year (April 21, 2001) the Baha'is throughout the world launch the Five Year Plan (2001-2006).

2002

On the First Day of Ridvan, April 21, 2002, celebrating Baha'u'llah's proclamation to be God's Messenger from the Garden of Ridvan (paradise) in 1863, we opened our beautiful Baha'i Center (3102 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica). It is 54 years from the election of the first Santa Monica Baha'i Assembly and we have reached a milestone of accomplishment with this achievement.

During the first year of the Five Year Plan (2001-2002), various activities were undertaken to advance the process of making the Santa Monica Baha'i community a spiritually welcoming and exciting place to be.

The weekly Thornton Chase Baha'i School received an encouraging letter from the Universal House of Justice and the children and youth participated in Feasts with hosting, devotions, and performing in educational/humorous plays (skits). Many of the older youth took institute training courses along with several adults throughout the year and participated in study circles. The Assembly conducted town meetings and discussions at Feasts to generate sufficient volunteers to develop policies and provide assistance for the on-going needs of our Baha'i Center as it was being prepared to be occupied.

Both before and after the September 11th attack on America, we assisted other community organizations such as Santa Monica College, the Santa Monica Bay Interfaith Council, and the Martin Luther King Westside Coalition. A full-page ad on the Destiny of America was placed in the January 6, 2002 edition of the LOS ANGELES TIMES and the LA SENTINEL (in February 2002) with the financial assistance of neighboring Baha'i communities.

While the enrollments dropped to four during the past year, the appreciation of newly declared believers continued through recognition of them with flowers and books at the Feasts, maintaining monthly firesides, dinners, and the set up of a means for randomly mixing the members of the community in socializing together in smaller groups which we called "Eatery" (choosing dinner hosts, and dinner guests by chance/drawing).

The city of Huntington Park, a goal area to assist to raise to Assembly status pursued by Santa Monica Baha'is for several years, achieved its goal with the election of their first Baha'i Spiritual Assembly in April 2002.

The campus Baha'i clubs at Santa Monica College and UCLA made outstanding efforts to reach and teach their classmates about the Baha'i Faith and the Club members participated regularly in Santa Monica Feasts throughout the year bringing a high level of energy to community consultations.

2003

For this first year of having our own Baha'i Center, the Center itself became the pivot of spiritual and social strength for our community as well as a focus point for hosting numerous community events. Over 20 committees and task forces were appointed by the Spiritual Assembly including: Thornton Chase Baha'i School teachers and School Co-Directors, Fundraising, Center Steering, Facility Managers, Event Coordinators, Bookshop, Sunday morning Center Devotions, Feasts and Holy Days, Audio/Visual and Translation services, Center Programming, Newsletter, Intercommunity Cluster Task Force, Martin Luther King/Westside Coalition representatives, Santa Monica Bay Interfaith Council representative, Goal Area coordinator, as well as those who offered their homes to hold firesides, study circles and deepening classes and those who tutored and facilitated courses.

With the direction of the Universal House of Justice to National Assemblies worldwide to divide their territories into clusters of adjacent localities identified for manageable and systematic development and growth, Santa Monica was formed into Cluster CA-SW-02 along with Beverly Hills, Culver City, West Hollywood and the City of Malibu. Reflection meetings began to be held in our Cluster to stimulate holding an increasing number of study circles, devotional meetings and children's classes, all open to the public. Two interfaith meetings for the public were conducted in our Center and the Statement to the World’s Religious Leaders by the Universal House of Justice was distributed to 50 religious institutions within Santa Monica.

We had the pleasure of a short visit from Universal House of Justice member Mr. Ali Nakhjavani and his wife Violette to our Center in October 2002 and in mid-November we held the public Dedication of our Center. Special guests for this event included the Center’s designers and builders as well as Santa Monica City Manager, Santa Monica College President, Santa Monica Bay Interfaith Council Director, and a representative from the Western Regional Baha'i Council.

As we approached the period of Ridvan (April-May 2003), with conflict in Iraq which is the site of the Garden of Ridvan and the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad, the Baha'i community deepened its knowledge from the Writings about war and related issues.

2004

The theme of Building Momentum: a coherent approach to growth (based on the document prepared in April 2003 by the International Teaching Center for the Universal House of Justice) formed the basis of the plans for the Santa Monica Baha'i community for this third year of the Five Year Plan (Ridvan 2001-2006).

The division of our national Baha'i community into geographic clusters (we are in Cluster CA-SW-02) and the movement of clusters from one stage of growth to the next through enhancing our institutional capacity with a vigorous institute process (training courses) set our Baha'i community on a path of activities this year which resulted in 30% of the Baha'i youth and adults in Santa Monica involved in taking Institute courses with 15 now qualified as tutors of the Ruhi books sequence by April (Ridvan) 2004. The Western Regional Baha'i Council identified our Cluster 02 among the top 20 clusters in the 11 western states’ region because of our level of activities in the 3 core activities (study circles/institute courses; devotional meetings; and children’s classes). At Ridvan 2004 our Cluster 02 launched an intensive campaign to assist Baha'is to complete the sequence of Ruhi courses and to undertake more service (practice) individually which, it is hoped, will lead to growth of our communities in this Cluster.

Among this year's special public events organized by our Center Programming Task Force, in addition to the monthly games and movie nights, were Teacher Appreciation in June 2003 for educators in the community at large; and a panel presentation on Guiding Principles in Career Success with Judge Dorothy W. Nelson and Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, M.D. in January 2004.

The Santa Monica Assembly was appointed by National to host the annual Electoral Unit 140 Convention for our Unit's 14 Baha'i communities in October 2003 at which one delegate is elected to go to the April 2004 National Convention to elect the members of the National Spiritual Assembly.

In the city, this year's 19th annual Martin Luther King Day community celebration program was, for the first time, addressed by a Baha'i, Judge Dorothy Nelson, who served as the chosen keynote speaker.

Successful fundraisers were held in the Center among Baha'is to support the U.S. Kingdom Projects and the construction of the House of Worship in Santiago, Chile.

Festivities for all Baha'i holy days, and Feast nights, were held in the Center throughout the year as well as community dinners for consultation on Baha'i matters and for appreciation by the Assembly for its numerous committee and task force members who served sacrificially throughout the year. A Sunday morning devotional program for the public was held weekly in our Center.

The children continued to meet in Memorial Park for Sunday morning Thornton Chase Baha'i School while the junior youth and youth met upstairs in our Center for their classes. After receiving a substantial earmarked contribution to start a Center Endowment Fund for Children, the parents have launched a campaign to raise sufficient funds to renovate our nextdoor property for a Children's Center.

2005

In August 2004 the Western Regional Baha'i Council evaluated our institute process as “vigorous” in our Cluster and informed us that we are now designated at a level of development. So with the spirit of building momentum, the adults, youth and children of the Santa Monica Baha'i community continued to take Institute courses until, by April 2005, over 35% have completed various Ruhi study circle courses and the pace of enrollments of new Baha'is has increased. For the second year the National Baha'i Assembly invited our Santa Monica Assembly to participate in a conference for Baha'i Assemblies with large Baha'i communities.

Special events for the public at our Baha'i Center included an arts evening with poetry from the newly published book "Tahirih: A Portrait in Poetry" and live music. After the devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis, we organized a devotional program of “Remembrance of the Tsunami Victims held in January 2005.

Our children's classes continue to be held in Memorial Park pending the development of our nextdoor property for such use while junior youth and youth classes are held upstairs in our Center. For the 14th year our Santa Monica Baha'i community award to a deserving student attending Santa Monica College was awarded.

With renewed persecution and destruction of Baha'i sites in Iran, an article we submitted to the SANTA MONICA MIRROR on this subject was published in September 2004 entitled Cultural Cleansing: Destroying a Community. We also participated along with many other Baha'i communities in a full-page paid ad which ran in the LOS ANGELES TIMES on September 26, 2004 which explained what was happening in Iran.

This year was the City's 20th annual Martin Luther King Day community celebration and the Baha'i community was asked to close the program with a Baha'i prayer as well as host our information table at the Involvement Fair. A newly formed City Human Relations Council invited a Baha'i representative to sit on the Council as well.

2006

In this last year of the Five Year Plan (2001 - 2006) increasing efforts were made by community members to advance the process of entry by troops through the two complementary, reinforcing movements: the steady flow of individuals through the sequence of [Ruhi] institute courses and the movement of clusters from one stage of development to the next. Within Santa Monica, since 1995, 44 Ruhi courses have been held and 14 current Santa Monica Baha'is are Ruhi tutors. By Ridvan 2006, 40% of Santa Monica Baha'is, youth and adults, have now taken one or more Ruhi courses. Core activities (study circles, devotional gatherings, children's classes, junior youth/youth activities) continued to increase in number as well as more firesides in homes. As a gesture of appreciation, the Spiritual Assembly hosted a dinner for all graduates of Ruhi Book One (Reflections on the Life of the Spirit) followed by small group discussions on increasing the number of devotional gatherings in homes with families, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Among our 21 dedicated and hardworking committees and task forces, this year the Center Programs Task Force planned and conducted a series of seminars in our Center on the topic of Baha'i administration.

Although a Santa Monica College student was selected to receive our 15th annual scholarship award in June 2005, the requirement that the student be continuing studies at SMC was not met, so the award was not made.

The city's 21st annual Martin Luther King Day community-wide celebration, held in January 2006 with Yolanda King (King's eldest daughter) as keynote speaker, included a parade to the new Main Library for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Auditorium. The Jeffrey Barnes Baha'i Choir sang in the program and a Baha'i sign was carried in the street parade.

Our Baha'i representative serving on the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council was elected to serve as the Council Chair in June 2005 and asked to continue as Chair in 2006.

2007 - 2008

This year brought major changes in the Santa Monica Bahai Community as the focus on neighborhood activities supporting the Five Year Plan increased. The Thornton Chase Bahai School, which had for many years been held in city parks and then moved to the Bahai Center, was effectively closed in order to develop neighborhood children's classes. The community was also organized into seven neighborhoods, each holding its own Feast. The Spiritual Assembly appointed a chairman, secretary, and treasurer for each Neighborhood Feast. The schedule of Feasts now includes two Neighborhood Feasts in homes around Santa Monica followed a Collective Feast at the Santa Monica Bahai Center.

The keynote speakers at the 22nd annual Martin Luther King Day celebration were Drs. Firuz Kazemzadeh and Wilma Ellis Kazemzadeh.

2008 - 2009

2009 - 2010

Notable Events in Santa Monica

Neighborhood Feasts
Feasts are held in six neighborhoods in Santa Monica. Collective Feasts continue to be held at the Santa Monica Bahá'í Center for approximately every third Feast.

Children and Youth Activities
Classes met regularly during the year in homes in Santa Monica. The Spiritual Assembly met with members of the Bahá'í Clubs from Santa Monica College and Samohi to discuss campus activities and support that might be needed for their activities from the Santa Monica Bahá'í Community. Junior Youth and Youth were also invited to meet with the Spiritual Assembly in March of 2010.

Bahá'í Center Property
The old building that once housed a daycare center when the Bahá'í Center was purchased was demolished. Plans call for creation of an outdoor gathering space.

Ayyam-i-Ha Celebration
A potluck lunch was held on Sunday, February 28, 2010 at the Bahá'í Center. In the spirit of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Spiritual Assembly arranged for some of the food for the potluck to be catered by “Step Up on Second,” a private non-profit agency that provides support services for individuals in Santa Monica affected by mental illness. A contribution was also made to the Ocean Park Community Center, a social service agency in Santa Monica that provides a shelter and services to low-income and homeless families, battered women, and people living with mental illness.

Breaking the Fast Together
The Santa Monica Bahá'í Community gathered together in the Bahá'í Center on Sunday, March 14, 2010 to break the Fast together.

Fund-Raising for the National Baha’i Fund
A Fundraiser to benefit the National Baha’i Fund was held on Sunday, April 18.

Junior Youth and Youth Meet with Ali and Violette Nakhjavani
The Santa Monica Bahá'í Center played host to a special meeting on September 18, 2009 for junior youth and youth with Mr. Ali Nakhjavani, former member of the Universal House of Justice, and his wife Violette.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Santa Monica is one of the largest in Southern California. Shawn Fatemi along with former Santa Monica Bahá'í Tim Conley, worked tirelessly throughout the year as members of the committee organizing the event.

Prayer Meeting Held for the Friends Imprisoned in Iran
On Sunday, February 7 the Santa Monica Bahá'í Community hosted a public prayer meeting in the Santa Monica Bahá'í Center to pray for the coordinating committee of Bahá'ís in Iran who had been imprisoned. The “Santa Monica Daily News” sent a reporter and photographer to report on the event. The article they wrote is attached to the end of this report.

2010 - 2011

During the past year the Spiritual Assembly strived to achieve a closer collaboration with our Core Team, including our Area Teaching Committee. Reflecting on the unity of the administration, teaching, and the Fund, a series of presentations were made at our collective Feasts, focusing on our individual and collective response to achieving the goals of the Five- Year Plan paralleled with our contributions goals. These presentations and efforts were followed with a series of communications with our Neighborhood Feast Officers and selected members of the Core Team.

Two follow-up events in the form of a mini re#ection gathering were held at our Baha’i Center. Santa Monica Neighborhood Feast Officers, selected members of the Core Team, members of our Spiritual Assembly and its Fund Raising Committee participated in these discussions. Dr. William Roberts, our National Treasurer, and Ms. Marsha Gilpatrick, a member of the Regional Council of the Baha’is of the Southwestern States, also attended the second gathering.

Consultations in these mini reflection gatherings centered on topics such as “improving the vitality of our Baha’i Community in Santa Monica”, “raising the level of individual and collective action in our Community by inviting every individual to participate in winning the goals in accordance with his/hers interests, talent, and strengths”, “increasing the participation by members of our Baha’i Community in the Cluster wide Core activities as well as making contributions to the Baha’i Funds” – all in support of winning the Goals of the Five-Year Plan

2011 - 2012

During the past year the Spiritual Assembly has focused on three overarching activities. The first area of focus has been on ensuring that all children and junior youth in our community are given the opportunity to attend regular children’s classes. Recognizing that the human resources available to the Core Team are stretched thin over the entire cluster, the Assembly appointed a Core Team Support Task Force. The goals of this task force are sufficiently important that we note here the mandate given to its members:

As your first task, it is our desire that the parent(s) of every child and junior youth within the Santa Monica Bahá'í Community know where they can take their children or junior youth for regular neighborhood children's classes or junior youth activities. In order to move the community in the direction of increased neighborhood activities, we ask that you assist the Core Team in insuring that there are at least two locations for children's classes and two locations for junior youth activities within the city of Santa Monica. We do not intend that you take it upon yourselves to teach or hold these classes/activities, but assistance to the Core Team may mean calling upon and encouraging the friends in Santa Monica who are the parents of children or junior youth to host such activities in their homes. Working with the Core Team may also include calling upon qualified teachers or junior youth animators within Santa Monica to arise to serve.

The second major goal of the Spiritual Assembly this past year has been on enriching the life of the community in order to strengthen and prepare it for the growth that will inevitably come to pass. Three decisions by the Spiritual Assembly were made to further this goal. First, the number of collective feasts was increased. Whereas in the past the pace of feasts was two neighborhood feasts followed by a collective feast, beginning with the August 19th feast, the community now alternates neighborhood and collective feasts. It is important to recognize that this is necessarily a temporary state. The future growth of the Santa Monica Bahá'í Community itself will necessitate the holding of feasts in neighborhoods and it is important for the community to be prepared for this eventuality. Thus the increase in collective feasts is intended to strengthen the community in preparation for a return to more neighborhood feasts at some point in the future. Second, the Spiritual Assembly has encouraged the holding of potluck breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in the Santa Monica Bahá'í Center to give the friends additional opportunities for the friends to socialize. Finally, at several Holy Day events refreshments are served prior to the program to encourage the friends to attend these events and to provide additional opportunities for socializing.

Finally, the Spiritual Assembly recognizes the growing needs of the national Bahá'í community for material support. Toward that end, two ambitious goals were set to raise funds for the National Bahá'í Fund. The first of these was to raise $175,000 in direct donations from the friends to the National Bahá'í Fund. This goal was exceeded by over $14,000. The second goal was to raise sufficient local funds so that in addition to providing support to other senior funds, such as the Continental Bahá'í Fund, and to local activities, a contribution of $45,000 could be made from the local fund to the National Bahá'í Fund. These two goals serve to ensure that individuals in our community have a personal connection to the National Bahá'í Fund and to ensure that the institutions of the Local Spiritual Assembly and the National Spiritual Assembly are also connected through this means.

2012 - 2013

The vision of the Baha'i world expressed by the Universal House of Justice in its Ridvan 2012 message led the Santa Monica Spiritual Assembly to consider how to ensure that the Santa Monica community itself is representative of this vision. Looking back over the past year we see that our community focused on enhancing the capacities of the Baha'i’s living in Santa Monica as well as of our fellow citizens. We engaged in inward-looking strengthbuilding activities like collective and neighborhood feasts, vibrant and re-energized Holy Day celebrations, youth and young adult deepenings and firesides, children’s and junior youth classes, and special meetings with inspiring speakers like Mr. Ali Nakhjavani, Dr. Vahid Rafati, and Dr. Payam Akhavan. But we also looked outwardly to engage our fellow Santa Monica community members who come from other faiths or from no faith at all. These outward-looking activities included honoring longtime Santa Monica resident Nat Trives with our Global Justice Award, participating in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition activities, and sponsoring 9 Sunday Gatherings, several in collaboration with the Santa Monica Human Relations Council. Furthermore, to participate in and support the world outside of Santa Monica our community hosted the Unit Convention, several Cluster Reflection Gatherings, and two fundraisers for the National Baha'i Fund.

2013 - 2014

“The Baha'i community's increasing engagement with the life of society, which is enabling it to offer a fresh perspective to formal and informal conversations of all kinds, carries distinct echoes of Abdu'l- Bahá's deep concern for the needs of the age.” (From letter dated 12/3/2013 from the Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is of the world, on the 100th anniversary of the Master’s return to the Holy Land after His “epoch-making journeys” to Egypt and the West).

The Santa Monica Baha’i Community’s Annual Report of 2012-13 highlighted the Spiritual Assembly’s efforts to look increasingly outward as it invited the Santa Monica community at large to engage in activities of mutual concern held principally in the Santa Monica Baha’i Center.  This trend has continued, as the Baha’i community hosts gatherings in which like minds take part in dialogues and activities towards the well-being of various sectors of Santa Monica’s diverse population of adults, youth and children.  Monthly gatherings with prominent speakers and outstanding musicians, in both English and Persian, have been well-publicized in both our city and our public schools, through radio and in print.  Of particular note was Dr. John Woodall’s collaboration with the city of Santa Monica in October, 2013 on the theme of “resilience-building” and Judge Dorothy Nelson’s participation in February, at a meeting attended by 180 individuals, a full third of whom were friends and acquaintances of Baha’is.  Monthly and bi-weekly classes of scholarly import are attended by individuals from as far away as Riverside, and updated use of technology has made the content of both Sunday gatherings and smaller meetings available through the Internet, impacting listeners and viewers on a national as well as local scale.  The Regional Youth Conference in September 2013 sparked youth to increase activities that reach and include their peers from all walks of life, especially in regards to service to and by junior youth ages 10-15.

Contact with city organizations such as the Human Resources Commission, our fire department, the SMPD, and our SMMUSD school board has increased, with members of these organizations acting as facilitators in events sponsored by our community at our Baha’i Center.  Baha’i representatives continue to be a strong presence in the MLK Jr. annual commemoration in January.

Our community supports the Regional Baha’i Council’s 2014-15 youth year of service and will sponsor a youth in a needed California area for one entire year, further evidence out outreach efforts that not only affect our own community, but our region, as well.

 

The basis of all outreach, of course, is the extent to which our own personal lives mirror the Teachings of our Faith, and, to this end, our community continues in its own individual and collaborative efforts of spiritualization through prayer, celebration of the 19-Day Feast both collectively and in neighborhoods, observation of all Holy Days, and through Ruhi study circles, children’s classes, and sharing and deepening on the Writings of Baha’u’llah.

2014 - 2015

“The Baha'i community's increasing engagement with the life of society, which is enabling it to offer a fresh perspective to formal and informal conversations of all kinds, carries distinct echoes of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's deep concern for the needs of the age.” (From letter dated 12/3/2013 from the Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is of the world, on the 100th anniversary of the Master’s return to the Holy Land after His “epoch-making journeys” to Egypt and the West).

The Santa Monica Baha’i Community’s Annual Report of 2013-14 highlighted the Spiritual Assembly’s continued efforts to look increasingly outward as it invited the Santa Monica community at large to engage in activities of mutual concern held principally in the Santa Monica Baha’i Center. This trend has continued, as the Baha’i community hosts gatherings in which like minds take part in dialogues and activities towards the well-being of various sectors of Santa Monica’s diverse population of adults, youth and children. Regular gatherings with prominent speakers (in both English and Persian) and performances by outstanding musicians have been well publicized with an increased focus on using social media, such as Facebook.

Contact with city organizations such as the Human Relations Council, the Santa Monica Police and Fire Departments, and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District School Board has continued, with members of these organizations acting as facilitators in events sponsored by our community at our Baha’i Center. Baha’i representatives continue to be a strong presence in the Martin Luther King Jr. annual commemoration in January.

Among events held at the Santa Monica Baha'i Center this year, of particular note were Sunday Gatherings focused on models of community building, the role of women in community building, environmental sustainability, peace in the Middle East, and life’s purpose and global security. Other notable events held at the Santa Monica Baha'i Center included a series of bimonthly talks titled “Text and Context in the Baha'i Heroic Age,” and monthly talks on the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah and their application to the individual, the community, and society at large.

A special event, called “Remembrance,” was held to provide community members with the opportunity to call to mind and pray for loved ones who had passed away. In addition to prayers, the content of the program included photographs of the departed provided by community members.

To support the “Education is not a crime” initiative, the Spiritual Assembly subsidized the cost of tickets to the event in Los Angeles and provided a bus for transportation.

The basis of all outreach, of course, is the extent to which our own personal lives mirror the Teachings of our Faith, and, to this end, our community continues in its own individual and collaborative efforts of spiritualization through prayer, celebration of the 19-Day Feast both collectively and in neighborhoods, observation of all Holy Days, and through Ruhi study circles, children’s classes, and sharing and deepening on the Writings of Baha’u’llah.

 
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