March/April 2015

Intensifying the process of spiritual education

March 01, 2015 “… as the quality of the process of spiritual education is enhanced through experience, souls are more readily attracted to participate in it.” — Universal House of Justice, Riḍván 2014Spiritual education is offered by Bahá’í communities across the world in three stages that flow organically from one to another: children’s classes, junior youth groups and youth/adult study circles.Intensifying ...

Youth presence unfolds systematically in Rio Grande Valley

March 01, 2015 Joe Cain of McAllen, Texas, has watched with interest and growing joy as young people in the Rio Grande Valley — including his son Ryan — have taken an active role in building community where they live.To Cain, the man behind the plan has been Thomas Bahji Ballard, an area native who returned to the Valley to engage in a year of full-time service after college up north in Richardson and ...

A fire ignites and spreads in middle Georgia cluster

March 01, 2015 Scattered over several counties in the heart of Georgia, 25 or so elder Bahá’ís who regularly take part in activities together were quietly but systematically erecting a framework for action.They were building their capacity through study circles, consulting on how to use their newfound skills to reach out with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, and devising a means to stay in contact with one ...

Nearby Bahá’ís help young trainees find spiritual path

March 01, 2015 They come largely from challenging environments. But young people in Job Corps and the military have committed to training in job and life skills that will help them make something of themselves and serve their communities.Too, at this critical juncture in their lives they are asking the big questions about who they are and who they want to be. And their regimented training helps keep outside ...

Developing mind, body, spirit — a teacher’s story

March 01, 2015 As John Medina sees it, Bahá’ís are “encouraged to look at our personal circumstances to see how we might reach out to those we come in contact with each day and to integrate our teaching and service to the Cause in all aspects of our lives.”The San Diego Bahá’í has been a public school teacher more than 20 years, mostly teaching Grade 6 but also Grades 4 and 5.And since about the time he became ...

In San Diego, children’s spiritual education flows from one level to the next

March 01, 2015 The framework within which John Medina’s children’s class flourishes has been erected systematically since 2007, when the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of San Diego launched its plan for classes to move from a central location to neighborhoods throughout the city by June 2008.As of June 2014 the cluster encompassing the city began working in a scheme of four sectors — North, South, East and ...

Civic partnership fuels NH junior youth group’s growth

March 01, 2015 When New Hampshire’s third junior youth group launched in January in Franklin, it had a community-wide rooting section and momentum from a burgeoning civic collaboration.Area Bahá’ís had initiated Franklin’s first junior youth group in 2012. It limped along at times but has strengthened as more people train as animators and gain experience accompanying those who currently lead the group.A ...

Facebook page shares junior youth experience with parents, world

March 01, 2015 The nascent assemblage of young people ages 11 through 14 had only two participants when it created a Facebook page, “Jr Youth Group of Franklin NH,” in 2012.But even as it has grown in the three years since, the group has shared an unchanging message with people in town and around the world:Joy has no bounds when you simultaneously can develop yourself spiritually and serve your community.The ...

Learning abounds in Atlantic outreach to youth

March 01, 2015 Rebecca Soular-Patel has had a fair amount of success animating junior youth groups in Charlotte, North Carolina.See  Walking and talking her way to 3 junior youth groups, The American Bahá’í, September/October 2014.But Soular-Patel recognized early on the need to accompany others in building capacity so one day she can relinquish the reins to younger folk and so the number of junior youth groups ...

Atlantic outreach part of systematic nationwide effort

March 01, 2015 Though still early in the process, Bahá’ís around the country are learning systematically how to connect with youth as potential animators of junior youth groups, says Katie Kusha of Bowie, Maryland.They’re talking with friends and neighbors and with older siblings of junior youth. They’re encountering young people on the street and while engaged in activities such as soccer.Charlotte, North ...

A ’Net gain: Evolving toward coherence, mutual support

March 01, 2015 A process of learning, action and reflection is driving the development of a diverse yet coherent presentation of the Bahá’í Faith on the Internet. View the video here.Stories written and compiled by Tom MennilloThe Bahá’í Faith's presence on the Internet is dynamic and multi-tiered, consisting of a wide range of individual initiatives and official sites at the local, national and international ...

Alone or in a team, webmasters find experience rewarding

March 01, 2015 Lots of folks can relate to how Eugenio Marcano ended up as webmaster for the Bahá’ís of Worcester, Massachusetts:“It’s kind of like whoever proposes something, that person gets stuck with it.”Marcano quickly adds, “It’s been fun.”Two other local Bahá’ís assisted Marcano at first, but they eventually moved away. He is trying to recruit some of the college students who have come into the community ...

Mantra for communities: Local website, local content

March 01, 2015 The maxim “content is king” is as true for Bahá’í websites as any other.So says David Hunt, who collaborates with the National Spiritual Assembly’s Office of Communications in helping Bahá’í communities build and maintain effective websites.Community websites must clearly and concisely tell what Bahá’ís believe and do, he says. And their focus should be on activities in which area residents can ...

Points to ponder for constructive Internet use

March 01, 2015 Websites, blogs and social media posts can be powerful tools for advancing civilization. And Bahá’í individuals, communities and institutions at all levels have wide latitude in wielding them. But with such power comes responsibility. The Bahá’í Internet Agency, which offers advice and assistance to the global Bahá’í community in its use of the Internet and operates under the guidance of the ...

Blog on Bahá’í teachings pulls wide audience into conversation

March 01, 2015 Blog sites operated by individual Bahá’ís have initiated countless conversations with the general public and have spurred many people to investigate the Faith’s teachings and engage in Bahá’í-sponsored community-building activities where they live.Perhaps the best known is BahaiTeachings.org, which has reached more than a quarter-million people around the world with constantly refreshed ...

Resources for your Internet presence

March 01, 2015 Want help in developing an Internet presence? The Bahá’í National Center offers:Documents to guide local websites and individual initiative on the Web.Hosting and customizable templates for local websites. The focus is on helping Bahá’í communities in major metro areas develop solid websites.An online directory that provides every locality with a customizable one-page profile.A learning and ...


Community Building

Sincere compliment leads to neighbor’s help with class

March 01, 2015 It took just a little time and effort for Fridoon Rahimi to compliment his neighbor on the upkeep of her yard.It’s paying dividends for the Eugene, Oregon, Bahá’í community as Dianne Gilliand, the neighbor, delights children’s classes with her storytelling.“Looking at the front yard of her home, one can immediately feel the love and care of this wonderful lady for the beautification of the ...

A ‘Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in the air’ turns 5

March 01, 2015 A long-distance devotional gathering via phone that turns 5 years old in April greatly resembles what it was at the start: a spiritual lifeline for many Bahá’ís around the country and world, held with clockwork regularity.Two noticeable things have changed. First, more are tuning in than ever. Second, Lynda Tae Reed is absent. A longtime Bahá’í who participated from the start, she passed away on ...

Video is vital link to study circle for new believer

March 01, 2015 Candice Strauss had a problem. The new Bahá’í in Liberty Hill, Texas, about 30 minutes north of Austin, loved participating in a study circle because she “lived the lessons.”But because of health woes, she had to stop attending the course — Book 1 in the Ruhi sequence, which assists people in developing skills for building community where they live.So the mother of boys ages 14, 10 and 6 ...

Drumming workshop in New Jersey quickens devotional pulse

March 01, 2015 “Joyful, intense and a good dose of exercise, all at the same time,” is how Ormand O’Neal describes the first NY/NJ Bahá’í Drumming Devotional Workshop, held recently in Teaneck, New Jersey.The purpose of the workshop, says O’Neal, a Bahá’í in Orange, New Jersey, was to “serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration” for devotional gatherings.By the time it ended, several participants had ...

Wilmette Institute evolves through 20 years of learning

March 01, 2015 Challenges, accomplishments, adaptations.In the 20 years since the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States established the Wilmette Institute as a vehicle for learning about the Bahá’í Faith, it has served more than 8,000 people in 97 countries with Web-based university-level courses on Bahá’í writings, principles, history and interfaith perspectives.The institute, an ...

Green Acre adds dimension to summer Family Sessions

March 01, 2015 Office of Education and Schools A new approach to engaging all ages energized the summer 2014 Family Sessions at Green Acre Bahá’í School in Eliot, Maine. Programs for adults ran concurrently with specialized, intensive sessions for children and junior youth in this serene, rejuvenating learning environment — and the innovation was successful by all accounts.Adult workshop sessions focused on ...

Learning what seekers want: Silent Teacher, in-person teachers

March 01, 2015 Inevitably, among the thousands of inquiries about the Bahá’í Faith received through the 800-22UNITE phone line or the national Bahá’í website (www.bahai.us), many share how people were attracted by the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. “We went to Wilmette, toured the House of Worship, and had an excellent tour. … We have never heard of the Bahá’ís and really like the message,” an ...

Pioneering work is essentially the same here or abroad, young adults find

March 01, 2015 One volunteered at a Bahá’í-sponsored school in Tonga, then moved to “an area of need” in Tacoma, Washington. The other finds that the capacity she gained from full-time Bahá’í service in Costa Rica is sustaining her through the “much harder” work of building community while pursuing her studies in the Bay Area of California.Both young women have discovered that regardless of whether it’s in ...


In the Life of Society

Pulling together for Education Is Not a Crime Day

March 01, 2015 Bahá’ís around the globe and other staunch supporters of human rights were pulling together early this year for Education Is Not a Crime Day on Feb. 27, raising awareness of human rights abuses against religious minorities and many other citizens of Iran. A Dec. 9 letter of the National Spiritual Assembly called on Bahá’ís to support this campaign by hosting local screenings of To Light a Candle, ...

Contributing to discourse in a variety of spaces

March 01, 2015 Gender equality and the advancement of women Representatives of Bahá’í agencies — Carl Murrell and Carolina Vasquez of the National Assembly’s United Nations Office and Donna Hakimian of its Office of Public Affairs — are preparing for participation in the 59th annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), March 9–20 at UN headquarters in New York. Always an important space for ...

Interfaith briefs: Longtime activity bears fruit in L.A. suburb

March 01, 2015 Every December a street corner in Mission Viejo, California, is transformed into a celebration of the world’s religions.And for nearly 20 years the Bahá’ís in this suburb southeast of Los Angeles have been among the faith communities featured, with a striking display that Jennifer Yazdi says “has been a chance for us to share with the greater community a glimpse of who we are and what we are ...

Instilling a spirit of service in children

March 01, 2015 Children from a home school taught by Port Richey, Florida, Bahá’í Jaime Manfra created seasonal crafts and left them on the doorsteps of neighbors. The gifts were the product of a lesson in social spaces that Manfra envisions leading toward ongoing acts of service. “Having the participation of some friendly neighbors as well as the community is important to the success of the kids’ future ...


Community Commons

Assembly election and group registration materials for 2015

March 01, 2015 To reduce printing and postage expense to the National Fund, each Local Spiritual Assembly and each registered Bahá’í group with a community email address on record with the Bahá’í National Center will receive an email version of the 2015 Riḍván election letter from the National Spiritual Assembly. These communities will not be receiving this letter via postal mail.  Communities without a ...

ABS calls for presentations: ‘Advancing the Life of the Mind’

March 01, 2015 April 1 is the deadline for proposals to be submitted to the Association for Bahá’í Studies–North America for its 39th annual conference, to be held Aug. 6–9 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove near Los Angeles, California.The association invites people to submit proposals online for individual or panel presentations, or works in the visual and performing arts. Topics related to ...

‘Irfán session celebrates centenary of ‘Memorials of the Faithful’

March 01, 2015 The centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Memorials of the Faithful, a unique work among religious texts, will be celebrated during the May 22–25 sessions of the ‘Irfán Colloquium at Bosch Bahá’í School in Santa Cruz, California.Parallel sessions will be held in English and Persian with presenters including Hooper Dunbar, former member of the Universal House of Justice. Presentations on Memorials of the ...

Iraj Sabet, industrialist, supported Faith and humanitarian causes

March 01, 2015 Iraj Sabet, confirmed as a Bahá’í during his youth in the United States, returned to his native Iran and became an innovative industrialist employing thousands, as well as an energetic philanthropist there and in Switzerland, Albania and Canada.He succumbed to a heart attack at age 83 on September 8, 2014, in Vancouver, Canada, where he had resided for a number of years. A message of tribute on ...

Goli Collestan Young relished teaching, served as pioneer

March 01, 2015 Goli Martha Collestan Young was a lifelong Bahá’í who relished sharing the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and mentoring junior youth groups and children’s classes. She served as a pioneer in the West Indies and later in Alaska.“Goli was a loving wife; skilled mother to not only her own children, but countless others; and an accomplished counselor,” a family tribute notes. “She truly let her ‘heart burn ...

Joel Caverly in the thick of Trinidad and Tobago Bahá’í development

March 01, 2015 Joel G. Caverly was a pioneer for the Bahá’í Faith nearly four decades in Trinidad and Tobago, serving most of that time as a member of its National Spiritual Assembly during years of great growth and involvement in social and economic development.He passed away June 20, 2014, four years after returning to Ipswich, Massachusetts, the place of his birth. He was 74.Born in 1940, brought up in ...


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