Monday, June 15, 2009

Involving and empowering more and more of the community

This brief report from Tucson, AZ (A) is full of gems. Yes, it is a snapshot of a cluster steadily progressing, with the friends becoming more confident and more systematic. Yes, it also has many of the type of practical insights that can be gained only through on-the-ground action. But what is particularly heartwarming are all the indicators that the believers, old and new, are being encouraged and empowered to take ownership of the Faith. The last point (I’m not going to spoil it for you) especially profound. Let us all reflect on it!

Culture of Teaching: A culture of teaching is being developed. Friends are becoming more bold and courageous in their teaching efforts. 4 of the most recent declarations resulted from believers (in one case a relatively new believer) inviting their friends to hear about the Faith. . . .

Increased Communication: We held two small reflection gatherings midway through the cycle to share with the friends the current needs of the cluster and what has been learned. This was warmly welcomed by the friends as they felt more involved in the process. Cluster Liaisons were established in each community and sector to share information about institute activities in the cluster, gather information about core activities, and express needs for home visits, tutors, etc. The data received was excellent and more friends are sharing their desire to work in the field.

Involving Parents: It is becoming more apparent that parents’ involvement in children’s classes is the key to expansion of the Faith; it also helps encourage the children’s class teachers.

Involving New Believers in the Field: One of the new believers started a regular devotional gathering. This gave the newer Bahá’ís a sense of community in their own neighborhood, as well as showing the friends the power of collective prayer.

Study Circles: “One on one” study circles have been stretching our resources, so attempts are being made to bring participants together to study in larger groups of 3 or 4 people.

Children’s Classes: Bahá’í parents are seeing the benefits of having non-Bahá’í children in their children’s classes. The children no longer see their friends as two different groups, as in “These are my Bahá’í friends and these are my non-Bahá’í friends”; instead, they are all united together and the children discuss the Faith freely with their Friends.

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