History in Portland

There has been a community known as the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Portland, Oregon since November 25, 1906 when 13 newly declared Bahá’ís met and signed a joint declaration letter to Abdu’l-Baha, which was hand-delivered by J.H. Fisk to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  He replied on June 14, 1907 recognizing the formation of the Spiritual Assembly in Portland, Oregon.

The first “Spiritual Assembly” originated out of public meetings at the Auditorium on 3rd and Taylor in downtown Portland organized by “Colonel” Nathan Ward Fitz-Gerald in March 1906.  At the meetings Fitz-Gerald provided postcards pre-addressed to the House of Spirituality in Chicago, upon which persons interested in learning more of the Bahá’í Faith could make their inquiries.

Inquiries from Portland numbered about sixty. The task of following up and contacting all these interested souls on the far west side of the continent fell to Thornton Chase, the first American believer. He was in a unique position to do so, since his work as a salesman gave him some latitude to arrange business travel that would allow him to serve in spreading the Faith as well. He was not able to arrange travel to Portland until the fall of 1906.  Early in November he wrote to the House of Spirituality in Chicago that he had been able to find about 20 in Portland interested in attending meetings to hear what it meant to be a Bahá’í and how to organize a community. The new believers met as described above and from that day to the present there has always been a strong community of believers in

Nine members of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Portland, Oregon at the time of incorporation as a non-profit religious activity.

Portland, which makes it one of the oldest existing Bahá’í communities in the world.

The Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Portland, Oregon incorporated on April 5, 1939 as a “non-profit” for religious activity.

[Excerpted from History of the  Founding of Portland Bahá’í Community compiled by Roger Nesbit.]

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