Friday, June 17, 2011

Advancing in Our Understanding

Friends—Bahai or not—around the country are deeply studying the guidance of the Universal House of Justice and seeing its effect on their understanding of the Bahai Faith.  One important concept we’re learning is each human being’s two-fold moral purpose, to educate ourselves and simultaneously contribute to the betterment of society.  Greg describes his experience studying the guidance with his wife and its effect on sharing what they are learning with others:

My wife and I were studying the two messages of the House of Justice very intensely and we both felt our ability to share the Faith was much different and much better for it. I felt I had a much wider and more comprehensive view of the aim of the Faith (the building of the divine civilization of Baha'u'llah, etc.), and I think that perspective translated to our new friend who recently declared her Faith in Baha’u’llah. She really seemed to take on the concept that this is a religion of action and service. By the end of the night her questions were very action oriented, like, ‘What does it mean to be teaching the Faith?’ ‘Does it mean you’re always talking about Bahá’u’lláh ?’ ‘Can it just be inviting neighbors to your home to build community, but not specifically talking about religion?’ etc. Undoubtedly some of this is due just to her own spiritual qualities, but I also feel the guidance of the House of Justice is having effects on people who barely know what the Faith is!

Observations from Colombia, Part 2

Accompanying Tutors

Returning to our report from Colombia, we share this time what our visiting American Bahá’í observed about the measures that were employed to ensure that tutors were accompanied in their vital work.

What is apparent is that there is a consistent pattern of tutor gatherings, accompaniment, and regular reflection at the cluster level. To prepare for tutor gatherings, which are held once or twice a cycle, the coordinators visit the “study circles and tutors to generate the content of the tutor gatherings based on the needs of the tutors.”  In reviewing questions and scenarios at the tutor gathering the friends find that they “always go back to the Sequence for the necessary guidance.”

Each new tutor is accompanied for six months and a tutor packet has been developed to be shared with all the tutors.  It includes “To the Collaborators” from book 1, and sections 12 and 19 from the second unit of book 7.

In at least one of the clusters visited, the work of the institute has become so developed that the cluster institute coordinator has had to appoint assistants in order to meet demands of the expanding process. In this particular cluster the friends have developed a consistent practice of accompanying new tutors.  A description of this practice from the report is provided below.

New tutors are visited at least four times for accompaniment during their initial sessions by the cluster institute coordinator or an assistant coordinator.

There are three meetings before starting a study circle:

· The first meeting gives an overview of book 1 and the institute process– Coordinators and tutors will often do individual visits to homes of future participants 

· The second meeting forms the group and goes over the logistics, the environment of the circle and answers more questions (they give them the book and ask that they buy it even if it takes them a cycle to be able to pay)

· The third meeting is when the studying begins, with emphasis on the service component from the very beginning.   The tutor facilitates with the institute coordinator or her assistant present

Another observation highlights how the tutors are accompanied in support of their goals within the cycle.

Tutors have a goal of completing one book in the sequence per cycle – to assist with this goal, intensives for books 1 through 7 are held during a two week period in the cluster – the institute coordinator sets the dates and all the tutors in the cluster arrange with their Study circles to have at least one or more intensive days during that designated time

That’s it for this post, but there’s more to come from our “Observations from Colombia” series.  Stay tuned.