Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Annual Unity Feast 2009

Annual Unity Feast to Commemorate ‘Abdu’l Bahá’s Visit to Oakland, CA – A Retrospective

October 17th , 2009 -Willie Keyes Community Center – West Oakland

“The affairs of this world are to be accounted as nothing compared to the joy and heavenly happiness of meeting the friends of God.”
– Abdu’l Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p.7

On Saturday, October 17th , we hosted one of the
most successful Unity Feasts ever held in the
Oakland community – over 70+ adults and children
attended! The highlights of the program included the
performance ( twice!) of “We Are Drops” by the
Willie Keyes Children’s Class for their assembled
parents and friends, led by veteran Bahá’í musicians
Ron and Carol Lyles from Stockton, CA; delicious
and plenteous food coordinated by Ron Shigeta,
Mike T. of Berkeley, and the many friends who
brought wonderful, delectable dishes to share; the
camaraderie and fellowship of the many Bahá’ís and
friends who came from near and far to celebrate our
unity, our diversity and who we are as children of

This was the first Unity Feast we have ever held in a
neighborhood community center, and the first time
in West Oakland – a receptive area where we have
an on-going, Saturday children class which started
during our 5th IPG this past spring. The class has
approximately 14 children of African-American and
Latino descent who live in the immediate vicinity of
the community center.

It was a glorious, wonderful afternoon: the children
were excited, eager to help and a challenge to keep
focused! Luckily, the Center has a jungle gym and
swings outside so that the children could play
outside as we prepared for the Unity Feast. Our
children practiced their songs with Ron and Carol
(and learned a new one – “Justice is the Way”; as
guests arrived, the children helped with name tags
and handing out the programs (which were
thoughtfully and excellently prepared by Dustin Guinee). The mother of two of our
girls gave a standing ovation
to Ron Lyles’ beautiful and
stirring rendition of the Lord’s
Prayer which was performed
to bless the food (an African-
America tradition).

After serving the food, the
Unity Feast program included
a wonderful slide show about
‘Abdu’l Bahá which Dustin
Guinee put together: the children were fascinated by the pictures of Abdu’l Bahá, and
Dustin did a fantastic job of
presenting the diverse history of His
life and our Faith for the seekers
present. We also had the bounty of
an interesting, informative and bi-
lingual (Spanish and English) talk
by Casia Freitas of the Santa Cruz
Bahá’í community on the
importance of education, and the
Bahá’í Writings on universal
education. The Unity Feast also
included prayers for mankind and
America in English, Spanish,
Tongan, and featured readers from
Albany (Affy and Lennie Olinga);
our elders were present -Mr. and
Mrs.Ghiami (who made delicious Persian rice) and
so many dear friends Berkeley, Oakland, Walnut
Creek, Lafayette, Richmond, Hercules, and San
Leandro who came to join in the fun and spiritual

Many, many heartfelt thanks to the Spiritual
Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Oakland for their loving
support, guidance and spiritual investment and to the
West Oakland teaching team: Safa & Sami
Homayoon, Denise Banister, Francisco “Paco”
Rendon, Dustin Guinee, Ron Shigeta, Meghan
Morris; also to Director Roy Oducayen and Asst
Director Joy Sledge of the City of Oakland staff at
the Willie Keyes Community Center
and to EVERYONE who participated, who made
desserts (THANKS, Gordon & Nora Gullett!!), who shared a laugh, who brought their
children, who sang, socialized or
who simply prayed for the glorious
day we had together to remember
our beloved Master!
Ya Baha’u’Abha!

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