Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learning to work together

The South Middlesex County, MA (A) cluster has recently completed another period of intense teaching. What is particularly exciting about this community is their growing confidence and capacity to work together, which they report stems from achieving higher levels of unity and gaining experience from their on-the-ground efforts. Here is an excerpt from a message from the core team to the friends in that cluster:

Beloved Friends of the Blessed Beauty,

On behalf of the core team, I would like to thank each and every one of you who has perfumed the air of this cluster with the sweet fragrances of the teaching work during the last two weeks. The joy that has permeated our community is truly extraordinary. We are a community now with a sense of purpose and movement. Every day that we partake of this task of teaching the Faith, in perfect unity, we seem to come closer together and confirmations are raining down upon us. In every neighborhood in our cluster in which people have arisen to do this work, we have found those souls who are yearning to find the Blessed Beauty. One of these individuals, who turned 89 years old yesterday, said she had believed this her whole life and just didn't know its name.

A few stories that highlight some of what we have learned: . . .

1) This past Saturday, we were joined by two ten-year old children and a junior youth on our teaching day. These children learned Anna's presentation in the morning, and delivered it with utmost joy and radiance during the afternoon. They touched the hearts of all who heard their message. One mother who heard their presentation readily signed her children up for children's classes and junior youth groups, attracted by the radiance of these young members of our cluster. Another new Bahá’í was struck by the wisdom of one of these children, and this experience further confirmed his own Faith. Two other younger children who have participated in many of the teaching activities touched the hearts of everyone they encountered by their sharing and joyfulness. Truly, we could see the future of our cluster mirrored in the faces of these children and all those who take part in the children's classes formed during the previous teaching effort. These classes are not only going strong, but are also creating deep bonds of trust with the community.

2) One group of friends was met at the door by a grandparent of a child in one of the children’s classes. He invited them to come inside his home. Over the course of the next two hours, they conversed over a wide range of topics, including all of Anna's presentation and the importance of the spiritual education of children and junior youth. He expressed a strong desire to have a junior youth group for his grandchildren and to have his daughter involved in the process. He also wanted to join a study circle if that were feasible. The following day we returned and presented Anna's presentation to his daughter, who expressed her belief in the teachings. She wanted her whole family to hear the message and asked everyone to come together this coming Saturday.

3) Two groups of friends found a number of Portuguese speaking seekers in one neighborhood. They returned the following day with a couple of teachers who spoke Portuguese. Many of these residents, who had initially been attracted by their brief introduction to the Faith, became more intensely interested. We are going to have our first Portuguese study circle forming soon, as many of these individuals have an expressed a desire to study further, often committing themselves despite a number of obstacles in their path. This kind of systematic effort and allocation of human resources to catalyze a deeply spiritual process is one we are just learning how to do effectively, and the power of this is only now beginning to show!

4) One seeker listened to Anna's presentation with great interest some days back. He was invited to and joined a study circle. This past Saturday at the study circle, he mentioned in passing that he considered himself a Bahá’í. He will be coming to his first Feast tonight. Three other new believers will also attend. What a joyous occasion it will be! This approach of intertwining the study circle process with the teaching work is one we have been learning about and finding to be incredibly effective. We have begun four new study circles already.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Congratulations, you are a Baha'i"

The events narrated by this friend from Oakland, CA (A) can’t help but bring a smile to one’s face. This is wonderful example of direct teaching—simply telling people about Bahá’u’lláh and His Faith, and then asking them if they believe in Him. And then his response says it all: “Congratulations, you are a Bahá’í.”

I was riding the elevator with my neighbor who lives with her husband in the same apartment building. We shared greetings and she asked about my music and how she could purchase copies of the CD my wife and I had made. We arranged for everyone to meet in a couple of days. . . .

The very next day her husband saw my wife in the lobby of our building and asked if I was at home, so they came to our place together. He mentioned he wanted to buy some CDs and began to talk to me about something he read from the Bahá’í prayer book I had given him a couple of years ago.

I smiled at him and offered him a seat and asked him if I could share a presentation with him on the Bahá’í Faith (Anna’s presentation), he said yes! So, I read and invited him to read and we moved through until page 8 and I asked him with a pleasant face if he believed that Bahá’u’lláh is the Promised One for all Ages and the Báb is a Prophet and he said yes. With a large smile I said congratulations you are a Bahá’í and if you could sign this registration card for administration purposes and so the Bahá’ís can get in contact with you.

He said yes! and took his pen out quickly and signed. Then as closing he read more of Anna’s presentation. My wife and I embraced him warmly.

This friend has previously been to our home for devotions and studied Ruhi Books 1 and 2. I invited him to join us for Feast the next day and meet with the other Bahá’ís, that they would love to pray and have fellowship with him. He agreed. We went to Feast together. He told the Bahá’ís that they had made him feel welcome.


A few days later another friend embraced the Bahá’í Faith after hearing a talk at the Oakland Bahá’í Center by Mr. Nader Saiedi on his book, “Gate of the Heart”. During the socializing after Mr. Saiedi’s talk, two believers from another cluster asked my wife if some one could talk further with this person, because he also lived in Oakland. So I spoke with him. He said he was moved and had the same feelings for Jesus Christ as he did for Bahá’u’lláh. I asked him if he believed Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb were Prophets for this Day and he said yes.

I said congratulations, you are a Bahá’í. I introduced him to the other Bahá’ís and we celebrated together.

I phoned him the next day and he asked “How can I serve this Faith and help other people who are searching just as I was?” We will start Ruhi 1 with him in a few days. He is so happy.

Bahá’u’lláh is the Greatest!!!

Creative moments,


Declaring is a natural process

A short report from a friend in a C-stage cluster in the Northeast region relating their experiences with Anna’s presentation. This is but one of many examples where parents who know the Bahá’ís are requesting that their children be registered in the Faith. It is also one of numerous examples where the invitation to join the Faith is made in a natural and comfortable manner.


I'm so happy to announce the declarations of my sister and her two sons. I had went through Anna's presentation with all three individually within the past week. ___ especially found the presentation to be "very simple, filled with wonderful quotes and prayers from the Writings”, and her children were engaged in it through each page and felt they got a more basic understanding of the Faith. The previous week she had told me she wanted to register her children as Bahá’ís and I obliged. I then asked her, “What about yourself?” She then said, “If this is the right thing for my sons, then it’s got to be the right thing for me! It’s time!”

Earlier today, ___ received her contact information and will assist in welcoming them to their local Bahá’í community and connecting them with core activities.

Your brother,


Friday, August 22, 2008

Junior youth arise to serve in East Valley

This is a truly amazing account from East Valley, AZ (A). It shows us the immense potential and capacity in the age group known as junior youth. It shows young people so in love with Bahá’u’lláh and sharing that intense love with their family and neighbors. It shows a new generation; it shows the future.

Dear Friends,

We are witnessing the amazing power of the Junior Youth in action. ___ is a member of a Bahá’í junior youth group. During the last teaching effort she assisted with Anna's Presentation several times, at one of which her Aunt declared her belief in Bahá’u’lláh. Recently ___ and several other junior youth expressed an interest in learning Anna's Presentation. The first day of this recent teaching effort, I was privileged to witness one of the most beautiful declarations I have ever seen, as she presented the Bahá’í Faith to her father. When she came to Bahá’u’lláh's life, she no longer needed to refer to the text as she explained His innate knowledge, His suffering, the chains He wore, how at each point of His exile His followers grew, how He suffered in the Most Great Prison and lost His son. At the end of this beautiful presentation, her father said, "This is new, before I just thought He was an educated man, but now that I know how He suffered, I believe so that He is a Manifestation of God!" Her certitude was truly amazing. . . .

We are now beginning to see the involvement of more junior youth, including from among families of new believers. A few of the young adults and youth are doing a fantastic job as animators of a number of junior youth groups. Here is one more story of a junior youth:

_____, another junior youth, came running up to tell us he had given Anna's presentation to his Grandfather. He was originally going to do this with an older person but as time did not permit, he took it upon himself to offer Anna’s presentation on his own! His Grandfather has now declared!

Another youth who declared at the age of fifteen is now teaching her own children’s class.

We can't stop the fire!


Your Area Teaching Committee

Developing a "rhythm" and "spiritual rap"

This report from East Lansing, MI (B) about a teaching effort has a lot of gems. Friends from all over the cluster came together in unity. There was thoughtful consultation beforehand, and confirmations and confidence gained afterwards. The friends have gained experience both about follow-up activities and how to give Anna’s presentation in a natural manner that responds to the listener’s needs and questions.

This was the first time for the friends in this new B cluster participated in an effort to directly share the Message with their neighbors. The structure and planning for this program of was ‎accomplished by close collaboration with the cluster institute coordinators, the Auxiliary Board member, and their assistants. Friends included members of three Local Spiritual Assemblies in the cluster (Lansing, East Lansing, Meridan), believers from three other communities (Stockbridge, Bath, Delta), five youth from Louhelen Bahá’í School, and two chaperones.

These friends tasted the sweetness of teaching and had a lot of fun being out in the neighborhood.  This effort generated enthusiasm and increased the capacity of the friends.  One of the people visited declared her belief in Bahá’u’lláh.

Here are some of the details:

15 people participated in the training before the teaching activity.

5 groups of three people participated in the teaching, and 2 other friends stayed behind to say prayers.

80 homes were visited.

We spoke to 37 people. 16 were interested in learning about the Faith.

Anna’s presentation was given 7 times.

11 people requested us to come visit them again.‎

The Baha'is in the cluster have committed themselves to follow-up activities for 6 months. 6 friends have already made follow-up visits to date.

Lessons Learned:

We need to trust in God as we strive to give a presentation.

Spending more than one day in the neighborhood would be preferable because that would allow us to visit those who were not home when we originally came by, as well as carry out more immediate follow-up.

We should have a clearly delineated follow-up plan in place before we begin.

Prayer is powerful and indispensible to success.

Flexibility is needed when giving Anna’s presentation. It is helpful in structuring a thorough and progressive presentation of ideas. The listener will always lead the discussion by the concerns, interests, experiences and points of view they express, and we should be responsive to that.

One of the friends who participated in the teaching shared the following thoughts and reflections:

It was so wonderful to have you with us on Saturday. The stories, guidance, training, teaching, and reflection infused a spirit into everyone and all of East Lansing such as I haven't seen. We saw how easy, joyful and productive teaching with Anna's presentation can be. It feels like a lot of anxiety and fear has dissipated and our first experience has lifted our spirits to heaven and beyond.

I also realized that Anna’s Presentation is a tool for a greater spiritual process between a soul and the power of the Creative Word. I had been wondering how do we adapt the presentation for different people and different circumstances when the need arises. One of the friends explained with uplifting stories and assured us we would develop our own “rhythm” or “spiritual rap” as we put the presentation into practice.

Working to connect hearts

Many people who join the Baha'i Faith are connected to it through a friend, family member, coworker or neighbor who is a Baha'i. There are others who contact the Baha'i community through the 1-800-22UNITE number or the national Web site and become connected through that channel. Here are two brief but illustrative examples from the Southwest region about how the Baha'is worked with the friends in two clusters to connect people interested in the Bahá’í Faith with local believers..

The first is a report from a believer in one of the clusters:

Dear friends,

Just wanted to inform you that the two seekers you connected with us came to the Ruhi Book 1 study circle that we had invited them. We decided to give Anna's presentation before starting the Ruhi course with them. They listened attentively and asked questions about it. At the end when asked how they feel about this, one of them showed great interest and asked how one becomes a Baha'i. It was a great moment of confirmation when she declared without hesitation. They both said they will come again next week to the study circle.

In this next report, the friends worked to help an interested seeker stay in touch with the Bahá’ís when they moved from one state to another:

Dear friends,

Here is news of a recent declaration. This person contacted 1-800-22UNITE informing us she was moving to ___ and would like to learn more about the Faith.

In May I was advised that this seeker was moving to this one cluster from another state. The local Baha'is here have met her and her family several times. And over this past weekend she enrolled in the Faith. Her husband is very interested, too.

Loving Bahá’í greetings,


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Learning by doing in Philadelphia

Across the country, the friends are discovering that there are a wide variety of ways and venues to directly share the message of Bahá’u’lláh with other. One particularly clear example of this comes from the recent experience of the friends in Philadelphia, PA (A). As this following report shows, they are truly “learning by doing”.

Dearly Beloved Friends,

Saturday, July 26th was a beautiful day to teach! After the devotions and consultation, a group of beloved souls embarked on an afternoon of directly sharing the message of Bahá’u’lláh. Three approaches of were explored:

(1) home visits with members of a community of interest (i.e., people who are currently participating in core activities) and extended community of interest (people who are not participating in core activities but had previously requested to learn more about the Faith),

(2) personal encounters to meet new people by walking along the river or setting up a table in a park, and

(3) visiting homes in a receptive neighborhood. . . .

Following the afternoon’s activities, the friends regrouped at the Bahá’í Center to share their experiences. A pair of believers went on a home visit planning to share Anna’s presentation with a friend. Instead, they found themselves sharing the Faith with members of the whole family. One friend lovingly expressed the joy she saw in one of the souls: “They were listening to Anna’s presentation and were really interested. One said, ‘You have opened my eyes to something new and I do believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the return of Christ.’ It was a wonderful experience for me.”

Two other friends spent a few hours in a park. With a table and books set up, they were prepared and energized to encounter new people. One member described her experience: “A woman stopped by. She was happy to listen to the whole of Anna's presentation and is interested in attending devotional meetings. We wrote down her information for future contact.”

The wonderful part is that we are exploring a number of different ways of directly sharing the Message. The more we teach, the more we develop our capacity to teach. Friends, we encourage you all to participate whether it is for an hour or a day. The area teaching committee is here to assist and answer any questions. We continue to pray for the success of our community.

We leave you with the words of our Beloved Master: “Of all the gifts of God, the greatest is the gift of Teaching.” Let us continue to share this gift with others.

With hearts full of love and excitement,

The area teaching committee of Philadelphia

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Everyone can find a part to play

An intensive program of growth involves many people collaborating and working together in unity to achieve a common goal. There are a wide variety of tasks to be done, so everyone can find a part to play. This article, from a recent newsletter for the Southern Nevada (A) cluster, outlines some of the different ways people can make a contribution to the success of an intensive program of growth.

How can you help with the IPG?

There are many ways to serve in the teaching and consolidation efforts. There are many avenues of service that must go hand in hand for an intensive program of growth to be a success. The cluster reflection meeting is a great place to find what role you would like to play. Here are some ways you can help:

Offering to say prayers at home for the success of the intensive program of growth.

Helping prepare meals for the friends. . . .

Cleaning the Bahá’í Center.

Organizing devotions during the intensive program of growth.

Offering to take notes of the experiences of the friends at the end of the day of teaching.

Offering to provide some program for the children while teachers are in the neighborhoods.

Offering to serve as a committed weekly children’s class teacher for new classes that are started in the neighborhoods.

Offering to make home visits to a new believer, present the deepening themes from Ruhi Book 2, and share prayers.

Offering to tutor a study circle in the home of a new believer.

Offering to be a silent “prayer partner” for someone that wishes to visit homes and give Anna’s presentation.

Being a general source of good will and upliftment for the teachers when they return from their activities.

Think about the talents you have that you can lend.

Teaching when on the run

Throughout our day-to-day activities, we have countless and interactions with people during which we can teach the Faith. Not all of these situations will allow for a long conversation, yet there are still ways to respond to someone’s interest in knowing more about the Faith. Here is a list of simple and practical things that one can do in these types of interactions. It is taken from a recent newsletter of the San Francisco, CA (A) community.

Let’s say you’re talking with a friend, family member or co-worker, and that person asks you about your Faith. You give them some information, and answer their questions. Then what? Maybe the setting isn’t conducive to a long and deep discussion. Maybe you have to get back to work or catch your bus. What can you say and do to sincerely respond to the person’s interest? Here are some ideas. Surely you will think of other ways to follow up.

Understand that this individual might want to know why you are a Bahá’í, what attracted you to the Faith, and what it means to you.

“Let’s talk about this again. Want to come for dinner tonight? Take a walk at lunchtime? Meet for coffee?” (Quickly brush up on Anna’s presentation.) . . .

“I’m having some Bahá’í friends over this weekend; want to drop by?”

“I have some Bahá’í books at home; would you like to borrow one?” Then plan a time to discuss the book.

If there is a Bahá’í Center in your community: “At the Bahá’í Center we hold devotions and introductory sessions; would you like to go with me? We can browse in the bookstore, too.”

“Prayer is very important in the Bahá’í Faith. I would be happy to share prayers with you in your home.”

“We have a Holy Day celebration comeing up; I would be pleased if you would go with me.”

“There are study circles starting all the time; would you like to join one?”

“Occasionally we have Open Mic at the Bahá’í Center; want to go with me the next time?”

“Until we can talk again, is a Web site you can look at, with various language options to choose from. There is also, which has a Spanish option.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sharing the message in the Center's neighborhood

A new Bahá’í Center has opened in the Long Island, NY (A) cluster, and the friends there have started reaching out to the Center’s neighbors. Here is a brief report from the area teaching committee secretary, who describes their initial experiences.

Here is some information about the teaching activities in Valley Stream, the location of the newly opened Baha'i Center by the Baha'is of Nassau County.

Everything started with the individual initiative of a few believers who decided to come together and then visit nearby homes, initially with the idea of letting people know that the Baha'i Center in their town was now open and that they were going around to meet the neighbors and share some information about the Baha'i Faith. Many people asked the Bahá’ís to come back. At present, the friends are conducting follow-up visits with those who have shown an interest in knowing more. . . .

Many things were learned through their experiences. One was that while most of the believers were initially apprehensive about going to people’s homes, it turned out that the experiences that they had were positive, and they will be willing to do it again. A great deal was learned about the town itself, one of which was that many, many people spoke Spanish, so we had a need for having more Spanish-speaking Baha'is on hand.

We are very excited about this effort and look forward to involving more of the believers, including the youth, in these activities.

Area Teaching Committee Secretary

Working together to make connections

The following report from the Central region relates the story of a junior youth who declared her belief in Bahá’u’lláh. She contacted the Bahá’ís through the national Seeker Response system; the friends not only connected her with believers and activities in nearby communities, but they also ensured that her parents were closely involved in the process.

Dear Ones,

I just had to share this. I had previously mentioned ___, a 13 year old girl who wanted to declare. This is an area where there are no Baha'is for many miles.

When she learned that she would need her parents to approve, she started talking to them about it and sharing the web sites. After several weeks she emailed back that she had their approval and they would sign the card. Then it was a matter of finding a Baha'i to travel the distance to enroll her. Two wonderful ladies took up the challenge. . . .

I was copied on all the email exchanges as they planned this outing and coordinated it with ___ and her parents. We were all praying that it would go well. That evening I got the following message:

Dear E,

It was a wonderful experience for us to meet ___ and her parents.

After we gave Anna’s presentation and answered the few questions the parents still had, we presented ___ with the registration form and she and her parents signed it. Her mom said they understood how important this was for ___ and that she was a very spiritual girl. Gifts of books and pamphlets were left for ___ and her parents.

We are going to get in touch with L who heads up the youth group in a nearby community. We are also thinking about taking ___ to Convention so that she can meet the youth there. When we mentioned that another community hosts an active youth group, the parents were delighted. Also they have children's classes and Ruhi classes going there. So we'll work with L to get that set up. It will take time, but all are interested in getting ___ acquainted with other Baha'is.

It was certainly a wonderful day and a great boost for us. Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Luv'n hugs


Connecting with neighbors

Here is an account of young people out in the neighborhood in Franklin/Hampshire, MA (B), under the blazing sun. Nothing complicated: the youth simply reached out to their neighbors and fellow youth, offering children’s classes and asking people if they were interested in learning about the Bahá’í Faith. With practice, and the power of prayer, they became more confident in interacting with people and introducing the Faith in a natural way. The cluster institute coordinator reports:

Dear friends,

I had the great honor this weekend, of accompanying 3 youth in their first attempts at sharing the Message in the Franklin/Hampshire cluster. We gathered on Saturday at 2:00 to say prayers. Three of us had attended a session the previous evening to practice Anna’s presentation. The nervousness in the room was palpable, but began to soften as we read from the Writings. We consulted and discussed different approaches we could use when talking to people.

At 3:00, we set out (in the 90 degree heat) and began visiting homes. We had agreed to teach for an hour and meet back at the apartment at 4:00 to reflect on our efforts.

The first time was the hardest, but it got easier as the afternoon went on. One of the friends introduced himself as a neighbor and explained that they were starting a Baha’i children's class. Then he invited people to listen to a brief presentation about the Baha’i Faith and its message of unity and the nobility of every human being.

Everyone we met was polite and most were quite friendly. They seemed happy to meet a neighbor, and quite at ease to say: No thanks, I'm not interested if they weren’t interested. When we met other young people, we engaged them in conversation in a very natural way, asking about their lives and their studies. At some homes we were invited to come back at another time.

We returned to the apartment at 4:00, to wait for the others. By 4:15, we realized that they must still be engaged in teaching. So we started saying prayers for them. Finally, at about 5 pm, they bounced in with beaming smiles. They had 2 opportunities to share the message, both with other young people, including giving Anna’s presentation outdoors under the blazing sun. They said they felt the effect of our prayers for them.

Please join me in showering our precious youth with encouragement for their courageous efforts.

In a humble posture of learning,

Your cluster institute coordinator

Youth spread the message in Hampden County

In more and more places around the country, youth are arising with confidence to share the Message of Bahá’u’lláh with their friends and neighbors. Here is a report from one of the participants in a teaching effort in Hampden County, MA (B), where a spirit of openness and love has made new connections. They have also learned that some young people are eager to share the Message with others as soon as they are introduced to it.

Dear Friends,

Saturday was an exciting day in Springfield, Massachusetts. 5 youth from Franklin/ Hampshire cluster, two youth from Hampden County, one of their friends, plust two adults gathered together and prepared ourselves spiritually. We then went to visit some neighborhoods in Springfield.

Everyone had very rewarding experiences. One group met a mother who asked to hear Anna’s presentation in Spanish. During their presentation she was moved to tears by the creative Words of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Another group met some high school students who asked to be contacted for information about participating in junior youth programs. . . .

We were once again confirmed by what the youth can do for the advancement of this Cause. We also witnessed that younger generations are very open to investigate and learn about the Bahá’í Faith. The junior youth programs and neighborhood children’s classes conducted in these neighborhoods have won the admiration and interest of the participants’ parents and friends.

By the end of the day, the friend of the Bahá’ís who participated in today’s teaching declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh and signed a declaration card.

A follow-up to the above story:

Today, three of us went to home visit the new believer. She wasn’t home but another teenage family member was on the porch. She expressed an interest in listening to a presentation about the Faith. A youth gave Anna’s presentation with love, patience and confidence. The young woman listened with focused attention throughout the 40-minute presentation, and declared at the end of it. She then enthusiastically asked if she could share the Faith with her friends and bring them to a Book 1 study circle.

With love, awe & amazement,


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seekers grateful for persistence in follow-up

The National Seeker Response system works to connect individuals interested in learning about the Bahá’í Faith with nearby believers. Here are two stories shared by the regional seeker response specialist for the Northeast that illustrate the importance of patience and persistence:

Last year a seeker contacted us through our Web site, He wanted to get in touch with the local Baha'is and attend some events. We sent him lots of contact information and then sent follow up messages every month for a year, but he never replied. The local Baha'is also tried repeatedly to contact him to no avail. Just when we were going to stop trying we sent one last message and he answered! He had been away and couldn’t reply to our messages until he returned home. But he was so grateful we kept sending them, and now he is in touch with the local friends, attending core activities and very involved with local Baha'i events. . . .

Another seeker called us last year. We called him back many times, left voicemail messages, sent emails and invitations to events, both from the regional office and locally, but no reply was forthcoming. Finally as we made our last attempt to contact him, he replied by email saying how grateful he was we hadn’t given up on him. He now was ready to engage in the Baha'i community and its activities. A home visit to show Anna’s Presentation has been planned by a local teaching team.

Both these seekers were overjoyed that we were still reaching out to them. It makes us remember that we must persevere, systematically and lovingly.

Youth brave the heat in Pittsburgh

Here is a report from a teaching effort in the Pittsburgh Area, PA (*C) cluster. Some of the friends had previously attended a teacher-training event in Rochester. What followed was a joyful and enthusiastic and very intense weekend devoted to teaching involving over a dozen youth. It’s been done before in subfreezing weather; these friends carried out their activities in 98 degree summer heat!

Some of the friends from Pittsburgh friends attended the teaching seminar in Rochester and planned their teaching project during that event.

14 youth and young adults (including 2 from Rochester) participated in a mini teaching seminar back in Pittsburgh which started Friday evening at 6pm and went until past midnight! They did not want to stop practicing. Saturday, after deepening on teaching quotes, more practice, and prayers, we went out to visit a neighborhood for 5 hours in 98 degree temperatures! . . .

The two Spiritual Assemblies provided teaching materials, hospitality and food and continued prayers throughout the weekend.

One outcome was a real opportunity for a junior youth group in the neighborhood. The teachers were to re-visit and meet with the parent of the junior youth interested during the week.

We gathered for reflection and celebration at 6:30 pm Saturday evening and left the host's house around 1:00 am!!

The friends now have a concrete example of the dynamics of a collective teaching effort, the community warmly rallied around the efforts of the youth and young adults, and the sweetness of their own teaching experience will be a real impetus for their ongoing efforts.

Loving regards,

Your Auxiliary Board member

Lending support to neighboring cluster

Accompaniment and support helps the friends to gain confidence to serve the Faith. In some places advanced clusters are reaching out and lending their support to neighboring clusters that are at an earlier stage of growth. Here, a believer from Boston, MA (A) is encouraging the friends to assist with the emerging teaching efforts in neighboring Rhode Island (B):

Dear Friends,

Allah-u-Abha! The past six weeks in the Boston area have been exciting with many Friends developing capacities for direct teaching.

One other way we can help is seeing ourselves as resources for clusters around us that are taking early steps toward what has begun to happen with vigor here in Boston. The friends in Rhode Island have recently met 3 people who declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh, after visiting just a few homes. In response to such a confirmation, the Local Spiritual Assembly is sponsoring its first-cluster wide teaching day this Saturday.

If you have some experience and are free to assist these friends, please do go and participate. And if you can't go, please offer a prayer on their behalf.


Your Auxiliary Board member

Venturing out for first steps

Everything begins with a first few steps. The friends in Philadelphia SW, PA (B) recently ventured forth for the first time to share the message in a neighborhood in their cluster. The area teaching committee secretary shares their reflections on their experiences:

A total of four teachers came together. It became the first time ever to visit a neighborhood in this cluster to share the Message of Bahá’u’lláh. We felt privileged to have been part of this small yet historic beginning.

Seeing the effects of reciting the Word of God to total strangers moved all of us tremendously and was very confirming of our Faith. . . .

Two of us stood on a windy street corner with the first young man we encountered on our first day; he listened intently to the presentation, and then told us that he feels it is true that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for today. His eyes lit up when we told him, "Then you are already a Bahá’í." This was the highlight of the weekend.

On reflection: We have made the first small steps. We need to do more preparation next time. Also, we need be sure to gather together for prayer and reflection at the conclusion of each day we go out, as well as pray together before we set out.

Area Teaching Committee Secretary

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Baha'i village" is a "natural outcome of falling in love"

This report from San Diego, CA (A) is so beautiful I hesitate to add anything to it. The believers in this cluster have had the bounty of discovering a neighborhood where so many residents have shown an interest in the Faith that they now have a “Bahá’í village” within the community. After a year of dedicatedly and humbly walking a path of love and service alongside neighborhood residents, bonds of friendship have been formed, and a new community life is emerging. Here is an account from one believer:

A year ago we began visiting homes and inviting people to children’s classes that we held in the park. Now, a year later, we have two believers who have moved into this neighborhood, which we call our Bahá’í village, to live. The spiritual impact of their move has been enormous. The new Bahá’ís are deeply moved that these friends have left their homes to come and live with them and be their neighbors. The children and junior youth in the classes and junior youth groups come to their home every day and when they are told, “This is your home,” they have taken it literally. . . .

Whereas before the children’s classes and junior youth group meetings only happened maybe once a week, now they happen almost every day. Walking down the street you will always run into new Bahá’ís and seekers that we’ve met earlier and they invite you to come to their home. It is truly a Bahá’í village.

About 100 individuals have joined the Faith during the last six months in this cluster. About half of the youth and adult new believers are participating in study circles. Almost all of the new believers are receiving regular home visits and are participating devotional gatherings. About 70% of newly registered children are attending Bahá’í children’s classes. A number of new believers are sharing the Message with their own family and friends and are taking part in teaching activities in the neighborhood. We have also established a junior youth group with the families.

This level of activity is unprecedented in our cluster. It was a natural outcome of falling in love with these beautiful new family members and our lives becoming intertwined together.

Another believer shares some of her experiences:

I learned so much today. First of all, I realized that my role is simply to introduce the Bahá’í Writings to seekers or new believers, and then they take it from there to share the Message with each other. I also learned why the practices associated with the Ruhi Institute courses are so important for community building. I got a glimpse of how the institute process will be the dominating force behind building a strong community in every neighborhood. Above all, I was reminded of the power of spiritual forces that assist us with tasks that appear impossible.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New believers build community through core activities

The following accounts from two A-stage clusters in Arizona, taken from a recent issue of “Learning in Action”, a newsletter produced by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern states, show some truly inspiring examples of new believers arising to serve. Empowered by their participation in training institute courses, their initiatives to start and carry out all the core activities are leading to a vibrant community life within their neighborhoods.

In two Arizona clusters, new believers are arising to share the message of Bahá’u’lláh with their family and friends using Anna’s presentation as a tool which is familiar to them. They are also co-tutoring study circles and teaching children’s classes.

When activities take place at a small geographic scale such as an apartment complex, it allows residents to see the Faith in action, such as Bahá’í children’s classes, junior youth groups and unity feasts. These gatherings give rise to meaningful consultation regarding the spiritual wellbeing of their neighborhood and often results in further declarations. In one neighborhood Feast, the junior youth shared their idea for a unity gathering for the neighborhood, and enlisted the help of the adults to accomplish it. In addition, three mothers who are participating in a Book 1 study circle and one youth have taken a Book 3 refresher course and arisen to teach children’s classes in the neighborhood.

A consultation at a neighborhood Feast in another cluster resulted in two neighborhood devotionals and two mothers arising to teach children’s classes. After studying Book 3, one mother has successfully taken over the class, being occasionally assisted by other friends. This has allowed other teachers to begin teaching the lessons from Book 3A to the older children. In this same neighborhood, four new believers have committed to studying Books 1, 2 and 7 and are all tutoring a study circle with accompaniment.

"We may think we are doing the 'teaching' but the neighborhood is actually teaching us."

It is a delight to share this story about a children’s class in San Jose, CA (A), which is taken from the July 2008 issue of “Learning in Action”, a newsletter published by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern states. The openness, dedication, respect, humility and sincerity of the friends who are conducting classes for children and adults are truly inspiring. Carefully observed by community members, the friends’ genuine efforts have now built bonds of unity, trust and sharing.

On the first day, some of the Bahá’ís met a friendly family who requested repeated visits and were interested in hearing Anna’s presentation and studying the deepening themes from Ruhi Book 2. . . .

Soon after, this family’s front lawn became the center of activities for the neighborhood. A children’s class in front of their apartment door soon attracted large numbers of not just children, but people of all ages who welcomed this service. At present, 25 children attend the class weekly. The building manage says he can see improvement in the children’s behavior.

After closely observing the children’s class for several weeks, many residents started to appreciate its value. Adults became increasingly open. Youth became helpers. The diversity of the Bahá’í teachers was admired and their services were accepted because everything was out in the open and it was clear there was no hidden agenda.

More and more of the women in the neighborhood kept watching the children’s class, and it was discovered that they were interested in learning English. So the teachers offered to teach them English through prayers. The adult class is set up as a devotional meeting, also held in the open, and like the children’s class more and more people are showing interest in it. The women are thrilled to be learning what their children are learning. Comfort levels are rising and they are proud to be sharing Spanish-speaking tips to those Bahá’ís that are less than fluent in that language.

One of the Bahá’ís who teaches the classes says, “We may think we are doing the ‘teaching’ but the neighborhood is actually teaching us.”

Cooperating in a spirit of service

Exciting news from Pasco-Hernando, FL (B) which has recently finished an intensive teaching effort. Local believers, visitors, institutions, and youth volunteers from a teaching and service project carried out by the Magdalene Carney Bahá’í Institute called Project Badi—all cooperated in a spirit of joy and enthusiasm to reach out to the wider community and build new connections.

Dearest friends;

The Pasco/Hernando cluster’s teaching effort ended yesterday, with rewarding results. The Project Badi youth brought energy and excitement to the teaching work of our cluster. The East Pasco Local Spiritual Assembly did an amazing job in hosting the youth. Our sincere thanks to to all of them. Some of the highlights are as follows:

10 Firesides were held throughout the Cluster. 17 seekers who were interested in hearing the message of Bahá’u’lláh were able to attend these events, listen to Anna’s Presentation and participate in follow up discussions. . . .

The wonderful new believers who declared during our previous cycle hosted a fireside for their family, at which Project Badi youth gave a particularly moving Anna’s Presentation. We felt the Spirit of Badi in this gathering.

Over 20 people participated in the teaching activities, most of whom were from the cluster.

Following the first weekend, where 27 contacts requested to learn more about the Faith, there have been vigorous follow-ups by the Project Badi Youth and the friends from our cluster. Their efforts helped make connections with 18 contacts who have expressed interest in home visits, study circles, or devotional meetings.

Three Project Badi Reading Circles and Youth Empowerment classes were successfully completed in two communities. Two children’s classes have also been organized which will be held in these localities in the coming weeks. We are hoping that the Project Badi youth who live in this cluster can take the lead in conducting these.

Beloved friends, we need your dedicated and sacrificial acts of service to help with the follow up visits, holding study circles, devotional meetings, and supporting and teaching children classes. We would appreciate your contribution and support by contacting the area teaching committee secretary and letting us know in what capacity you will be able to help.

With loving Baha’i greetings


Anna's presentation continues to make waves

Anna’s presentation continues to make waves in Greenville, SC (B). Here is an update from a believer there:

Here is an update on our "Anna's" experiment!

We invited three friends to the Bahá’í Center to share Anna’s presentation with them. Two of them took turns reading the presentation; the third asked questions and shared her comments, which we all attempted to address. We then invited her to declare her belief that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for today. Yes! was the reply, with more bouncing on the couch with joy.

So in the past few days there have been several people—adults, youth, junior youth and children—who have all declared their belief and requested to join the Bahá’í Faith. We will soon be organizing a Book 1 study circle for the adults and youth.


Your Brother,


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Learning how to invite new seekers to become involved

Here is an update from Ramsey County, MN (A), where the friends are learning about on the connections between sharing the Faith and building spiritual communities, and they have enhanced their abilities to ascertain the receptivity of those with whom they share the Message.

Dear Friends, Alláh'u'Abhá,

After a week of return visits to neighbors who had asked us to return, and prayers for new and established connections alike, some of the friends in the cluster met this morning with our new Counsellor, Alison Milston. Then we went off to our communities: some to continue with follow-up, some to meet new friends, and as always some believers dedicating their time to prayer for the success of everyone’s efforts.

When we came back together this evening, we had a wonderful reflection on the day's and week's activities. There was powerful consultation about what sharing the message is, and that it involves, in the words of our National Spiritual Assembly, “learning how to build spiritually vibrant communities in which people of every age and background find sustenance and fulfillment.” One realization was that we should of course welcome new seekers to join us in the reflection meetings.

Sensing level of interest has been a vital lesson during our recent activities. As always, we have had a range of responses. A few have clearly responded to the message of Bahá’u’lláh. Some are deeply interested in learning more, sharing prayers, and studying this latest Dispensation. Several more were interested in their children participating in children’s classes.

Recognizing all of these responses, and more, come from our efforts to directly share the message of Bahá’u’lláh.

Please keep up the prayer tomorrow and beyond as we continue our efforts.

Warm Bahá'í love,

"What the Baha'i Faith means to me"

Here is a delightful story from a family who shared the Faith at an age-of-maturity birthday party and built sincere connections with friends and classmates.

Our daughter recently turned 15. We all decided to celebrate with all her friends from school and any parents who would like to come. She had already held several "inspiration night" devotional gatherings with friends, and this gave her the confidence to share her faith with them. The party invitation included the following:

Turning fifteen is a significant milestone in the Bahá’í Faith.

Considered the "age of maturity" it means one is embarking on an exciting and important process toward adulthood.

This implies responsibilities to develop one's own spiritual life, and consider how to be of service to humanity.

There is no set way to celebrate 15, but we wanted to gather friends and family for this special evening with food, music, and a brief program.

We hope you can join us!

Parents are welcome to stay, if they would like.

The program consisted of a powerpoint presentation prepared and given by our daughter on "What the Bahá’í Faith means to me." In the background of each slide she had put photos of family, friends, and various representations of issues in the world (like environmental degradation). This made the concepts and quotations personal and relevant to her 45 friends who joined us for the party.

As a result, several of her friends want to know more about the Faith, she will continue the devotional meetings and we may organize a Book 1 study circle with interested friends.

Thank you.


Richmond (a B-stage cluster) shares the news of new declarations

Keep an eye on Richmond, VA (B) where the friends are practicing working together more systematically and learning all of the aspects of the processes of growth. Here is a brief summary from the cluster development facilitator.

Dear Friends,

The Richmond cluster is in the midst of an exciting new beginning, very much in consonance with the fresh stirrings elsewhere in the country and the world. Through the guidance and example of our Auxiliary Board member and our Regional Bahá’í Council, we have identified a neighborhood to visit, and have completed a full cycle of planned activity, similar to an intensive program of growth (and, though we are still at the B stage it felt “intensive” enough). Already we have met several people who have declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh.

There is surely more to come.

Loving regards,