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(US – FL & MA, February)
Some key insights regarding the establishment of children’s classes that were shared at reflection meetings in Pensacola (“Emerald Coast”) and Boston (A-stage) clusters, respectively.
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From a report in the Emerald Coast cluster’s newsletter:
The friends [were encouraged] to describe the core activities consistent with the language used by the Universal House of Justice about their purpose and nature:
How to describe the core activities
We are building a spiritual community and we need you! The Bahá’í Faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples into One Universal Cause, One Common Faith.
For inviting families to children’s classes:
Aware of the aspirations of the children of the world and their need for spiritual education, we’re working to involve more and more children in children’s classes to serve as centers of attraction for them and to strengthen the roots of Faith in society.
From the reflection meeting
A “demonstration children’s class”, was performed where all the participants could watch an actual class being conducted. Each portion of a children’s class (prayer & memorization, song, story, coloring, and game) was presented by one or more of the friends in a class setting. It included
- the initial gathering
- setting the children down (with need of reverence)
- sharing of prayers
- how to help the children memorize short quotes and prayers
- the process of teaching patience and sharing when passing out colors
- instilling the theme for that day with the picture to color
- the game (always a hit)
The performance by the teachers made it seem easy for the viewers to follow their example.
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Report from the Boston cluster’s reflection meeting:
What we’ve learned
- Many classes are facing burnout from having only one teacher. In addition to new classes we need support for the existing ones
- We may need to visit people who have gone through Book 3 previously and are not active and try to engage them in our classes that are already set up
- Having prospective teachers at established sites helps them to learn how to conduct a class and also lends more support to the existing class
- It may help existing classes to also look in the neighborhoods for prospective co-teachers (providing opportunity to teach as well)
- Try as much as possible to interact with parents to build vision…. this may take multiple visits so do not be discouraged
- Potential ways to start a class:
- Start small in a neighborhood and allow the kids to bring their friends
- Try to conduct classes in an open space because kids will be curious/interested in finding out
- Initiate with Baha’i children. If you can capture their interest then they will be more apt to reach out to their friends/neighbors and bring seekers
- When starting new classes a lot of emphasis has to be put in finding teachers that don’t have to travel far to get to the site (reduces burnout)
- Understanding how to have control over kids also reduces burnout
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Leading a song during a children’s class, Jenjarom, Malaysia.
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Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children, young plants of the Abhá Paradise, so that these children, fostered by grace in the way of salvation, growing like pearls of divine bounty in the shell of education, will one day bejewel the crown of abiding glory.
It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day, and become an ensign of God’s abounding grace; that these children, reared one and all in the holy Teachings, will develop natures like unto the sweet airs that blow across the gardens of the All-Glorious, and will waft their fragrance around the world.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections Sec. 106
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Classes for the spiritual education of children and junior youth serve to strengthen the roots of the Faith in the local population… Whatever the nature of the cluster, it is imperative to pay close attention to children and junior youth everywhere. Concern for the moral and spiritual education of young people is asserting itself forcefully on the consciousness of humanity, and no attempt at community building can afford to ignore it.
– The Universal House of Justice, 27 December 2005
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(From reports, adapted from the teaching blog http://teaching.bahai.us/2010/02/newsletter-coordination-describing-core.html, and from an email circular received from the Boston Area Teaching Committee.) (Image is copyright Bahá’í World Centre – view here.)
(US – CO, 1 April)
This community has evidently found the key to creating enthusiasm for and ownership of the processes of growth which the Reflection meeting was meant to foster!
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There’s a certain point in a cluster’s history where a threshold is crossed. The hearts of the friends are touched in a new way, and they arise with love to serve the Cause with new levels of dedication. It is a point where the friends’ hearts, filled with both courage and love, arise to share the Message as part of an organized, collective, direct teaching effort. Here is a description of that joyful evening where this milestone was reached in Arapahoe-Douglas Counties, CO (B-stage), shared by a member of that cluster’s area teaching committee.
I want to recount our second Cluster Reflection Meeting since we became a “B” Cluster. It was wonderful.
The clubhouse is full in Arapahoe County. 35 Adults, 7 children and 6 Junior Youth. We had 48 red and white roses next to a large photo of the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh. There was a slide on the screen of the Sea Gate in Akka. One believer told us about Bahá’u’lláh’s experience on that dark day entering the prison city while crowds threw things and called Him names. But what was happening in the spiritual realms was a different story. He heard the angels sing and was greeted by banners of light. She then sang “Soon will all that dwell on earth be enlisted under these banners.” It was beautiful. We had a prayer for the 7 friends imprisoned in Iran. . . .
Then a junior youth gave an amazing and well presented account of his teaching team experiences. He began with a prayer and guitar music. It was so wonderful. And sitting in a ring around him, very quiet and respectfully, were all the children. They really looked up to him! Next, a new believer gave a talk about her teaching team’s experience and how they now have 6 kids in their neighborhood children’s class. And how one little girl memorized a prayer of Bahá’u’lláh’s perfectly!
D was a perfect emcee. G and J gave a wonderful presentation about forming teaching teams and we broke up into discussion groups, came back together and reported our learning.
Then something wonderful happened: We formed 6 teaching teams for the cluster. Six groups of enthusiastic, excited and creative people decided their own individual paths of service and formed teaching teams! We have 6 teams and already 6 contact people. 6 different goals and focuses. And they all had children, youth or junior youth on them!
It was magic. It was wonderful and I think I actually heard the angels singing, “Soon will all that dwell on Earth be enlisted under these banners!” I am very, very happy tonight!
Something great is happening here. Something truly great. I think even when we don’t we see it, when we feel like nothing is happening, there are things occurring in the spiritual realms that are so amazing. There really are banners of light. The angels really do sing.
In His Service,
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The final place of exile of Baha’u’llah: the Mansion at Bahji, Acre, Israel
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It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection. For instance: a beautiful house, a well designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful motion, a well written book, pleasing garments–in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit–therefore, it is most certain that a true voice causes deep pleasure. What is music? It is a combination of harmonious sounds. What is poetry? It is a symmetrical collection of words.
Therefore, they are pleasing through harmony and rhythm. Poetry is much more effective and complete than prose. It stirs more deeply, for it is of a finer composition.
A fine voice when joined to beautiful music causes a great effect, for both are desirable and pleasing. All these have in themselves an organization, and are constructed on natural law. Therefore, they correspond to the order of existence like something which would fit into a mold. A true voice fits into the mold of nature. When it is so, this affects the nerves, and they affect the heart and spirit.
In the world of existence physical things have a connection with spiritual realities. One of these things is the voice, which connects itself with the spirit; and the spirit can be uplifted by this means –for though it is a physical thing, it is one of the material, natural organizations– therefore, it is effective.
All forms when understood aright gladden the spirit. Melodies are like water. The voice is like a goblet. The pure water in a pure glass is pleasing. Therefore, it is acceptable…
– ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words to Mrs. Mary L. Lucas, as quoted in “A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca” pp. 11-14 (quoted here)
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(Excerpted from the teaching blog, http://teaching.bahai.us/2009/04/something-truly-great-is-happening-here.html ) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community, view it here)