Monday, July 28, 2008

A study circle takes root

Throughout the country, the friends are finding that the core activities play a key role in the consolidation process for new believers. Here is a report from Manchester, NH (A), which describes a study circle that was started with some newly-enrolled Hispanic Bahá’ís. As with teaching, prayer, focus, and an attitude of learning are all helping the friends make progress.

We introduced the study circle idea by reviewing the idea that Baha'u'llah had come to help us learn how to build a new civilization, and that all over the world people are taking these spiritual institute courses to develop the capacities to serve their fellow human beings. We mentioned that this first course was designed to help participants learn the skills to study and learn prayers with their friends and neighbors, and to offer prayer gatherings to the wider community. When asked if they'd like to participate in this course, they both agreed.

We started with the unity prayer that we had begun studying the previous week, and all recited the first couple of lines through "great purpose" so we could all memorize that much, and reviewed that the reason Baha'u'llah had come was to unite our hearts and help us to be as one human family.

The questions and answers took longer than they might have in English, but generated animated discussions.

In the course of the study, another friend we'd not met entered and sat in on the study circle, we offered him a book and he joined right in the discussion. After a few minutes we offered to interrupt the session to give a short introduction to the Baha'i Faith, which he agreed to - the first part of "Anna's presentation" through the first quote, which he said he responded positively. Then all agreed that they'd prefer to carry on with the study circle for now, rather than go more into an overview of the Faith. For the first time, I was clear in my mind that this is the consolidation phase, and we can do more expansion later.

Soon a seeker showed up who also lives in the house. We hadn't seen him for several weeks, but he had previously expressed a strong interest in the Teachings. He joined the study circle and the discussions and the questions.

There was animated discussion and deepened understanding of the teachings. We only got through the first two sections, but we are most grateful that the study circle is finally underway.

It seemed as though Baha'u'llah brought them all there. Scheduling beforehand times to meet don’t always work in the way we would expect them to, but somehow, it seems Baha'u'llah "sent out a search party" and brought them all in. This is just another example of our utter need for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for all your prayers and support of these initial efforts to learn how to teach directly and join in learning about how to consolidate.

Warmest love,

Your cluster institute coordinator

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