Bahá'í Faith in Panama

on the return leg of the trip up the west coast.cite paper
first = Jiling
last = Yang
author = Jiing Yang
authorlink =
coauthors = Under the direction of Ian Fletcher
title = In Search of Martha Root: An American Bahá'í Feminist and Peace Advocate in the early Twentieth Century
version = Electronic Version Approved
publisher = Office of Graduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Georgia State University
year = December 2005
url = http://etd.gsu.edu/theses/available/etd-11282005-004146/unrestricted/yang_jiling_200512_master.pdf
format = pdf
accessdate = 2008-06-30
] The first pioneers began to settle in Panama in 1940.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Comunidad Bahá'í de Panamá
work = Official Website of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Panama
publisher = [http://www.panamabahai.net/ Comunidad Nacional Bahá'í de Panamá]
date =
url = http://www.torrezcomputer.com/panamabahai/p1.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-06-30
] The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Panama, in Panama City, was elected in 1946,cite book | last = Lamb | first = Artemus | title = The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition | publisher = M L VanOrman Enterprises | date = 1995 | month = November | location = West Linn, OR | url = http://bahai-library.com/books/latinamerica.lamb.html] and the National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1961.cite web | last = Hassall | first = Graham | coauthors = Universal House of Justice | title = National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999 | work = Assorted Resource Tools | publisher = Bahá'í Academics Resource Library | url = http://bahai-library.org/asia-pacific/Notes%20on%20Research/national_spiritual_assemblies.htm | accessdate = 2008-04-02] The Bahá'ís of Panama raised a Bahá'í House of Worship in 1972.Citation
last = House of Justice
first = Universal
author-link = Universal House of Justice
last2 = compiled by W. Marks
first2 = Geoffry
title = Messaged from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986: The Third Epoch of the Formative Age
publisher = Bahá'í Publishing Trust
year = 1996
location = Wilmette, IL
pages = 212
url = http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/messages.1963-86.txt
doi =
id =
isbn = 0877432392
] In 1983 and again in 1992, some commemorative stamps were produced in Panamacite web
last = maintained by Tooraj
first = Enayat
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Bahá'í Stamps
work = Bahá'í Philately
publisher = Bahá'í Library Online
date =
url = http://bahai-library.com/stamps/BahaiStamps.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-06-30
] cite web
last = maintained by Tooraj
first = Enayat
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Bahá'í Stamps
work = Bahá'í Philately
publisher = Bahá'í Library Online
date =
url = http://bahai-library.com/stamps/BahaiStationery.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-06-30
] while the community turned its interests to the San Miguelito and Chiriqui regions of Panama with schools and a radio station.Citation
last = International Community
first = Bahá'í
author-link = Bahá'í International Community
title = In Panama, some Guaymis blaze a new path
journal = One Country
volume = 1994
issue = October-December
year = October-December 1994
url = http://info.bahai.org/article-1-8-1-18.html
doi =
id =
] One 2006 estimate of the Bahá'í community of Panama puts its size at 2.00% of the national population, or about 60,000.cite web
title = Panama
work = WCC > Member churches > Regions > Latin America > Panama
publisher = World Council of Churches
date = 2006-01-01
url = http://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/regions/latin-america/panama.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
]

Pre-history

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

`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 "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 the First World War 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. [cite book | last = Abbas | first = `Abdu'l-Bahá | coauthors = Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, trans. and comments | title = Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation | date = 1919 | month = April | url = http://bahai-library.com/index.php5?file=abdulbaha_tablets_instructions_explanation.html] After mentioning the need for the message of the religion to visit the Latin American countries `Abdu'l-Bahá continues:

All the above countries have importance, but especially the Republic of Panama, wherein the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans come together through the Panama Canal. It is a center for travel and passage from America to other continents of the world, and in the future it will gain most great importance..... [cite book |author = `Abdu'l-Bahá |authorlink = `Abdu'l-Bahá |origdate = 1916-17 |year = 1991 |title = Tablets of the Divine Plan |edition = Paperback |publisher = Bahá'í Publishing Trust |location = Wilmette, IL |isbn = 0877432333 |url =http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/TDP/tdp-6.html | pages = p. 31-32]

Martha Root's first trip was from July to November 1919, and included Panama on the return leg of the trip up the west coast of South America.

Following the Tablets and about the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing in 1921, a few other Bahá'ís began moving to, or at least visiting, Latin America.

Early phase

It was in 1940 when the first pioneers began to settle in Panama. The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Panama, in Panama City, was elected in 1946, and helped host the first All-American Teaching Conference. One Bahá'í from this early period was Mabel Adelle Sneider (converted in 1946), who was a nurse at Gorgas Hospital for 30 years and then pioneered to the Gilbert Islands for many years.Citation
authors = Universal House of Justice
title = In Memorium
journal = The Bahá'í World of the Bahá'í Era 136-140 (1979-1983)
volume = XVIII
publisher = Bahá'í World Centre
pages = Table of Contents and pp. 705-7, 723-5.
year = 1986
url = http://bahai-library.com/books/bw18/693-719.html
isbn = 0853982341
]

Shoghi Effendi, head of the religion after the death of `Abdu'l-Bahá, called for two international conventions to be held at April 1951; one was held in Panama City for the purpose of electing a regional National Spiritual Assembly over the Central area of Mexico and the West Indies whose headquarters was in Panama and which was witnessed by representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States in the persons of Dorothy Beecher Baker and Horace Holly.cite web | last = Jackson Armstrong-Ingram | first = R. | title = Horace Hotchkiss Holley | work = Draft for "A Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith" | publisher = Bahá'í Academics Resource Library | date = | url = http://bahai-library.com/encyclopedia/holley.html | accessdate = 2008-07-01 ] Circa 1953, Bahá'í Local Assemblies in Panama City and Colón had a community center.cite book | url = http://bahai-library.com/index.php5?file=shoghieffendi_statistics_1844-1950 | first = Shoghi | last = Effendi | authorlink = Shoghi Effendi | title = Bahá'í Faith, The: 1844-1950 | location = Wilmette, IL | publisher = Bahá'í Publishing Committee | year = 1950]

One notable Bahá'í from this early phase was Cecilia King Blake, who on October 20 1957 converted to the Bahá'í Faith and pioneered to Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Development

Ruth (neé Yancey) [Citation
last = International Community
first = Bahá'í
author-link = Bahá'í International Community
title = Standing up for the oneness of humanity
newspaper = Bahá'í World News Service
date = 2003-08-22
url = http://news.bahai.org/story/250
] and Alan Pringle had the first Bahá’í wedding to be legally recognised in Panama, and both were members of the National Spiritual Assembly [Citation
title = In Memoriam - Ruth Pringle, Costa Rica
journal = Journal of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
volume = 20
issue = 05
year = Jan/Feb, 2004
url = http://www.bahaijournal.org.uk/inmem.htm
doi =
id =
] that formed in 1961. Ruth served in several other positions, ultimately becoming a Continental Counsellor. The members of the 1963 National Spiritual Assembly of Panama were Harry Haye Anderson, Rachelle Jean E de Constante, James Vassal Facey, Kenneth Frederics, Leota E. M. Lockman, Alfred E. A. Osborne, William Alan H. Pringle, Ruth E. Yancey Pringle and Donald Ross Witzel. [cite book
author = Rabbani, R. (Ed.)
authorlink = Rúhíyyih Khanum
year = 1992
title = The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963
publisher = Bahá'í World Centre
isbn = 085398350X
url = http://bahai-library.com/index.php5?file=uhj_ministry_custodians.html&chapter=7
] By 1963 there were Bahá'í converts among the Cerrobolo, Guaymí and Kuna.cite web | url = http://bahai-library.com/index.php5?file=handscause_statistics_1953-63&chapter=1 | title = 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| author = Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land | pages = p. 19]

Six conferences held in October 1967 around the world presented a viewing of a copy of the photograph of Bahá'u'lláh on the highly significant occasion commemorating the centenary of Bahá'u'lláh's writing of the "Suriy-i-Mulúk" (Tablet to the Kings), which Shoghi Effendi describes as "the most momentous Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh".cite book |first=Shoghi |last=Effendi |authorlink=Shoghi Effendi |year=1944 |title=God Passes By |publisher=Bahá'í Publishing Trust |location=Wilmette, IL |isbn=0-87743-020-9 |url=http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/GPB/|pages = pp. 171] After a meeting in Edirne (Adrianople), Turkey, the Hands of the Cause travelled to the conferences, 'each bearing the precious trust of a photograph of the Blessed Beauty, which it will be the privilege of those attending the Conferences to view.' Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum conveyed this photograph to the Conference for Latin America at Panama. During this event the foundation stone of the forthcoming Bahá'í House of Worship for Latin America was laid. [cite book
last = House of Justice
first = Universal
authorlink = Universal House of Justice
title = Wellspring of Guidance, Messages 1963-1968
publisher = National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States
date = 1976
location = Wilmette, IL
pages = pp. 109-112
url = http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/wellspring.html
doi =
id =
isbn = 0877430322
]

Since the 1960s the concerns of the Panamanian Bahá'ís have multiplied to cover internal and external issues. One of the Bahá'í Houses of Worship was built in Panama. In 1985-6 the "Camino del Sol" project included indigenous Guaymí Bahá'ís of Panama traveling with the Venezuelan indigenous Carib speaking and Guajira Bahá'ís through the Venezuelan states of Bolívar, Amazonas and Zulia sharing their religion. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Historia de la Fe Bahá'í en Venezuela
work = La Fe Bahá'í en Venezuela
publisher = National Spiritual Assembly of Venezuela
date =
url = http://www.bci.org/venezuela/historiven.shtml
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-05
] Meanwhile a variety of philately products were offered by the government of Panama starting in 1983 and again in 1992 - a stamp and several stationaries and Panamanian Bahá'ís became active in a number of issues among the poor regions of Panama - notably Panamá and Chiriqui/Ngöbe-Buglé districts.

Bahá'í House of Worship

The Bahá'í temple in Panama City was dedicated in 1972 with Hands of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum, Ugo Giachery and Zikrullah Khadem representing the Universal House of Justice, head of the religion after the death of Shoghi Effendi. It serves as the mother temple of Latin America. It is perched on a high hill, "la montaña del Dulce Canto" ("the mountain of Beautiful Singing"), [Citation
last = E. Otero
first = Lidia
title = ¿Conoce la montaña del Dulce Canto?
newspaper = Panamá América-EPASA
pages =
year =
date = 2005-08-26
url = http://www.pa-digital.com.pa/archive/08262005/ciudad05.shtml
] overlooking the city, and is constructed of local stone laid in a pattern reminiscent of Native American fabric designs. Readings in Spanish and English are available for visitors. [cite book
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Central America on a Shoestring -
publisher = Lonely Planet
year = 2005
location =
pages = p. 661
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=7gLfMoBbTsQC&pg=RA1-PA661&lpg=RA1-PA661&source=web&ots=GfUizTQ9HS&sig=NLklJKUi_W0hEZ8LYWGRZ48ou58&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result
doi =
id =
isbn = 1741040299
]

Efforts among the Guaymí

The first Guaymí Bahá'í dates back into the 1960s, and since the 1980s there have been several projects started and evolving in those communities. The Bahá'í Guaymí Cultural Centre was built in in the Chiriqui district (which was split in 1997 to create the Ngöbe-Buglé district) and used as a seat for the Panamanian Ministry of Education's literacy efforts in the 1980s. [Citation
first = Bahá'í
last = International Community
author-link = Bahá'í International Community
contribution = Report on the Status of Women in the Baha'i Community
contribution-url = http://statements.bahai.org/pdf/90-0613.pdf
title = Response to a questionnaire received from the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
year = May 1990
pages =
place = Vienna, Austria
publisher = Bahá'í International Community
url =
doi =
id = BIC-Document Number: 90-0613
] A two-day seminar on literacy was held by the Bahá'í Community in collaboration with the Panamanian Ministry of Education in Panama City over two days beginning on April 23 1990. The Bahá'ís were specifically asked to speak on "spiritual qualities" and on "Universal Elements Essential in Education." The Minister of Education requested that the Bahá'ís present their literacy projects to the Ministry of Education, in support of International Literacy Year - 1990. [Citation
first = Bahá'í
last = International Community
author-link = Bahá'í International Community
contribution = Activities in Support of International Literacy Year - 1990
contribution-url = http://www.bic.org/statements-and-reports/bic-statements/91-0204.htm
title = seventh meeting of the International Task Force on Literacy
date = 2001-02-08
pages =
place = Bonn, Germany
publisher = Bahá'í International Community
url =
doi =
id =
] The Bahá'ís developed many formal and village schools throughout the region and a community radio project.

Bahá'í Radio

The Bahá'í Radio is an AM broadcasting station from Boca del Monte [cite web
last = E. Escoffery
first = Carlos
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Radiodifusión AM, Provincia de Chiriquí, República de Panamá
work = Radiodifusión en la República de Panamá
publisher = Carlos E. Escoffery, Ingeniero Electrónico
date = 2007-04-28
url = http://cescoffery.0catch.com/espanol/am2e.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-02
] with programs and news in Guaymí native language, Ngabere, leading to maintaining the usefulness of the language and in the telling of stories and coverage of issues to the support of Guaymí traditions and culture.

chools

In Panama's remote indigenous villages (some requiring three hours by bus, three hours by boat, and then three hours on foot, a trip made twice a week) Bahá'í volunteers run ten primary schools where the government does not provide access to a school. Later a FUNDESCU stipend of $50 per month was made available for 13 teachers and the MInistry of Education added funds for a 14th. As subsistence farmers, the villagers have no money or food to offer. Instead they take turns providing firewood for an outdoor kitchen or build small wood-framed shelters with corrugated zinc panels and a narrow wooden platform for a bed. The teachers and administrators do not seek to convert the students. Some of the villagers are Bahá'ís, some are Catholics, some Evangelicals, and some follow the native Mama Tata religion. In all, about half the students are Bahá'ís (about 150). Nevertheless there is a strong moral component to the program including a weekly class on "Virtues and Values." Over the years, some training for the teachers has been provided but many have not finished the twefth grade including some women who have faced difficulties getting even that much education. [Citation
last = Gottlieb
first = Randie
title = In Panama's remote indigenous villages, Baha'i volunteers provide much needed educational services
newspaper = Bahá'í World News Service
date = 2003-01-03
url = http://news.bahai.org/story/186
] [Citation
last = Gottlieb
first = Randie
title = Victorino's Story - The establishment and rise of the first indigenous academic schools in the Ngäbe-Buglé Region of Chiriqui, Panama
journal = Journal of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
volume = 19
issue = 06
pages =
year = Nov/Dec 2002
url = http://www.bahaijournal.org.uk/BJ200211/article2.htm
doi =
id =
]

Among the formal schools established there are:
*Bahá'í Elementary of Soloy which was in process of registration with the Ministry of Education as of 2007.cite web
title = Regional de Chiriquí
work = Centros educativos particulares
publisher = Ministry of Education, Panama
date =
url = http://www.meduca.gob.pa/04unad/DNEP/docs/Chiriqui.pdf
format = pdf
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-05
]
*Molejon High School [cite web
title = Ngobe-Bugle Schools - Ngobe-Bugle Area, Chiriqui Province, Republic of Panama
work = Our Projects
publisher = Mona Foundation
date =
url = http://www.monafoundation.org/ngobe-bugle/ngobe-bugle.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
] which was registered with the Ministry of Education in March 2007.
*Soloy Community Technology & Learning Center [cite web
title = Soloy Community Technology & Learning Center Ngobe-Bugle Area, Chiriqui Province, Republic of Panama
work = Our Projects
publisher = Mona Foundation
date =
url = http://www.monafoundation.org/ngobe-bugle/soloy.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
]
*Ngöbe-Buglé Universidad [cite web
title = Ngabe-Bukle Universidad - Ngabe-Bukle Area, Chiriqui Province, Republic of Panama
work = Our Projects
publisher = Mona Foundation
date =
url = http://www.monafoundation.org/ngobe-bugle/ngobe-bugle-univ.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
] which began having classes and was processing accreditation with the University of Panama in 2006. [Citation
last = López Dubois
first = Roberto
author-link =
last2 = E. Espinoza, S.
first2 = Eduardo
author2-link =
newspaper = Comarca Ngöbe Buglé
title = Educarse en la comarca no es tarea fácil de completar
date = 2006-09-21
url = http://ngabebukle.org/prensa/comarca.htm
] [Citation
last =
first =
author-link =
last2 =
first2 =
author2-link =
periodical = Mona Foundation Quarterly Newsletter
title = Mona Leaves First Footprints in an Immovable Ngobe-Bugle Vision
year = March 2006
pages = p. 9
url = http://www.monafoundation.org/newsletters/mar06.pdf
]

Efforts among the Kuna and Embera

In the Panamá district the Bahá'ís established a Bahá'í inspired school in San Miguelito, [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = PANAMA, Category 3. Badi
work = Proyectos de Desarrollo Económico y Social
publisher = Oficina de Información - Comunidad Bahá'í de España
date =
url = http://www.comunidadbahai.org/oip/prosperidad%20mundial/proyectos.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
] a city with widespread poverty, and a native population of Embera and Kuna peoples. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Panama: Poverty Assessment: Priorities and Strategies for Poverty Reduction
work = Poverty Assessment Summaries — Latin America & Caribbean
publisher = The World Bank Group
year = 1999
url = http://go.worldbank.org/LV4P1C5LC0
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
]

K-12 School

The Badí School was founded in 1993 and began as a kindergarten with 12 students. In 2007 there were 290 students serving K-12, with a waiting list of 1,500, and six of the first seven graduates earned the highest grade on the Panama University entrance exam and were accepted with full four-year scholarships. Badí School also developed a two-story community library, and added a classroom and computer lab in 2006. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Badí School & University, San Miguelito, Panama
work = Our Projects
publisher = Mona Foundation
date =
url = http://www.monafoundation.org/badi/badi.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
]

University program development

Badi School is attempting to extend its services with college-level degrees. Some level of registration was completed in June 2007. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Listing of Colleges
work = Regional de San Miguelito
publisher = Ministry of Education, Panama
date =
url = http://www.meduca.gob.pa/04unad/DNEP/docs/SanMiguelito.pdf
format = pdf
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-05
] Further accreditation is being sought as a university program in 2008 [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Badi University in the Making
work = Our Projects
publisher = Mona Foundation
date =
url = http://www.monafoundation.org/badi/badi-university.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-01
] but already has had students taking college work, among them commercial artist Jessica Mizrachi Diaz. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Biography and History
work = Jessica Mizrach
publisher =
year = 2006
url = http://www.torrezcomputer.com/jessicamizrachi/index-2.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-02
]

Demographics

The World Council of Churches estimates the Bahá'í population at 2.00%, or about 60,000 in 2006, and another estimate of some 8,000 Guaymi Bahá'is, about 10% of the population of Guaymi in Panama. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Guaymi
work = Data Map > All Affinity Blocs / People Clusters > Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans > People Cluster: South American Indigenous
publisher = Joshua Project - A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission
date = 2008-06-09
url = http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?rop3=103515
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-07-06
]

ee also

*Religion in Panama
*History of Panama

References

* [http://www.anthro.ucla.edu/people/grad-pages?lid=1743 Kazemipour (née White), Whitney Lyn] . 'Binding Together: Guaymi Resistance and Construction of Religious Identity through the Baha'i Faith', M.A. Thesis, UCLA, 1993, vii, 71 leaves. On the Guaymi Indians of Panama.

External links

* [http://www.panamabahai.net Asamblea Espiritual Nacional de los Bahá'ís de Panamá] Official Website
* [http://panamametro.zetarsoft.net/ Agrupación Panamá Metro - Instituto Bahá'í de Panamá.] the official national Panama Ruhi Institute website
* [http://ngabebukle.org/ Official Website of Ngöbe-Buglé Universidad]
* [http://www.badischool.com/ Badi School] Official Website


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