What would one get if they took all of the world’s major religions and bundled them into one?
The Baha’i faith.
Founded in 1844, the Baha’i faith has about 5 million believers worldwide and about 170,000 faithful followers in the United States. A handful of them live right here in New Braunfels.
Proclaimed itself the youngest of the world’s monotheistic religions, this globally recognized independent world religion was founded in Persia by Baha’u’llah, who lived from 1817 to 1892.
“It’s a global faith, and what we believe is there is one creator, a God source, that goes by lots of different names in different cultures,” said Jacqueline Claire, a New Braunfels resident and practitioner of the faith.
Baha’is view the world’s major religions as part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity over time, Claire explained.
“We allow love to guide us and strive for relationships — relationships with God, with each other,” Claire said. “We see a truth in all major religions.”
Baha’is follow books of scripture written by Baha’u’llah, and believe the prophets of other religions — Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus and Muhammad, stretches back before recorded time.
“All religions are a progressive revelation with manifestations in ways each community and culture can understand at that time,” said Barbara Glenn, a New Braunfels resident and Baha’i. “God sends messengers that fit in what stage we are of our own development (as humans).”
Glenn said she discovered the faith in college because her roommate was a practitioner.
“I recognized it was what I already believed,” Glenn said. “I worked with cancer patients, and I had a sense that there wasn’t just one way to connect with God.”
Glenn had the chance to meet her roommate’s community and discovered how loving the community was and how active in their faith they were.
“We believe in independent investigation,” Glenn said. “We encourage reading the other writings of the world religions and to look at all aspects.”
Eddie Peoples, a New Braunfels resident and Baha’i who just declared his faith in the past couple of months, said he grew up Southern Baptist, but had explored other religions with his own children.
“I’d visited with Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims and I wondered why there was tension between groups,” Peoples said. “It just didn’t make sense to me, so I ventured out to look more at what I believed and found a whole community who believed similarly to me.”
April Cramer, another new believer, said she converted to Baha’i from Irish Catholicism. Cramer said she always had been a spiritual person, but never fit fully with Catholics.
“I had fierce amounts of questions,” she said with a laugh. “As I explored other faiths, I found beauty in all of them.”
In February of this year, Cramer discovered other New Braunfels Baha’is and reached out, ready to learn more.
“There was this moment where I realized, ‘Okay, I’m ready, this is how I think,” Cramer said.
New Braunfels Baha’i community is growing, just as New Braunfels itself is, Claire said.
“Eddie and April joined us this year,” Claire said.
Baha’is have an annual 19-day fast, and a communal gathering every 19 days with prayers and consultations called “feast.” Their “Naw-Ruz” or New Year is March 21, with the spring equinox.
“We get together here in New Braunfels at each other’s homes every 19 days,” Claire said. “We discuss different issues or problems in our lives and express our views.”
Celebrating their own sacred days and festivals, Baha’is believe Baha’u’llah brought spiritual solutions to all world problems, Claire said.
“We believe in diverse perspectives and that each person has a different reality,” said Linda Du Puis-Rosen, another New Braunfels resident and Baha’i. “We try to put our brother or sister before ourselves.”
As the only born-Baha’is often present in the New Braunfels group, Claire said she feels blessed to have been raised in the faith and loves that her mother honored her choice to allow her to explore all religions.
“She really encouraged me to grow up accepting and loving others,” Claire said. “We’ve found New Braunfels is very spiritual and open-minded. Our two new members found us on their own, for example.”
Community service and giving back is very important to Baha’is, Du Puis-Rosen said.
“It’s been lovely getting to serve New Braunfels community, and to get to know each other in our community here,” Du Puis-Rosen said.
To learn more about the Baha’i faith visit www.bahai.org or contact
(830) 321-0261 or NewBraunfelsBahai@gmail.com.
“On Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. we will also have a celebration and film screening for the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab. Folks can contact us to RSVP for the address,” Claire said.