Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy.
People from a wide variety of backgrounds have been attracted to the community over the years and found a home among others who share this united vision of humanity. The richness and diversity of the various Indigenous Alaskan groups have always been part of the strength and beauty of this Bahá'í community.
This growing ‘flower garden’ of Alaskan Bahá'ís has been steadfastly guided and nurtured over the past century by many Bahá’í travel teachers and pioneers who journeyed great distances to promote the Bahá’í Faith in Alaska. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (son of the Prophet-founder of the Faith, Bahá'u'lláh) in the Tablets of the Divine Plan (1916) wrote, “Alaska is a vast country; although one of the maidservants of the Merciful has hastened to those parts, serving as a librarian in the public library, and according to her ability is not failing in teaching the Cause, yet the call of the Kingdom of God is not yet raised through that spacious territory.”
Agnes Alexander was the first Bahá’í to visit Alaska in 1905. She was on her way back to Hawaii aboard a vessel that stopped in communities along the “Inside Passage” of Southeast Alaska, where she gave several talks introducing the Bahá'í teachings in Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka, and Wrangell.
The first Bahá’í to reside in Alaska was Margaret Green, who taught the Faith in Juneau from 1915–1918 while supporting herself by working as a public librarian. Although there had been several traveling Baha'is and some temporary residents in Alaska in the 1920s, it was not until 1939 that the Bahá’í Faith was permanently established in Alaska. By 1940 there were Bahá’ís in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Over the years entire Bahá’í families settled in Alaska; some acquired and developed large homesteads, such as the Huffmans and the Gregorys in the Anchorage area.
The first Indigenous Alaskan to join the Faith, Melba King (née Call) was living in New Mexico at the time of her enrollment in 1943, while the first Indigenous Alaskan to become a Bahá’í in Alaska was Agnes Harrison (née Parent) in 1949.
The Bahá'í community governs itself by means of elected councils, referred to as “Spiritual Assemblies,” elected annually by the adult Bahá’ís at the local and national levels. In 1943, the first Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly in Alaska was formed in Anchorage. In February of 1948, this Anchorage Bahá’í Assembly was legally incorporated under Alaska Territorial statutes. By 1949, the Bahá’í marriage service was recognized by the Attorney General for Alaska. The establishment of the Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assemblies of Fairbanks (1955), Tanana Valley (1956), Ketchikan (1956), and Juneau (1957), was followed in 1957 by the formation and legal incorporation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Alaska.
“…the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God.”
In the context of Bahá’í administrative structure, Alaska functions as a national-level community, separate from its sister Bahá’í community of the United States (Hawaii is also independent in this regard). Alaska's National Spiritual Assembly provides an administrative means for guiding the affairs, growth, and outreach of the overall Alaskan Bahá'í community. In addition to regular communication with local Bahá'í communities and individual Bahá'ís within Alaska, the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska (among its other responsibilities) maintains contact and coordination with the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa, Israel, as well as with other National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world.
From 1960 up to the present day there has been the continued growth of the Faith in Alaska, and Bahá'í communities can be found throughout the entire state, focused on spreading Baha'u'llah's teachings of love, unity, and equality. Today, the number of children’s classes, Junior Youth empowerment programs, youth and adult spiritual study groups, and community devotionals (prayer groups) covering a wide variety of relevant and pressing spiritual and social topics continues to grow as the Bahá’ís of Alaska share their message of hope with the Alaskan community at large. All Alaskans are welcomed and encouraged to participate alongside the Bahá’ís in these community-building activities.
The design and construction of the Alaska Bahá'í National Center in 1975-1976 marked a significant development in the history of the Alaskan Bahá’í community. Bahá’ís from 30 localities in Canada, the United States, and Alaska attended the auspicious dedication, held in November of 1975 in Anchorage.
Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.
Though greatly abbreviated, this summary of the Bahá’í Faith in Alaska demonstrates, in part, some evidence of the animating, universal call of the Bahá’í Faith. Independent investigation of the teachings and beliefs of the Bahá’í Faith is most warmly encouraged. The vast wealth of Bahá’í history, teachings, principles, and ennobling Holy Scriptures are available for study and consideration by anyone in Alaska or elsewhere.