Frequently asked questions about the Bahá’ís of Toronto

What are Bahá’ís doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Like everyone else in the world, the Bahá’ís in Toronto are learning to adapt to the pandemic. Their activities continue, albeit in modified form. Video calling is a fixture, of course. Regardless of the medium, Bahá’ís remain focused on learning how to contribute to the betterment of the world by drawing on the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.

How many Bahá’ís are in Toronto?

Currently, Toronto has approximately 2,000 Bahá’ís. Globally, the Bahá’í community numbers more than 5 million members, residing in over 100,000 localities.

What is the demographic makeup of the Bahá’í community in Toronto?

The community is as varied as Toronto itself in its makeup of ages and ethnicities. You will find Bahá’ís with ethnic backgrounds rooted in virtually every corner of the planet. Given the religion’s origin in Persia, you will find a particularly high number of Bahá’ís of Iranian background, especially considering that the Iranian government’s ongoing persecution of the Bahá’ís in that country has driven many of them to resettle around the world, including here in Toronto.

When was the Bahá’í community of Toronto established?

The exact date on which Bahá’ís started to have a stable presence in Toronto is unknown. The first local governing council was elected in 1938. The Bahá’í Faith itself was founded in 1863, with the declaration by Bahá’u’lláh of His station as a Messenger of God.

Who is the leader of the Bahá’í Community of Toronto?

The Bahá’í Faith has no clergy. However, it does have an administrative system at the international, national, and local levels. As in almost every other city in the world, Toronto has its own local governing council, which guides the community here. Known as a Local Spiritual Assembly, this institution is composed of nine members elected every year by all of the Bahá’ís in the city.

Is there a church?

There are no churches in the Bahá’í Faith. Activities are mostly localized in neighbourhoods and held in informal settings, such as homes, parks, and community centres. It would not be unusual to attend a prayer gathering in someone’s home, to participate in a youth group in a community centre, or to have a spiritually oriented conversation in a coffee shop. While there are no churches, the Bahá’í Faith does have temples (known as Houses of Worship) that are open for anyone to pray and meditate. The House of Worship closest to Toronto is located in Wilmette, Illinois, near Chicago.

What is the building on Bloor Street?

The building at 288 Bloor Street West, known as the Toronto Bahá’í Centre, is a multipurpose space. It is often used as a meeting space for local administrative bodies. Occasionally, it is a venue for events such as holy day commemorations and prayer meetings. And the lower level has a bookstore and information display that is open to the public.

How do I become a Bahá’í?

To be a Bahá’í simply means to recognize Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger of God for today and to follow his laws and teachings. There is no formal process or ritual to becoming a Bahá’í. If you recognize Bahá’u’lláh and follow His laws, then you are a Bahá’í. However, a person would normally inform the local governing council (known as the Local Spiritual Assembly) of one’s belief, so that they can fully participate in the activities of the community, such voting for the Assembly, receiving email updates, etc.

How can I get involved in activities here in Toronto?

Activities happen all around the city. If you happen to know a Bahá’í in your neighbourhood, you could ask them to assist you. Otherwise, you could get in touch the Local Spiritual Assembly, which could put you in touch with a Bahá’í near you.