The Bahá'í World Faith is the youngest of the world's main religions. It was founded in Iran during the mid 19th century by Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad (1819 - 1850 CE). He assumed the title Bab ("the Gate") and prophesized the future arrival of "One greater than Himself." One of the Bab's followers, Mirza Husayn-'Ali-i-Nuri (1817-1892), announced that he was the Manifestation predicted by the Bab. He assumed the title Baha'u'llah ("glory of God"). His teachings on world peace, democracy, civil rights, equal rights for women, the acceptance of scientific discoveries, etc. were decades ahead of his time.
Bahá'ís believe in a single God who has repeatedly sent prophets into the world through whom he has revealed the "Word of God." Prophets include Adam, Krishna, Buddha, Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus), Mohammed, The Bab and Baha'u'llah. The Bahá'í faith is still looked upon by many Muslims as a breakaway sect of Islam. Bahá'ís are heavily persecuted in some countries, particularly Iran.
Origins and History
In 1930, soon after he had become a member of the Bahá'í Faith, Mr. L.W. Eggleston purchased a farm near Davison, Michigan with the express intention of using the grounds and facilities for a Bahá'í Summer School. In the same year, he and Miss Helen Whitney were joined in marriage, and together they made plans to start the school the very next summer. The first nine days of August, 1931 comprised the first season of Louhelen Bahá'í School. In all, 35 Bahá'ís and friends, from six states, attended as full-time participants, and about 50 others, mainly from Detroit and Flint, came as day students to one or more classes. The sessions were held that year in a wooded area sloping down to a clear stream, either in a lodge on the hillside or in an open-air amphitheater nearby.
To ensure that the School would continue season after season, the Egglestons worked diligently to improve the physical plant. A small barn was partitioned into private rooms and became the Pullman Lodge. A dining porch was added to the main house to improve the serving of meals. For nearly twenty years the Egglestons poured out their energy, effort, and money in improving and maintaining the accommodations. Finally, in 1949 they deeded to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States the school buildings and the land on which they stood. In the late 1970s Louhelen underwent tremendous change, removing older buildings and erecting new ones. In 1983, the National Spiritual Assembly opened the buildings which currently comprise Louhelen. But we didn't stop there. We are constantly striving to add to Louhelen's usefulness for our guests, while maintaining its beauty, charm and peaceful atmosphere.
The vision of Louhelen's future, portrayed by letters from Shoghi Effendi
"… this institution [Central States Bahá'í Summer School] … is fair to develop into one of the leading and most promising cultural centers of the Cause throughout the United States." "[Postscript]: May the Almighty enable you to consolidate your achievements and to widen their range, and deepen their beneficent influence on the hearts and minds of all who are connected with this noble and magnificent institution."
(From a letter dated June 24th 1937, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual. Postscript by Shoghi Effendi.)
"… the Louhelen School … has been an immense help in training the believers - particularly the youth - in all aspects of the teachings, and it will grow in the future to be a seat of Bahá'í education."
(From a letter dated April 10th 1947, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to individuals.)
"The Guardian hopes that Louhelen will increase its Bahá'í activities in every way possible, and spread abroad the benign influence of the love for and dedication to the service of humanity for which it stands. …" "He cherishes great hopes for the futures of this Bahá'í Center."
(From a letter dated July 6th 1942, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to individuals.)
"He sincerely hopes that as years go by the Louhelen Ranch will develop to be … a great center for the reunion of the friends and the spread of the spirit and teachings of the Cause."
(From a letter dated November 16th 1931, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual.)
"The services rendered by Louhelen School are growing more and more important, and he rejoices to see the friends flocking there, Summer and Winter, to study, exchange ideas and grow closer to each other."
(From a letter dated March 13th 1946, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís who attended the Louhelen Session of January, 1946.)
The above quotes come from Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, who guided the Bahá'í World Community from the Holy Land in Haifa, Israel from 1921 until his death in 1957. He was authorized to interpret the writings of Baha'u'llah, his Great-Grandfather during the period of his Guardianship of the Bahá'í International Community. Shoghi Effendi's extensive writings, translations and interpretations of Bahá'u'lláh's writings provided the guidance that allowed for the strength and maturity of the rapidly growing Faith and its institutions to increase.