Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coming together in a spirit of fellowship

Bahá’u’lláh commands His followers to “Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship”. An individual from a C-stage cluster in Florida has put this teaching into practice, and it has led to an opportunity to share the Faith with others and build new friendships. Add prayer, the use of the arts, and the ever-useful Ruhi Book 1, and you have a most joyful and fruitful occasion. You can really feel the spirit of unity and openness that permeated the interactions among the members of various Faiths, a spirit not of competition but of sharing.


One of my neighbors invited me to go with her to visit her church, so I went. She is a member of the local "Unity" church. I was intrigued by the name, of course!

Wow! Such openness! I'd say 95 percent of what the pastor said came straight from Gleanings. I was impressed. (Stunned, really.)

I did not meet the pastor that morning, but I did give the church my email. And a few weeks later I was invited to the church's first-ever "Prayer Retreat." And so I resolved to take part. I was inspired to put together a 9-minute (just turned out that long!) music program, similar to the kind I prepare for my home devotionals. I offered it to the pastor and suggested I go to the church to meet him so he could listen to it.

"Come on over," he said. . . .

The initial meeting went GREAT. We talked for more than an hour, talking about the retreat, my musical program, about unity. Then we started comparing notes about our Faith(s). "You sure you're not a Bahá’í?" I teased him. "You sure you're not 'Unity'?" he responded. It was wonderful, and refreshing.

The pastor decided to make use of the music, and indeed asked me to make a presentation about the Faith and our perspective on prayer. I told him, "I think I could put something together. . . .” So I went home and pulled out my Ruhi Book 1 and made some notes.

Three friends attended the retreat with me, which lasted four hours. The pastor introduced me and again teased me (in front of the group this time), telling everyone that he was probably a Bahá’í. I made my presentation, which was received very well. The group asked several questions about the Faith.

I was the first of several speakers, and it was great all the other speakers found themselves confirming points of agreement among us. The Presbyterian minister opened her remarks saying, "I must be a Bahá’í, too!"

I had come to the retreat with 17 small prayer books (the gold "gift" version with the little bluebird on the front) and distributed them on the tables there. By the end of the retreat all but three were gone. I had placed mailing address labels in the front cover of each. One couple expressed interest in attending the devotional meeting I host in my home. Another church member has now called me three times, and I met with him at a restaurant where we talked for 90 minutes. He asked for more reading material, which I gave to him. He's checked us out on the Web, too.

It's all because of the emphasis on prayer. Those little prayer books are POTENT! (I need to get more!) And two different pastors sorta endorsed us!

Nothing like this has EVER happened before! I can't help but believe it's because we're putting into practice the Five Year Plan as best we can: 1) There is the use of the arts (the music was my introduction to everything that followed). 2) There is the existence of my weekly devotionals, immediately available to anyone that expressed interest. 3) As a Ruhi tutor, there was my familiarity with the prayer section in Book 1. 4) There was the unity and support of the other believers who accompanied me to the retreat. 5) And there was our total reliance on the Sacred Word. (Whew!)

Events could not have played out better. There are several other prospects for collaboration with this church. Please keep us in your prayers.


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