St Vincent – Edson Branch becomes a Baha’i

The following story of how Edson Branch of St Vincent became a Bahá’í is taken from an interview by Pat Paccassi in 1987.

PP: Edson, tell me how you became a Bahá’í.

EB: Well, it was sometime in 1969. George Howard was then my very good friend; still my good friend, and after that he’s a Bahá’í brother. He used to come to my house and we just sit and chat, and he introduced the Bahá’í – some of his Bahá’í teachings there to me. Fortunately, at that time, there was a young American boy who was here, Jim Lamb, and he used to assist one of his local businessman here doing his refrigeration work, and I was working just opposite in a pharmacy, so I used to see him there. I don’t think it is a coincidence, but he became a very good friend of my father and I discovered in my father’s bookcase a book that Jim gave to him, and the book was Release The Sun, the first Bahá’í book that I ever read, and that book gave all the history of the Bahá’í Faith.

Then there was a lady here, the Jerrels – they were pioneers – a lady and her mother (Winifred and Gladys). She was living in my area here in the centre of Kingstown, and I was invited to a meeting in her house. So myself and George Howard, we came there. There was another couple of Bahá’ís there, the Paccassi’s. And Pat Paccassi after some time in the meeting, she gave a description of the Bahá’í Faith. After some (more) time in the meeting she asked those who would like to be Bahá’ís just raise your hand, and I raised my hand, and from that time on I have become a Bahá’í. I was fortunate enough to be elected to serve on the National Spiritual Assembly, which is a branch or one of the governing bodies of the Bahá’í Faith. At that time headquarters of the National Spiritual Assembly was Barbados, so we used to go to Barbados at different times to attend the Bahá’í meetings, and from then on I became more active until we elected our own National Spiritual Assembly and I was fortunate again to be also a member of the National Assembly here.

PP: That’s nice, could I add to this background a bit in becoming a Bahá’í? You see, as he said, I was there. Edson had, as I understand, been attending a lot of meetings and everybody knew that he liked the Bahá’ís, you know, but somehow he wasn’t becoming a Bahá’í. So that day they said, “We’re going to invite Mr. Branch to this meeting, and see what you can do, why he’s not a Bahá’í.” I don’t know if you remember this or not, Edson, but before you came I had been sitting and I was praying and praying, and I said there’s been so many good teachers and I can’t understand why he hasn’t declared, so what is it that I can say to him that somebody else hasn’t? I’m thinking I don’t want to put the man on the spot because he’ll think that’s strange. What I did do is I had a little list of questions – remember that list of questions?

EB: Yes.

PP: And there was something about, “Do you know this? Did you hear about this?” And at the bottom of it it says, “Are you a Bahá’í? Answer: yes or no.” You were at that meeting Shirley. And then it said, “If he says ‘no’; do you want to become a Bahá’í?” And the whole thing was for Edson, you know. At the meeting I passed out these little pieces of paper to everybody to fill out these papers, but I’m shuffling through trying to get to Edson’s, okay, and so at the bottom it says no he’s not a Bahá’í, does he want to be a Bahá’í and that’s when I said, “Those who want to be a Bahá’í raise their hands.” We were laying for you that day, Edson.

EB: I was a good catch.

PP: You bet it was a good catch. I never told you that up to now, did I?

EB: No, you didn’t.

PP: Well, you turned out to be one of those rare breeds, those steadfast people.

EB: It was a military plot.

PP: It was a divine plot.