The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 22, 2019 8:00 pm

Baha'i Faith community welcomes all to monthly gatherings

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Akinlana DaDa stood at an Allen County Public Library podium Sunday afternoon, calling out mostly holiday-related words.

Bell. Garland. Wrapping paper. Reindeer. Elf. Myrrh. Partridge. North Pole.

He had an attentive audience. The men, women and children gathered around the tables in Meeting Room A were waiting for a combination that would give them a bingo.

About 10 people would win before the focus switched to another game during Unific, a two-hour fellowship event organized by the Baha'i Community of Fort Wayne.

The Baha'i faith is an independent religion founded in 19th century Persia and includes such core beliefs as the oneness of humanity and the recognition that all religions come from the same god.

But don't expect any prayers, worship sessions or pressure to join the faith at Unific, an event where all are welcome.

"There's no strings attached," spokeswoman Carol Butler said.

The monthly get-togethers are about meeting new people and having fun, she said. She added the focus is "creating unity in the community."

Butler greeted latecomers Sunday as attendees set aside their bingo cards, readying instead for a dice game named Tenzi.

Participant Pamela Martin helped kick off the new game, describing Tenzi as "a lot of fun."

"Are you ready?" Martin asked players, who soon added the rattle of dice to the soundtrack of Christmas music. "One, two, three, go!"

Sunday's attendees included Shirona Gunawardhana, a Methodist in charge of the day's prizes, and Baha'i faithful Marisol Sharpe and her sons Jay, 7, and Josiah, 8.

"They were excited to come," Sharpe said, noting her family attended previous Unific gatherings.

Butler enjoys how Unific is multi-generational. She noted that Sharpe's children are in grade school and that she is a grandmother.

"And we're playing together and having fun," Butler said.

The next Unific is set for 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 26 at the downtown library. Visit for more information.


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