Baha’i Community of Helena

This profile was last updated in 2006

History

In 1937 Shoghi Effendi, attempting to finish the task started by Abdu’l Baha – to spread the Baha’i faith around the world, declared that each capitol city in the United States was to have an Assembly. This initial act as Guardian of the Faith was done in an effort to “bind” the Baha’is together. Although there had been individual Baha’is in the Helena area prior to 1937, an assembly did not form untill 1938, which was largely due to the decree given by Shoghi Effendi.

Description

Although the Baha’i Faith in Helena has a local council comprised of nine members, there is no independent public center. Rather, the Baha’is in the Helena area meet in private homes for their activities.

Demographics

255 individual Baha’is live in Montana, with
18 adult members residing in Helena.
25 active participants live in the Helena area.
Assemblies are located in Helena, Butte, Missoula, Kalispell, Billings, Mission County, and Ravali County.

Activities and Schedule

Firesides:
Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.

Devotional Meetings:
Sundays at 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Childrens Classes:
Sunday Mornings 10:30-11:30 a.m. No classes are held through the summer. Children participate and are active in the feasts and holy days as well.

Study Circle:
Usually an average of eight people gather to read and study the Baha’i writings. The readings include “workbooks” distributed by the Regional Training Institute.

19 Day Feast:
Every nineteen days a feast that is exclusive to Baha’is is held. It is half devotional and half administrative. An average of 15 people attend.

Montana Baha’i School:
https://johnhwilcottbahaischool.org Baha’is from around Montana gather at a camp south of Livingston for a week for fellowship and learning. Both adults and children attend classes and listen to guest speakers. It is an opportunity to practice the ideals of the Baha’i Faith such as equality, unity in diversity, etc. in a safe, compassionate, environment. Unique to the Montana School is a “village” activity. Groups are formed to be as diverse as possible forming a “village.” Throughout the week the villages work together on projects. The process of close interaction among diverse people within the groups creates a unique “village culture.” This culture is presented at the end of the week as a skit.

Affiliations

Nine people of the Baha’is in Helena comprise the Local Assembly.

The Western Regional Council is formed by the local councils in the states west of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado

The Electoral Unit Region is comprised of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. One delegate is elected from this region go to Illinois to elect the National Council. (Jill Moritz was the delegate from the electoral unit region this past year.)

Interfaith Work

The Helena Baha’is are represented in the Helena Interfaith Circle. They are formally a part of the Interfaith Circle with at least one or two representatives at each meeting. Rev. Dave Anderson, a Minister at St. Paul Methodist Church started the Interfaith Circle soon after September 11, 2001. Representatives from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Jewish, and Hindu communities, along with most of the Protestant Christian Churches gather quarterly for meetings. Children are given a considerable amount of attention by the Interfaith Circle. They are in high attendance, and are encouraged to participate.

There is hope that someday the Interfaith Circle will become the basis for a Northwest Regional Interfaith Confrence. Currently the Circle presents a large sense of safety, honesty, and cultural exchange for the religious communities. This atmosphere sharply contrasts with the string of malicious incidents in May of 2002 directed at the East Indian community of Helena. On one such incident occuring on the 27th of May, paint was scratched on the victim’s vehicle and fecal matter was rubbed on the door handles. Upon the arrest of the suspected individual, he commented that the owner of the vehicle was a Hindu.