This profile was last updated in 2006
Hurricane Katrina Update
Most of the members of the Baha’i community in New Orleans were displaced after Hurricane Katrina. By December 2005, a core group of members had returned and were able to meet for devotional gatherings and other small community functions. Some Baha’i are in the midst of rebuilding their homes while others have yet to decide if they will be able to return to New Orleans.
The Bahá’í presence in New Orleans extends back to the early 1940’s when about a dozen converts formed a Spiritual Assembly according to Bahá’í administrative guidelines. This first group included Walter and Olivia Blackwell, David and Margrit Ruhe, and Louella McCullaugh. Since that time Bahá’ís have maintained a Spiritual Assembly which requires at least nine members. The group’s first center was established somewhere in the Uptown part of the city in the 1950’s or early 1960’s. The center moved to in an office building on Commercial Place in a section of buildings torn down in 1972 to make room for the Intercontinental Hotel. From the early ’70s until 1995 the Bahá’ís had their center in an office building at 333 St. Charles Ave. They then moved to a suite at 1001 Howard Ave. Since 2001 the Bahá’í community has been without a center, holding meetings in the homes of fellow member. Other Spiritual Assemblies have been formed in the Greater New Orleans area in Metairie, Slidell and LaPlace.
Activities and Schedule
The Bahá’í worship services include a prayer service (12:30p.m. Sunday), a “Fireside” gathering of Baha’is for an informal discussion about the faith and current issues (7:30 p.m. Friday), and the Nineteen Day feasts. The New Year (March 21st) is celebrated in a dinner gathering usually at a local restaurant. This year a banquet room was reserved at a Chinese restaurant.
Most members in New Orleans are first-generation Bahá’ís with the majority being in their 50’s. Bahá’í assemblies often have a broad, international membership. Although the New Orleans Spiritual Assembly has a number of U.S. immigrants most members have been born in North America.