Cincinnati Baha’is continue run of opportunities for interfaith discourse
Relationships forged with fellow faith communities are continuing to give Baha’is in Cincinnati, Ohio, a seat at the table when issues of interest are discussed.
Just in the past few months, three such opportunities have arisen:
- Members of WINCS (Women in the Northern Cincinnati Suburbs) toured the Cincinnati Baha’i Center and asked questions about the Faith and its teachings. The visit lasted four hours.
- The Baha’is helped plan a Festival of Faiths in June and sponsored a booth (see “Cincinnati Baha’is gain visibility, collaborators through festival participation”).
More recently, a Baha’i was included in a WINCS-sponsored panel discussion Oct. 8 at the Islamic Center of Cincinnati on how the Abrahamic religions view the Virgin Mary.
“Last spring at a meeting of the Festival of Faiths steering committee, I overheard a conversation” about the upcoming panel, recalls Deborah Vance, who serves as secretary of the local Baha’i governing council, the Local Spiritual Assembly. “I popped over and explained how the Baha’i Faith is also an Abrahamic religion. They quickly invited me to participate.”
As a result, Vance shared the dais at the public-invited program with Lutheran and Catholic ministers, the Rev. Matt Byrd and Father Kip Stander; a Jewish rabbi, Jennifer Lewis; and an Islamic imam, Hossam Musa. After the presentations, participants were invited for a tour of the mosque.
Vance began her talk by tracing how the Bab, forerunner of the Baha’i Faith, was descended from Abraham through Hagar and through the Prophet Muhammad. Next she outlined how Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha’i Faith, was a descendant of Abraham through His wives Keturah and Sarah. (For more about the Baha’i Faith’s connection to Abraham see the book Abraham: One God, Three Wives, Five Religions.)
Vance went on to explain that the Writings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah uphold and extol the teachings of God’s divine Messengers. Baha’u’llah said those teachings over the ages comprise God’s one unfolding religion.
And she noted that Baha’u’llah wrote of the divine Sonship of Jesus and the mystery of the immaculacy of the Virgin Mary. Baha’i teachings also quote from the Qur’an about Mary’s tribulations, in explaining how God tests humanity to distinguish the sincere from the insincere.
Vance was concise, perhaps mindful of the dictum “Blessed are the brief, for they will be invited again.” Though with their recent track record, Cincinnati Baha’is are on their way in any event to taking a meaningful part in the discourses of society.