Thursday, October 18, 2007

One Assembly’s outward - looking orientation multiplies children’s classes and more

The following story takes ‘Each one, teach one’ to a whole new level. I loved how the Local Spiritual Assembly exercised leadership to empower the rank and file of its community members to arise to serve. To see the chain reaction it set in motion was really exciting—how multiplying children’s classes led to a multiplication of all the other core activities. Then, the icing on the cake was how the Bahá’í children and junior youth in the process flourished.

"Phoenix, AZ (B-stage Cluster) – Originally the Phoenix cluster had 5 Bahá’í children’s classes with 22 Bahá’í children attending it. As the Assembly began to embrace the vision of growth it took a bold step and decided to transform its centralized Bahá’í school to outreach to its neighborhood. The Assembly then asked the Bahá’í parents to pioneer into their neighborhoods and initiate children’s classes with their neighbors’ children rather than driving many miles to attend the centralized Bahá’í school. At the beginning many of the parents perceived this as an impossible challenge. However, with the support of their cluster institute coordinator and the accompaniment of their Auxiliary Board members they rapidly completed their Ruhi Book 3 to gain the required skills to teach a children’s class and immediately stepped into the arena of service. The parents in many instances accompanied by their children began visiting with their neighbors, sharing with them the lessons of Ruhi Book 3, and inviting their children to join the class. One of the parents shares the following: “Members of our community who were not teaching and serving, because of language difficulties, are now teaching and serving. This has become a very effective way to involve our beloved Persian families who have arrived recently and have language difficulties. They have agreed to start children’s classes at their apartment complex with another teacher. Our children are learning to be teachers and servants of the Faith by inviting their friends to class and doing home visits. They feel good about being a Bahá’í because their peers are coming to class. They are forming a Bahá’í identity along side of their peers! They do not have to be with other Bahá’í children to feel that identity. Their peers affirm that being a Bahá’í is cool by coming to theclasses! Our Jr. Youth are arising to serve through these classes. They are and feel important because of their service to these classes. They are teaching. Mothers who didn’t think they could serve or teach because of family commitments are serving their own children and teaching the Faith at the same time. Our children pray with their peers. It is becoming very natural for them to pray with others besides Bahá’is. Our community’s spiritual health is improving because more people are teaching. We have learned that:

  • Children and junior youth are among the most receptive population.
  • The closer the location of the children’s classes to the house of the seekers the higher their participation.
  • Mothers with young children are particularly suitable to promote children’s classes.
  • Parents are open to the programs that provide for the moral education of their children.
  • Bahá’í children classes are portals to the portals. Parents touched by the sweetness of the Writings participate freely in the devotionals and study circles.
  • Older siblings of the children participating in the children’s classes attend the junior youth groups.”
One of the parents who is teaching a children’s class shared the following; “I used to force my son to go to Sunday Bahá’í schools regularly. So he always did. However, he would never identify himself as a Bahá’í child. He used to introduce himself as an ‘independent thinker’. When I began initiating the children’s class in my neighborhood I took him along with me home visiting with the parents and inviting their children to join the class. He was assisting me in keeping track of the home visits, who was home, which home no one answered, how many children in each home, how many children promised to come, etc. He also assisted me to prepare and conduct the class. I am delighted because my son now identifies himself as a Bahá’í !”"

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