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Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Earlier this month, Marjorie and Ellerton Harmer were honored by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Virgin Islands for their 45 years of service to the faith. The Harmers were given a beautiful framed calligraphy with a quote from Baha'i writings. The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of St. Thomas will host their own dinner on Saturday for the Harmers. The dinner will be attended by local Baha'is, family and friends from St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Tortola.
The Harmers came here on Jan. 12, 1956, without much knowledge of the Caribbean but in response to the request to "plant the seeds of the faith" in every locale. The Baha'i faith has no clergy and the expansion of the religion is based on teaching efforts and the growth of the administrative arms of the faith. The Harmers worked with other Baha'is in the region and when the size of the communities grew there was a National Spiritual Assembly of the Leeward, Windward and Virgin Islands. Proof of their efforts is that for the past 35 years there has been the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands.
The Harmers have also been instrumental in working with Baha'is worldwide to spread the message of their religion by hosting activities and taking part in various local, national and international teaching activities. Their homes in Sugar Estate and later Bonne Esperance have been affectionately referred to as the "Harmer Hotel" and are like a revolving door to many esteemed members of the Baha'i community and visitors to the islands.
Looking back on their experiences over the past 45 years, Marjorie and Ellerton admit that there were difficulties but there were so many "golden moments". The couple also celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Thursday. Their shared commitment to the Baha'i faith and their family have provided them with the strength to face the major disappointments, including the loss of their son Tony, damage to their home with Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Marilyn, and deteriorating hearing and vision.
They were both very involved in the activities and interests of their children: Susan (a former speech pathologist, now travel agent), Tony (pianist) and Michele (an elementary education teacher on St. Croix).
The family has grown with five grandchildren—Michael, Munirah, taMicah Jerme, Mikyba and Minkah—and an extended family of friends throughout the islands. Both Marjorie and Ellerton are happy to have spent most of their lives here. Ellerton, now 83, recalls that he was "only 39" when he came here and has lived here longer than anywhere else. Marjorie will be 80 in August and still feels the decision to come here was the right one.
In addition to raising the family and serving the faith in several administrative positions over the years the Harmers were instrumental in ensuring that Baha'i marriages are accepted as legal in the Virgin Islands and that children from Baha'i families can be excused from school on Baha'i holy days.
The Baha'i faith is an independent world religion with principles including the oneness of God, the oneness of religion and the oneness of humanity. For more information on the Baha'i faith call 774-3648 or email: NSA@vi.bahai.org, or visit the Web site at www.vi.bahai.org.

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