The Baha'i Writings
The Baha'i Faith

The history of the Baha'i Community of Irvine goes back to the early days of the formation of the city in the 70's. Since then, the community has grown to over 300 adults, youth and children. 

The Baha'i Faith was first mentioned in the United States in 1893 by a Presbyterian missionary at the World's Parliament of Religions held during the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The following year, Thornton Chase, a Chicago insurance manager, became the first American Baha'i. By the end of 1894 four other Americans had also become Baha’is. The Baha'i Faith spread quickly and groups formed in cities across the country. In 1909 the first National Convention was held and 39 delegates from 36 cities attended.

In the 1920’s, Baha'i communities representing more than 60 localities increased their activities in several areas. Most notable were Baha'i efforts in the struggle for racial harmony in the United States. Racial amity conferences were hosted in several major cities throughout the country with the cooperative participation of the NAACP, the National Urban League, U.S. congressmen, and college presidents. In 1927, the National Spiritual Assembly framed its constitution, which has served as a model for the formation of more than 160 National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world.

By 1930, eighteen books of Baha’i scriptures were available in English. Scores of other compilations, expository works, and pamphlets were published. By the mid-1930’s, Baha’is resided in more than 200 localities. In 1944, the centennial year of the Baha’i Faith, every state in the nation had at least one local Baha’i administrative body. By 1963, Baha’is resided in more than 1,700 localities, and by 1968, in more than 3,300. Currently more than 160,000 Baha’is reside in over 7,000 localities throughout the United States, including over 100 Indian reservations.

The Baha'i Faith has no clergy, and its affairs are administered by a network of elected lay councils at the international, national and local levels. The elected governing body of the U.S. Baha'i community is the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, a nine-member council with headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, near the Baha'i House of Worship in neighboring Wilmette. There are approximately 1,100 elected local spiritual assemblies in the United States. Baha'i elections are held in a prayerful atmosphere by secret ballot and plurality vote. Nominations, candidacies and electioneering are not permitted in the Baha'i electoral process.

The National Spiritual Assembly oversees the administrative affairs of the Baha'is of the United States and provides guidance for their spiritual and moral development. The Assembly oversees a publishing trust and several periodicals, including The American Baha’i newspaper; Brilliant Star, a magazine for children; and World Order, a quarterly journal of opinion and ideas. The Assembly also operates retreat and conference centers in California, Michigan, Maine and South Carolina.

The Baha'i House of Worship for the North American Continent

The Baha’i House of Worship for the North American Continent is located in Wilmette, Illinois, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Build over a period of 40 years, the temple was dedicated for public worship in 1953 as the first of eight continental Baha'i Houses of Worship. The other seven Houses of Worship are in Panama, Germany, Uganda, Australia, Western Samoa, India and Chile (currently under construction). The nine-sided domed temple, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, reflects the Baha'i belief in the unity of religions. The House of Worship is a place for personal prayer and meditation and is open to the public. Daily devotional services consist of the recitation of scriptures from the Baha'i Faith and the other divinely revealed religions.

As a worldwide community, with individuals from more than 2,100 ethnic and tribal groups who reside in more than 230 countries and territories, the Bahá'í Faith is certainly among the most diverse bodies of people on earth.






Bahá'í International Community
 The Bahá'í Community of Irvine, California