North Gwinnett receives needed approvals for Baha'i Center
On the heels of a successful request for a special-use permit submitted to the Gwinnett County Planning Commission a week earlier, the Baha'i community in Gwinnett celebrated another success at the end of the public hearing when SUP-02-044 was reviewed and unanimously approved with conditions by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on 28 May.
Historically, Baha'is in Gwinnett met in members' homes weekly for Sunday school and every nineteen days to celebrate their spiritual feast. Although many homes in the county are considered spacious, it was challenging to comfortably fit a group of 40 into the average living room. With the north Gwinnett community's roles exceeding 150, it was rare when the group could arrange for a location big enough to accommodate everyone.
"Gwinnett County has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, and its well known that its demographic make up is becoming increasingly diverse," said Al Viller of Duluth. "With the central theme of the Baha'i Faith being the unity of humanity and tenets like universal education and equality of women and men, the faith is poised for considerable growth in the coming decade."
Coincidentally, the Gwinnett County Planning Commission hearing and the Board of Commissioners' hearing were both held on the eves of Baha'i holy days. The Planning Commission meeting occurred the day before Baha'is celebrate the declaration of the Bab, who was the prophet-herald of the Baha'i Faith. In 1844 the Bab, which means "gate" in Persian, declared his mission, which was primarily to alert people to the coming of "The One Whom God Will Make Manifest." In 1863, a Babi named Baha'u'llah, which means the "Glory of God," announced that He was the promised new Messenger of God for this age. He founded a new religion, which was to become known as the Baha'i Faith. Members of the Baha'i Faith are followers of Baha'u'llah and his teachings. The Gwinnett County Commissions' approval was received on the evening before the Baha'is observe the anniversary of the death of Baha'u'llah.
"The Baha'is in North Gwinnett have been working to have a place of worship to call their own for over ten years," explained Andrea Perkins of Duluth and spokesperson for the Baha'i community at both public meetings. "I could feel the community's prayerful support as I approached the Planning Commission to present our request."
"The Baha'i community has been very motivated," explained Wayne Jones of Lawrenceville and Baha'i community treasurer. "Since Baha'is cannot accept funds from external sources, it's remarkable that a relatively small community raised sufficient funds to buy and completely pay for the property in a little over two years."
Once the required modifications are completed, the Baha'is plan to occupy the 3,000-square-foot home until they can finish their planned 9,000-square-foot multipurpose building across from the Little Mill Farms subdivision.
Once complete, the center in Gwinnett will be the third Baha'i facility in metro Atlanta, following the Atlanta Baha'i Center and the Baha'i Unity Center near Decatur. Adding to the rapid growth, the Baha'is in northeast Fulton County have recently purchased property for their community's use.
Baha'is number about 5 million worldwide. They believe that the core values of all faiths emanate from one God, making each one a strand of the same religion. They revere Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad as divine messengers of a single God.
The Baha'is of north Gwinnett come together and celebrate their diversity from a variety of religious backgrounds and are representative of a number of ethnic backgrounds, including white, African-American, Hispanic, as well as Brazilian, Egyptian, Iranian and Turkish.
Editor’s Note: Photo available upon request. References to the Baha'i Faith should appear in printed publication with both the words Baha'i and Faith beginning with initial capital letters (i.e., the Baha'i Faith). For more information about the r’s Note: Photo available upon request. References to the Baha'i Faith should appear in printed publication with both the words Baha'i and Faith beginning with initial capital letters (i.e., the Baha'i Faith). For more information about the Baha’i Faith, visit www.atlantabahai.org and click on NEWS CENTER.
One of the central tenets of the Baha'i Faith is fostering the unity of humanity and working to eliminate prejudice of all kinds. The Baha'i religion, with over 5 million believers worldwide, has a membership of approximately 133,000 in the United States and approximately 2000 in Metro Atlanta. Baha’i writings and literature have been translated into more than 800 languages. Followers of Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, come from diverse backgrounds and include representatives of over 2,100 tribes and minorities.
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