Age Is No Barrier—A Senior Reflects, Takes Action, and Keeps on Teaching: Celebrating the Wilmette Institute’s Twentieth Anniversary

Jean Luhrs is a senior Bahá’í (“way past sixty-five” she describes herself) who has lived for twenty years with Harry, her Shuh Tzu, in a senior-housing community in Monroe, Washington, USA. By her own admission, her memory is not what it used to be, and she is a little slow in getting things done, but she perseveres with deepening classes. She became a Bahá’í in Colorado in 1971; was given books on Shoghi Effendi by her Spiritual Assembly, which also enrolled her in classes on the Covenant; subsequently served as an assistant to Auxiliary Board members for protection in two states; helped develop three teaching teams; and lived in six states and Canada. Her life-long passion is continuing to deepen on Shoghi Effendi and the Covenant to keep refreshing her memory. Jean shared the following comments about her experiences with Wilmette Institute courses. She is now taking her third course, Writing Biographies and Histories, after having taken Twin Covenants of the Bahá’í Faith in 2011 and The Ministry of Shoghi Effendi in 2014.

Jean Luhrs“I am a senior. I mean way past sixty-five, nearer to the age where one is set in a corner and handed a cup of tea and watched over. Not for me, I thought, and I found the Wilmette Institute. I hesitated at first to enroll, convinced I would be ‘competing with people who had more initials after their names than in them’ but then figured, ‘what have I got to lose,’ and I registered for a course. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered the other students were just like me (not in age, but in attitude) and were there to expand their minds, learn something new, try studying as if they were in college—and thoroughly enjoy doing it. Then I discovered that we weren’t in competition with each other—we were to work at our own speed, take our own time and even had a mentor to help us if we wanted help. I blossomed and couldn’t get enough and told everyone I knew about the courses, the great subjects that worked for Bahá’ís as well as those who weren’t Bahá’ís. What really impressed me was that those who were not Bahá’ís were not pressed to become Bahá’ís, only to enrich their understanding of the subject they were taking. Aside from my personal learning there were other effects on my life as my conversation became livelier, and I was no longer shuffled to the corner chair—apparently people now wanted to hear what I had to say. Personally, I can’t wait for the next class to begin.” 

You still have time to send in your own six-word essay or longer comment or your reminiscences or stories. E-mail them to Dr. Betty J. Fisher ( and copy them to Dr. Robert Stockman (

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