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Baha'i leader here at Israel celebration

Saturday, May 26, 2001

By Betty Brenner

Davison Twp. - The co-director of the best-kept secret in Genesee County is among those celebrating the inauguration of the Baha'i garden terraces at the Baha'i World Center in Haifa, Israel.

Barbara Johnson is one of 19 Baha'is chosen to represent the United States at the international celebration. Johnson is co-director of the Louhelen Baha'i School.

In 1995 Johnson represented two international bodies and helped lead a workshop in China at the forum of nongovernmental organizations that preceded the world conference on the status of women.

She and her husband, Rick, have led the Baha'i school, one of five in the United States, since 1991. The school is at 3208 S. State Road. She holds a doctorate in education from Union Institute in Cincinnati.

Although the school will celebrate its 70th anniversary the first nine days of August, it remains a well-kept secret in the Flint area.

It is home to the National Teacher Training Center, which trains teachers, race unity workers, gender equality workers and others specializing in assisting youth, married couples and parents.

It is also a frequent site of meetings for Flint-area service organizations, companies, universities, church groups and schools. It hosts nearly 20,000 visitors a year, including several thousand from the Flint area.

Lewis and Helen Eggleston began the school on their farm in 1931. First sessions were held in former barns and the farmhouse. In 1948 the school was taken over by the National Spiritual Assembly and 12 acres was given to the assembly. Another 44 acres was given in the 1970s.

The school closed in 1974 because of safety reasons but reopened a in 1982 after a $2.25-million construction project that included renovation of four buildings and construction of a classroom building, lodgings for visitors and employees, and a central building with library, dining room, kitchen, lounge, bookstore, coffee shop and offices.

Unity Hall, a half-million-dollar assembly hall, is expected to be completed in July.

Betty Brenner is The Journal's religion editor. She can be reached at (810) 766-6332 or by e-mail at

©Copyright 2001, The Flint Journal

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