Chicago's World Columbian Exposition in 1893 celebrated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus. The World's Parliament of Religions was one of many conferences planned to coincide with the fair and was the world's first ecumenical meeting. It met for 17 days in the Hall of Columbus at the Art Institute of Chicago. Clergy from many Christian denominations took part, as well as representatives of other faiths, which included the following: Muslim, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Confucians, and Jains… There was no member of the Baha'i Faith present. A Christian missionary in Syria sent a letter describing Baha'u'llah and the Baha'i Faith that was read at a conference session. The Parliament caused a great interest in comparative religions amongst Chicagoans. When a Syrian Baha'i named Ibrahim Kheiralla came to Chicago in 1894 hoping to make his fortune, he initiated classes on spiritual healing, which included some Baha'i prayers and principles. Students in those classes became the early Baha'is of Chicago.
(‘Images of America – Baha’i Temple’, by Candace Moore Hill)