All posts by Sonjel Vreeland. Browse Other Authors

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

The Art of Empowering Others – A Biography of Knight of Baha’u’llah Gayle Woolson

I have been thinking recently about what it genuinely means to empower others and George Ronald has released a biography of someone who did just that: Knight of Baha’u’llah, Gayle Woolson. Her life’s story was penned by Juliet Gentzkow, who very graciously agreed to tell us about her book called The Art of Empowering Others: The Life and Times of Gayle Woolson Knight of Baha’u’llah, and to give us a glimpse of who Gayle Woolson was. Here’s what she shared with me:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

By profession as a teacher of children, counsellor, and hospice worker, I have served in the United States, Guyana, and Haiti. I now live in Palo Alto California, near my son and his family. Limited to home by the pandemic, I continue a part-time counseling practice, Creative Transitions, and dedicate time to family, community building, biographical writing, and research.

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book?

‘The Art of Empowering Others’, a biography of Gayle Woolson (1913-2011), now joins the George Ronald series on the Knights of Baha’u’llah. Gayle was one of nine children born in Minnesota to parents of Syrian origin. In 1930, her father introduced his family to news of a new Faith, brought to his attention by a Syrian friend in St. Paul. Mr. Abas told his children of teachings for a new, spiritual worldwide civilization based on humanity’s oneness. He said the youth had an important part to play in its development. By 1933, Gayle was teaching a children’s class, which became a stepping stone to public speaking. She then participated in her Local Spiritual Assembly’s initial development and became one of the very first youth traveling teachers in the United States, accompanying Ms. Marguerite Reimer (Sears) and Mrs. Mabel Ives. Following a marriage tragically cut short by her husband’s unexpected death, she arose to serve internationally. In 1940, she and another Baha’i became the first to go to Costa Rica, beginning 29 years of service throughout Central and South America. She witnessed the emergence of Baha’i communities and institutions throughout the continent, becoming a Knight of Baha’u’llah for the Galapagos Islands and serving successively on four elected National Spiritual Assemblies and as part of the initial cohort of appointed Auxiliary Board Members for the Americas. As much at home in a Quechua village as in a president’s palace, her heart burned with love for all who crossed her path. She had a simple eloquence that was yet refined. She saw in each person a unique potential destiny needed in the building of a new civilization. In 1975, following five years of service at the Baha’i World Centre, Gayle returned to the United States, where, for 20 years, she taught and also developed her Children’s Public Speaking Program.

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Social Cohesion Conference: Opening & Official Launch of Creating an Inclusive Narrative Publication

This video, produced by the Australian Baha’i Community, shares the opening remarks of a virtual conference titled ‘Social Cohesion and Inclusion National Conference 2020’. The conference explored the settings, approaches, methods and experiences that guide Australia to forge a socially cohesive and inclusive country into the future.

This video captures the opening of the conference and keynote addresses are given by Her Excellency the Honorable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales and Dr Brian Adams, director of the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue, Griffith University. Continue reading

Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith from Around the World – Collection 20

“Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith from Around the World” is a Baha’i Blog initiative in honor of the bicentenary anniversaries of the Births of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, the two Prophet-founders of the Baha’i Faith.

In this initiative, we share portraits of Baha’is and their friends from different countries and territories all over the world, along with a few of their words about what the Baha’i Faith means to them or how it has touched their lives. Continue reading

Virtue Cards – A New Resource for Children

Tuaine Hamilton, who some know as Ine, has created a thoughtful and beautifully designed tool for helping children develop their innate qualities and inner gems: virtue cards!

You may recognize Ine from her Studio Session “Listen” or from her interview about her album that bears the same name (you can read it here if you’d like).

I was delighted to hear from her about her virtue cards. In this interview, she tells us why she created them, how they can be used, and what she’s learned in the process of making them. Here’s what she shared: Continue reading

BWNS: “This must stop”: Anti-Baha’i Propaganda Intensifies in Iran, Evokes Global Outcry

This video from the Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) describes how, in recent months, the Iranian government’s decades-long campaign of hate speech and propaganda against the Baha’is in Iran has reached new levels, increasing in both sophistication and scale. The unfolding strategy to demonize the Baha’i community is reflected in a growing and coordinated network of hundreds of websites, Instagram accounts, Telegram channels, and Clubhouse rooms. Continue reading

Moments of Meaning: Finding Inspiration in Divine Laws — With Aku Ntumy

Moments of Meaning is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings and hosted by Sean Hinton. 

In each episode, Sean speaks to someone whose life has been profoundly affected by the writings of the Baha’i Faith. Each guest shares with Sean their “moment of meaning” — whether it’s a big life choice, a turning point in their career, an inspiration or an insight. They share the passages from the Baha’i writings that were part of this moment, and explain the changes this moment inspired in their lives.

In this episode of Moments of Meaning, Sean Hinton speaks to Aku Ntumy, a science teacher in a high school in Swindon, England. Continue reading