Symposium: The beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina

May 16, 2021
Symposium flyer with photos of all three presenters

This first symposium sponsored by the Wilmette Institute focuses on the early Bahá’í history of three states. Duane L Herrmann explores the beginnings of the Faith in Kansas, which had the second local Bahá’í community in the United States, in the town of Enterprise starting in 1897. While that community did not endure, members of it moved to other cities and remained active Bahá’ís. Behrad Majidi has explored the founding of the Faith in Missouri, beginning with the relocation of an Enterprise Bahá’í and Thornton Chase’s visit to a Bahá’í group in St. Louis in 1905. Newspapers in both states, however, published articles about the Faith in Persia as far back as 1846. Finally, Steve Kolins will describe the early history of the Faith in North Carolina, beginning with newspaper articles in the 1850s, Bahá’ís visiting the state by 1902-03, and the gradual building of a community that elected its first local Spiritual Assembly in 1943.

Symposium Resources

A North Carolina Bahá’í History 1850-2021

Kansas Bahá’í History Timeline

Kansas News Lists (as of Feb. 2019)

Early Years of the Bahá’í Faith in St. Louis



Duane L Herrmann

Duane L Herrmann was born in 1951 and grew up on a farm near Berryton, Kansas.  He still does much of his writing out on the farm under the trees in the breeze.  In his elementary school years he wanted to write his stories but was forbidden. He had to work caring for his younger siblings for his mother. In high school he began writing poetry, the first of which was published his senior year.  He attended Washburn University in Topeka one year, then transferred to Ft Hays State in Hays, Kansas.  He had accepted the Bahá’í Faith while at Washburn and then helped begin a Bahá’í community in Hays. His first professional job was as an Elementary Librarian in Topeka.  He holds degrees in Education and History and has taught at Allen County Community College. He married and had four children. In the five decades since high school Duane's work has been published in the United States, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, India, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and Wales, in English, German, French and Dutch. Translations are forthcoming in Italian and Farsi. In addition to poetry he writes short stories, stories for children, essays, memoirs and (ground breaking) history specializing in the second Bahá’í community west of Egypt (which is in Kansas). He is the author of the Bahá’í -themed science fiction novel "Escape from Earth: the journal of a planetary pioneer."


Steven Kolins

Steven Kolins is a scholar on the Bahá’í Faith published in various wikis that require citations using genealogical-type records and Bahá’í sources on the histories of communities and individuals. From the results of such work he’s also contributed to publications like Bahá’í Faith and African American History, ed Loni Bramson, through Dr. Christopher Buck’s work, and Louis Venters’ The History of the Bahá’í Faith in South Carolina, and other pending publications on Sarah Farmer, the Knoblochs, Howard Colby Ives, and others.


Behrad Majidi

Behrad Majidi lives in St. Louis, Missouri since 1987 and has been involved with the St. Louis Bahá’í historical archives and researched the early history of the Bahá’í Faith in St. Louis and Missouri. He is also doing research and publication of the early history of the City of Birjand-Eastern Iran where he was born and raised. He came as a Bahá’í refugee in 1982 to the U.S.

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