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Baha'i one of newest religions at just over 160

NAME AND ADDRESS: The Wilmington Baha'i Center, 15 N. Eighth St., in the Sadgwar House

NAME OF HEAD PASTOR OR PRIEST: There is no clergy in the Baha'i faith because no individual can have spiritual authority over others. Every Baha'i adult is a teacher to the community. There are nine members for the city and nine for the county who are the administrative guidance for the Baha'is of Wilmington and New Hanover County.

TIMES OF SERVICES: 10:30 a.m. Sundays informal devotions of prayer and song, 11 a.m.-noon Sundays children's worship classes and Adult Deepening, a time to discuss sacred writings of the Baha'i founder, Baha 'u' llah.

MEMBERSHIP: 35-40 people in Wilmington and New Hanover County Baha'i community.

BASIC BELIEFS: One of newest religions in the world, Baha'i is about 160 years old. Baha 'u' llah, a Persian missionary who was exiled from Iran for his beliefs, wrote more than 100 religious volumes that are the basis for the Baha'i religion. Baha 'u' llah (meaning the Glory of God in Persian) was to fulfill the prophesies and be the Promised One of all religions. Baha'i emphasizes only one God, the unity of all religions, the oneness and equality of humanity and the harmony of science and religion. Baha'i tenets include the abolition of all forms of prejudice, independent investigation of truth and no alcoholic drinking or non-medicinal drug use. Women and men are equal, children must be educated, and members must avoid backbiting and gossip, obey the government and avoid participation in partisan politics. The Baha'i follow all the messengers of God leading up to Baha 'u' llah's arrival including Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and the Bab (the Gate in Persian).

UPCOMING EVENTS: "Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Baha'is, but Didn't Know Which Video to Watch,"4 p.m. Saturday and at 4 p.m. on every first and third Saturday for videos educating about the Baha'i religion.

DETAILS: 762-7074, the Wilmington Baha'i Center web site:

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington Baha'i Club Web site:

National Baha'i web site: or (800) 228-6483.

"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens" heralds the focus of the Baha'i faith and the philosophy that they believe was intended by all messengers of God, no matter what religion they professed. The Wilmington Baha'i Center is one of over 13,000 local spiritual assemblies worldwide of the Baha'i. There are more than 180 national spiritual assemblies and over 6 million Baha'i worshippers in the world.

The center operates without an overseeing pastor or priest because "we believe you need to read and investigate truth for yourself," said Alicia Alexander, resident manager of the Sadgwar House.

Though the Baha'i follow the teachings of Baha 'u' llah, they also teach the sacred writings of all other religions such as The Bible or The Koran.

One of the functions of being a Baha'i adult is being able to vote for which members of the local assembly can go to the National Convention to elect representatives to the National Spiritual Assembly near Chicago. Those members then elect the nine members of the Universal House of Justice in Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Members can lose their votes if they are caught breaking rules of the religion.

The number nine is used frequently throughout the Baha'i texts - a nine-pointed star as its symbol, each level of Baha'i administration has nine members, or the 19-month Baha'i calendar with 19 days in each month. Nine is a holy number that represents the nine messengers of God, of which Baha 'u' llah was last.

Amanda Greene 343-2365 or

©Copyright 2001, Morning Star (Wilmington)

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