Thursday, December 17, 2009

Re-charged Baha'i Campus Association plunges into action

What can a small group of Bahá’ís at a university campus do? How can a Bahá’í Campus Association (BCA) contribute to the Five Year Plan? The answer to both these questions is “A ton!” We are very excited to share these two pieces of correspondence related to a recently established BCA. The loving encouragement by the Regional Bahá’í Council to all Bahá’ís attending universities in the region, the enthusiasm of the friends at the University, the thoughtful consultation on opportunities and effective activities—these are all brilliantly reflected here. Core activities, firesides, Holy Days, interfaith efforts—they are doing it all!

First is a letter from the Bahá’í Campus Association to the Local Spiritual Assembly that is sponsoring it:

Dear Beloved Local Spiritual Assembly

The members of the University of __ Bahá’í Campus Association were excited to read the letter from the Regional Bahá’í Council to the Area Teaching Committees and Local Spiritual Assemblies in our region on the subject of college Bahá’í clubs. The letter and its enclosed documents were studied at a special club meeting called to address the issues raised by the Regional Council. . . .

As you know, our club had a brief lapse in active functioning owing to a drop in enrollment of Bahá’í students at the university last year. It is our immense pleasure to convey to you the exciting news that we have been officially reactivated as a registered student organization. Our first official order of business was to reflect and consult on the materials from the Regional Council and the National Teaching Office. The following planned line of action is based on our understanding of the guidance:

For starters, core activities sponsored by the Bahá’í Club, which have been ongoing during the Fall 2009 semester, will continue on a regular basis into the Spring 2010 semester. More details are mentioned below.

One new activity to be initiated by the Club includes participating in the campus semiannual day for student organizations, the next one of which is being held next month in the student center. This event is an opportunity for university organizations to reach out to the campus community with information about their activities and invitations to join the group and attend events. The Club’s approach to this event will be shaped by the document Some Strategies for Teaching College Populations provided by the Regional Council.

The Club agrees wholeheartedly with the statement in Regional Council’s letter that activities can be more effective when focused on a college campus. In addition to the core activities, firesides are a potent platform for meeting the often overlooked interest in the Faith on campuses. The plan is to schedule a regularly-held fireside on campus for the spring semester.

Publicizing our activities should prove fruitful on campus. The student paper is widely read and has already run an announcement for a Bahá’í Club event. Announcements written in chalk are allowed on the sidewalks and captivate students’ attention. There has also been a debate waged in both media (and the sidewalks and the newspaper) about interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance. The scene certainly seems set for the Bahá’í Club!

As you know, the Club also hosted an exciting Holy Day celebration for the commemoration of the Anniversary of the Birth of the Báb in an elegant and spacious room in the main campus library. The members will try to repeat that experience in hosting another Holy Day celebration in the spring. We are consulting with our Local Spiritual Assembly about holding our community’s Naw-Ruz celebration in the student center. Our BCA will try to attract wide attendance from the university and greater community.

As mentioned above, the Club—while pursuing the steps to achieve an active status on campus—did not wait to initiate core activities in attempting to play its part in the Five Year Plan. Some of its members and their friends and contacts have been meeting once a week to study the Reflections on the Life of the Spirit materials of the Ruhi Institute and are establishing a regular devotional meeting, possibly on campus. They will complete the final unit before the end of the semester and in the following semester will resume the regular meetings to go through the second book, Arising to Serve. A special weekend intensive course will be held soon to study the Animator materials.

So far, our Club has had 8 contacts from our community of interest attend our activities, including 2 on a regular basis.

The Club is grateful for the Assembly’s willingness to serve as its sponsoring institution, and it will make sure to communicate on a regular basis regarding its affairs and plans. Club meeting minutes will be provided to the Assembly in a timely manner.

The members of the Club beseech your prayers for their efforts to effectively serve the many communities the Club intersects on and off campus.

The Regional Bahá’í Council, which was copied on the above letter, then sent this loving response to the friends at this university.

Dear Friends,

Our hearts are overjoyed to learn that the __ Baha'i Campus Club is re-energized and actively participating in many events that will lead to teaching opportunities. The upcoming day for student organizations where you will be able to reach out to large numbers of students, as well as the Ruhi Book 1 study circle, Book 5 intensive, firesides and other activities are all very exciting!

We commend the __ Local Spiritual Assembly for sponsoring your Campus Club and look forward to hearing of more plans and success stories in the future. The Council will pray for your teaching efforts, that they will bear abundant fruits, and be acceptable to the Blessed Beauty.

Loving Baha'i greetings,

Your Regional Bahá’í Council

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