Monday, March 31, 2008

Trainings for Teaching through Magdalene Carney Institute

More and more souls are rising up to boldly proclaim in an audacious manner the fundamental verities of the Faith. In January and February 2008, the Magdalene Carney Bahá’í Institute sponsored two training conferences in West Palm Beach, Florida for cluster agencies. Just look at the preparation the participants received! Look at the confidence gained! Look at the results achieved!

· 58 teachers participated in direct teaching.

· 77 people were taught using Anna’s presentation.

· 83 people requested a follow up visit.

· 19 children and 5 junior youth from non-Bahá’í families would likely take part in children’s classes and junior youth groups.

· 7 new believers (3 of which declared at a follow up visit later in the week)

“The training was excellent, with tremendous spirit and enthusiasm. Participants studied the Sept. 30, 2007 letter of the International Teaching Centre . . . They also discussed direct, collective teaching projects and how to organize them; reflected on the teaching experience; analyzed the cluster growth profiles and human resource charts in the respective clusters; and set numerical goals for the next cycle of growth. . . .”

“A key element of the training for the attendees at both conferences was door-to-door direct, collective teaching, using Anna’s presentation. It was a powerful learning in action experience. The teaching projects took place in ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Previously, these neighborhoods were scouted and found to be receptive for direct teaching. . . . the friends personally experienced the joy of direct teaching. For many, it was the first time going door-to-door and using Anna’s presentation, shedding their fears in the process.”

“After their experience, participants expressed greater confidence to coordinate and engage in direct teaching. They had knocked on doors, met people on the streets, and introduced many new souls to the Faith, making spiritual connections and opening the hearts of new souls to Bahá’u’lláh, using Anna’s presentation . . .”

Sunday mornings converge on the Plan in SF

Many Bahá’í communities in large, urban areas have a Bahá’í Center in which a variety of activities are often scheduled on Sunday mornings. Across the country, the friends are learning to turn these buildings and regular events into assets for the Five Year Plan. Here is one example from San Francisco, CA (A), which is emphasizing the teaching opportunities available to the friends through a devotional meeting:

“The SUNDAY DEVOTIONAL PROGRAM at SF Bahá’í Center provides a perfect opportunity to:

· Invite and bring seekers whom you are teaching

· Greet and teach seekers who come to the Bahá’í Center on their own

· Practice giving “Anna’s Presentation” from Ruhi Book 6

· Introduce your seekers to other Bahá’ís

· Visit the bookstore, tour the Center

· Renew your spirit”

Don't wait to teach

The Universal House of Justice has urged the friends not to wait until they become A clusters to teach. The believers in South Hampton Roads, VA (*C) have taken that guidance to heart. A *C-stage cluster, they have plunged into the Plan, increased their number of active teachers through training—and service in the field—and are seeing the fruits of their labors.

“. . . the cluster launched a training program for “Direct Teaching and Presenting the Faith” using Anna’s presentation from Ruhi Book 6. . . . 31 friends participated. . . . Of those 31 people trained, 27 were able to go out and teach. Many others prayed. . . .

“Feeling bolder and more confident after their training, the friends engaged in collective and individual direct teaching using Anna’s presentation in the cluster’s three cities that have a Spiritual Assembly. They also focused simultaneously on establishing children’s classes. Below are the results of the efforts of this remarkable *C cluster, which includes both urban and rural areas:

· Anna’s presentation used in direct teaching generated the enrolment of 4 new believers.

· The number of friends engaged in direct, collective teaching rose from 5 to 25 in a period of three months.

· The number of children in neighborhood children’s classes rose from 0 to 8 in the past six months.

· A new Ruhi Book 1 study circle was formed with 5 people including 2 of the new enrollees.

· About 20 new receptive souls were identified for follow-ups, including hearing Anna’s presentation through a home visit and being invited to the core activities and firesides.

· 16 children were identified as possible students, requiring follow up with parents.”

Source: Bulletin Update, published by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southern States, Volume 7, Number 1, p. 2

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"They communicated eloquently through the shared language of love"

The following summary of activities provides insight into the outreach underway in this new A-stage cluster in the Northwestern Region. Rich diversity was represented in the team and the neighborhoods reached.

The morning session of the first cycle of growth for the Snohomish County WA (A) cluster kicked off with a cluster reflection meeting today. The friends read a letter penned to the Area Teaching Committee from the National Spiritual Assembly and consulted on the collective teaching work laid before them. Nine teaching teams composed of 29 Baha’is from the Snohomish County, WA cluster and one visitor from Seattle were formed and preceded to the Baker Heights neighborhood in northeast Everett to find and teach receptive souls. The Baker Heights neighborhood is a diverse mixture of immigrant and multi-generational populations. Over 30 languages can be heard at the local grammar school there ranging from Russian and Ukraine to Vietnamese, Turkish, and Arabic.

The friends visited between 200-250 homes in the neighborhood and were met by a largely receptive population. Approximately half the homes housed someone who answered the doors to the teachers and around 20% or so of those who did showed some degree of receptivity to the Faith. The friends have over 20 people listed for a follow-up visits. Most of these will occur next weekend -- the final weekend of the intensive outreach campaign.

The day ended with an evening meeting in the neighborhood. One of the neighbors who were visited earlier came to listen to the music and devotions and listen to a short presentation on the Faith.

Tomorrow, the friends will teach at a second neighborhood around the area of the Baha’i Center. The two neighborhoods were chosen as it is hoped they will offer much in the way of learning about receptive populations.

The friends who participated today came from several communities in the cluster and what they may have lacked in specific experience was more than made up by the degree of consecration in their approach. The collective teaching experience opened new portals of love between the friends as they offered their services to the Blessed Beauty and the Five Year Plan. It was especially heartwarming to have several recent Baha’i immigrants participate and work shoulder to shoulder with longstanding residents. Teaching teams were made up of English and Persian and Turkish speakers and, although some team members had challenges conversing, they communicated eloquently through the shared language of love and joyful sacrifice.

During the week, in between the weekend door-to-door campaign in the two pre-selected neighborhoods, the friends will engage in an intensive home visit and fireside campaign. Over ten teams have formed thus far and have committed to intensifying their teaching efforts pledging to visit their contacts and invite them to firesides, devotional meetings and other activities.

The weather in Everett today was largely stormy and wintry. There was a brief period of a couple of hours when the sun broke through and warmed the streets. This happened to coincide with the beginning of the door-to-door teaching. The friends, who were sustained by the sweetness of the teaching experience today, are more than ready to give another effort tomorrow and to continue to expand their learnings in teaching.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

NE: 3 clusters provide agile response to 1-800-22UNITE seeker

Experience has shown that time is of the essence when a seeker calls 1-800-22UNITE for follow up. The following story shows how an agile response from the cluster agencies makes meeting seeker needs timely. These 3 Clusters illustrate how they coordinate to form a quick response to seeker requests:

A seeker living on the border of the Bergen/Passaic NJ (*C) and Newburgh NY (B) clusters recently requested information about Baha'i contacts and activities in both areas. Within a few hours of the Regional Specialist sending a request for a calendar of events and local contacts, coordinated information was received from Teaneck and Newburgh along with several announcements of special events from New York City NY (A) cluster that would be of particular interest to this seeker. These were then relayed by the Regional Specialist to the seeker who is eager to attend the events.

~NE Regional Seeker Response Specialist

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"How can I help?" - Portland invites community to support first IPG launch

In a recent letter to the cluster, Portland OR celebrates its new advance to “A-stage status” as a cluster. As the cluster embarks on this historic endeavor in launching of their first cycle of Intensive Program of Growth, the Area Teaching Committee identifies the framework of their focus for their new expansion phase. The friends are invited to find out more about the exact plans, daily schedule and contacts for the various coordinators, through their dedicated IPG web site at On the site, the friends are provided a list of ways they can join to support the effort. We can all learn from their approach . . . read on . . .


  1. Pray at home daily including reading the teaching prayer for teaching for the Western States for the success of our individual and collective teaching efforts.
  2. Come pray at the Portland Bahá’í Center for the success of the IPG. Teams. Sign up and/or contact the Prayer Coordinators for details.
  3. Hold devotional gatherings and invite your contacts and seekers to pray.
  4. Hold a personal fireside in your home. Invite your friends, neighbors, coworkers or family. Report your plans including the outcomes and any learnings to the Fireside Coordinators.
  5. Form a small teaching team with a family member or friend.
  6. Participate in neighborhood teaching doing door-to-door teaching or by offering help and support during this process including assembling packets, tracking statistics, and offering follow-up help.
  7. Assist with the prayers, music, short introductory talk or other aspects of the evening programs at the Portland Bahá’í Center. Contact the Evening Program Coordinators.
  8. Attend and support the evening programs at the Portland Bahá’í Center including inviting and accompanying your contacts.
  9. Help with children’s activities during the events and programs taking place at the Portland Bahá’í Center. Contact the Children’s Activities Coordinators.
  10. Help with food and refreshments needed by the teaching teams during the day and for evening programs at the Portland Bahá’í Center. Contact the Food & Refreshments Coordinators.
  11. Provide hospitality for some of the travel teachers visiting us from out of town during April 5 - 13. Contact the Hospitality Coordinator.
  12. Provide transportation and/or translation help to other community members needing such support.
  13. Offer to do home visits with seekers and contacts we gain through this process after the expansion phase. Contact any member of the Area Teaching Committee.
  14. Offer to facilitate a study circle, teach children’s classes, and animate a junior. youth group or host a devotional gathering with seekers and contacts we gain through this process. Contact your Cluster Institute Coordinator.

"O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of 'Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá' in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it."

~Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 41

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

11 Teams outreach in Tacoma

There have been many exciting and inspiring stories from the Tacoma WA (A) teaching efforts over the past few days. There were so many positive experiences. On Saturday 28 adults, youth and children made up 11 teams. On Sunday there were 22 adults, youth and children on 8 different teams. During the week days there have been 3 to 4 teams going out doing follow up visits and visiting new homes. These are just a few of the stories so far.

  • At one home when the team went to the door and said they were Bahá’ís, the person at the door excitedly said “I am a Bahá’í! I never expected Bahá’ís to come to my door. God works in mysterious ways.” Two days later, Bahá’ís went back again.
  • At another home a woman came to the door and there was another young woman lying on the couch. When the team told the woman at the door that they were Bahá’ís, the other woman flew off the couch and said, “I am a Bahá’í!!! Allá’u’Abhá.” She had just moved to the area and hadn’t had time to contact the Bahá’ís yet. She had been very busy with school and work but now she isn’t working and will be able to be involved in the activities of the community.
  • At the home of a Bahá’í in the target neighborhood, some other Bahá’ís came to visit. The visitors included a man, a woman, her son and the son’s girlfriend. The girlfriend was not a Bahá’í but knew some things about the Faith. So, the Bahá’í whose home was visited asked if he could share with her a presentation on the Faith (Anna’s presentation from Ruhí book 6). She agreed. At the end of the presentation, she embraced Baha’u’llah!
  • At another home the team came across a Vietnamese couple. The couple didn’t speak much English so the team said they would come back with a translator. Two days later, one of the original team members along with another Bahá’í woman and the Vietnamese-speaking Bahá’í went back to the house. They were there for about 45 minutes. The English-speaking Bahá'ís said the Vietnamese couple were very gracious and offered them tea. Everyone seemed happy but the English speakers didn’t understand one word of the exchange. However, phone numbers were exchanged between the Vietnamese Bahá’í and the seekers.
  • At another home a very radiant man heard part of Anna’s presentation and asked that someone come back any day after 7:00. He said the door would be open. He was very receptive to hearing about the Faith.
  • At another home the team gave part of Anna’s presentation by holding the book up to the window with the person peeking thru the blinds! The person told them to “come back and who is this Baha’u’llah?”
  • The home of another Bahá’í has many non-Bahá’í relatives living there. The Bahá’í asked the fiancé of his daughter if he would take the time to hear a presentation on the Faith that would take about an hour. This fiancé knew some things about the Faith from talking to the Bahá’í but hadn’t had a comprehensive presentation. The fiancé agreed to take time out from his Easter dinner cooking to listen. As the presenter was getting going, there was a knock on the door--the Mormon elders who were teaching this fiancé. As it turns out, the fiancé invited the elders to hear the message of Bahá’u’lláh because he said, “they need to hear this!” Other members of the family gathered in the living room to hear the presentation and the quiet that descended on the room was amazing considering all the previous activity and people who were there. One Mormon friend was very agitated and impatient to go, but the other one, along with the fiancé, was enthralled with what they were hearing. The Bahá’í was singing prayers to his baby grandson so the praying for the success of the presentation was very natural. In the end, the fiancé was very excited about what he heard. The presenter is going to start a Ruhí book 1 with him and whoever else wants to come. The next day, some Bahá’ís were at that house using it for the headquarters of the expansion phase and the fiancé couldn’t stop talking about the Faith and the presentation of the previous day. He was still so afire with what he had heard.
  • One of the team members who is a veteran Bahá’í said that it was “really fun”! For the past 25 years she said she would never do door to door teaching again. When the core team invited people to do direct teaching she decided that she was just going to take photographs. But once she stepped into being part of the team and they started teaching, she said she was filled with joy.
  • Another team member who was 13 and had never done door-to-door teaching, reported with a smile when he came back “it was fun!”

~Reported by the Brizuela Family </span>

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

All the elements were there: intensity, joyful enthusiasm, resources . . .

All the elements for the Benton County OR (A) cluster’s 11th cycle expansion phase were there: intensity, joyful enthusiasm, trained human resources, a systematic plan for direct teaching, prayerful preparation, and broad support from the entire Bahá’í community.

Be unrestrained as the wind, while carrying the Message of Him Who hath caused the Dawn of Divine Guidance to break. Consider, how the wind, faithful to that which God hath ordained, bloweth upon all the regions of the earth, be they inhabited or desolate. Neither the sight of desolation, nor the evidences of prosperity, can either pain or please it. It bloweth in every direction, as bidden by its Creator. So should be every one that claimeth to be a lover of the one true God. It behoveth him to fix his gaze upon the fundamentals of His Faith, and to labor diligently for its propagation. Wholly for the sake of God he should proclaim His Message, and with that same spirit accept whatever response his words may evoke in his hearer.”

~Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 339

Following 9 intense days devoted to door-to-door direct teaching, covering an entire town of 4000 people, we had a list of about 70 contacts that we thought were receptive. Now mid-way through our consolidation phase, that list has been whittled down to about 25. All have one or more Bahá’í teachers who are committed to follow up with each of these souls, and the Area Teaching Committee is tracking their progress. We have 2 new adults in a Book 1 study circle and one new child in children’s class.

Along the way we learned a lot about what real receptivity looks like. We have seen an amazing resurgence of energy in our youth who are taking initiative on their own to systematically teach.

We rejoice along with you at some of the stories being shared on this blog of finding receptive neighborhoods where the expansion must stop early due to the high number of new believers, but honestly – we have had to struggle a bit with our disappointment that we found no one who was receptive enough to declare their belief in Baha'u'llah. But we are "faithful to that which God hath ordained" and this little windstorm of believers will continue to blow into every other corner of our cluster "wholly for the sake of God."

~Area Teaching Committee
Cluster OR15

Monday, March 10, 2008

Declaration of a friend

What happens when everyone studies Anna's presentation and that our cluster's Intensive Program of Growth teaching energy spreads far beyond the cluster? J_____ , a Muslim friend/colleague of mine from Michigan now living in Hawaii, responded to my encouragement to contact the local Baha'is in Hawaii (after she commented on a Baha'i quotation I shared with her), went to a fireside this week, then met with a Baha'i who invited her to enroll, and she did! Just like that!

Here is some of what she said after the fireside:

Had a lovely Fireside Evening with the Bahá’í community and it's the right place for me! I will be joining their activities and studies starting now. They will gather on Friday, and I've been invited.

Lovely people. Just the connection I've been longing for here.

One of the women is Muslim. She's from Iran.

The progression from Christianity to Islam and now to Baha'i...

And then after meeting one-on-one with a Baha'i:

My new friend from last night is a beautiful, lovely woman named L___. She invited me to visit with her, which I did this afternoon. She invited me to enroll, and I gratefully did so. She will teach and train me, and set me up with an international membership. I will love it. I do love it. Finally...spiritual sustenance.

I'm eager to learn from L____ and the others. Now I have a world community.

Thanks for your loving support to get me there!


Saturday, March 8, 2008

“We are determined to carry on” despite blizzard conditions

All around the country, stories are being shared by the friends participating in the launching of new intensive programs of growth - expansion phases. Some, however, are doing so despite the weather—we have heard about the below-zero temperatures braved during Evanston’s launch a few weeks ago, now the friends in Cleveland, OH (A), a new A-stage cluster, share their eagerness to begin, and their determination to be together. (All during the Fast!). Let us all pray for them too.

Dear Ones,

We are in blizzard conditions, with 12 inches of snow already here! Last night, as the blizzard started, however, 14 adults, 1 COI junior youth and 3 children managed to brave the snow and winds for the kick-off potluck for the IPG, which included prayers, songs and much laughter.

Some of us made it to Cleveland and joined the group last night. Some friends attempted to arrive, but their travels were delayed through canceled air flights and difficult road conditions.

Please continue your ardent prayers for us. We are determined to carry on, once the blizzard subsides.

With loving gratitude, RBC Member

Friday, March 7, 2008

"None of us could stop the tears of joy"

This touching story was shared with us by the Regional Councils of the Northwestern States sent to them about a new believer whose own words describe the potency of the words of Baha’u’llah on the human soul. This beloved friend will be joining other Bahá'ís in the teaching work in Spanish.

Beloved friends,

The new believers who embraced the Cause of God during the recent successful expansion phases in United States have been called by the International Teaching Center as "These precious followers of Baha’u’llah. In continuation of visiting the new believers in their homes, today a teaching team of three Baha'is visited the home of a newly enrolled Baha'i friend, who declared on February 22, with the same team. We wrote about him before and his great spirit. Today, we met him again in his home. After a prayer session; we started to have some conversation on the theme of eternal Covenant asking him to read the Bahá’í writings on this subject in Spanish language, He is much more fluent in Spanish. We asked him then whether he would kindly explain what he read for us in English. With sweet but not easy pronunciation he was able to convey in English his understanding from the writings in such profound and insightful analogy that none of us could stop the pouring of tears of joy from our admiring eyes!

In a simple English language he tried to say that he sees Baha’u’llah as a Dove and the people, like him, as the chicks that have just started to fly with feeble wings and in great danger of falling. To protect these chicks the Dove (Baha’u’llah) sings constantly Coo, Coo, Coo . . . that the chicks may be aware and stay close to their Mother and gather only around Her. This is the meaning of Covenant, he said. How could one hear this insightful explanation from this very new "Precious follower of Baha’u’llah" and not to hug him tightly! He continued to read the Writings. When he was asked again for some explanation in English, he said "I feel Baha’u’llah is like a Magnet, only those who have the quality of steel will be attracted to Him! Those who are attracted to Him will themselves receive the quality of magnet! More surprise and admiration! The last portion of the study was reading this Writings of Baha’u’llah "The Ancient Beauty Hath consented to be bound with chain that mankind may be released from its bondage . . ." He read this quotation in Spanish. When he realized that we felt sad he looked at us and said, “although Baha’u’llah did suffer, look at the fruits of His sufferings.” We all said, you are one of His newest and the "precious" fruit.

Before leaving his home, we asked if he would be willing to help us to visit other new believers especially Spanish speaking ones. He immediately said yes. We are planning to go with him tomorrow!

With much joy and love,

Dr. R.

Children's Classes featured on NPR

Some of you may have been pleasantly surprised early this morning to hear a story about Baha’i children’s classes on NPR’s Morning Edition, which has an audience of over 26 million people. You can hear the story on NPR’s website, which is linked from the U.S. Baha’i public site:

Share this information with your friends, family and neighbors.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

“I want to become Baha'i! I want to be part of this! "

Southern Nevada (A) IPG--Day 11 report (March 4)

“He is the King, the All-Knowing, the Wise! Lo, the Nightingale of Paradise singeth upon the twigs of the Tree of Eternity, with holy and sweet melodies, proclaiming to the sincere ones the glad tidings of the nearness of God, calling the believers in the Divine Unity to the court of the Presence of the Generous One, informing the severed ones of the message which hath been revealed by God, the King, the Glorious, the Peerless, guiding the lovers to the seat of sanctity and to this resplendent Beauty.” ~Baha’u’llah

We received news of another joyful new believer, who declared his faith last night, making him our cluster’s 27th declaration since the start of our Intensive Program of Growth. Here is the teacher’s story:

On Monday after work, I went for an appointment with one of the seekers, but he was not at home. Then I thought about another person, who happened to be the first person I presented Anna's presentation to during the first weekend of teaching. I had not seen him since that first time. When he opened the door and saw me, he exclaimed, "Where have you been? I was waiting for you. I didn't know how to contact you!"

This young man said he was touched by the prayer book I had given him. He wanted to know when the next Baha’i activity was and said he wanted to attend ASAP. We went for a walk and he told me about his life and the problems he has faced in the past. He then invited me into his home and asked me, "What information do you have for me today? Feed me.” So we studied some writings about progressive revelation. He was very excited and eager to know more and more. He then asked me what it takes to become a Baha'i. I answered belief in God, in Baha'u'llah, and the covenant and striving to obey the laws to the best of your ability. He answered, “I want to become Baha'i! I want to be part of this! Why didn't I know about it before!!?” I told him he was a Baha'i but just didn't know it.

This new believer’s heart is set on fire. He wants to serve humanity and do charity work right away. He has asked me to take him under my wing and wants to teach together. He said he would even do door-to-door teaching!

After he signed his declaration card, we said a prayer. As I was getting up to leave, his roommate came in. I was introduced to him and he was interested in knowing about the Faith too. So I presented Anna's presentation and invited them both to attend the next devotional gathering, which will be in their apartment complex. They both plan to attend.

This teacher reported tonight that the new Baha’i attended the Ruhi Book 1 class at the Baha’i Center, which is being conducted mostly in Spanish. It turns out that this young man, who is American, spent several years in South America and is bi-lingual in English and Spanish! What a further blessing for our community!

Please keep the teaching stories coming. They are inspiring and uplifting to us all. We will pray for the new believers and seekers and for the continued success of this spiritual enterprise.

~Area Teaching Committee

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

South Nevada - Day 10

“If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he foregoeth all created things, the words he uttereth shall set on fire them that hear him.” –Baha’u’llah

March 3, 2008

Dearest Friends,

We are happy to share the following story from two of our cluster’s many devoted teachers. This story clearly illustrates the vital importance of timely follow-up visits to receptive souls. Experience in other communities and now here in Las Vegas NV (A) has shown that many people declare their faith in Baha’u’llah on the second visit. Perseverance, systematic follow-up, and reliance on the power of divine assistance are key elements of success.

My wife and I had presented the first three pages of Anna's presentation last weekend to a Spanish-speaking man. He asked us to come back the following week to speak with him again and also to meet his wife. Saturday night we went to his home. He invited us in even though he was ill and had been taking a nap. He was given the whole presentation in Spanish and was very receptive to what he heard. We had a long discussion with him after the presentation, and he was eager to learn even more about the Faith. He signed his declaration card that evening and has expressed interest in attending Baha'i activities. He also has a beautiful family of two lovely children and one junior youth. We plan to let him know soon that he is welcome to register his children as Baha’is, and we hope to have the opportunity to share Anna’s presentation with his wife.

A dedicated core of Baha’i teachers continues to make follow-up visits to seekers this week. They are also making frequent visits to the new believers, who benefit so much from saying prayers together. The approach is to nurture these relationships, expose the new Baha’is to the Word of God, and gradually introduce to them more about what it means to be a follower of Baha’u’llah. These methods are new to all of us, but they seem to be very effective. We are grateful for the example of other clusters in the Southwest and elsewhere in the U.S. The learning continues.

“Today the need is so great on the part of humanity to hear of the Divine Message, that the believers must plunge into the work, wherever and however they can, heedless of their own shortcomings…” --Shoghi Effendi

With warmest Baha’i greetings,

Area Teaching Committee

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Teaching goals met in Harrisburg/Lancaster

On February 13th the Harrisburg/Lancaster cluster brought to a close a ten day period of heightened activity designed to accelerate the process of growth in the cluster.

There were three goals that animated this effort:

1) We sought to extend the reach of the Cause by sharing elements of "Anna's Presentation" with a greater number of our neighbors, co-workers and friends who had not yet heard of the Faith.

2) We sought to expand the "community of interest" by inviting a greater number of our neighbors, co-workers and friends to participate with us in the core activities of the Five Year Plan (devotional gatherings, children's classes, study circles and youth animator training).

3) And we sought to invite those most receptive from the first two groups described above to enter the Faith and to join us in service to it.

The recent report sent by the cluster development facilitator suggests that all three of these goals have been met. The number of neighbors, co-workers and friends who have received home visits and Anna's presentation has increased; the number of our friends who are now attending core activities has grown; and in the ten days during which we undertook this period of intensification the number of believers in the cluster has increased by one. The new believer is a young man who had been participating in core activities since the summer.

As we enter this next stage we wish to suggest that each member of the cluster consider two goals:

1) In order to insure that we continue to build momentum, it is important that the total number of our core activities with seekers attending increase and is held at a higher number than before. What this means is that if you have been holding a devotional gathering once a month, you might consider increasing its frequency to twice a month or once a week.

2) As we draw closer to our neighbors and friends, let us also nurture our confidence in inviting them into the Faith. In this way we hope that our rate of growth can continue to climb over the next several weeks.

If you are inclined to intensify the spiritual forces animating this campaign let nothing prevent you from contributing whatever share you may be inspired to offer -- for example, an increase in the number of firesides with seekers attending and which include an invitation to join the Faith would be a special contribution.

When we enter the period of Fasting we may wish to undertake another cluster-wide period of intensification that is appropriate for the special nature of that sacred time.

"Thank you for knocking on my door"

This personal story from a believer in Harford/Tolland CT (B) highlights the mysterious connection between prayer, receptivity and the simple action of knocking on someone’s door.

For a very long time now, my husband stops at the gazebo in our town center on Saturdays and says prayers. He prays for those receptive souls in our town, for the LSA, for the friends individually and for those few that we have on our rolls as believers, but never see and can’t reach. Then he does home visits for whomever he has an address. Many times he’s not successful. Such was the case of a believer we hadn’t seen for a very long time. My husband went many times, knocking on her door without success. One time he saw a neighbor who confirmed she did live at the address, so he left his name and phone number. Another time her daughter answered the door, so he left his name and number again. Several months later I received a phone call from her. She said she had been wanting for a long time to reconnect with the Baha’is but didn’t know how. I suggested that we get together to meet and say some prayers. She agreed and came over to my house where we met and prayed. A few weeks later we had a bi-election and she was elected to the LSA. She has regularly hosted and attended Feasts and LSA meetings. She attended both the LSA brunch and her first reflection meeting this past Sunday, where she participated in and committed to several activities. She is scheduled to start Ruhi book 4 in two weeks and is already taking Ruhi book 1 with the LSA. To see her open her heart has been such a joy! My husband told me the next morning that she had come up to him at the reflection meeting and said, “thank you for knocking on my door.” These miracles are truly gifts from Baha’u’llah!

“My advice: Just do it!” – to reach Junior Youth

The friends in Lower Maine/New Hampshire cluster (A) share that it is best to just start a junior youth group, use the materials from the Book 5 animator training, and learn about the process. Here’s what they learned from one of the animators . . . .

I don't even know where to begin. We have 6 participants, all of which have at least 1 Bahá’í parent. The Bahá’í Faith was very new to a couple of them as well, so this is one of their first Bahá’í experiences. We still don't have regular attendance from everyone, but it is excusable because it is the summer and there is a lot going on with some people. We will be much more regular about everything in the fall I am sure. L___ has been coming when he's not working, and he is a great help. I definitely agree that it is better to have 2 co-animators. The plan is to have 1 lead animator soon. What we do at each meeting is say some prayers, go through about one lesson in the book, and then one person each time shares with us a science or an art that they are interested in (music, a craft, drawings). We all do it if applicable. We decided it is best to do that at the end because it is a way to ease into the social portion. We usually have some sort of snack after. I think it is important to not make the youth feel like you are the teacher and that you are superior to them.I always include them in decision making and ask their input. I also read and answer questions while doing the lessons. An issue that we have is getting side tracked and going on tangents. People often make random comments that slow us down while doing the lessons, so I think I am going to tell them to save their comments for the social portion unless they are relevant to the discussion. I also often read stories from Vignettes that relate to the themes in the book. Just one short story each time I think is a good idea. I am also going to bring other quotes in that relate to problems we are having or maybe themes in the book, and suggest that they can memorize them. To make a long story short, everything is going well and getting better all the time and it will always be a learning process. My advice to people is to just do it and you will definitely be assisted and feel the "breezes of confirmation".

Remembering Zach through teaching the Cause

Personal and collective teaching initiatives have been multiplying in the Hartford/Tolland cluster in honor of a dynamic 21 year old youth who tragically passed away in an automobile accident.

Here is a compilation of beautifully diverse teaching efforts made in honor of Zach’s birthday, January 9th.

I never got the chance to meet Zach, but my sister and brother did and really admired his character and spirit. They sent me the request for acts of teaching on his birthday, so my cousin and I held a fireside in his honor on Friday (a belated present!) in New York City. Before the fireside we prayed for him and for the effort, and for Zach to help guide the souls that would come. We had a great evening, about 10 people came, and 4 of them were not Baha'is. We had a wonderful discussion on prayer, read several quotes and ended with a few prayers set to music. One of our dear, new Baha'is from Sierra Leone came and brought 2 of his friends who particularly enjoyed the fireside and made some amazing comments... I think it was the 1st fireside for both of them. We ended at 11:30 pm or so but many stayed on for 2 hours later, just joking around and eating pizza. The spirit of the evening was perfect, and perhaps it was Zach that gave that gift to us.

Another . . . .

Our Senior Center has scheduled a series over a period of 6 weeks entitled World Religions. The advertisement stated: "With the world growing smaller and more interconnected every day, understanding the religions of our fellow believers has become more interesting and important. We will explore the religious beliefs and practices of the world's great faiths." I also noticed Baha'i was not included in the list, so I talked to the director and shared my desire to speak with the gentleman who would be the instructor. I left my information at the Center.

Yesterday, on Zach's birthday, he called me. He was warm and kindly and stated he was raised Lutheran but presently had no religious affiliation. We had a wonderful conversation and I told him my concern that Baha'i had not been listed and he said he was including a brief 5-10 minute explanation of the Baha'i Faith. I offered him our official websites, and, plus myself as resources. He said he had been to the House of Worship in Wilmette. I am looking forward to attending the sessions with my teaching partner, making friends and seeking receptive souls among the other attendees.

A home visit . . .

I lived in the same condo-complex with ___ for a year. She is very sociable and quickly became friends with several Baha’is in our town. (A Baha’i couple now lives in the same condo-complex; in the apartment directly under hers.)

More than six months ago, another Baha’i and I made one very brief unexpected visit to her apartment; while she was warm and welcoming, we were not invited inside because she was preparing to leave for another engagement. On another occasion I invited her over to my apartment and she accepted; the visit was filled with laughter and lots of questions, though she made it clear that she was Catholic and asked that if she was not interested in the Faith could we all still be friends.

Over the months, she and I corresponded several times via the internet; I’ve called her on occasion just to say hello and my calls were always welcomed.

About two weeks ago, per her request, another Baha’i and I made a plan to visit her on January 2nd. However, when the day arrived she asked if we could reschedule to the following week. Unintentionally, we scheduled the visit for January 9th, Zach’s birthday.

We arrived at her place shortly after 7 p.m. and we stayed until nearly 10 p.m.! We brought her a vase of flowers as a gift and when she saw them she began to tear. She was exceedingly happy! She gave us a tour of her cozy apartment and then offered us tea and cookies. We sat and chatted and belly laughed for hours. In our conversation the topic of prejudice came up. She had received some propaganda via email stating Obama was a Muslim and that he intended to do harm to America if he became President. As a result of her sharing, we had the bounty of sharing some truths with her as well as defend Islam. On another occasion during our visit she announced that she believed we were all sinners; that gave us the chance to speak about our God given nobility along with encouraging her to ponder the question “If God sees us as sinners, how will you accomplish your goal of getting to heaven?” She changed her position and then said; we all have the potential to sin.

As we prepared to leave, with genuine enthusiasm, she said she was so glad that we visited her; she said we’d brought her knowledge. We ended our visit with the following Hidden Word O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

She hugged us both very tightly; we were all very happy!

Via email . . .

I wanted to share with you the email below; which I received on Zach's birthday. This is a Unitarian minister that I met at an interfaith symposium who attended a fireside the night of Zach's wake. I sent him an invitation to join us at the devotional planned to honor both Zach and Michael; below is his reply.

"Thank-you for thinking of me – I am currently in Chicago at Theological School so I will miss your devotional gathering. I will remember Zach and Michael in my prayers and daily ritual in solidarity with you. Peace be upon them both. Offer my regards to both their families.

I am planning a field trip up to the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, IL. Looking forward to it. I’ve started reading the biography on Baha’u’llah though I admit the reading is going slowly because I am so laden with reading for my classes (20 books for 3 classes – ouch!). I will try to email you after my field trip. Peace be with you. Be Well!"

Baby steps . . . .

I had my clothes washer delivered today (Zach’s birthday). I remembered someone at the reflection meeting saying that they leave the “purpose of religion” cards at restaurants, so when the two young delivery men were leaving, I tipped them, said “God bless you” and gave them the card.

A real baby step for sure, but a step.

Also, I told my husband (non-Baha'i) I want to say a prayer together every day for our son. We are!

Receptive youth . . .

There is an amazing young soul, who grew up in Montreal and has been living in CT for the past 5-6 years. He is the incredible son of a dear seeker friend of mine whom I met at the Dances of Universal Peace. He, and a couple of other youths, happened to be at my home the morning of January 9th. He has been to one devotional/fireside at my home a couple of months ago and I believe to one or two youth firesides in the past month or so. He gave a ride to another seeker who was staying with me, to the train station and then came to my house at about 7:30am on the 9th. We ended up spending nearly two hours exploring different aspects of the Baha'i Faith, his spiritual path and humanity's spiritual evolution. He is one of the most amazing youth seekers I have ever known and he will be attending NEBY with some other friends. He is so in love with Baha'u'llah's teachings that I was moved to give him a prayer book and a small book about Baha'u'llah which he joyfully and graciously accepted.

I just want to express to you that Zach's passing has truly infused this region with incredible spiritual energy and potential; I have so many stories and instances in which I have felt his soul's presence guiding seekers and connecting hearts.

"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth."

Home visit . . .

On Zach’s birthday, three youth and I made a home visit to an older woman who lives in our cluster. She loves to have people visit her and she especially loves the youth! We shared a few pages from “Anna’s Presentation” (in Book 6) which triggered discussion about spiritual themes. She’s a new Baha’i and enjoys learning about the Faith. The youth really enjoyed this experience and look forward to going again!

Teaching in NYC focused on Jackson Heights, in Queens

The Jackson Heights Teaching Project, launched during the 9th cycle of growth for the New York City (A) cluster, created quite a stir in the cluster, with more than 40 Bahá'ís participating (including 2 young adults, 3 junior youth) in the campaign. The team focused on sharing the message of Bahaullah with East Indians, and Latin & South Americans.

Activities: ‘Teaching tables.’ pamphlet invitations to firesides, two firesides, two junior youth groups, one devotional meeting, one children’s class, four teaching teams, two study circles, five tutors, involvement of Children’s Theater Company


o 5 seekers generated through the teaching tables attended firesides and expressed interest in participating in community activities and receiving home visits.

o 7 personal contacts attended firesides and were also interested in receiving home visits

o 10 seekers shared their names and contact information with the Bahá’ís so that we could invite them to participate in future activities

o 10 non-Bahá’í junior youth participated in the junior youth groups

o Result of holding regular firesides and creating brochures to invite souls to the core activities has been the re-connection with 4 non-Bahá’í junior youth

Next steps
include immediate home visit follow up with the 5 (table) seekers who attended the evening firesides. These friends will be invited to join study circles, devotionals & to declare.

Mother of 2 steps out on faith to reach youth

Accompaniment helped a mother of two in the Philadelphia, PA (B) take action on a desire to form a neighborhood youth group.

More than a year ago, a youthful mother of two who served on the ATC in the Philadelphia cluster expressed the desire to begin a neighborhood youth group or children’s class. Notwithstanding the sincerity of her longing, she found it difficult, even paralyzing, when she contemplated taking the first step. Many months of discussions led nowhere and the shadows of doubt began to gather around her dream. In a final attempt to invoke in her the confidence to trust in the favors and bounties of God, late one evening the ATC and the Auxiliary Board member traveled to her home and confronted her with a challenge. They noted that they had patiently waited for more than a year for her to muster the courage -- with the support of accompaniment -- to reach out to her neighbors; they noted that they had discussed it in several meetings, and had even made one plan after another for its accomplishment – all to no avail. Now they had come to say that they would not return again until the deed had been done. And then they made a promise to her that seemed, in retrospect, to have been inspired. They said that all she had to do was to open her door and to step into the street with the intention of starting her class. At that very hour, they promised, the Master Himself would accompany her and render her victorious.

The believer turned to God in prayer, and the very next day she knocked on the door of the block captain. She shared with her neighbor that she did not know what to do but wanted so much to start a process that would serve the spiritual development of the children and youth in the neighborhood. Her neighbor, moved perhaps by her sincerity, invited her into her home and telephoned her next door neighbor and asked that neighbor to send over her teenage daughter. When the youth arrived a few minutes later, the situation was explained to her. The African-American youth who was the first to learn of the believer’s vision became the first to join her group. But it did not end there. Together, she accompanied the Baha’i to the homes of other neighbors. Within a few visits, she had 8 energetic, warm, and eager youth who were very much looking forward to being a part of her youth animator training.

On the following Friday evening the young recruits arrived at her door as planned. They prayed, studied the Breezes of Confirmation, and told stories. They continued to study both Ruhi Book 1 and Breezes of Confirmation and a few short weeks later returned for a youth led devotional. Now they cook together, meet twice a week in the young believer’s home, and have even organized a devotional for their neighbors, the community’s ATC, and a visiting member of the Continental Board of Counselors. In truth, “The source of all good is trust in God . . .”

Our first door-to-door teaching campaign: It was invigorating

In its first door-to-door teaching campaign, the Buffalo Area NY (A) cluster began with adults and youth and a resource person from a neighboring cluster. His experience helped the Buffalo Area cluster expand its door-to-door teaching, planning, organizing, and action taking capacity. The results lead to: many contacts, confidence, capacity, learning and a declaration. Here was their framework:


  • 14 junior youth and youth
  • 2 children
  • 4 young adults
  • 8 adults
  • Tremendous support (meals / rides)

Presentation materials:

Each participant was provided with a binder which included the following

o Special idea’s prayer cards to give out

o Printed prayers (healing/children/test/unity) with contact information on the back

o Two prayer books to be given to very receptive contacts

o Copy of Ruhi Book 1 to show examples of study circle material and format

o Anna’s presentation

o Flyer of scheduled activities for the next couple of weeks

o Declaration cards

o Notebooks

To capture each encounter very quickly

o Outreach forms

To provide the coordinators with detailed information for planning/analysis/follow-up:

· Apartment #, name/description, population/ethnicity, teaching approach, response, revisits

Framework of the project:

Refreshers on teaching quote & Anna’s talk 7-9pm each night

o Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (Wednesday was Feast night)

Teaching / outreach

o Friday 7-9 pm

Each team to deepen on teaching quotes

Role play Anna’s talk

Individuals on each team to make personal contacts and set up home visits / firesides for the weekend preferably or later as seeker’s request.

o Saturday 9am – 5pm (coordinators reflection 7-9 pm)

Prayers and calling on Concourse on High

Each team refreshed on teaching quotes

Those individuals who made personal contacts prepared for the firesides:

· Two firesides – one at a home, one at Bahai Center

Role-played on door-to-door interactions

Outreach to:

· Allenhurst Apartments (immigrant population, Russian, and African descent)

· Princeton street (immigrant population, Iraqis, Russian, North Africa)

· Red Clover (middle class suburban neighborhood)

· Met with director of activities at a apartment building in Tonawanda (880 unit apartment) to provide children’s classes and jr. youth activity-set up revisit on Sunday to show materials

o Sunday 9am – 5pm

Prayers and calling on Concourse on High

· This was during the devotions at Sunday School

Each team refreshed on teaching quotes

Those individuals who made personal contacts prepared for their fireside.

· One at the home of (?)

Outreach to:

· UB campus

· Neighborhood around the Center

· Revisit to apartment building in Tonawanda to share materials on children’s classes and jr. youth-very promising, Denise (director of activities) will be in touch with Tahirih and Shoori for activities.

Celebratory dinner for all 5-6pm

Group reflection for all 6-8 pm

· How was the experience

· What did you achieve

· What needs to be done next

This was the most joyous meeting! Very invigorating! Full of laughter!!

The youth shared how their fears were divested, how now it is so easy to talk to their friends having talked with strangers, how much it meant to them to do something for the Faith together, and how much they enjoyed it and look forward to the next one!!!