Thursday, April 23, 2009

Technology, Twitter, lead to online declaration

An exciting milestone was reached on April 13, 2009. That’s the day that On-Line Declaration and Registration system (OLDR) was turned on. It is now possible for an individual to declare their belief in Bahá’u’lláh online! This opportunity is available at the public Web site, by visiting the home page, scrolling down to the left and clicking on the “I want to be a Bahá’í” button.

Within hours of this launch, a declaration had arrived electronically. As of today, about a dozen individuals have declared their belief online.

Key to the OLDR is the immediate follow-up by the national Seeker Response system’s Regional Specialists. When someone declares online, the Regional Specialists are immediately informed. They can then follow up with the new declarant, affirming their belief by sharing Anna’s presentation over the phone, and then informing the relevant Area Teaching Committee, Cluster Institute Coordinator, and Local Spiritual Assembly of the new declaration. This new development opens many doors for the Bahá’ís to welcome more and more people into the Cause. . . .

The story of one of the on-line declarations from the South Central region highlights how new communications technology is helping to spread the Message—and to bring people together. This individual had recently purchased a cell phone and subsequently was introduced to Twitter. As a result of participating in Twitter, she started following the activities of actor Rainn Wilson and learned that he would be having an interview with Oprah Winfrey [which is covered in a story on this blog dated March 12, 2009]. It was during this interview that she first heard of the Bahá’í Faith when Rainn Wilson mentioned it during his interview with Oprah Winfrey. She then began studying the Faith on the internet, and later declared online. Of her experience she states:

So I bought a cell phone, that led me to Twitter, that led me to an interview with Rainn Wilson that led me to studying the Bahá’í Faith that led me to clicking the button on the internet and declaring my faith. This is not a story about me. It’s a story about God’s amazing love and the journey to get to Him.

Such communication advances were the center of an engaged discussion at a recent fireside in another part of the South Central region. One of the friends who attended reports:

We were all “atwitter” with the story of Ashton Kutcher on the news with one million hits on “Twitter” and having beat CNN. He proclaimed on Oprah two days ago that communication has become “democratized” for the first time in history, and that an individual can have as much influence on the whole world as an international network like CNN. He spoke about his part in combating malaria with the use of this technology.

We talked about the revolution in communication and what the spiritual effect will be on the world. M shared a (memorized) quote from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá about how in the past separation of the continents and lack of communication technology kept mankind apart, and how now in this century it would bring us together. And then another quote was shared about how one pure heart can change the nation with its thought of love and unity.

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