A Welcome Center at Chicago’s Bahai Temple has just opened. The temple itself is considered one of Illinois’ “Seven wonders,” according to the state tourism office. It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In Wilmette, a subdivision of Chicago, the Baha’i house of worship has built a beautiful, architecturally stunning welcome center. There were prayers and choir music for the dedication this past Sunday, May 3.
The temple itself was designed by Louis Bourgeois, and features a lovely dome on top with carvings and inscriptions worked all around and on top of it. On the ground, you can see lush gardens and pouring fountains. The house has been the sole Baha’i worhip house in America since 1953 and the welcome center is their first major addition to the building.
The welcome center is open to the public, and is not the main place of worship. The main place of worship is the Baha’i Temple. However, the welcome center is lovely, large and produces an ambient energy that is fantastic for prayer, according to the architects who worked on it.
The Baha’i temple is considered a gift to all members of the Baha’i faith. It was built through contributions from worshipers, and is maintained in the same way. People use the sacred space for prayer, meditation and other personal activities. The Baha’i community encourages and promotes diversity, and working towards a common goal. They are all about the community, bettering it and building relationships. They foster “gatherings” for friends and neighbors to pray and explore drawing from the spirituality. They aim to foster love and beauty, education and community, assistance and service. They close their doors to no one.
Baha’u’llah is the founder of the faith, teaching that a single God exists no matter by what name we call him. Shoghi Effendi said that, “Religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complimentary, that they differ only in the non-essential aspects of their doctrines and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society.”