ABS Conference

The Association for Bahá’í Studies Conference was held in Montreal 9-12 August.

The conference will focus on the vision of 'Abdu’l-Baha—the Head of the Baha’i Faith from 1892 to 1921—for North America. The annual conference brings together scholars, students, and interested participants to discuss and analyze global issues. The event reflected on the implications of 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit from multiple perspectives. View the conference Theme Statement here.

The roster of speakers produced a successful gathering. Douglas Martin delivered the keynote address, and a diverse lineup of speakers had been assembled for the plenary sessions during the weekend of 9 to 12 August.

The program for the first day presented contemporary social issues and the changes that have occurred over the past 100 years. Louise Mandell, Queen’s Counsel, one of Canada’s leading thinkers on Aboriginal Law and rights, discussed the changing role of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society.

Following her talk, a panel moderated by Dr. Roshan Danesh included Dr. June Manning Thomas, who addressed inner city poverty. Dr. Mina Yazdani, spoke on ‘Abdu'l-Baha's guidance on the process of political change, specifically with the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911), and Chief Douglas White III, talked about the spiritual dimensions of the struggle for equality and justice for Indigenous peoples.

The second day featured a panel of educators who commented on 'Abdu’l-Baha’s vision of spiritual education in the context of his visit to Montreal. Professor Luc Bégin, a prominent academic and an advisor to the Government of Quebec on questions of ethics, joined professors Claire Lapointe and Lyse Langlois. Dr. Robert Henderson, a management consultant, diversity training executive, and member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, explored changes in thought and practice on the topics of diversity and models of unity.

The 30th Hasan M. Balyuzi Memorial Lecture was delivered this year by sociologist Dr. Shapour Rassekh, who expanded on assumptions related to the meaning and purpose of 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to North America.

On the third day of the conference, participants explored the Baha'i community’s response to 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit. Historian Robert Stockman addressed the topic of “What 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit teaches us,” followed by several examples of profound changes within the community.

Journalist and author Patricia Verge spoke about Jim and Melba Loft, the first Aboriginal believers in Canada, and discussed with Bob Watts, their grandson and prominent Aboriginal leader and administrator, the collaborative process used to write their biography. Dr. Louis Venters, a historian, traced the process of reshaping race relations and described the discourse on race in the South Carolina Baha’i community of the early 1900s.

Dr. Ann Boyles, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors, also addressed the conference, and the Association screened portions of the film, Luminous Journey: 'Abdu’l-Baha in America, 1912 produced by Anne and Tim Perry of Perry Productions.

While in Montreal, conference participants had the opportunity to visit the Maxwell home. This sacred spot has special historical significance to the Canadian Baha’i community. 'Abdu’l-Baha stayed in other homes in Europe and America, but only the Maxwell home in Montreal has been officially designated as a Shrine.

For more details about the conference and upcoming events, please refer to the website of the Association for Baha’i Studies.


Bahá'í Center


177, av des Pins E
Montréal, QC H2W 1N9
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Phone: 514-849-0753

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Montreal Shrine


1548, av des Pins O, Montreal
Phone: 514-568-2104

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S5 Box