Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New audio deepening available on the framework for action

As Area Teaching Committees around the country are being appointed and fortified for action, new materials are being developed to assist that process. Fortunately, these materials are helpful to even those who are not appointed to serve on Area Teaching Committees.
A wonderful opportunity to deepen in the "framework for action" has been made available by the Baha'i National Center. An excellent audio recording of the December 27, 2005 letter from The Universal House of Justice is now on the usbnc.org website. This is the letter that outlines the framework for action for the current Five Year Plan, the relationships between the Area Teaching Committees and Clusters, the role of the grassroots, and the cycles of growth. This is an opportunity to deepen while one exercises, drives, or commutes. It could also be listened to by a group of friends gathered together to study this vitally important document.
(After logging in with your Bahai ID#, go to the December 27 2005 section and click “Download Audio”).
The December 27th letter, combined with a map or flowchart of the Training Institute process and the "Glossary of the Five Year Plan", gives us the resources to help us in our role as informed "grassroots" "members of a community 'whose world-embracing, continually consolidating activities constitute the one integrating process in a world whose institutions, secular as well as religious, are for the most part dissolving.'" (UHJ 27 Dec. 2005)
To access the "Glossary", go to www.usbnc.org/rbc/rbcsw/ . Select "The Five Year Plan" in the menu on the left and the Glossary will appear. It can be printed out and is periodically updated. Map flowcharts of the Institute process are available from some sources.
In its letter of January 24, 2008 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States the Universal House of Justice instructed it to "wisely remove any obstacles to progress that may emerge." Lack of knowledge of the framework for action is an obstacle to progress which we grassroots can help remove by educating ourselves.
"What we have witnessed so far has been accomplished by only a handful of devoted believers, even in the places that have had the most success. This indicates a vast untapped potential latent within our community, which will be realized as more of the friends act on the guidance given in this plan ..." (NSA of USA 6 Feb 2008, letter mailed to the friends) The goal of the Plan is to increase the number of Baha'is doing the work by increasing the number of people completing the Ruhi Books and becoming active tutors helping to train Baha'is, old and new, for service to the Faith. This is especially important for accommodating the needs of large numbers of new believers.
After reviewing these materials, I have come to understand that this is an evolutionary process in which new organizational structures arise in response to the needs of the Plan. Is it not possible that an organizational structure may develop in the grassroots itself so that it can better respond to the proposals of the Core Group?
Currently, in the reflection meetings, after being presented with information and data by the Core Group, the grassroots is supposed to be participating in decision-making about the next cycle of growth, "...thorough consultation in a reflection meeting with the generality of the believers, drawing them into the decision-making process." (UHJ 19 April 2007) Such decision-making participation by the grassroots is an essential part of the process for "creating a collective identity and strengthening the collective will." (UHJ 27 Dec. 2005)
One Common Faith (page 11) says, "Democratic decision-making has fundamentally altered the relationship of the individual to authority." A letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi says this about consultation, "The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Baha'i activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continual exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can best safeguard and foster its interests. Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 30 August 1933 to an individual believer. #31 in Consultation, a compilation by the Universal House of Justice)
I strongly feel that by studying the December 27, 2005 letter of The Universal House of Justice we can learn how to be more effective individual and community participants and increase the involvement of the entire Cluster. We grassroots are "lions roaring in the forests of knowledge and wisdom", "eagles, soaring in the heights of" His "bounty", "whales plunging in the vast deep", and "steeds of the race of Knowledge".
As Jack McCants used to say, "Friends, this is serious business."
One of the principles of the Plan is "accompanying," assisting someone who isn't yet confidant in doing a new activity. I, and I'm sure others also, would be glad to accompany anyone who would like to consult in the Cluster but doesn't yet feel confidant in doing so.
Grassroots! Let us grow deep and stand tall. By arising we attract the Divine confirmations.

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