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Edmond Baha’i Faith - Race Unity Day Celebration

The public is invited to a special concert and musical presentation by world-renowned conductor and vocalist Van Gilmer for this year’s Race Unity Day celebrations. The event is on Saturday, June 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Edmond Baha’i Center located at 321 East Campbell just west of the UCO Clock Tower.

Gilmer is a long-time composer and musician with a distinguished career of performing around the world with a specialty in Gospel music. He is currently the music director at the North America Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. Also, as a music educator he is often invited to schools and conferences to lecture on the history and practice of gospel music and to train singers of all races and backgrounds in this universally style of music.

A native of North Carolina, Gilmer’s musical talent has taken him to many countries for performances and recordings including with the Maly Moscow Symphony, the Slovak Radio Symphony, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Czech National Symphony, the Budapest Symphony to name a few. In the U.S., he has performed twice at the Carnegie Hall and in 1992; he was appointed director of the Baha’i World Congress Gospel Choir, performing for the worldwide gathering of 35,000 who attended that historic event in New York City. He has also appeared at the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington D.C. and directed the 200-voice combined choir for the 26th Annual Interfaith Conference. His work continues to take him to many parts of the country and the globe and for the past sixteen years he has directed the Baha’i Gospel Singers, who have toured the United States, Canada, and Europe, and are featured on several recordings. He also served director of the Metropolitan Washington Baha’i Chorale for seven years.

Gilmer’s compositions include We Have Come to Sing Praises, I’m So Glad, O Thou Compassionate Lord, Cause Me to Taste the Divine Sweetness, He has Come Back, Soon Will All That Dwell on Earth and many others. His song My God, My Adored One was awarded “Best Gospel Song” by the Independent Music Awards in 2006. He was also awarded the Gold Prize at the Johannes Brahms International Choral Festival in Germany in 2001 when he directed the Voices of Bahá Gospel Choir in a program including some of his own compositions. He has produced many CDs from his performances around the world over the years. Gilmer is a member of the American Society of Choral Directors and is listed in the 2010/2011 Strathmore’s Who’s Who Registry & Global Network for Outstanding Professionals.

Gilmer has an extensive background in Race Amity programs including serving on the National Race Unity Committees. During his college years he was involved in the 1960s “Sit-ins” in Greensboro, North Carolina and later with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) at the first theatres, restaurants and public places became open to African Americans in the South. He has a degree in Architectural Engineering with 37 years of experience in civilian and federal administrative positions including managing equal opportunity programs for the civilian Navy department.

Refreshments will be served following the program. No donations are accepted.

Gilmer is visiting Oklahoma to perform at this year’s Race Unity celebrations at the invitation of the Edmond Baha’i Community and is planning several musical events in the community during the weekend including working with children for a performance during the weekend. He will also perform and speak during Sunday services starting with devotions at 10 a.m.

Race Unity Day was established by the Baha’is of United States in 1957. It is observed, nationwide, on the second weekend in June and promotes racial harmony and the understanding of the essential unity of humankind. In Edmond, the celebrations have been highly popular and well attended since 2000 at the Edmond Baha’i Center.

One of the basic principles of the Baha’i Faith is elimination of all prejudices including racial prejudices. Baha’is believe that elimination of these prejudices is a prerequisite of achieving their most sacred goal, World Unity.

For more information about the Race Unity Day Celebration or the Baha’i Faith, please call 348-9992 or visit, or email

Editor’s Note: For interviews with Van Gilmer during the weekend on his extensive Race Relations or musical expertise, please contact Terri Angier at (405) 348-8322 or

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