Bahá'í Faith in Colombia

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The Bahá'í Faith in Colombia begins with references to the country in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916,[1] with Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1927.[2] The first Colombian joined the religion in 1929[3] and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Bogotá in 1944[4] with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States and achieved an independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1961.[5] By 1963 there were eleven local assemblies.[6] In the 1980s institutions were developed in Colombia that have influenced activities inside and independent of the religion in other countries: FUNDAEC[7][8] and the Ruhi Institute.[9] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 70,000 Bahá'ís (0.2% of the population) in 2005.[10]

`Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan[edit]

`Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, wrote a series of letters, or tablets, to the followers of the religion in the United States in 1916-1917; these letters were compiled together in the book titled Tablets of the Divine Plan. The sixth of the tablets was the first to mention Latin American regions and was written on April 8, 1916, but was delayed in being presented in the United States until 1919 — after the end of World War I and the Spanish flu. The sixth tablet was translated and presented by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab on April 4, 1919, and published in Star of the West magazine on December 12, 1919.[11]

"His Holiness Christ says: Travel ye to the East and to the West of the world and summon the people to the Kingdom of God. ... the republic of be familiar with the Spanish language...Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the seventh country Belize...Attach great importance to the indigenous population of America...Likewise the islands of ...Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, ... Bahama Islands, even the small Watling Island...Haiti and Santo Domingo...the islands of Bermuda... the republics of the continent of South America—Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, The Guianas, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela; also the islands to the north, east and west of South America, such as Falkland Islands, the Galapagòs, Juan Fernandez, Tobago and Trinidad...."[1]

Following the release of these tablets and then `Abdu'l-Bahá's death in 1921, a few Bahá'ís began moving to or at least visiting Latin America. In 1927 Leonora Armstrong was the first Bahá'í to visit and give lectures about the religion in Colombia as part of her plan to compliment and complete Martha Root's unfulfilled intention of visiting all the Latin American countries for the purpose of presenting the religion to an audience.[2] Aura Sanchez of Bogotá is credited as the first Colombian Bahá'í. She joined the religion in 1929 after hearing of the religion from an American who was in that country.[3]

Early Phase[edit]

Shoghi Effendi, who was named `Abdu'l-Bahá's successor, wrote a cable on May 1, 1936 to the Bahá'í Annual Convention of the United States and Canada, and asked for the systematic implementation of `Abdu'l-Bahá's vision to begin.[5] In his cable he wrote:

"Appeal to assembled delegates ponder historic appeal voiced by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Tablets of the Divine Plan. Urge earnest deliberation with incoming National Assembly to insure its complete fulfillment. First century of Bahá'í Era drawing to a close. Humanity entering outer fringes most perilous stage its existence. Opportunities of present hour unimaginably precious. Would to God every State within American Republic and every Republic in American continent might ere termination of this glorious century embrace the light of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and establish structural basis of His World Order."[12]

Following the May 1st cable, another cable from Shoghi Effendi came on May 19 calling for permanent pioneers to be established in all the countries of Latin America. The Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada was appointed the Inter-America Committee to take charge of the preparations. During the 1937 Bahá'í North American Convention, Shoghi Effendi cabled advising the convention to prolong their deliberations to permit the delegates and the National Assembly to consult on a plan that would enable Bahá'ís to go to Latin America as well as to include the completion of the outer structure of the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois.[5] In 1937 the First Seven Year Plan (1937–44), which was an international plan designed by Shoghi Effendi, gave the American Bahá'ís the goal of establishing the Bahá'í Faith in every country in Latin America. With the spread of American Bahá'ís in Latin American, Bahá'í communities and Local Spiritual Assemblies began to form in 1938 across Latin America.[5]

The permanent Colombian Bahá'í community dates from the arrival of Gerard Sluter in 1940.[5][13] The next pioneer to arrive was Ruth Shoock who arrived in November–December 1942.[14] followed closely by Winifred Louise Baker in later January 1943.[15] Carlos Nieto is credited with being the first convert - he was from Barranquilla.[16]

Dorothy Beecher Baker, later a Hand of the Cause, had a daughter, Winifred Louise Baker, who pioneered to Colombia in January 1943.[17] Later in 1943 Dorothy spent a month in Colombia visiting the Bahá'ís and her daughter.[18] By January 1944 there were six Colombian converts to the religion[19] and they helped elect the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly which was in Bogotá that January.[4] In 1943 during the annual Bahá'í convention of the United States, Shoghi Effendi announced a Northern-and Southern- international convention which would include representatives from each state and province from the United States and Canada and each republic of Latin America. This 1944 centenary of the religion's All-America Convention's Colombian delegate was Josepbina Rodriquez.[16] By September there were 25 Bahá'ís in Bogotá with about an equal number studying the religion actively.[20] By June 1945 a campaign of letter exchanges had raised an assembly in Mogotes and there were converts among people at a leper colony at Contratacion[21] and individuals in Cartagena and Medellín and interested responses from several other cities.[22] Around October 1946 Gayle Woolson took an extended trip through several towns of Colombia including Cali, Medellín, Cartagena and Barranquilla as well as some towns in Ecuador.[23]


As 1947 opened assemblies were added in Cali, Medellín, Cartagena and Contratacion.[24] Gayle Woolson was again touring several cities of Colombia - Medellín, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga and Mogotes. The members of the Medellín assembly were Francisco Onego R., Bernarda Yepes, Margarita Caicedo, Hernando Jaramillo A., William Gomez M., Dario Echavarria, John Carder, Augusto Mora, Jose Ramos.[25] By July 1947 a regional committee for South America Central American was organizing developments across the continent.[26] Retrospectively a stated purpose for the committee was to facilitate a shift in the balance of roles from North American guidance and Latin cooperation to Latin guidance and North American cooperation.[27] The process was well underway by 1950 and was to be enforced about 1953. Meanwhile, a regional committee oversaw Colombian activities headed by Dr. Saul Hernández out of Bogotá[28] and Woolson's travels were covered by newspaper and radio press.[29]

The second South American Bahá'í Congress was celebrated in Santiago, Chile, in January, 1948 though Colombia had had more new assemblies form[30] - however it was too remote for general logistics. Colombia focused its efforts welcoming Bahá'ís who attended the Pan-American Conference instead.[31] In October 1949 Colombia hosted a conference for Colombian, Ecuadoran and Venezuelan Bahá'ís on the progress of the religion in their areas[32] however all the participants save two teachers came from the Colombian cities of Bogotá, Barranquilla, Cali and Medellín.[33] Then came the prospect of decision making coming from the Latino communities and North Americans supporting their choices. Assemblies across South America failed to reform on their own but several were able to be "activated" during 1950–1.[34] Pioneers listed for Colombia in 1950 were Gayle Woolson, Elise Schreiber, and Dorothy Campbell.[35] In 1950, the South American Bahá'ís formed a regional Spiritual Assembly for South America whose first members were Edmund Miessler of Brazil, Margot Worley of Brazil, Eve Nicklin of Peru, Gayle Woolson of Colombia, Esteban Canales of Paraguay, Mercedes Sanchez of Peru, Dr. Alexander Reid of Chile, Rangvald Taetz of Uruguay, and Manuel Vera of Peru.[36] Of the 25 delegates for the 1951 election, 4 were from Colombia.[37]

Developing communities of Bahá'ís by the early 1960s

From 1951 youth groups were being organized for Bahá'ís in Barranquilla and Cali.[38] In November 1953 pioneers listed for Colombia were Meredith W. Smith and Elton M. Smith.[39] In 1954 Gayle Woolson[40] and Katherine McLaughlin[41] in 1955 was touring Colombia and nearby countries. Mr. and Mrs. Donald Barrett arrived in Bogota, Colombia, in January, 1955.[42] In 1956 Woolson went on pilgrimage and toured sharing her experience[43] and the national center of Colombia was dedicated.[44]

The next restructuring of the regional assembly came in 1957 when it was split into two - basically northern/eastern South America with the Republics of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, in Lima, Peru and one of the western/southern South America with the Republics of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia in Buenos Aires, Argentina.[6] The convention for northern/eastern Bahá'ís was witnessed by Horace Holley as the representative of Shoghi Effendi.[45] A small book on the Buddha was produced in 1957 by the national assembly.[46] The Colombian Bahá'í community held its first summer school during a national conference in Medelin in January 1958.[47] In 1960 the first assemblies were elected at Manizales,[48] Pereira,[49] and Cartagena.[50] The Bahá'ís of Cali hosted the 4th convention of the regional assembly.[51] In 1960 a three-day conference of the World Association of World Federalists was held in Germany and was attended by Colombian delegates and Bahá'ís associated with the Bahá'í International Community. A Colombian delegate responded positively to the suggestion of a relationship between spirituality and the World Federalist Movement.[52]

There were 19 delegates to the convention to elect the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Colombia in 1961.[53] The election was witnessed by Hand of the CauseShu'á'u'lláh 'Alá'i[54] who made a public address to at the Museum of Colonial Art before the convention.[55] Its first members were:[56] Charles Hornby, A.K. Kalantar, Luis Montenegro, Ervin L. Thomas, Leonor Porras, Jamshid Meghnot, Marjorie Weddell, Habib Rezvani, and Gloria de Fritzsche. Events and the election were covered by Revista Semana of the May 15, 1961 issue in a full page article.[57] In short order the national assembly began publishing its Noticias Bahá'is de Colombia as its official publication.[58] The March–April 1961 issue of Cronicos-Israel y America Latina, published in Colombia, carried an article on the religion.[59] It was also in 1961 that the religion was brought to the region of the Guajira department.[60] In 1962 four new assemblies were elected -one of them all-Indian[61] and the national assembly was legally incorporated as well.[62]

In 1963 the members of the national assemblies of the world were the delegates to elect the first Universal House of Justice. The Colombian members of the national assembly that year were: Gloria de Fritzsche, Charles Homby, Louis Montenegro, Leonor Porras, Habib Rezvani, Ellen Sims, Ervin Thomas, Wilma Thomas, Stewart M. Waddell; all of whom were able to attend the international connvention together.[53][63] In 1963 there were Local Spiritual Assemblies in: Barranquilla, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, one for the region of Southeast Guajira, Leticia (Amazonas), Manizales, Medellín, Pereira, and Riohacha with smaller groups of Bahá'ís in Dibulla and Ibagué, and isolated Bahá'ís in Maicao and Palmira and among it were members of the Wayuu in the La Guajira Department.[6]

Nine Year Plan and the organization of Colombian Bahá'ís[edit]

The Bahá'ís of Colombia were given 10 goals for the Nine Year Plan designated by the Universal House of Justice which started in 1964 and Colombia was singled out as having succeeded in its goals so early that several goals were raised in response.[64] The goals included developing school programs. The 1964 summer school was held in November and covered subjects of newly translated The Dawn-Breakers and The Thief in the Night, a book by Hand of the Cause William Sears and variousBahá'í teachings and administration.[65] There was also a separate convention/camp for children.[66] A new organizational unit, the Institute or Training Institute, was another goal[64][67] and Colombia's first one began to organize and operate in 1965 as part of initiatives focused on the Indian population in the La Guajira region.[68] There was also several series of progressive institute courses used among the Bahá'ís.[64] A regional conference on the progress of the religion in the region was called by the Hands of the Cause in the western hemisphere in the summer of 1965 at the Bogotá national center along with representatives of the national assembly of Ecuador, Colombia and of the communities of Bogota, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cali, Manizalez, Pereira, Ibagué,and Ciénaga de Oro.[69] By winter 1965 there were many Baha'is among both the Colombian and Venezuelan Guajiros, about 1,000 on the Colombian side and 1,500 on the Venezuelan side.[70] Another stated goal was in the realm of international cooperation[64] - the newly developing Indian Institute of Riohacha was shared with the Venezuelans during the first Guajiro Teacher Training Institute held at Riohacha. Among the participants in this first training were: Rosalba Pimienta, Tiana Arpushana, Tomas Pimienta, Juan Artiz Pimienta, Martha Duarte Arpushana, Maria Teresa Duarte Arpushana, Carmen Pimienta Arpushana, and Martha Epiaya all of Colombia and Rogelio Hernández, José Martin Sempron, Cecilia del Carmen Iguaran, and Maria Cecilía González all of Venezuela. The next institute was held in January 1966 at which the dedication of the building was set and the building, called the Villa Rahmat, as an Institute was completed by August.[71] After constructing the Guajiro Teaching Institute the community united in sending financial aid to Kenya, thus fulfilling that goal.[64] Further to supporting international cooperation among Bahá'í communities the three national assemblies of Brazil, Colombia and Peru joined forces in 1965-66 and sent material resources and traveling teachers for the development of the religion in the elevated Amazon area[72] and Colombia in particular sent pioneers beyond its national borders.[64] First contact with the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina for the Bahá'ís came in 1966 when Helen Hornby[73] and her husband pioneered there.[74] By 1967 there was an election of a local assembly in San Andrés, with a community of nearly one hundred members and sixty-four on Providencia and across Colombia the goal of Bahá'ís living in 100 localities was more than doubled and one locality has been established in each of (then) sixteen departments and other civic divisions.[64] By 1967 eight local assemblies were formed among the Motilones.[64][75] In late 1967 into 1968 Vicente Montezuma, a Panamanian Guaymí who had previously served in the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Panama, pioneered to the rural areas of Colombia and promulgated the religion especially among the Choco speaking Indians.[76] Almost overlapping his trip Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum traveled through Venezuela and Colombia from February 1968.[77] On the evening of February 29 she arrived at the Villa Rahmat, the Guajiro Indian Institute. The next evening she showed slides of her trips to Panama, Bolivia, and Argentina Indian to about thirty Riohacha adult and children Bahá'ís. Soon she traveled with local Bahá'ís to the sea salt harvest sands at Manaure. From there the group went to the homeland of the Yukpa(Yuko) in the Cesar Department where she camped in a Plaintain grove. There she promulgated the religion indirectly, by being known as a Bahá'í who was interested in their craft work even among avowed Bahá'ís. From there she and her group ascended into a more remote region and a machete wounded foot of a Bahá'í was tended. Later she offered that though she was raised largely in "city life" she had served an example of travel in the remote regions.[77] From there she visited the Bahá'ís in Barranquilla and Bogotá where she also gave talks. Upon reaching Bogotá several newspapers covered her work - El Espectador, carried a featured story "El Bahá'í Busca la Unidad Humana" by Margarita Vidal Garcia. While in the area she met Leonora Armstrong.[77] Meanwhile, in May one of the first Bahá'ís in San Andrés insisted on a Bahá'í funeral which in turn was covered by local radio and attended by some 500 people including civic and religious leaders and resulted in a large venue for the observance of the Bahá'í Holy Day, the Declaration of the Báb.[78]

Cross border activity in La Guajira continued in 1969 with Venezuelan Guajiro Bahá'ís traveling in Colombia and Colombian Guajiro Bahá'ís attending activities in Venezuela.[79] At the 1969 national convention a number of Yukon/Yukpa delegates attended.[80] The October summer school was held in Cali.[81] And a training institute was established in the Chocó region.[82]

In May 1970 an all-Guajiro Bahá'í conference brought together some 200 Bahá'ís from the region for talks and lessons offered in Spanish and Guajira languages including a history of the religion in the region including noting 110 local assemblies being elected that year: 57 in Colombia: 53 in Venezuela, as well as the dedication of a local Bahá'í House of Worship.[83] In April Hand of the Cause Enoch Olinga took a trip through Colombia[84] and in July a continental conference of Bahá'ís was held in Bolivia at which several delegates from Colombia attended[85] while others from Colombia worked in Brazil.[86] In September new pioneer Bahá'ís reached Santa Lucía, Atlántico - by 1971 there were over 400 Bahá'ís including the mayor, three classes begun, a regional convention on the progress of the religion, and an institute were operating.[87] In 1970 about fifteen people accounted as the active core of the community in Cali.[88] They began what would turn into - in about two decades - the Ruhi Institute (see below.)

An informal summary of the community in 1971 showed about 1000 Bahá'ís and expectations of doubling the number of assemblies among the Guajiro Bahá'ís.[89] In 1972 Guajiro Bahá'ís attended the dedication of the Panamanian Bahá'í House of Worship[90] and the Bahá'í population of Santa Lucía was reported at 1200 and had reached neighboring villages during a follow-up conference in at Manaure.[91] In 1973 Luis Montenegro, former long term member of the National Assembly of Colombia died while climbing the mountains of the Yukpa(Yuko), or Motilon, Indians.[92] At the close of the Nine Year Plan changes had indeed been wrought in Colombia.

Projects and developments, wider growth[edit]

In 1974 a conference was held in Cali with Bahá'ís from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia attending and now appointed Continental Counselor Leonora Armstrong attended.[92] A national training institute was dedicated.[93] The first of the Paez people joined the religion in 1974 due to the service of a Panamanian Bahá'í traveling in Colombia.[94] In 1975 Ruhiyyih Khanum returned to Colombia but this time it was on the side of the tropical forest during the Green Light Expedition recording her travel up the Amazon river and through other rivers and adjoining lands.[95] She entered Leticia.[96] where she was interviewed by reporters and met with a Ticuna speaking chief and then citizens of the village.[97] By 1978 a Bahá'í center was raised in Leticia.[98] In 1976 the first citizen of Archipiélago de San Bernardo joined the religion in 1976.[99] Print materials were being produced in Colombia and circulated there and in Ecuador.[100] The religion was introduced to Sogamoso.[101] The fifth All-Guajira Conference was held in July in Venezuela.[102] In 1977 the Brazil, Colombia and Peru Bahá'í communities formed a committee to coordinate efforts in the border regions deep in the Amazon.[103] A 1978 institute covered the relationship between the elected and appointed aspects of Bahá'í administration for some 30 Bahá'ís in Riohacha.[103] In 1980 the Bahá'í International Community reported on projects Bahá'ís communities had carried out for the International Year of the Child - the national assembly of Colombia published a compilation Educacion Espiritual de los Niños[104][not in citation given] and the Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum International Institute of the Amazon Region was dedicated February in Leticia.[105][not in citation given] In April on the west side of Colombia and the Bahá'ís of Pasto hosted the first Colombian-Ecuadorian Bahá'í Frontier Conference on the promulgation of the religion in the area with about 120 participants. Under the cooperation of the two national assemblies a commission was appointed to coordinate efforts in the area. Among the initiatives reviewed was the Ecuadorian Bahá'í Radio station who's broadcast covers some of Ecuador and Colombia.[105][not in citation given] In addition to more Bahá'ís the goal's included the responsibility for children's classes, women's activities, and assembly development programs and was centered from the Puerta Tejada Ruhi Institute and graduation was the act of explaining each completed course satisfactorily to at least five other Bahá'ís. Attendees at the conference also reviewed the events surrounding the death of Enoch Olinga, his wife, and three of their children, as well as the life of service of Rahmatu'lláh Muhájir who had died in Ecuador the year before.

In 1982 some 1,300 Baha'is from 42 countries gathered August in Quito, the second of five such gatherings. 13 Continental Counsellors, representatives of 24 of the 29 National Spiritual Assemblies in Latin America and the Caribbean, and members of 21 Indian tribes from Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, United States and Venezuela attended. The Conferences were dedicated to the memory of Bahiyyih Khánum.[106]

The idea for a Trail of Light occurred during preparations for the first Bahá'í Native Council (see Bahá'í Faith and Native Americans) in 1978. Another inspiration for the Trail of Light was the concept of promulgating the religion among the indigenous peoples in the Pacific Rim that was described by the Hand of the Cause Rahmátu'llah Muhájir in 1978. The Trail of Light, also known as Camino del Sol, was defined as a process whereby native Bahá'ís engaged with diverse native peoples about a number of issues including promulgating their religion as well as organizing councils for the people and encouraged discovery of mutual cultural links across the native peoples. The first Trail of Light traveling trip by 22 members of the religion occurred spontaneously immediately after the council.[107][108] In 1985 the Trail of Light project began its work in Colombia.[109] Among the participants were two youth from the Guaymi tribe in Panama; six members from the Guajiros, the Colombo-Venezuelan tribe, and two youth from the Paez, a tribe in southern Colombia. They first traveled to the Guajira region and re-affirmed the religion among the Bahá'ís there and the group performed dances which inspired the Guajiros to offer their own dance, the Chichamaya, which had been illegal. The group was invited to the local high school where the Guaymis shared the story of the impact of the religion among their people (see Bahá'í Faith in Panama.) The group was then invited to the elementary school. From Guajira the group headed to Valledupar and then on to the homeland of the Arhuaco tribe in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. There the group met with the leadership, the Mamos, or elders of the community for permission to present the message they had come to give. Various of the group presented to the Mamos including the Guaymi and their interpretation of their own prophecies. An elder shared that the Arhuaco had a similar prophecy. The Trail of Light group was allowed to make their presentations and exchanges of dances and talks followed. From there the group traveled to see the Yukpa(Yuko) tribe. With the Yuko the group was able to hold a unity feast and shared dances and stayed for three days before heading home.

Since its inception the religion has had involvement in socio-economic development beginning by giving greater freedom to women,[110] promulgating the promotion of female education as a priority concern,[111] and that involvement was given practical expression by creating schools, agricultural coops, and clinics.[110] Since the 1970s the Colombian Bahá'ís have developed a pair of important institutions - FUNDAEC, and the Ruhi Institute.


Main article: FUNDAEC

Against a backdrop of serious social disruption and violence across Colombia Bahá'ís turned to service to the people living in the countryside. In 1974 FUNDAEC[112] was founded by group of professors at the University of Valle.[113] According to Gustav Correa, director of FUNDAEC, it was originally inspired by a quotation from Bahá'u'lláh - "Baha'u'llah talks about man as 'a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.' He says that 'education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom'.[113] In 1983 Gustavo Correa presented on the FUNDAEC project to Association for Bahá'í Studies 8th annual Conference.[8] In 1985 an advisor of a development committee assisting the Anís Zunúzí Bahá'í School visited the FUNDAEC project in Cali to look for insights in development work.[8]

One of the authors was Farzam Arbab and president of FUNDAEC from 1974 to 1988,[114] would also serve in several capacities for the religion including being a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Colombia, a Continental Counsellor, appointed to the International Teaching Centre and eventually elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1993.[115]

FUNDAEC has instituted a number of development projects: the Centro Universitario de Bienestar Rural,[116] the "Tutorial Learning System" or "SAT" (the Spanish acronym for "Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial") and a micro-finance Project. The SAT was particularly successful with cutting the process of urbanization, increases in democratic behavior and aspects of gender equality, extra curricular activities in communities, stopping migratory movement of populations, and established public-private cooperation in Colombia.[7] By 2002 the SAT system was in use in Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia and the first phases of the implementation of the program have started in Zambia.[113][117][118] Parallel to SAT, FUNDAEC began a micro-finance initiative as well.[119]

Ruhi Institute[edit]

Main article: Ruhi Institute

In Colombia the Ruhi Institute, a Bahá'í study circle, began as an initiative of the community with a commitment starting in 1970.[88] In 1980 a Ruhi Institute was operating in the border area where Ecuador and Colombia meet.[105] About 1980 one of the Auxiliary Board members in Colombia entered into a process of consultation with several rural communities around the town of Puerto Tejada in order to help them identify steps. they could take to improve their own social conditions.[120] An early aim was to establish nurseries and kindergartens. In 1983 it published its first course Principles and Beliefs, Course 1: Life and Death.[121] The courses developed as a "Core Activities Initiative".[122] In 1983 there was discussion of using the Ruhi Institute process in the Dominican Republic[123] and in Puerto Rico.[124] In 1984 Bahá'í Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela met at the Ruhi Institute in Puerto Tejada and discussed the Ruhi Institute courses[125] and the Ruhi courses were used in the Central African Republic.[126] Counsellors and representatives of 17 National Spiritual Assemblies in the Caribbean basin and Latin America gathered in St. Lucia to introduce and study materials prepared at the Ruhi Institute in Colombia[127] and Honduran Bahá'ís attended the Cali Ruhi Institute with the intention of returning to Honduras as trainers in the Ruhi methods.[9] In 1987 the institute wrote its first course book on the education of children.[120] In 1988 the national assembly decided to seek legal recognition for the Ruhi Institute by incorporating it as an organization with its own Board of Directors appointed by the assembly.[128] It dedicates its efforts to the development of human resources for the spiritual, social, and cultural development of the Colombian people. Although its center is in the town of Puerto Tejada in the department of Cauca, its area of influence extends throughout the entire country. Especially in recent years, its educational programs have been adopted by an increasing number of agencies worldwide.[128]

If individuals developed interests in contributing to society beyond those of the formal Ruhi courses they were introduced to the opportunities provided by FUNDAEC.[129]

Recent situation[edit]


In 2000 the World Christian Encyclopedia estimated some 64,000 Bahá'ís in Colombia ranking it as among the top 20 Bahá'í communities of the world.[130] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated there were 70,512 Bahá'ís (0.2% of the population) in the country in 2005.[10] Wolfram Alpha estimated 0.1531% of Colombians or almost 69,000 people were Bahá'ís in 2010.[131]

First local House of Worship[edit]

In 2012 the Universal House of Justice announced the first local Bahá'í Houses of Worship would be built. One of these was specified in Norte del Cauca, Colombia.[132] The design for this local house of worship, to be situated in Agua Azul, was unveiled on 14 September 2014.[133]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916-17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-87743-233-3. 
  2. ^ a b prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice. (1986), "In Memoriam", The Bahá'í World, Bahá'í World Centre, XVIII: 733–736, ISBN 0-85398-234-1 
  3. ^ a b "Around the World; Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 577. April 1979. p. 19. 
  4. ^ a b "Bahá'ís of Bogotá…". Bahá'í News. No. 172. December 1944. p. 11. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Lamb, Artemus (November 1995). The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition. 1405 Killarney Drive, West Linn OR, 97068, United States of America: M L VanOrman Enterprises. 
  6. ^ a b c 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. Haifa, Israel: Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. 1963. pp. 16, 19, 77. 
  7. ^ a b CRECE: Centro de Estudios Regionales, Cafeteros y Empresariales (August 2001). "Successful Alternatives for Rural Education: Tutorial Learning System (TLS) and New School Methodology Rural Post-Primary". Regional Policy Dialogue on Education and Human Resources Training Network, Second Meeting: Secondary Education. Manizales, Colombia: Inter-American Development Bank. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  8. ^ a b c "Canada - Association's 8th annual Conference". Bahá'í News. No. 634. January 1984. pp. 8–10. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  9. ^ a b "The World; Honduras". Bahá'í News. No. 648. March 1985. p. 13. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  10. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  11. ^ Abbas, 'Abdu'l-Bahá (April 1919). Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab (trans. and comments). 
  12. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1947). Messages to America. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Committee. p. 6. OCLC 5806374. 
  13. ^ "Inter-America Addresses". Bahá'í News. No. 139. October 1940. p. 5. 
  14. ^ "Inter-America News". Bahá'í News. No. 158. December 1942. p. 2. 
  15. ^ "Inter-America News". Bahá'í News. No. 159. January 1943. p. 2. 
  16. ^ a b "All American Unity". Bahá'í News. No. 171. November 1944. p. 4. 
  17. ^ "Dorothy Baker - Golden years of a life of service to Cause". Bahá'í News. No. 623. February 1983. pp. 6–11. 
  18. ^ "Excerpts from an Inter-America Report Received Prior to the Convention; South America". Bahá'í News. No. 169. July 1944. p. 7. 
  19. ^ "Inter-America News; Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 167. January 1944. p. 8. 
  20. ^ "The Latin-American Session". Bahá'í News. No. 170. September 1944. p. 4. 
  21. ^ "Briefs from Letters of Pioneer; Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 175. June 1945. p. 10. 
  22. ^ "Correspondence Teaching in Latin America". Bahá'í News. No. 193. March 1947. p. 2. 
  23. ^ "Latin-American News". Bahá'í News. No. 188. October 1946. p. 7. 
  24. ^ "Latin America Has Arisen With a Will". Bahá'í News. No. 196. June 1947. p. 14. 
  25. ^ "Active Young People constitute…". Bahá'í News. No. 188. September 1947. p. 9. 
  26. ^ "Latin American Administration Develops". Bahá'í News. No. 197. July 1947. p. 3. 
  27. ^ "Historical Background of the Panama Temple". Bahá'í News. No. 493. April 1972. p. 2. 
  28. ^ "International School Marks Latin American Progress". Bahá'í News. No. 198. August 1947. p. 7. 
  29. ^ "We Can Learn from Latin America". Bahá'í News. No. 199. September 1947. p. 8. 
  30. ^ "Latin American News; Plans for Congresses". Bahá'í News. No. 200. October 1947. p. 8. 
  31. ^ "Latin American News; Intensive Teaching Campaign Initialed". Bahá'í News. No. 200. October 1947. p. 8. 
  32. ^ "Latin American News". Bahá'í News. No. 224. October 1949. p. 10. 
  33. ^ "Latin American News". Bahá'í News. No. 226. December 1949. p. 8. 
  34. ^ "Inter-America Work Moves Forward". Bahá'í News. No. 243. May 1951. p. 6. 
  35. ^ "Inter-America Work Moves Forward". Bahá'í News. No. 234. August 1950. p. 9. 
  36. ^ "Comunidad Bahá'í en Chile". National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile. Archived from the original on 16 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  37. ^ "Latin-American News; Election of Delegates". Bahá'í News. No. 240. February 1951. pp. 11–12. 
  38. ^ "International News; South America". Bahá'í News. No. 264. February 1953. p. 7. 
  39. ^ "National Spiritual Assembly; Third Pioneer Report". Bahá'í News. No. 273. November 1953. p. 10. 
  40. ^ "Teaching Missions by Members of Auxiliary Board". Bahá'í News. No. 284. October 1954. p. 1. 
  41. ^ "Teaching Missions by Members of Auxiliary Board". Bahá'í News. No. 288. February 1955. p. 1. 
  42. ^ "Arrivals in Consolidation Areas". Bahá'í News. No. 291. May 1955. p. 7. 
  43. ^ "American Auxiliary Board Continues Visits throughout Western Hemisphere". Bahá'í News. No. 303. May 1956. p. 8. 
  44. ^ "American Auxiliary Board Continues Visits throughout Western Hemisphere". Bahá'í News. No. 312. February 1957. p. 2. 
  45. ^ "International News; Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela form National Assembly in Lima". Bahá'í News. No. 312. July 1957. p. 2. 
  46. ^ Buddha - Prophet of God by Donald Witzel , Translated by Carmelo Pérez Toledo. Published in The Light Shines in Any Lamp 1 Bogota-Colombia: National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Peru Originally published as "Buddha: Prophet of God" in Spanish.
  47. ^ "Three Dedarations Result from Loncoche School". Bahá'í News. No. 327. May 1958. p. 21. 
  48. ^ "First Local Spiritual Assembly of…". Bahá'í News. No. 353. August 1960. p. 19. 
  49. ^ "Local Assemblies formed, Ridvan 1960". Bahá'í News. No. 354. September 1960. p. 12. 
  50. ^ "First Local Spiritual AssemMy of…". Bahá'í News. No. 359. February 1961. p. 13. 
  51. ^ "National Conventions Recount Growth of Faith; Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela". Bahá'í News. No. 354. September 1960. p. 14. 
  52. ^ "Baha'is Contribute Spiritual Teachings to Cologne World Federalist Conference". Bahá'í News. No. 356. November 1960. pp. 4–5. 
  53. ^ a b Rabbani, Ruhiyyih (Ed.) (1992). The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963. Bahá'í World Centre. pp. 403, 408. ISBN 0-85398-350-X. 
  54. ^ "Hands of Faith Plan Extensive Travels". Bahá'í News. No. 357. December 1960. p. 4. 
  55. ^ "Six More Latin-American NSAs Report on Formation; Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 365. August 1961. p. 3. 
  56. ^ Latin American nations elect assemblies for 50th time, Historical Photographs; Elections of 1961
  57. ^ "Bahá'í in the News". Bahá'í News. No. 366. September 1961. pp. 12–16. 
  58. ^ "New Latin American NSA's Begin Issuing National News Bulletins". Bahá'í News. No. 367. October 1961. p. 13. 
  59. ^ "Bahá'í in the News". Bahá'í News. No. 369. December 1961. p. 19. 
  60. ^ "National Conventions Celebrate Victories, Gird Believers for Further Teaching Tasks". Bahá'í News. No. 376. July 1962. pp. 10–11. 
  61. ^ "International Council Recounts Victories; Progress Among the Indians of Western Hemisphere". Bahá'í News. No. 378. September 1962. p. 3. 
  62. ^ "National Incorporation Marks Another Crusade Accomplishment in Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 381. December 1962. p. 4. 
  63. ^ The list according to the Bahá'í News differs. This may have been a bi-election or error between the sources. The list according to Bahá'í News was: Habib Rezvani, Luis Montenegro (chairman), Gloria Fritzschel (recording secretary), Betty Toomes (secretary), Stewart Waddell (treasurer), Charles Hornby, Ellen Sims, Elahi Kalantar (vice-chairman), Leonor Porras."Annual Convention of Colombia Emphasizes Indian Teaching". Bahá'í News. No. 390. September 1963. p. 5. 
  64. ^ a b c d e f g h "Universal House of Justice Approves Supplementary Goals for Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 433. April 1967. p. 6. 
  65. ^ "Joyous Spirit Permeates Colombian School". Bahá'í News. No. 397. April 1964. p. 4. 
  66. ^ "Colombia Holds First Children's Camp". Bahá'í News. No. 397. April 1964. p. 4. 
  67. ^ Universal House of Justice; Department of the Secretariat (December 1998). "Extracts From Messages Written By The Universal House of Justice On The Four Year Plan Related To Training Institutes". The Bahá'í Community of Guelph: 1. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  68. ^ "Colombians Set for Intensive Indian Teaching". Bahá'í News. No. 412. July 1965. p. 6. 
  69. ^ "Bogota, Colombia Hosts Regional Teaching Congress". Bahá'í News. No. 419. February 1966. p. 5. 
  70. ^ "Colombia-Venezuela join Forces in Indian Teaching". Bahá'í News. No. 420. March 1966. pp. 5–6. 
  71. ^ "Five Indian Delegates Attend Colombian Convention". Bahá'í News. No. 425. August 1966. p. 8. 
  72. ^ "South America Meets New Challenges". Bahá'í News. No. 426. September 1966. p. 6. 
  73. ^ Helen Hornby is well known as the compiler of reference volumes before computerized text search tools existed - Bahá'u'lláh; 'Abdu'l-Bahá; Effendi, Shoghi; Helen Hornby (1988) [1983]. Lights of Guidance - A Bahá'í Reference File (3rd ed.). New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1999. ISBN 978-81-85091-46-4. 
  74. ^ "Colombia Opens San Andre and Providence Islands". Bahá'í News. No. 426. September 1966. p. 7. 
  75. ^ "Motilón Indians of Colombia Arise to Accept Faith". Bahá'í News. No. 436. July 1967. pp. 5–7. 
  76. ^ "Guaymi Teacher Wins Cho(o Indians of Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 446. May 1968. pp. 8–9. 
  77. ^ a b c "'Amatu'l Baha Ruhfyyih Khanum Visits Venezuela and Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 449. August 1968. pp. 4–7, 10. 
  78. ^ "Passing of Baha'is Proclaims Faith". Bahá'í News. No. 450. September 1968. p. 18. 
  79. ^ "Guajiro Indians Demonstrate Strong Baha'i Potential". Bahá'í News. No. 450. May 1969. p. 5. 
  80. ^ "Delegates from the Motilón tribe…". Bahá'í News. No. 468. March 1970. p. 13. 
  81. ^ "Believers irom Bogota, Cali, Jamundi, Maiza!es,…". Bahá'í News. No. 468. March 1970. p. 17. 
  82. ^ "Youth, "in a wunderful atmosphere of love and happiness,"…". Bahá'í News. No. 469. April 1970. p. 19. 
  83. ^ "An International Conference: Venezuela - Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 473. August 1970. p. 19. 
  84. ^ "Group of Bahá'ís attending National Conference…". Bahá'í News. No. 476. November 1970. p. 8. 
  85. ^ "Continental and Oceanic Conferences Promote Goals of Nine Year Plan; Official welcome extended (section mentioning Colombia)". Bahá'í News. No. 476. November 1970. p. 3. 
  86. ^ "Victories won in Brazil". Bahá'í News. No. 477. December 1970. p. 14. 
  87. ^ "Sta. Lucia- A Success Story". Bahá'í News. No. 483. April 1972. p. 21. 
  88. ^ a b (The Ruhi Institute July 1991, p. 1)
  89. ^ "Mass Teaching is the only way to tell the people in time". Bahá'í News. No. 483. June 1971. p. 23. 
  90. ^ "Panamanian Temple: Dedication and International Conference; Dedication of the Temple". Bahá'í News. No. 496. July 1972. p. 9. 
  91. ^ "Him Will the Faithful Spirit Strengthen; Pioneer Teaching Trip Report-Baskin/Hansen". Bahá'í News. No. 496. July 1972. pp. 14–16. 
  92. ^ a b "Around the World; Colombia; Friends in Cali meet Counsellor Armstrong". Bahá'í News. No. 521. August 1974. p. 2. 
  93. ^ "Around the World; Colombia; Goals of Plan considered". Bahá'í News. No. 523. October 1974. p. 8. 
  94. ^ "Around the World; Panama; First Paez Indians enrolled in Cause". Bahá'í News. No. 521. August 1974. p. 4. 
  95. ^ "The green light expedition; A journey of friendship by Rúhíyyih Khánum to the Indian tribes of South America". Bahá'í News. No. 521. May 1975. pp. 2–13. 
  96. ^ "The green light expedition: part III; Youth told of their responsibilities for future". Bahá'í News. No. 521. October 1975. pp. 16–17. 
  97. ^ "The green light expedition: part IV; Youth told of their responsibilities for future". Bahá'í News. No. 521. February 1976. pp. 1–8. 
  98. ^ "Around the World; Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 567. June 1978. p. 15. 
  99. ^ "Around the World; Colombia; Pioneer reports gain in islands". Bahá'í News. No. 543. June 1976. pp. 7–8. 
  100. ^ "Around the World; Ecuador; Children's conference nets 17 declarations". Bahá'í News. No. 545. July 1976. p. 8. 
  101. ^ "Around the World; Ecuador; Children's conference nets 17 declarations". Bahá'í News. No. 551. February 1977. p. 14. 
  102. ^ "Around the World; Venezuela; Fifth All-Guajira Conference held at Los Mochos, Zulia". Bahá'í News. No. 559. October 1977. p. 8. 
  103. ^ a b "Around the World; New Amazon Committee notes teaching success". Bahá'í News. No. 560. November 1977. p. 16. 
  104. ^ "IYC report: A worldwide round-up of Bahá'í activities supporting the International Year of the Child; Ongoing Programs-4. Publications for and Concerning Children". Bahá'í News. No. 592. July 1980. p. 4. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  105. ^ a b c "Border teaching - Colombia, Ecuador seek closer ties to proclaim Cause". Bahá'í News. No. 594. September 1980. pp. 8–9. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  106. ^ "International Conferences Quito: Riding the 'high tide' of victory". Bahá'í News. No. 619. October 1982. p. 3. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  107. ^ "'Trail of Light' Native American teaching effort follows North American Baha'i Native Council". Bahá'í News. No. 594. September 1980. pp. 6–7. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  108. ^ "Alaska - A Baha'i community grows, matures". Bahá'í News. No. 607. October 1981. pp. 1–6. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  109. ^ "'Train of Light' completes successful visit". Bahá'í News. No. 656. November 1985. pp. 1–3. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  110. ^ a b Momen, Moojan. "History of the Baha'i Faith in Iran". draft "A Short Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith". Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  111. ^ Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi (1997). "Education of women and socio-economic development". Baha'i Studies Review. 7 (1). 
  112. ^ FUNDAEC is different from FUNDESCU though there are many similarities. FUNDAEC is the Colombian NGO based on Bahá'í consultations with Colombians starting in the 1970s and developed a number of projects like a secondary curriculum centered on skill development for living in the countryside and minimized urbanization for example. FUNDESCU is an older (from the 1950s) NGO in Panama based on Bahá'í consultations with Panamanian Indians and developed a system of schools serving largely remote areas. An agricultural project was attempted in the 1990s and was in fact based on cooperation between the Panamanian and Colombian NGOs but it failed from differences.Rhodenbaugh, Molly Marie (August 1999), "The Ngöbe Baha'is of Panama" (PDF), MA Thesis in Anthropology, Texas Tech University, pp. 119–123, archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-15 
  113. ^ a b c "Baha'i-inspired educational system for the poor of the world honored by the Club of Budapest". Bahá'í World News Service. Frankfurt, Germany: Bahá’í International Community. 22 December 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  114. ^ Methodologies and Development Strategies - Farzam Aarbab
  115. ^ Bahá'í International Community (2010-03-20). "Two new members elected to Universal House of Justice". Bahá'í World News Service. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  116. ^ Arbab, Farzam; Correa, Gustavo; de Valcarcel, Francia (1988). "FUNDAEC: Its Principles and its Activities". CELATER, Cali, Colombia. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  117. ^ "FUNDAEC, Colombia: Gustavo Correa Development Schools are Teaching Self Reliance". Change the World -- Best Practice Award. Club of Budapest. Archived from the original on 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  118. ^ Two Bahá'í International Community Projects: Cameroon and Zambia
  119. ^ "In Colombia, a microcredit project aims to re-awaken community solidarity". One Country. La Arrobleda, Cauca, Colombia: Bahá'í International Community. 1996 (April–June). 1996. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  120. ^ a b (The Ruhi Institute July 1991, pp. 46–7)
  121. ^ MacEoin, Denis; Collins, William. "Life after death". The Babi and Baha'i Religions: An Annotated Bibliography. Greenwood Press's ongoing series of Bibliographies and Indexes in Religious Studies. p. 1 (# 14). Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  122. ^ Baha’i Faith and Peace Education by Marie Gervais, University of Alberta Canada
  123. ^ "The World; Dominican Republic". Bahá'í News. No. 626. May 1983. p. 11. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  124. ^ "The World; Puerto Rico". Bahá'í News. No. 629. August 1983. p. 16. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  125. ^ "The World; Puerto Rico". Bahá'í News. No. 636. March 1984. p. 13. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  126. ^ "Central African Republic - Mobile institute aids teaching, deepening". Bahá'í News. No. 641. August 1984. pp. 6–7. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  127. ^ "The World; St. Lucia". Bahá'í News. No. 644. November 1984. p. 13. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  128. ^ a b (The Ruhi Institute July 1991, p. 55)
  129. ^ (The Ruhi Institute July 1991, pp. 49–50)
  130. ^ The Largest Baha'i Communities; Top 20 Largest National Baha'i Populations
  131. ^ "Colombia: population, capital, cities, GDP, map, flag, currency, languages, ...". Wolfram Alpha. Online. Wolfram - Alpha (curated data). March 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  132. ^ "Plans to build new Houses of Worship announced". Bahá'í World News Service. Bahá’í International Community. 22 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  133. ^ "Design of Colombian House of Worship unveiled". Bahá'í World News Service. Bahá’í International Community. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 2016-09-16. 

The Ruhi Institute (July 1991). Learning about Growth - The Story of the Ruhi Institute and Large-scale Expansion of the Bahá'í Faith in Colombia. Apartado Aéreo 7098, Cali, Colombia: Palabra Publications. 

External links[edit]