Tales of early believers come alive following NC workshops

September 19, 2019
Tales of early believers come alive following NC workshops

“Soul-stirring stories” about early believers have been swirling around North Carolina’s Triangle area for a number of months.

The inspiration springs from the upcoming 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab, herald of the Baha’i Faith, in October.

The confidence to tell such stories was born of a workshop held May 19 at the Durham Baha’i Center for 36 area residents.

To prepare for the workshop, several people spent weeks rewriting and modernizing 23 vignettes from the lives of the Bab and the followers He had attracted starting in 1844, says Kathy Heady. (See the adaptation of one such story here.)

Tips on telling stories of the Bab are shared at a workshop in Durham, North Carolina. Photo by Sabha Ma’ani

The goal, she says, was to “help the friends in Durham and the wider Triangle cluster [also covering such cities as Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Cary] not only to recall some of the soul-stirring stories found in The Dawn-Breakers,” an account of the origins of the Baha’i Faith, “but also to build their capacity to share these stories and incorporate such storytelling into their community-building activities.”

Three more workshops were held around the Triangle over the summer. And judging from feedback, the trainings were a success.

“One participant insightfully observed,” relates Heady, “that the workshop taught him how reflecting on the spirit and sacrifice of the early believers must be ‘at the heart of how we should tell the stories of the [early believers] during this … bicentennial year’ and that he believed such reflection would be a ‘key to helping make the listener care.’”

Other participants shared how they were moved by the experience and inspired to find opportunities to tell the stories in whatever spaces they find themselves.

“The workshop was absolutely wonderful,” Talia Dalton reflected after the Durham workshop. “It was a great experience for me to come out of my shell a bit and speak in front of loving, kind people comfortably! The stories were wonderfully put, and very clear.”

Young people share stories of the Bab outside the Baha’i center in Efland, North Carolina. Photo by Emily Shepherd

Added Nancy Hendershot, who attended a workshop in Raleigh, since May each monthly Baha’i Feast in her section of Raleigh has included a story component, “which has helped keep the bicentenary on everyone’s mind.”

At her suggestion an interfaith gathering Aug. 4 at the IAR Mosque in Raleigh was “devoted to sharing stories that inspire and give courage.” She told one story linking Tahirih, a woman who was one of the Bab’s foremost disciples, to other women important to Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Another time, a group of youths gathered around a fire at the Efland Baha’i Center to tell stories. According to Emily Shepherd, a youth was inspired to read The Dawn-Breakers after hearing them.

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