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The Baha’i Fast

February 26, 2015

Prayer for the Fast

Praise be to Thee, O Lord my God! I beseech Thee by this Revelation whereby darkness hath been turned into light, through which the Frequented Fane hath been built, and the Written Tablet revealed, and the Outspread Roll uncovered, to send down upon me and upon them who are in my company that which will enable us to soar into the heavens of Thy transcendent glory, and will wash us from the stain of such doubts as have hindered the suspicious from entering into the tabernacle of Thy unity.

I am the one, O my Lord, who hath held fast the cord of Thy loving-kindness, and clung to the hem of Thy mercy and favors. Do Thou ordain for me and for my loved ones the good of this world and of the world to come. Supply them, then, with the Hidden Gift Thou didst ordain for the choicest among Thy creatures.

These are, O my Lord, the days in which Thou hast bidden Thy servants to observe the fast. Blessed is he that observeth the fast wholly for Thy sake and with absolute detachment from all things except Thee. Assist me and assist them, O my Lord, to obey Thee and to keep Thy precepts. Thou, verily, hast power to do what Thou choosest.

There is no God but Thee, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. All praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds. Baha’u’llah

– VII –Bahá’í Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991 edition Pages: 268

This is, O my God, the first of the days on which Thou hast bidden Thy loved ones to observe the Fast. I ask of Thee by Thy Self and by him who hath fasted out of love for Thee and for Thy good-pleasure—and not out of self and desire, nor out of fear of Thy wrath—and by Thy most excellent names and august attributes, to purify Thy servants from the love of aught except Thee and to draw them nigh unto the Dawning-Place of the lights of Thy countenance and the Seat of the throne of Thy oneness. Illumine their hearts, O my God, with the light of Thy knowledge and brighten their faces with the rays of the Daystar that shineth from the horizon of Thy Will. Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. No God is there but Thee, the All-Glorious, Whose help is implored by all men.

Assist them, O my God, to render Thee victorious and to exalt Thy Word. Suffer them, then, to become as hands of Thy Cause amongst Thy servants, and make them to be revealers of Thy religion and Thy signs amongst mankind, in such wise that the whole world may be filled with Thy remembrance and praise and with Thy proofs and evidences. Thou art, verily, the All-Bounteous, the Most Exalted, the Powerful, the Mighty, and the Merciful.

See also

This YouTube video entitled “Baha’i Ayyam-i-Ha Prayer – Intercalary Days – My God, my Fire and my Light!” was uploaded by
ShadenaChi ShadenaChi on 13 Feb 2012.



Alberta Bahá’í History Project: Shareable Resources

February 23, 2015

References, Timeline

This post is a shareable personal research and learning tool to collect resources related to the history of the Baha’is of Alberta. All of the resources below are already available online.

I am using the Wikipedia model of inline edit, inline citation – one entry, at least one reference. (The MA thesis, PhD dissertation, article, book, interview, video, blog with author, title, date, publisher and accessdate, isbn or doi if available, number of pages in document, page number, etc) If you have sentence size entries you feel should be here, please leave a message with as much of the reference data as possible. If you don’t have the reference, feel welcome to add the entry. I will also put this in My G Drive for those who use that and you can edit directly.

This is one of my 2017 – 2019 personal research projects and it is a small part of the ongoing Alberta-wide project on the same topic. We are blessed to live in an age where we can read the archives material from the comfort of our homes, realizing now in the 2000s just how much these early friends from Alberta accomplished.

A chronology of selected events related to the history of the Baha’is of Alberta

  • 1893-09-11 to 1893-09-27 The World Parliament of Religions, the largest of the congresses held in conjunction with the World Columbian Exposition, was the first formal formal inter-religious dialogue worldwide of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. The conference included new religious movements of the time, such as Spiritualism and Christian Science. The latter was represented by its founder Mary Baker Eddy. Rev. Henry Jessup addressing the World Parliament of Religions was the first to mention the Bahá’í Faith in the United States (it had previously been known in Europe. A number of Canadians who attended sessions at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Illinois in 1893 became Bahá’ís (van den Hoonaard ). Since then Bahá’ís have become active participants in the World Parliament of Religions.
  • 23 September 1893 Baha’u’llah’s recent death in Akká was announced to the World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago, in connection with the World’s Columbian Exposition, 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492, Rev. George A. Ford of Syria read a paper written by Rev. Henry H. Jessup, D.D., Director of Presbyterian Missionary Operations in North Syria to the audience. In his paper Reverend Jessup called Baha’u’llah “a famous Persian Sage” and “the Bábí Saint” “the Glory of God” had died recently in Akká. Jessup described how Professor Edward Granville Browne of Cambridge University had visited and interviewed Baha’u’llah in Bahji just outside the fortress of Akka on the Syrian coast in April 1890 and that during those four interviews Baha’u’llah had expressed “sentiments so noble, so Christ-like” that the author of the paper, in his “closing words,” wished to share them with his audience. Jessup described Baha’u’llah’s as head of a group of Persians who “who accept the New Testament as the word of God, and Christ as the deliverer of man; who regard all natives as one, and all men as brothers.” Jessop closed his paper with these words,(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, page 256; (JessupHenry H., Ed. 1894. Neely, F. Tennyson Neely. 1894. “The Religious Mission of the English-Speaking Nations.” Neely’s History of the Parliament of Religions and Religious Congresses of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago. pages 637-641.) “That all nations should become one in faith, and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should, and differences of race, be annulled; what harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the “most great peace” shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this that he loves his kind.”|Baha’ullah
  • 7 October 1897 Esther Rennels was one of several Canadians who became Baha’is in Chicago in the years following presentation on the Baha’i Faith at The Congress of Living Religions,  in Chicago on 23 September 1893. Other Canadians who became Baha’is in Chicago in the same year are Paul K. Dealy, William Henry Jackson (Honoré Joseph Jaxon) 1861-1952, James Oakshette, Aimee Montfort and James Carmichael (van den Hoonaard 2010:306).
  • 1913 “Esther R. Rennels is first recorded Baha’i in Alberta (Edmonton) (van den Hoonaard 2010:306).”  (Pemberton-Pigott 1992:23)
  • 1911-1917 Esther Rennels is the first Alberta Bahá’í. She is reported to have lived in Edmonton from 1911-1917 (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).
  • 1925 The National Spiritual Assemblies (NSA) of the United States of America, Canada and the Philippines were established. The first NSAs in the world were formed in 1923 in the British Isles, Germany and India. The fourth was formed in Egypt in 1924.
  • 1941 Four others joined the Faith in Edmonton in 1942  (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).”
  • 1941 Long-time Alberta resident Mabel Pine moved to Edmonton from Vermilion (van den Hoonaard 2010:217, Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012)
  • 1940 Mary E. Fry moved to Edmonton from Vancouver  (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).
  • 1940 “First Baha’i group in Edmonton, 1942. It was not uncommon to find women among the first believers or “pioneers.” Although there was a Baha’i in Edmonton in 1911, apparently the Baha’i community has been in continuous existence only since 1940(van den Hoonaard 2010:152).” The Vancouver Baha’i Archives has a photo of the First Baha’i group in Edmonton in 1942 with Anne McGee, Lyda Martland, Milwyn Davies, Kay Rimell, Anita Ioas (later Chapman). This photo is Plate 30 in (van den Hoonaard 2010:152).”
  • September 1942 Ina Trimble, a widow, was the first Edmonton resident to become a Bahá’í (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).” Shortly after in the same year, four people from Edmonton became Baha’is (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).
  • 1942 Muriel Warnicker moved to Edmonton from Vancouver and Marcia Atwater moved to Edmonton from the United States  (van den Hoonaard 2010:217). There were only a few isolated Baha’is living in Alberta. (Pemberton-Pigott 1992:8)
  • April 1943 The Edmonton Baha’i Community, composed entirely of women, formed a Spiritual Assembly. It was the ninth LSA in Canada (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).” “Their two goals were to gain male Baha’is, and increase membership from ethnic communities, longing to be “a truly international group”. Towards this end, they organized a Race Unity meeting on November 12, 1943 with Muslims, Jews, Ukrainians and one Chinese in attendance (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).”
  • 12 November 1943 The Edmonton Baha’i community organized a Race Unity meeting with Muslims, Jews, Ukrainians and one Chinese in attendance (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).”
  • 1946 The first male Bahá’í in Edmonton, Roland McGee, arrived with his wife Anne, in 1946 (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).
  • 1940s The Baha’i group in Edmonton made contact with “liberal Christians, Theosophists, and others (Pemberton-Pigott 1988:3) cited in (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).”
  • October 1947 Noel Wuttuneee of Calgary, Alberta, first Native Canadian to enroll as a Baha’i in Canada. (Photo in the Vancouver Baha’i Archives)(van den Hoonaard 2010:153).” ” There is a photo of Noel Wuttunee with his wife(more #792). Melba Loft became a Baha’i on July 18, 1947 while she was living in Michigan. So she was the first Canadian Indian to become a Baha’i. Noel in October 1947 was the first Canadian Indian to become a Baha’i in Canada (Verge, Pat. 5 March 2015.” First Native Canadian Baha’i.” email correspondence Pat Verge in response to Joan Young. )
  • 1948 Arthur Irwin, Seigfried Schopflocher, Gwen Inwood, Milli Rina Gordon, Eddie Elliot, Adline Lohse, Bert Rakovsky, Amine De Mille, Rene Roy were on the LSA of Montreal (van den Hoonaard 2010:153).”
  • 1951 Baha’i Summer Conference in Banff.(more)
  • 1956 Ruth Eyford became a Baha’i (“Obituaries from the Bahá’í World (new series) 1992-2005).
  • 1953 Shoghi Effendi launches the Ten Year Crusade.
  • October 1953 John Robarts (1901 – 1991) and Audrey Robarts, who had become Bahá’ís in 1937 in Toronto, pioneered to Bechuanaland (Botswana). (Bahá’í Community of Canada. “John Robarts.” Baha’i Historical Figures.) “John was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly from 1948–53. In 1953 they became Knights of Bahá’u’lláh when they pioneered to Bechuanaland. In 1957 John Robarts was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God.”(14 May 1954. Messages to Canada) His inspirational words, often during conversations with individual Alberta Baha’is, are mentioned in their biographies. He was “a life insurance executive in Toronto who actively promoted the Baha’i teaching work. His later achievements across Canada and in Africa earned him the title “Hand of the Cause of God” from Shoghi Effendi.” (van den Hoonaard 2010:151).”
  • 1953 Joan and Ted Anderson settled in the Yukon  (Echevarria 2008:57).
  • 1954 Western Canada Conference, Banff.
  • 1957-1963 Ministry of the Custodians: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause 1957-1963, by Universal House of Justice (1992). Account of the stewardship of the Hands of the Cause of God from 1957-63, from the passing of Shoghi Effendi to the election of the House.
  • 1960 Arthur Bonshaw Irwin (born 6 June 1915 – died 1994) and Lily-Ann Irwin of Calgary, Alberta were the first to take the Baha’i teachings to the Peigan Reserve (Canadian Baha’i News Augut 1961:10). “Arthur Irwin becane a Baha’i in 1947 and was a very active Baha’i teacher to the native peoples of Canada, Alaska, and the Caribbean. He and his wife, Lily Ann, established the first Native Indian Friendship Center in Calgary, Alberta… He was honored by the Blackfoot, Peigan, Blood, and Morely tribes in Alberta for his honesty and integrity. A geologist with a doctorate in the field, Irwin worked on Indian reserves in Canada ensuring that fair market value was paid for leases on natural resources (Baha’i World. 1994. “Arthur Bonshaw Irwin.” Baha’i World. 1994. Volume XXIII).”
  • 1 July 1960 Ben Whitecow and Louise Many Guns were married in the first Baha’i marriage legally recognized in Canada in a Baha’i service by the Spiritual Assembly of Calgary, Alberta. The Canadian Baha’i News article noted the significance that it was a First Nations couple who had this honour in this unique event. “Thirty people attended from Edmonton, Lethbridge, Regina, Peigan Indian Reserve, and Calgary. This event was unique in that it was the first legally recognized Baha’i marriage in Canada. It is significant that an Indian couple should have this honour (Canadian Baha’i News 1961).”
  • 21 May 1960 ‘Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyuh Khanum visited the Peigan First Nations during her tour of Canada at the home of Councillor Samson Knowlton. Canadian Baha’i News 1961:2).  Ruhiyyuh Khanum was in North America from May 4 to June 5. She visited Canada from May 16 to June 2, 1960.
  • Ridvan 1961 The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Peigan Indian Reserve was formed with Louise Whitecrow, Charles Strike-With-A-Gun, Rose Knowlton, Sam Yellow Face, ben Whitecrow, Joyce McGuffie, Dale Olivier, Guy Yellow Wings and Chief Samson Knowlton (Canadian Baha’i News July 1961). A photo of the nine members was published in Canadian Baha’i News July 1961. page 9.
  • 1961 Chief Samson Knowlton, then-chairman of the first Peigan Reserve Baha’i Assembly, and an elected member of the Band Council for the Peigan Band of the Blackfoot Confederacy along with John Hellson, originally from Cornwall, England were part of a teaching team that visited many Reserves. Over sixty First Nations became Baha’is in 1960-1962. The team carried letters of introduction to the chiefs of all the Six Nations Reserves in Ontario and Quebec and were welcomed with a special ceremony on some of the Reserves. Their itinerary included the following reserves: the Nanaimo Reserve in Nanaimo, B.C., the Squamish Reserve in Capilano, BC, the Mohawk Reserve in Ohsweken in Ontario, the Chippewa Reserve in Kettle Point, Ontario, the Mississauga Reserve in Curve Lake, the Mohawk Reserve in Caughnawaga, Quebec.” The teaching team gave copies of the small prayer book, Communion with God, which has “meant much to the new Indian Baha’is on the Reserves in Saskatchewan and Alberta (Canadian Baha’i News July 1961).”
  • May 1961 Hasan M. Balyuzi (Hasan Muvaqqar Balyuzi) (1908-1980) visited Canada where, in “addition to meeting the friends, he visited a number of Indian Reserves, including Indians of Ontario, the Poorman Reserve in Saskatchewan where he was honoured by a pow-wow, the Muscowpetung Reserve, the Peigan Reserve in Alberta, and Indians of British Columbia. His talks were ‘simple and direct’, appealing ‘to the hearts of the many who came to hear him’. (ibid. no. 366, p. 9) Later he described these meetings as ‘very wonderful’, commending to British Bahá’ís the initiative of individuals upon whom ‘so much depends’, and expressing his confidence in the rapid acceptance of the Faith by Indians.” (In Memoriam: Hasan M. Balyuzi” Bahá’í World, Volume 18 (1979-1983), pages 610-825. Haifa, Israel: Baha’i World Centre, 1986. page 647; Canadian Baha’i News. September 1961. “International News Brief.” page 9.).
  • October 1961 Edmund Many Bears (born 1906- died 14 March 1968) Siksika Blackfoot Nation declared as a Baha’i. “He was instrumental in forming the Baha’i Local Spiritual Assembly of the Blackfoot Reserve in 1962. He served on Tribal Council and was a member of the Brave Dog Society.” (Native Baha’i) (“In Memoriam: Edmund Many Bears.” Baha’i World Volume XIV 1963-1968 page 357-58.)
  • 1962 “Jean Many Bears (born 1910 – died 1968) Jean and her husband Edmund were “instrument in forming the Spiritual Assembly of the Blackfoot Reserve (Native Baha’i).” “In Memoriam: Jean Many Bears.” Baha’i World. Volume XIV 1963-1968 page 357-58.
  • 1962 The Western Canada Baha’i School was held at the Banff School of Fine Arts from August 12 – 19. It cost a dollar a day to register and room and meals cost $5.00 to $7.00 per day. Mrs. Betty Putters in Sherwood Park was in charge of registration. (May 1962. Summer Schools. U. S. Supplement. Baha’i News)
  • 1963 1963-1986: Third Epoch of the Formative Age.
  • 197?s???  “Bijan Asdaghi was one of the first Persian Baha’is to immigrate to Canada prior to the Iranian revolution (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012). “
  • 1975 The Association for Bahá’í Studies was founded in Canada (Association for Bahá’í Studies).  Donna Seyed Mahmoud (nee Jensen), originally from British Columbia, where she became a Baha’i as a youth, is a life member of the Association for Baha’i Studies. She attended the very first ABS conference held in the 1970s. (Alberta Baha’i Council 2015 “Mohsen and Donna Seyed Mahmoud biography”).
  • 1976 Earl “Black Crow” Healy (born 1937 on the Blood (Kainai) Reserve – died 21 November 2006 (CBNS 2006, Verge nd). He was a “champion pow-wow dancer, respected role-model for youth, and eager promoter of the Bahá’í Faith CBNS 2006).”
  • October 1976 Angus Cowan was appointed to the Continental Board of Counsellors where he served until 1986. Angus introduced the Faith to Dorothy Francis who became a Baha’i in 1960.
  • 1979 There was intensified persecution of Baha’is in Iran in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A significant number of Iranian Baha’is arrived in Canada (Horton 2013:70)
  • 1982 December Native elders and community leaders met at Kainai First Nations.
  • May 1983 “Mohsen Seyed Mahmoud arrived in Lethbridge, Alberta — his original assigned city – and where he has resided every since.”(Alberta Baha’i Council 2015 “Mohsen and Donna Seyed Mahmoud biography”).
  • 1980sSee also this Hand of the Cause Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum visited Baha’is from the Piegan Reserve, Alberta, Canada, circa 1980s.
  • 1992 “The Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Edmonton purchased the Orange Lodge on 94 Street and 111 Avenue. The site was chosen because of its capacity to hold children’s spiritual education classes, its proximity to the First Nations residents, accessibility, and furnishings, including dishes and chairs (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012). “
  • 1992 There were 3000 Baha’is in 170 locations in Alberta with First Nations composingone third of the Baha’s membership in Alberta, c. 2000 people. But by 1992 there was little contact between native and non-native Baha’is. Pemberton-Pigott argued this was partially because the reserve system prevented non-native Baha’is from pioneering to reserves which created a “cultural and administrative gap” between native and non-native Baha’is (Pemberton-Pigott 1992:8).
  • 1994 Four-Year Plan 1994-1999: Messages to the Bahá’ís of the World,
  • 2000 One-Year Plan, 2000: Introductory Letter
  • 29 April – 1 May 2005 Donna M.Stirling-Zoller was a delegate to Canada’s 57th Bahai National Convention held in Montreal .
  • 24 May 2007 The Pincher Creek Echo reported that Allison Healy, Dale Lillico and Donna Mahmoud were the elected delegates from southern Alberta who voted for the Baha’i Faith national governing body of their faith, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of Canada.Delegates from southern Alberta attend National Convention Pincher Creek Echo.
  • 1995-2008 Redwan Moqbel was recruited to the “Department of Medicine, University of Alberta as a Professor in 1995, he served as the Director of the Pulmonary Research Group.” There he received such prestigious awards as Alberta Heritage Medical Senior Scholar, Heritage Scientist and Heritage Senior Investigator. In 2008, Redwan became Professor and Head of the Department of Immunology at the University of Manitoba, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta. He was well recognized for his mentorship of young biomedical scientists, whom he encouraged to adopt “a noble goal.”
  • 2006-2011 Five Year Plan
  • 2012 There were 400 Baha’is in the Edmonton Baha’i community representing “a wide variety of races, cultures and social classes (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012). “
  • 2013 Redwan Moqbel  died 9 October 2013 in Winnipeg (Winnipeg Free Press 2013).
  • 1 April 2014. Allison Healy, a residential school survivor and member of the Baha’i community of the Kainai First Nation, Alberta, spoke regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final national event in Edmonton, “The truths have been told, we all have learned about the horrible truths; now we really have to move forward to reconciliation and act.” (CBNS. 2014. “Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final National Event concludes in Edmonton.” Canadian Bahá’í News Service. Edmonton, Alberta).


    • Pemberton-Pigott, Andrew, 1954-. (1992) “The Bahá’í Faith in Alberta, 1942-1992 : the ethic of dispersion. ”  Thesis (M.A.) University of Alberta (Edmonton).
    • van den Hoonaard, Will C. 30 October 2010. “Appendix D: Chronology of Important Canadian Baha’i Dates.” The Origins of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, 1898-1948Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 368 pages. 
      • “Appendix D: Chronology of Important Canadian Baha’i Dates.” page 306
      • Brookes, Beth. 1984. “Letter from Beth Brookes, Edmonton, AB to Mollie Macpherson, Winnipeg, MB, 9 September 1984 (copy in possession of the author).
      • Davies, Milwyn Adams. 1949. “Brief History of the Edmonton Baha’i Community.” (mimeographed, 4 pp.; copy in possession of W. C. van den Hoonaard).
      • Pemberton-Pigott, Andrew. 1988. “The Formation of the First Baha’i Local Spiritual Assembly in Edmonton, April 1943.” Unpublished Honours Paper, University of Alberta. Edmonton. Andrew Pemberton-Pigott completed his M.A. on the “Bahai Faith in Alberta from 1942 to 1992.” He is now working on his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta on geology in Alberta. He teaches the history of science and comparative religion in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.”
    • Verge, Patricia. 1 January 1999. Angus From the Heart. Springtime Publishing. ISBN-10: 0968589308. 352 pages.
    • Verge, Pat. 2000. “Honouring Blood and Baha’i Traditions: Allison and Earl Healy….Legacy)
    • Verge, Pat. 2000. “Honouring Blood and Baha’i Traditions: Allison and Earl Healy….Alberta Online Encyclopedia)
    • Verge, Pat. “Honouring Blood and Baha’i Traditions: Allison and Earl Healy….)
    • Verge, Pat. 5 March 2015.” First Native Canadian Baha’i.” email correspondence in response to a question by Joan Young.
    • The Bahá’í Faith: 1844–1963 Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá’í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953–1963, Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land, pages 22 and 46.

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Amelia Collins

February 11, 2015


Note: At this stage, this is a draft which is mostly compiled from Richard Francis’ 1993/2003 article Amelia Collins: The Fulfilled Hope of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. It is my intention to continue to add details, links and references.

7 June 1873 Amelia Mary-Margaret “Milly” Engelder Collins was born Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA to “Catherine Groff and Conrad Engelder, a German emigrant and Lutheran clergyman. She was the seventh child of a family of nine sons and five daughters.” She was brought up in a “strict Lutheran household (Francis 1993/2003).”

She married “a mining engineer named Thomas H. Collins and lived in Calumet, Michigan and later Bisbee Arizona. Thomas met great success in Bisbee by developing the porphyry copper mining operations that eventually become the Phelps-Dodge Mining Company (Francis 1993/2003).”

1920s They moved to California (Francis 1993/2003).

1919? Millie became a Bahá’í.? in California.

1923 Millie “made her first pilgrimage to Haifa in early 1923 when she was fifty years old. Thomas Collins accompanied her and was shown great kindness by Shoghi Effendi (1897 – 1957) (Francis 1993/2003).”

1924 Millie was the first Baha’i to visit Iceland. She arrived there on a cruise ship. During that trip she met Hólmfríður Árnadóttir, who became the first Icelandic Bahá’í (UHJ 1976:205).(Francis 1993/2003). Later in 1935 Martha Root visited the country for a month and with the help of Árnadóttir proclaimed the religion in the press, during lectures, and on the radio (Bahá’í News 1935: 1; Wikipedia).

1924 Millie was “elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada and was re-elected every year until 1933 (Francis 1993/2003).”

1926 Millie and Thomas Collins purchased property on Mount Carmel (Francis 1993/2003).

1934 Millie and Thomas Collins provided funding at Davison, Michigan, for the first publication of Bahá’i literature in Amharic (Francis 1993/2003).

1936 Millie and Thomas Collins developed and built the extension of the Geyserville School properties in northern California (Francis 1993/2003).

1937 Thomas Collins died from a heart attack. Although he never became a Baha’i, he “supported Millie’s Bahá’i activities. These included the financial contributions that maintained the solvency of the Geyserville School (Francis 1993/2003).”

1937 Millie was 64. “After arranging her substantial estate in order, one that would eventually establish the institutions of the Bahá’i World Center, Millie later that same year, made her second pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The tie between the Guardian and she became significantly closer. This included a friendship with the Guardian’s wife, Ruhíyyih Khánum. In a letter to her, shortly after this pilgrimage, the Guardian wrote:

“The days you spent under the shadow of the Holy Shrines will long be remembered with joy and gratitude. I have during these days increasingly appreciated and admired the profound sense of devotion, the passionate fervor, the intense love and attachment that animates you in the service of the Holy Cause. For such noble qualities I feel thankful, and I am certain that the fruits they will yield will be equally outstanding and memorable. Rest assured and be happy.”

1937 The Guardian “sent a sacred gift to the American Bahá’i Community through Millie. This was the lock of Baha’u’llah’s hair that had been preserved by the Greatest Holy Leaf, to be placed beneath the dome of the American Bahá’i Temple. She presented the gift during the 1938 National Bahá’i Convention mounted in a silver frame, the first of many sacred gifts from the guardian to become part of the National Bahá’i Archives (Francis 1993/2003).”

1938 Millie was re-elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada and “served until the Guardian called her to service at the Bahá’i World Center (Francis 1993/2003).”

1939 Millie “supported the publication of the first translation of Baha’i literature in Icelandic: Esslemont’s Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (Francis 1993/2003).”

1939 Millie made the “first contribution to the Bahíyyih Khánum Fund toward the erection of the Mother Temple of America” and contributed to the Persian Temple Fund (Francis 1993/2003).”

1944 Millie “sent the Guardian a generous contribution that covered most of the cost of constructing the superstructure for the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel (Francis 1993/2003).”

1945 Millie was 72. “In 1945, Millie was invited by Miss Arnadottir to come to Iceland. In response, the Guardian replied through his secretary that instead of going to Iceland where her health might be compromised, that she should go to America.

“As he cabled you, he feels your presence in America more important than Iceland at this time… The Small Assemblies in America are badly in need of Bahá’i’ education…”

1940s “Millie was the first to initiate the teaching of the American Indians in accordance to ‘Abdú’l-Bahá’s Tablets of the Divine Plan. In 1948, the first Indian Bahá’i Assembly on the American continent was formed on the Omaha Indian Reservation at Macy, Nebraska (Francis 1993/2003).”

1942 Millie was 69. Shoghi Effendi sent Millie to design and erect “the memorial to May Maxwell, Ruhíyyih Khánum’s mother in Buenos Aires. She even located a block of Carrara marble with the right characteristics for the project. Travel arrangements were nearly impossible because of the wartime conditions (Francis 1993/2003).”

1946 Millie was 73. Millie traveled to “Latin America to attend conferences and teaching work (Francis 1993/2003).”

1947? “Shoghi Effendi proclaimed that Millie Collins has been made his ninth Hand of the Cause of God. This singled her out as one who was uniquely loved and privileged by the Guardian. Millie Collins traveled several times to Europe after the close of World War II (Francis 1993/2003).”

1949 Millie was 76. Millie traveled to “Latin America to attend conferences and teaching work (Francis 1993/2003).”


On 24 December 1951 Shoghi Effendi cabled the Bahá’ís of the world, announcing the appointment of the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause. He took the “long inevitably deferred step in conformity with provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Testament” of naming twelve individuals Hands of the Cause, “equally allocated Holy Land [i.e., the Bahá’í World Center], Asiatic, American, European continents.” Millie was one of the first to be appointed a Hand of the Cause. She was also appointed vice-president of the International Bahá’í Council by Shoghi Effendi.

1951 Millie was 78. Millie “traveled at the request of Shoghi Effendi to Turkey and Egypt. While in Cairo, despite becoming so ill that she could hardly stand, she gave an address to a large public meeting at the Hazíratu’l-Quds. Her role seemed to be from this time on, to ignore illness and her increasingly crippling arthritis, going forward, putting her whole trust in God (Francis 1993/2003).”

1951 “Shoghi Effendi appointed Millie Collins in January 1951 as the vice -president of the International Bahá’i Council and she went to live in Haifa. This work continued for the rest of her life (Francis 1993/2003).”

“The Guardian, in a cable to the Bahá’í world dated January 9, 1951, had proclaimed his “weighty epoch-making decision” to form the first International Bahá’í Council, the “forerunner” of the “supreme administrative institution”‘ of the Faith, which was destined to emerge in the fullness of time, and he characterized this “historic decision” as “Marking most significant milestone evolution Administrative Order Faith Bahá’u’lláh course last thirty years.” Those thirty years were his own ministry since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1921. This first International Bahá’í Council was not elected but selected by Shoghi Effendi himself from individual believers of long standing and proven dedication to the service of the Cause. Less than one year later, on December 24, 1951, he announced the names of the first contingent of Hands. In view of the clear distinction in the Teachings between the elected Universal House of Justice and the appointed Hands of the Cause, it seems to me portentous that the first membership of the International Bahá’í Council included three people soon to be nominated Hands, and that, at the time of the beloved Guardian’s passing, five of its officers, so designated by him, namely, myself as liaison between it and him, Mason Remey, its President, Amelia Collins, its Vice-President, Leroy Ioas its Secretary General, and Ugo Giachery, its Member at Large-who lived in Italy and functioned as a European Hand, but frequently visited Haifa at Shoghi Effendi’s request-were all Hands of the Cause. In addition to being members of the International Bahá’í Council, these Hands, resident and serving at the World Centre, constituted a separate body, specified by Shoghi Effendi to act as liaison between him and the other Hands throughout the world, conveying their messages to him and his to them, thus giving us, during his own lifetime, a dual function as Hands directly serving under him and officers of the International Bahá’í Council. I believe that at that particularly dangerous juncture in Bahá’í history this duality was providential and greatly reinforced the authority and power of the Custodians when faced by the crisis of his sudden passing. When that terrible blow fell upon the Bahá’í world, these five Hands had been constantly serving under his personal instructions for almost six years.”(Custodians)

1953 MIllie was 80. Millie and Ruhíyyih Khánum represented the Guardian at the All-American Conference in Chicago as part of the ten-year World Crusade (Francis 1993/2003).”

1953 “Shoghi Effendi acknowledged in his message to the twelve Annual Conventions, Millie’s “munificent donation” toward the purchase of many Hazíratu’l-Quds and endowments on five continents (Francis 1993/2003).”

c. 1954 or 1956 Valera and John Allen, described their visit in December in the 1950s as Ruhiyyih Khanum prepared for a dinner party with over twenty people in honour of Josephine Baker. Guests included the “American Consul and his wife, the Italian Consul and his wife and various other dignitaries of Haifa with Josephine Baker and her entourage… All in all it was a very nice party and Miss Baker was very impressed, I am sure, and the next day when she visited the Shrine and Gardens with Ruhiyyih Khanum she expressed her appreciation and a desire to know more about the Faith. Our only regret was to have miss one evening with the beloved Guardian as he does not attend such functions.”

The next weekend Amelia Collins, Ruhiyyih Khanum, “Leroy Ioas and Ugo Giachery, and three other members of the International Council, Jessie and Ethel Revel and Dr. Lotfullah Hakim, Iraj Hakim, Angeline Giachery, Mr. and Mrs. Esfandiar Bakhtiari, Persian friends from Pakistan (He is a member of the NSA of Burma-Pakistan- India), Shadah” … and the Allens went to Bahji for the week end. “Ruhiyyih Khanum and Millie Collins left to go back to Haifa.”

1957 In his last Convention message Shoghi Effendi acknowledged Millie’s donations for the “building of the Mother Temples in Europe, Australia and Africa. The Guardian named the main gate to the shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in her honor (Francis 1993/2003).”

1957 Millie was 84. “The beloved Guardian passed away in November, 1957. Millie was planing to meet him in Haifa, and upon her arrival there, heard the calamitous news of his passing that put the entire Baha’i world into shock. Millie immediately departed for London to join Ruhíyyih Khánum in her time of need. Millie became like a mother to her and gave spiritual support during the proceeding four dark years (Francis 1993/2003).”

Immediately after the funeral the five Hands of the Cause, Ruhiyyih Khanum, Mr. Remey, Mrs. Collins, Dr. Giachery, and Mr. Ioas opened the Shoghi Effendi’s Will.(Custodians).

“One of our most pressing worries concerned the heavy financial obligations left us in the plans of Shoghi Effendi regarding not only the construction of Bahá’í Temples but other properties, and the monetary support we had to give to the new National Bahá’í Assemblies in developing countries. The national Bahá’í bodies in a position to provide any substantial aid at that period were those of Iran and America (Custodians).”

25 November 1957 The Hands of the Cause nominated and appointed from our own number to act on our behalf as the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith
Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Charles Mason Remey, Amelia E. Collins, Leroy C. Ioas, Hasan Balyuzi, ‘Ali-Akbar Furutan, Jalal Khazeh, Paul E. Haney and Adelbert Muhlschlegel (Custodians).


“The main income of the Hands was from the contributions of the Persian Bahá’í community, which was the oldest and at that time the most affluent Bahá’í community in the world. This monetary aid we estimated at about $100,000 a year. In June 1960, as we considered our financial position, we felt obliged to vote this entire sum for Temple construction, the expenses of the Institution of the Hands and support to the National Assemblies, nearly all of which at that period were not self-supporting and received most of their annual budget from the Hands at the World Centre (Custodians).”
“The munificent financial contributions of our fellow-Hand and Custodian Amelia Collins were of great assistance to the Hands; her outstanding generosity afforded infinite comfort to our heavily-burdened minds and hearts as we faced the ever-increasing financial needs of the Faith. The following minute from our Conclave meeting in 1959 conveys only one instance of her magnanimous spirit: “Milly offered to provide one-third entire sum to be given by Hands Holy Land to Hands in the continents.”
The Hands living at the World Centre practised rigid economy; as the pilgrimage had been suspended for a nine-month period of mourning throughout the Bahá’í world after the passing of Shoghi Effendi our Eastern and Western Pilgrim Houses were available and the newly-chosen Custodians and their wives resided in them for some time, only moving to more suitable accommodation when the pilgrimage was reopened (Custodians).”

From 1957 to 1963, (Custodians)

“When the appointed and much-loved Head of our Faith suddenly passed away on November 4, 1957 in London, we were twenty-seven in number, five women and twenty-two men, drawn from all continents of the globe, some of whom had never even met the Guardian personally, indeed, eight of us had only been appointed to the rank of Hand by Shoghi Effendi a few weeks prior to his death. Those of us of longer standing felt great compassion for this last contingent of our peers, who, in addition to the shock each one of us had experienced when we were elevated to this high position, were now faced with the additional shock of the realization that Shoghi Effendi was no longer there to guide them personally, that this door was closed forever. The eldest among us, Corinne True, one of the early group of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s disciples in America, was already 96; the youngest, Enoch Olinga, a native of Uganda, only 31; listing us according to our diminishing ages, covering sixty-five years of difference, we were, after Corinne True, Clara Dunn in Australia-herself 88, Amelia Collins [who was 84-years-old] at the World Centre, Tarazu’llah Samandari, in Persia, Mason Remey at the World Centre, Agnes Alexander in Japan, Musa Banani; in Africa, Horace Holley in America, Shu’a’u’llah ‘Ala’i in Persia, Leroy Ioas at the World Centre, Ugo Giachery, in Italy, Jalal Khazeh in Persia, Adelbert Muhlschlegel, and Hermann Grossmann in Germany, John Robarts, in Africa, Dhikru’llah Khadem in Persia, ‘Ali-Akbar Furutan; in Persia, Abu’l-Qasim Faizi, in Arabia, Hasan Balyuzi in England, Paul Haney in America, (Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum at the World Centre, ‘Ali-Muhammad Varqa in Persia, William Sears in Africa, Collis Featherstone in Australia, John Ferraby in England, Rahmatu’llah Muhajir in Indonesia and Enoch Olinga, in Africa. Among the men five held the title of “Doctor”, two of these being medical men; some of the others had university degrees but we five women, as far as I know, held no university degrees. I go into these details because this is the backdrop, these the leading actors, as the perilous drama of this most recent world religion played itself out successfully from November 4, 1957 to April 21, 1963.”

October 1961 Millie fell and “fractured her arm, requiring hospitalization. Despite her frailness, she returned to Haifa to assist the Hands of the Cause in regard to the first election of the Universal House of Justice. She had to be carried in a wheelchair to the meetings being held at Bahji, and was able to attend all but one (Francis 1993/2003).”

1 January 1962 At the age of 91, Millie Collins passed onto the Abhá Kingdom while being held in the arms of Ruhíyyih Khánum. Her body is buried in the Bahá’i cemetery at the foot of Mt. Carmel (Francis 1993/2003).”


Allen, Valera. December 1954. Haifa Impressions: Pilgrim Notes. (previously dated December 15-23, 1956; this may be incorrect)

Francis, Richard. 1993/2003. Amelia Collins: The Fulfilled Hope of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Harper, Barron. 1997. Lights of Fortitude. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0-85398-413-1

August 1935 “News of the Cause”, Bahá’í News (94): 1

Rabbani, R. (ed.) 1992. The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963. Bahá’í World Centre. xxiii. ISBN 0-85398-350-X.

Universal House of Justice. 1976. Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-73. Wilmette, IL: Bahá’i Publishing Trust

Related Wikipedia articles

Amelia Collins
Baha’i Faith in Iceland
Western Pilgrim House

Social action

January 29, 2015

O ye that inhabit the heavens and the earth! There hath appeared what hath never previously appeared. Divine Springtime

This is the Day in which God’s most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. Gleanings Older site

Be united in counsel’, is Bahá’u’lláh’s appeal, ‘be one in thought. May each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday. Man’s merit lieth in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches. Take heed that your words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be cleansed from craftiness and suspicion.’LAWḤ-I-HIKMAT (Tablet of Wisdom)

‘Dissipate not the wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor let your endeavours be spent in promoting your personal interest. Be generous in your days of plenty, and be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by success and rejoicings follow woe. Guard against idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young or old, whether high or low. Beware lest ye sow tares of dissension among men or plant thorns of doubt in pure and radiant hearts.’LAWH-I-HIKMAT (Tablet of Wisdom)

26 November 2012 Social Action: a paper prepared by the Office of Social Action and Economic Development (OSED) at the Baha’i World Centre 26 November 2012

23 January 1995 The Prosperity of Humankind The Universal House of Justice. Bahá’í World Centre

16 September 1993 Bahá’í Social And Economic Development: Prospects for the Future

November 21-22, 1983 The Future of Canada: A Bahá’í Perspective A Brief presented to The Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects of Canada. The Canadian Bahá’í Community, through its National Spiritual Assembly Saskatoon.

“Over a century ago, Bahá’u’lláh warned that the accelerating course of social change on this planet would pass through periods of upheaval which He described as calamitous. Some of these He indicated were inescapable features of the process and others the consequence of failures of leadership on the part of
mankind’s major institutions. Most of these developments He saw as focused in the twentieth century, and He indicated that their climax, in the concluding years of the century, would entail disorder and suffering on a scale mankind had never before known. He warned, for example, that:

“Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth, but they are hidden from the minds and understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal.”

The time would come, Bahá’u’lláh said, when the misuse of these resources, together with unforeseen excesses produced by the prevailing materialism in the developed world, would call into question the very survival of civilization itself. He foresaw a period when “all eyes shall stare upward with terror,” when “the
very limbs of mankind shall quake. Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”28

These dangers now represent the growing perceptions of the mass of mankind and have begun to generate widespread anxiety. They need no reiteration here from religion in order to draw attention to them, nor do we mention them for that purpose. On the contrary, it seems clear that one of the greatest handicaps to sound planning for the future is the paralysis of thought and courage which a contemplation of the threat to our survival produces. We hope it is not inappropriate, therefore, if we conclude our presentation to this Commission with a reference to the cause of the optimism with which our own community faces the future. Mankind has, we believe, the promise of God that, however frightening and painful the experience and however sweeping the social dislocations, the human race will pass successfully through the approaching, final stage in the process which is welding us into a single human family. It is in this context that we see the extraordinary promises made about our own nation being realized.”The Future of Canada: A Bahá’í Perspective

20 October 1983 The Universal House of Justice called for the incorporation of social and economic development processes into the regular pursuits of the community and announced the establishment of the Office of Social and Economic Development (OSED) at the Bahá’í World Centre to “promote and coordinate the activities of the friends” in field of development field at the grassroots of the community.


This radiant century

January 29, 2015

*This Radiant Century
*The Most Great Peace
*Perfection is endless

August Forel

January 29, 2015

*Tablet to August Forel New version

*Tablet to August Forel Old version

*Wikipedia article on Auguste Forel

*Wikipedia article on Tablet to August Forel

Meditation is speaking with your own spirit

October 10, 2014
[T]he light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Sunday, January 12th, 1913. “Address by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Friends’ Meeting House, St. Martin’s Lane, London, W.C.”Paris Talks: Addresses given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912. 10th ed. London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979. Pages 96-97.

Bahá’u’lláh says there is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time –he cannot both speak and meditate.”

It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.

You cannot apply the name ‘man’ to any being void of this faculty of meditation; without it he would be a mere animal, lower than the beasts.

Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit–the bestowal of the Spirit is given in reflection and meditation.

The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened during meditation; through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives Divine inspiration, through it he receives heavenly food.

Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; when the power of insight is being used the outward power of vision does not see.

This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God.

This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out; through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very Kingdom of God.

Nevertheless some thoughts are useless to man; they are like waves moving in the sea without result. But if the faculty of meditation is bathed in the inner light and characterized with divine attributes, the results will be confirmed.

The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror; if you put it before earthly objects it will reflect them. Therefore if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly subjects he will be informed of these.

But if you turn the mirror of your spirits heavenwards, the heavenly constellations and the rays of the Sun of Reality will be reflected in your hearts, and the virtues of the Kingdom will be obtained.

Therefore let us keep this faculty rightly directed– turning it to the heavenly Sun and not to earthly objects–so that we may discover the secrets of the Kingdom, and comprehend the allegories of the Bible and the mysteries of the spirit.

May we indeed become mirrors reflecting the heavenly realities, and may we become so pure as to reflect the stars of heaven.”

All quotations from the Writings are under copyright license held by the Baha’i Library

A dewdrop out of the ocean…

October 9, 2014
This dewdrop from the ocean of God’s grace is the Primal Word of God, the Water of Life…

Bahá’u’lláh “Tablet to Mánikchí Ṣáḥib (Lawḥ-i-Mánikchí-Ṣáḥib).” The Tabernacle of Unity. Bahá’í World Centre, 2006 edition Pages: 80.

In the name of the one true God

Praise be to the all-perceiving, the ever-abiding Lord Who, from a dewdrop out of the ocean of His grace, hath reared the firmament of existence, adorned it with the stars of knowledge, and admitted man into the lofty court of insight and understanding. This dewdrop, which is the Primal Word of God, is at times called the Water of Life, inasmuch as it quickeneth with the waters of knowledge them that have perished in the wilderness of ignorance. Again it is called the Primal Light, a light born of the Sun of divine knowledge, through whose effulgence the first stirrings of existence were made plain and manifest. Such manifestations are the expressions of the grace of Him Who is the Peerless, the All-Wise. He it is who knoweth and bestoweth all. He it is who transcendeth all that hath been said or heard. His knowledge will remain forever above the grasp of human vision and understanding and beyond the reach of human words and deeds. To the truth of this utterance existence itself and all that hath appeared therefrom bear eloquent testimony.”

Citation copyright held by Baha’i Reference Library.

Trust in God

October 8, 2014

‘Abdu’l-Bahá “178: O maidservant of God! Thy letter dated 9 …” Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Bahá’í World Centre. 1982. Pages: 320

9 December 1918

O maidservant of God! Thy letter dated 9 December 1918 was received. Its contents were noted. Never lose thy trust in God. Be thou ever hopeful, for the bounties of God never cease to flow upon man. If viewed from one perspective they seem to decrease, but from another they are full and complete. Man is under all conditions immersed in a sea of God’s blessings. Therefore, be thou not hopeless under any circumstances, but rather be firm in thy hope.”

“Attendance at the gatherings of the friends is specifically to keep them alert, vigilant, loving and attracted to the divine Kingdom.”

Bahá’u’lláh. Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, page 190.

“Be not afraid of anyone, place thy whole trust in God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing.”

“Oh, trust in God! For His bounty is everlasting, and in His blessings, for they are superb. Oh! Put your faith in the Almighty, for He faileth not, and His goodness endureth forever! His sun giveth light continuously, and the clouds of His mercy are full of the waters of compassion with which He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him. His refreshing breeze ever carries healing in its wings to the parched souls of men!”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. 21 November. “There can be no true happiness and progress without spirituality.” Paris Talks. UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1972. eleventh edition reprint. Pages: 184

“If the heart turns away from the blessings God offers how can it hope for happiness? If it does not put its hope and trust in God’s Mercy, where can it find rest? Oh, trust in God! for His Bounty is everlasting, and in His Blessings, for they are superb. Oh! put your faith in the Almighty, for He faileth not and His goodness endureth for ever! His Sun giveth Light continually, and the Clouds of His Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion with which He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him. His refreshing Breeze ever carries healing in its wings to the parched souls of men! Is it wise to turn away from such a loving Father, Who showers His blessings upon us, and to choose rather to be slaves of matter?”

“Rely upon God. Trust in Him, praise Him and call Him continually to mind. He, verily, turneth trouble into ease, and sorrow into solace, and toil into utter peace.”


August 27, 2014

Raconteur Storyteller Orunamamu (1921 Huntsville, Alabama – 2014 Calgary, Alberta)

See the Wikipedia article on Orunamamu


The celebration of Orunamamu’s life on 6 September, 2014 in Calgary was as welcoming of all spiritual viewpoints, artful, touching, inspiring, revealing, visually-stunning, poetic and at times humorous as an adventure with Orunamamu herself. Although there were many tears, there were many stories about her life that made it impossible not to laugh or at least smile. The collection of stories from those few hours alone, those shared during the more formal section as well as those shared in smaller groups at the reception, could have filled a hefty chapter in her biography. The calibre of creative contributions by poets, photographers, musicians, storytellers and performers (including a talented busker with some smooth juggling), all honouring her, elevated the event so that friends became witnesses of history or herstory in the making.

There will be a graveside service on Tuesday.
Arthur Koch, a very close friend of Orunamamu for many years created this series of powerful portraits of Orunamamu from c. 2002 through 2014 which is on Flickr at All about Light. The photos above have copyright restrictions. Ed Washington and Arthur Koch granted permission for me to put these in a temporary memorial photo gallery. This is the link to the thumbnails of Arthur Koch’s photos of Orunamamu on Flickr. Arthur has also provided some video clips listed below.

These three photos above were taken at the Leighton Arts Centre on a day trip with Susan Adegbesan.

These photos include a surprise visit by Orunamamu and Susan to our home and garden while our grandson was visiting from Ottawa. Our grandson recently told me that he remembered her because of the story she shared about the wide mouthed frog. He was only three at the time! Other photos show Orunamamu at one of our Friendship Circles entertaining a roomful of delighted adults and children. Eddie is playing the guitar in one of them. In another she is showing her freshly painted shoes, a collaborative effort with me holding the brush and her guiding the visual story it was to tell through colours and acrylics. She wanted the morning star, the feather and the word Raconteur. I changed it to the feminine Raconteuse.

O Thou kind Lord! Bestow heavenly confirmation upon this daughter of the Kingdom and graciously aid her that she may remain firm and steadfast in Thy Cause and that she may, even as a nightingale of the rose garden of mysteries, warble melodies in the Abha Kingdom in most wondrous tones, thereby bringing happiness to everyone. Make her exalted among the daughters of the Kingdom and enable her to attain life eternal. Thou art the Bestower, the All-Loving.

Orunamamu touched the lives of so many people through her dynamic, animated, truthful, thought-provoking and often humourous story telling and poetry. This is a collection of links to photos of Orunamamu, stories about her and stories she told. It is put here to cherish and honour a woman who aged artfully and who is now in need of our prayerful thoughts.

There is a Twitter hashtag #Orunamamu so please tweet photos of her, links to video clips of her, to her stories, poetry and music she loved and events celebrating her life…

Some of her favourite poems and stories

  • Mother to Son by Langston Hughes
  • A Feather is a letter from a Bird
  • My Heart is a Garden
  • Wide-Mouthed Frog
  • We don’t make loans to frogs story
  • Wise man on the mountain

My Heart is a Garden by Katherine Merrill

My heart is a garden where thought flowers grow.
The thoughts that I think are the seeds that I sow.
Every kind loving thought bears a kind loving deed,
And a thought that is selfish is just like a weed.

So I must watch what I think each minute, each day,
Pull out the weed thoughts and throw them away,
And plant loving seed thoughts so thick in a row,
There will not be room for weed thoughts to grow.


This is the painted rock in my garden in honour of Orunamamu who changed my life. The wild flower, the shooting star, is called an ephemeral because it only appears for a brief time around May 23 then disappears without a trace until the following spring. The garden rock is placed there to protect it so the gardener will not forget and uproot this fragile wild flower.

Professional photographer Kenneth Locke from Calgary Alberta also has a photo album of Orunamamu on his Facebook.

Orumamamu has a presence on YouTube

Mary Beth Washington was born in Huntsville, Alabama in 1921 near Saino Mountain (Harrison 2006). Before moving to Calgary, Alberta permanently, she stayed in her home in Rockridge district of Oakland, California with one son and visited Calgary regularly, travelling by train, to stay with her son Ed Washington.

Greg Young told her story in his documentary called “Do you know yellowlegs is a storytelling museum?”

“A former teacher of the Berkeley school district, Orunamamu started storytelling in her 50s, having been influenced by her storytelling grandmother and father. Her house in Oakland, California, called Yellowlegs, provides the main stage for her storytelling today, and is also a refuge for her abundant supply of storytelling parafinalia. Currently in her 80s, Orunamamu travels extensively, telling stories to everyone who will listen, and continues to work toward organizing her storytelling museum (Greg Young).”

Orunamamu began performing at a crowd favourite at the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival in 2006 and returned every year since then. James Tworow described her as a “crowd favourite the last two years, an excellent storyteller from Oakland, but also a regular performer in Calgary.” There is another series of photos on Flickr from the OrunamamuSpoken Word Festival in Calgary in 2010.

Orunamamu was featured on the cover of Amy W. Gorman’s 2009 publication entitled Aging Artfully.

Some of her favourite music played at the celebration of her life

  • Love my Momma
  • My Girl

A mobile museum, paraphernalia

  • yellow stockings
  • painted shoes
  • hand-carved canes

See also

Bryce,  Marie. 15 June 2013. “Interviews with Orunamamu.” The Wild Storyteller 

“In being introduced to Orunamamu through a Storytelling Great, Karen Gummo, Marie was intrigued with the wisewoman, Orunamamu. Orunamamu is 33,000 days old and counting and wants to leave  her legacy of storytelling behind. This opportunity has presented Marie with the humbling experience of beginning interviews with Orunamamu to tell her story which will take place over the summer of 2013.”

Orunamamu. 2013. Calgary Spoken Word Festival. Calgary, Alberta.

Gorman, Amy W. 2009. Aging Artfully. PAL Publishing. ISBN-13:9780978519209

Harrison, Craig. August 2006. “Introducing Orunamamu (AKA Yellow Legs, Mary Beth Washington, and Mary Stoffel).” Companion piece to Craig article in The Toastmaster.

North, Carolyn. 2014. “Lessons From My 93-Year-Old Kindgergarten Teacher.” Carolyn North Books.

Young, Greg. Do you know yellowlegs is a storytelling museum? Golden Bear Casting

Borucki, Bonnie. “Interview with Mary Beth Washington, AKA Orunamamu.” South Berkeley Seniors.

“In her life Orunamamu has changed jobs many times. She first started teaching in Wisconsin, then in Palo Alto, then in Utah, then here in Berkeley. Between jobs people would ask her what she does, and she’d say, “ I’m a storyteller”. It wasn’t’t as honored as it is today. but as time went on, it got to be real. It got to be a real job. The first training she took was at UC Berkeley in a class called, “Storytelling as an Art.”  She now wants to leave a legacy of storytelling as an art. Orunamamu calls what she does “neighboring through storytelling”.”

Aamot, Leif. “Neighboring Through Storytelling.” Painting. South Berkeley Seniors.

“The Grace of Great Things.” Coincidence Or Destiny? Stories of Synchoronicity That Illuminate Our Lives

Aitkens, Wendy. September 2004. “The Canadian Soul Exhibition.” Focus on FortFort Calgary.

Miss Marybeth Orunamamu, brought her bags of goodies and her wealth of stories and shared them with visitors three afternoons a week throughout the summer. Her audience received “excellent soulful storytelling” and “lots of laughs.”

Niesar, Ortun. April 2004. “Orunamamu: Rockridge Storyteller. The Rockridge News. Rockridge, Oakland, California.

I was sitting at Olivetos one recent Wednesday morning, revving up for my business day with a strong cup of coffee, cell phone at the ready. A pleasant voice behind me said, “If you see a feather, a soft and tickly little feather, pick it up. Its a letter for you. Pick it up and put it in your pocket.” I turned around and there was the lovely, ageless face of Orunamamu grinning at me with a most heartwarming smile. I had wanted to meet this wonderful lady, Rockridges very own world-class storyteller, for some time now, and there she was, green velvet chapeau, quilted jacket, yellow stockings her trademark, necklaces and bangles, numerous bags and a sturdy walking stick, the mark of the griot. Stories are like feathers, Orunamamu laughed. They blow here and there, they swing in circles and settle wherever they will, soft and mysterious. And when someone picks one up, an adventure begins. Well, she had me. I turned off the cellphone and followed her for that day. We talked together no end.
She has no cell phone or even a regular phone. She has a house, but its a house that is turned inside out and you most likely wont find her there, because to find a feather, as everyone knows, you must go out to where the feathers are. And so her house on Ocean View, just off College, is not so much a house as it is a public
private museum, a repository of all the adventures and stories she brings home with her each day. If you are lucky you will find Orunamamu meaning morning star in Yoruba sitting on her front steps among a panoply of colorful objects, handing out stories or inviting you to tell one.

Conversations that took place at the hospice

See here for regarding Anna Packwood, and Dr. Carrie Best. Eddie has posted Langston Hughes’s No Crystal Stair on the hospice door. Anna Packwood’s daughter Mairuth Sarsfield wrote her novel entitled No Crystal Stair based on her childhood in Montreal.