​​​​​​​​​​​The Bahá'í Faith has been part of the Houston community since the 1930s. Many believers traveled through Houston beginning in 1937 at the inception of the seven year plan for spreading the Baha'i Faith throughout America by the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), but there were no permanent Baha'i residents here until 1939, when actress and Ohio native Dolly Beal settled in the city from Los Angeles to act in silent movies. Beal was best known for her role in the 1914 film, “The Son of Thomas Gray.” She eventually married Houston oilman Dwight Edson and was thenceforth known as Mary Beal-Edson. 

The first Local Spiritual Assembly in Houston was established on April 21, 1942.
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In the late 1940's, a Bahá’í lawyer from Houston, Heman Sweatt, honoring Bahá’u’lláh’s call for the elimination of all forms of prejudice in pursuit of justice, worked very hard to help lay the groundwork for significant advancement in the then burgeoning civil rights movement in America. His relentless activism in pursuit of justice on the heels of a widely-known anti-discrimination case against the University of Texas School of Law eventually led to the establishment of what is now known as Texas Southern University and the advent of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education.


Most Baha'i activities were held in the homes of individual members, which had become bastions of increasingly robust patterns of community life, drawing large numbers of spiritual seekers from the wider community. The Assembly organized meetings at the River Oaks home of Mary Beal Edson, where also small luncheons, tea gatherings and study classes were held every Wednesday. Firesides and other meeting were also held at the Montrose-area home of Inez Butterfield, where large numbers of guests and seekers came to learn about the Faith. Gatherings were also held at the Warwick Hotel lounge in the city's museum district (now Hotel Za Za) and the Downtown YMCA.

Since these were racially-integrated gatherings, the Baha'i friends saw no shortage of curiosity and concern from neighbors, passers-by and local law enforcement, including the FBI. In some cases, though, through much legwork and negotiation, these gatherings would be cleared with the authorities so that the friends would be allowed to consort and worship with one another freely. From the mid 50’s to the mid 60’s the Faith grew slowly but steadily. In 1958 the first Baha'i wedding in Houston was held under the auspices of the Local Spiritual Assembly, that of Mary Helen Mickens (Brown). Houston sent pioneers to many states and countries to help spread the Faith, while from 1964/65 onwards the Faith experienced a sudden and massive growth in numbers, which in large part is attributed to 1) the increasing number of firesides held throughout the city, especially the ones held by David Morris, Cherrie Steinwender, and Freddie and Herbert Baker, bringing in hundreds of new declarants and 2) the arrival of the first Persian Baha'is in Houston, a trend which would steadily increase and take off with the mass influx of Persian Baha'i families escaping persecution in Iran since the 1970's.  


Eventually, the Houston Baha'i Center became the centerpiece of Baha'i community life in the city.  In 1982, the Houston Local Spiritual Assembly started the project of constructing a new center at 2121 Oakdale St in South Central Houston, with members of the community providing the labor (mostly unskilled). The center was finished and officially opened in July 1984. Since then, the Houston Baha'i community has acquired other major properties in different areas of the city, including a 5-acre park/green space called Ella Bailey Park on the south part of town over 200 cemetery plots on the north. Since the early 2000's, the Houston Baha'i Center has made its home in its present location, 2419 Fannin St in midtown Houston. 


Currently, the Houston Bahá’ís are hard at work on various community building efforts throughout this great city, including the teaching of children's classes, animating of junior youth groups, and the facilitation of study circles, all punctuated by regular devotional gatherings throughout the city, firesides in homes and at the Houston Baha'i Center, and regular home visits among the friends. Come join us! 



 

 


























Site of original Baha'i Center in South Central Houston, 2121 Oakdale St. 

Clips from the construction of the new Houston Baha'i Center on Oakdale. 

First Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Houston, TX, 1942. 

Baha'i historian and scholar Ajit Giani giving a talk on the history of the Baha'i Faith in Houston on July 21, 2018. 

Current Houston Baha'i Center, 2419 Fannin St in midtown Houston. 

Houston Baha'i Center on Oakdale reconstructed. Opened July 1984.

​​A Brief History

Our Mission

 

"He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful, cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body.”— Bahá’u’lláh


Bahá’í beliefs address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice, the inherent nobility of the human being, the progressive revelation of religious truth, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the fundamental equality of the sexes, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavors, the imperative of universal education, and the dynamics of the relationships that are to bind together individuals, communities, and institutions as humanity advances towards its collective maturity. Bahá'u'lláh taught that a just and peaceful global society is now possible. Bahá'ís strive to give expression to the oneness of humanity, a core principal of their faith, by seeking to eliminate racial prejudice, advance the equality of women and men, and build a vibrant spiritual community reflecting the human family in all its diversity.



Ella Bailey Park, 301 South Loop West, Houston, TX 

welcome 

The Baha'is of the City of Houston, TX