Relocated Baha’is bring new energy to Wyoming communities
Lucille Norwood welcomes the spiritual stimulation of “elevated conversations” since regular devotional gatherings were started some months ago in Laramie, Wyoming.
Nurieh Glasgow is looking forward to Casper, Wyoming, having enough adult Baha’is to elect a Spiritual Assembly, or local Baha’i governing council, in April for the first time since 2016.
Both developments were sparked in the past year when couples moved to those areas as homefront pioneers — Baha’is who relocate to foster activities that build community.
Katrina and Berney Bradley moved to the Laramie area from Parker, Colorado, in mid-2019. DeDe and Mike Moum made Casper their home six months later, venturing west from Des Moines, Iowa.
Laramie: Activity warms up
When the Bradleys settled just outside Laramie in Albany County, local Baha’is were regularly holding Feast, where every 19 days Baha’is meet for worship, consultation and fellowship.
But other activities, including a children’s class, had waxed and waned over the years.
Norwood says the Bradleys have “brought a much appreciated spark” to the area.
“One of the things I appreciate most about the Bradley family being here is having an event that happens on a regular basis to invite people to,” she says.
The Bradleys have begun a children’s class, taught by their son Alexander, 15, that meets at the same time as a devotional they call Dinner and Discussion.
The gatherings begin with a potluck dinner. Then the children have their class, and “the adults have elevated discussion based on writings from many faiths on the topic of the week,” says Katrina Bradley.
Many more Laramie residents have begun participating since attending a celebration in October 2019 of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab, herald of the Baha’i Faith.
And as a result of the devotions, a study circle has started as well.
“The best part about these activities is the religious diversity of the people who come and how our friendships with them have deepened as we discover how much we have in common,” says Bradley.
“The latest development is that we were contacted by the Wyoming Interfaith Network recently. We met with their director … and are excited to see where this new opportunity takes us.”
Casper: ‘This is special’
In Casper, the Moums’ arrival has meant “a bigger community, which makes more activities possible and more special events,” says Nurieh Glasgow.
“We will also most likely have an Assembly come spring,” she says. “This is special to many members of our community.” Localities can elect an Assembly when at least nine adult Baha’is reside there.
That promises to aid a process of consultation and action that mirrors what Laramie Baha’is began six months earlier with the Bradleys. Casper Baha’is are looking to use the Moums’ skills and experience effectively to further community-building efforts.
That spirit is what attracted the Baha’i couple to Casper. “We spent a fair amount of time talking with Suzanne — our oldest daughter, who lives here in Casper — about the Casper Baha’is and the community in general,” says Mike Moum.
“She told us that she thought there was a core group who were ready to get moving again, and that they could use a focus to help them get started” in building their capacity to offer Baha’i-initiated core activities of community building.
“She thought that DeDe and I could provide that, so that was a factor in our decision. We were happy to find that she was right.”
In addition to monthly Feasts, one of which was hosted by Glasgow’s 9-year-old daughter, Anusheh, Casper Baha’is and friends also are enjoying a study circle the Moums facilitate — at first in their home and online once the coronavirus pandemic struck.
As a bonus, the community’s newest Baha’i, Elin Wilson, and her husband, Chris, are taking part in the study circle, and their two young sons have participated in community celebrations.
“The virus outbreak has, of course, put a damper on meeting in person,” says Moum, “but we have a community devotional online every weekday evening at 7 and are staying in touch by email, text, phone and Facebook.”