Monday, June 28, 2010

Learning to explain who we are and what we are trying to do

This brief report from a neighborhood association meeting Long Beach, CA (A) is truly inspiring.  It is yet another example of the high interest in the core activities.  But more importantly, it shows the growing capacity of the friends to engage the wider society, explain who we are and what we are doing, convey our sincerity (all these things take learning by doing, by the way).  An unexpected surprise at the end of the meeting is an additional reason to smile.
Monday evening, 3 of the friends (including the Area Teaching Committee secretary) attended the neighborhood association’s monthly meeting in order to explain the purpose and benefit of Bahá’í children’s classes. . . .

Questions were asked by some of the members of the neighborhood association’s committee.  At first a couple of them had some reservations, but as the meeting went forward, some of the residents of that neighborhood gave very positive comments about the endeavor, expressing the real need for it.  So most everyone present agreed the children’s classes could be worthwhile.  They also came to understand the Bahá’ís have no ulterior motive but are have the purpose of community building, of which children’s classes are a central focus.
The turning point came when one of the neighborhood association committee members asked the Bahá’ís, “Have any of you been to Samoa and visited the Bahá’í temple there?”  The friends said they had not.  He then continued, “Samoa had been having some problems with its youth, and the Bahá’ís’ program really turned things around.”
After such a positive endorsement, the meeting concluded, and the neighborhood association will contact __ with a decision about using the community room for the children’s classes.  When we left, we met two young women who are interested in helping out with this.

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