I am 19 years old and for years [I] have researched endlessly [about] religions and their beliefs. I have read many scriptures and have even taken courses in order to provide an idea of what faith I truly believe in my heart. I had not found it until last night when I had a revelation after reading an article about unity of faith. And that was by a Christian! All of my stress and internal turmoil was immediately alleviated. I am so happy. Soul filled with true joy, and I have been led to this faith :)
Friday, October 23, 2015
Karri is in her mid-20s. She registered her decision to become a Bahá’í on www.bahai.us. The local Bahá’í who called her to talk about the decision to declare shared this about how she became engaged in community life.
Her interest in the Bahá’í Faith began three years ago, during a World Religions class in which each person was instructed to attend services from three different faiths of their choice, and one of Karri's choices was the Bahá’í Faith. She has already studied the books “Reflections on the Life of the Spirit” and “Arising to Serve” with a local Bahá’í. She also attends prayer devotionals in the community. Her interest in the Faith included the fact that she is a social worker and she feels the laws within the Bahá’í Faith are timely for society at large at this time in human history.
Jenna decided she wanted to become a member of the Bahá’í Faith and registered her declaration online at www.bahai.us. Here is what she shared about her initial interests in learning more about the Faith.
“I am interested in exploring the Bahai Faith. I have recently spoken with a friend about beliefs of the Bahai Faith, and it seems to make more sense to me than Christianity. I have long struggled with the idea of organized religion, so have done very little to pursue connection with one particular church. I believe there is one God, and I crave a personal relationship with Him. . . . phone contact would be best, as my husband would be skeptical about my interest with Bahai.”
The Bahá’ís who met with her share this about Jenna's journey.
Jenna has a daughter who will be seven in a few weeks. She considered registering her daughter as well, but wanted to be sure that the father was in agreement before doing so. The daughter is currently attending children's classes at a local church in order to have some spiritual exposure. She and her daughter have read Bahá’í prayers together; she is looking for parenting support among the Bahá’ís. She has also reconnected with the old high school friend who first introduced her to the Faith almost 2 years ago. Jenna is an educator and finds that the message of the Bahá’í Faith about the beauty of diversity and the goal of a unified world resonates with her both spiritually and professionally. She shared with me that, "It's a good fit."
Jennifer called 800-22UNITE (800-228-6483) for more information about the Bahá’í Faith. This is what she shared about herself.
“My mother has been involved in Bahá'í for many years [and] we were discussing a lot of things and she suggested it again to me so I decided to call. I like the idea of the betterment of relationship of cultures.”
The friends in the community were happy to call her back and meet with her. This is what they shared.
Jennifer attended our devotional on Saturday. She showed much interest, had questions about the brochures I gave her, and she has connected with a Bahá’í in the community with whom she has many similar interests.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
In April 2015, the tragic death of Freddie Gray plunged the city of Baltimore into turmoil. Although much public attention was placed on the symptoms of civil unrest, protests and in some cases, violence, conversations across the city increasingly brought into light the unmet need for unity as an underlying condition. In neighborhoods, communities and a city working to continue on a path of development, the ties that brought groups of people together to work towards a common cause despite differences of age, class, race, religion or other social boundaries were called on to contribute to reconstruction of the city, in bricks and in spirit.
In the acute phase of unrest, the Local Spiritual Assembly began consulting on how efforts could be made to contribute to the city’s development, and began with a call over email to community members to decentralize [activities] into neighborhood gatherings open to all, to create a space for learning and consultation. This began a process . . . structures of the Bahá’í community were able to provide a scaffold for building bonds of friendship, unity, and community development.
The response of the Baha’i community to crises in Baltimore City included several lines of mobilization by . . .
· adapting the current framework of activities to meet the needs of unity in neighborhoods
· expansion of activities to meet these needs
· mobilizing groups of people who have been serving together to carry out conversations and acts of service
· working alongside other groups to contribute to community development
· use of social media for conversations and outreach
In exploration of ongoing activities . . .
• Feast was adapted into "unity" Feasts, resulting in an increase in participation, both from community members and generality of friends.
• The Holy Day event was adapted to discussion about ongoing crises in Baltimore City.
• Devotionals were both adapted and expanded to address needs for unity.
• Study circles were adaptable to provide a space for discussion.
• Junior youth were mobilized to be of service and to carry out conversations in the city. In both cases, members of the public expressed appreciation for services and voices of the young.
• Home visits and quality of connections within increased during the most acute phase of the crisis.
The friends in Baltimore share how they responded to questions about race.
We were invited to join with the First Unitarian church of Baltimore in an ADORE (a dialogue on race and ethnicity) on Friday, May 1st. From the Baha’i Community we had youth and junior youth and adults [many from the wider community joined us]. We initially shared a pot luck meal together and were able to meet the members of the church as well as their other guests. Then we gathered and everyone introduced themselves. Interestingly, almost all the youth were from the Baha’i Community. There were also members of other Unitarian churches from around the area and members of the Maryland Ethical Society and some individuals that did not identify themselves with any organization. We then all watched a TED talk that focused on institutional racism. This was very informative; the audience then was divided in groups of 2 for a 15 minute dialogue to come up with a message to help Baltimore city's problems of racism. Everyone was told to pick a person that they did not know before and a different age group than themselves. This encouraged our youth to hold dialogues with adults.
At the end of the small group conversations, then people had a chance to share what they talked about. Every one of the youths that attended from the Baha'i community, bravely raised their hands and shared their thoughts. Even the youth that are usually quiet during youth group felt empowered to share. This was impressive sight to hear them eloquently express their thought and paths of action with a large group of people they had never met before.
After this discussion the Unitarian Minster shared a few words and let everyone in an exercise of breathing in and breathing out. Then we were invited to join this dialogue again on June 12th. The members of the Unitarian church then held lighted candles and went outside to stand in a vigil and sing songs about Unity. Some of the Baha'i Community members joined in as well.
This was very educational for the junior youth group and it was very refreshing for the Unitarian Church to have the youth involved. Speaking to one of the members, she stated that they are [learning about] engaging their youth, and she was interested in activities to join our youths together. She may bring her daughter to the next junior youth group meeting on Friday.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Some examples of social and economic development endeavors underway across the country . . .
o Planting a garden in a neighborhood in Naples FL with another organization
o Offering seminars and scholarships through the Esperanza Foundation in Portola CA
o Church-sponsored talks, potluck and speakers on MLK Day in Scottsville VA
o “To Light a Candle” documentary on religious and educational freedom, across the USA
o Roadside cleanup in Grand Rapids MN
o “Education is not a Crime” seminar and consultations, across the USA
o Pet rescue volunteer service in Trophy Club TX
o Clothing drive in Camas WA
o Student Virtues Aware program to high school students in La Crescenta CA
o Tutoring program in Bethlehem PA
o Earth Day Fair on climate change in Milford MI
o Race Equality Discourse in Rocklin CA
o Brilliant Stars Park cleanup in Fontana CA
o Trash Bash neighborhood cleanup in Richardson TX