Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A B-cluster transformed by new (young) Baha'is

There are few B-stage clusters that would not be affected by an influx of 45 new believers, especially when those believers are primarily youth, junior youth, and children. The following describes how the Savannah, GA (B) cluster has been transformed in almost all aspects of it community life by its newest members. (My favorite part of the report? A mini-teaching campaign in which every teaching team includes a newly-declared young person to help the "older" Baha'is become more comfortable with direct teaching. Love it!)

Things has changed in the Savannah Area Cluster since the Birth of Baha'u'llah, in November 2007.

The once small quiet community in Savannah GA which was content with "talking about it" has now become a wonderfully, wild experience in which 45 new believers have transformed any trace of "before"!

Feasts which used to have 4-5 Baha'is now buzz with over 40, most of whom are children, junior youth, and youth. Last night’s Feast of Sovereignty featured 14 adults and 26 younger Baha’is. All prayers and writings were read by the younger friends and they were great. The spiritual growth visualized in these kids has been remarkable in the last 3 months.

Sunday children's classes which used to have 8 children or junior youth who were not yet Baha’is are now classes which regularly host 18-20 children most of which are new Baha’is. Three mothers and one grandmother of children and junior youth have declared, eager to learn more about this Faith that their children, in part, are teaching them about.

And the "before" Baha'is couldn't be happier! Challenges with increased numbers of children, junior youth, and youth are being met by old and new Baha'is alike stepping up to serve. The number of Sunday school teachers for the children and junior youth has gone from 2 to 4 to 6 or 7.

Animators for the weekly Friday night JYG include 4 for the 2 classes, and approximately 6 as support to the 20 to 25 junior youth

who regularly show up.

Even though we still have a lot of work to do to get more of the friends fully engaged in the consolidation work we have made some progress. In the last several months, home visits have greatly increased to each of the new believer’s homes, in an effort to befriend, connect, and include all of the family in core activities and service. There has been a great effort to begin to deepen all the new friends through weekly children's classes, weekly JYG meetings, home visits, having the new friends to dinner, and frequent informal interactions at the Baha'i Center. The Baha'i Center has become the neighborhood place to "hang out". Whenever the Center is open, kids walk in off the street for a chat, a snack, or to play in the "middle room" where there are games, puzzles, toys, and tables.

In the month since our last report, there have been 4 registrations of junior youth, 4 enrollments of youth, 2 enrollments of adults, and 3 junior youth who have turned 15 and signed their enrollment cards. Our trained resources include: Book 1- 40, Book 2- 27, Book 3- 22, Book 4- 22, Book 5- 15, Book 6-15, Book 7- 23. We have a great deal of resources, given our size, but we need to get the trained people to do what they have been trained to do at a greater level. We are in the mist of another mini-teaching campaign this weekend. Yesterday, we had 6 teaching teams go out to visit all the new Baha'is. Today and tomorrow, our teams will go out and do direct, collective teaching in the neighborhood surrounding the Baha'i Center and invite everyone to the jazz concert fireside at the Center tomorrow evening.

We are focusing our planning in an effort to assist some of the senior friends to feel more comfortable in going out into the neighborhood around the center. Because of this, each of the teaching teams include at least one newly declared junior youth or youth. These youth have been wonderful team members, anxious to go out and well recognized in their own neighborhood. We are sure this strategy of accompaniment will eventually give all of the friends the confidence to go out and realize their potential.

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