For some people, matters of faith are deeply personal and require study, contemplation and prayer, which can be solitary pursuits. Ken and Jerri Moore, though, learned about the Baha’i Faith together, and believe that their discovery brought them closer and strengthened their marriage.
The Moores had been married for only three years when they learned about the Faith. They each had the desire to build a relationship based on their shared Christian beliefs. “We talked about God. We talked about our spirituality. We talked about everything. We were wonderful friends before we got married,” says Jerri.
She and Ken were both from big families. Jerri’s deceased father had been a Baptist minister who had emphasized that she needed to do some work in the church–work for God–like being an usher or singing in the church choir. She wasn’t interested in any of that. She always felt that God had some other work for her to do.
Ken owned a construction and home rehab business. He was the first of the two to hear about the Baha’i Faith from one of his employees, named Tony. “I picked Tony up at his home each morning and during our commute he would read Baha’i books. One morning he read a short passage aloud to me, and I remember thinking, ‘What are these powerful words?’ They really got into my soul. I understood right away that they were of God.”
That same day Ken and Tony visited the Baha’i House of Worship in the nearby suburb of Wilmette. “I loved everything I saw there–the quotes on the wall, the people I met, the teachings of unity. It all felt right to me. It felt of God. I was ready to become a Baha’i right then and there, but I had to wait for Jerri. We always did things together.”
Jerri was not so fast to come on board. That evening Ken showed her a picture post card of the House of Worship and a prayer book from his visit. “I didn’t understand what he was getting so excited about,” Jerri says. “I flipped through the prayer book, and when I didn’t see Jesus in there, I wasn’t interested.”
“But suddenly I found Ken studying late at night, at the dining room table with various Baha’i books and the Bible, which was very unusual. He was also on the phone late at night talking with Tony. At that point I thought Tony was a bad influence, and Ken was nuts. I was ready to tell Ken that he had to fire this guy. But Ken didn’t argue. He just listened and kept on studying. And that got my attention. What was so important in what he was reading? Something was going on that I needed to find out about.”
Ken says it didn’t bother him that Jerri thought he was crazy. “In my heart I knew she’d come along. I knew that this was right. We’d both been searching. We’d visited many, many churches looking for something that felt right. And this was right.” Ken marked passages in their Bible with sticky notes and asked Jerri to read them.
At one point she became angry. “I felt he was pushing me. On the inside, in my heart, I wanted to know, but I didn’t want it to be forced. I prayed that Jesus, who I loved, would show me who Baha’u’llah is.”
“I studied for hours and hours, the Baha’i writings and Bible together. And then one morning–I was someplace in Revelations–it started to make sense to me. It was like the first time my eyes and heart were opened. I called Ken on the phone at work right away. “Do you know that this is a whole new revelation? Do you know? DO YOU KNOW???!!!’”
“Yeah, I know. I was waiting for you.”
A few days later, for the second time in two weeks, Ken visited the Baha’i House of Worship, this time with Jerri at his side. Jerri says that what she learned and experienced during that visit was a confirmation and answer to her prayer to be able to see, know and understand.
The two signed Baha’i declaration cards that day and soon thereafter started attending Baha’i gatherings, partly to meet other Baha’is, and partly to learn all they could about their new Faith. “We were interested in other people’s stories and wanted to get a feel of the Baha’i world by meeting these various people.”
Jerri says that around this time she realized she had some personal work to do to rid herself of prejudices she had acquired from some of her experiences as a Black person in the American south. “I had been asked to use the back door, to drink from a separate fountain and I was passed over for promotions at work.”
In the Hidden Words Baha’u’llah teaches, Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. “I had to become detached from the world as I thought I knew it. I prayed for Baha’u’llah to help me and clear my heart of these things. And then, here were Baha’is of all kinds coming to embrace me. It was wonderful.”
The couple started hosting gatherings at their own home, and they traveled to give home visits about the Faith. Jerri says that these activities fill a void in her soul that she had felt ever since she was a little girl and her minister father tried to enlist her to work for God. “Being active in the Baha’i Faith is this work.”
“Most of all what we wanted was to be servants”, explains Ken. Together they are. Ken and Jerri Moore are partners in service.