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Measures for letting study of the letters of the House of Justice take centre stage in the deliberations at the cluster level. Also, the virtue of drawing connections between ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s lifework and the community’s present endeavors.
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Keeping Things in Perspective

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A report from an American believer of her trip to Colombia that focuses on the observation of how some cluster agencies (the institute coordinators and the Area Teaching Committee) in that country are keeping the spiritual nature of their enterprise in mind.
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The following extract demonstrates how these agencies have made it a set practice to put the guidance of the Universal House of Justice at the forefront.
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[A Cluster] Planning Meeting started with prayers and then study and reflection on the guidance of the Universal House of Justice with the Auxiliary Board member.  They focused on the recent letter from the House of Justice about Abdul-Baha’s visit to America, linking their work in the cluster to a continuation of what Abdu’l-Baha put in motion many years ago. They don’t hurry this portion but really focus to comprehend at a deep level and recharge themselves spiritually. … This focus happens with every planning meeting they have.
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The report notes that the individual members of the cluster agencies… consciously remind themselves to see beyond numbers and “be concerned with the mystical and spiritual nature of this enterprise”. This understanding helps them to “move from crisis to victories”.
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The friends understand that being systematic implies a need for coherence and that all lines of action have to be integrated. The following simple example was offered to illustrate this point.
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A nucleus of 4 workers had the job to lay pipes in an area – the first person needed to measure the land where the pipe would go – the next person dug up the dirt – the 3rd person was to lay the pipe but didn’t show up and the 4th person put back the dirt so no one would get hurt – People observed this process and said it didn’t make any sense.
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Sometimes some of our lines of action do well but others do not and we then lack cohesiveness and integration; therefore it lacks the necessary systematic character and may not make sense.
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'Abdu'l-Bahá speaking in Wilmette, IL after hosting the simple ceremony inaugurating the building of the Mother Temple of the West, on 1 May 1912. "The Temple is built", He had prophetically stated as He laid the foundation stone in place.

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This challenge [of effecting a significant advance in the process of entry by troops] can be met through persistent effort patiently pursued. Entry by troops is a possibility well within the grasp of our community. Unremitting faith, prayer, the promptings of the soul, Divine assistance — these are among the essentials of progress in any Bahá’í undertaking. But also of vital importance to bringing about entry by troops is a realistic approach, systematic action. There are no shortcuts. Systematization ensures consistency of lines of action based on well-conceived plans. In a general sense, it implies an orderliness of approach in all that pertains to Bahá’í service, whether in teaching or administration, in individual or collective endeavour. While allowing for individual initiative and spontaneity, it suggests the need to be clear-headed, methodical, efficient, constant, balanced and harmonious. Systematization is a necessary mode of functioning animated by the urgency to act.

– The Universal House of Justice, Ridván 1998 message, § 10

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(Adapted from a report on the US Teaching blog: http://teaching.bahai.us/2011/03/observations-from-colombia-part-one.html. Emphasis added.) (Photo source: http://www.bahai-biblio.org/centre-photo/gens/abdul-baha/abd-amerique/wilmette/abdawi~07m~abd-wilmette.htm)

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Reflection into action in a “B” stage cluster

(US, SC, 6 June)

Here is a report of a reflection gathering, which is an important element in teaching campaigns. The friends made use of this event to plan activities and prepare themselves for sharing the message of Bahá’u’lláh with their neighbors:

The first part of the meeting consisted of a review of relevant statistics related directly to the growth and activity of the Faith in the cluster. The participating friends were able to visualize the status of the cluster and carry out a healthy examination of strengths to build on and weaknesses to address. For example, it was noted that we have succeeded in firmly establishing three regular devotional gatherings, three Bahá’í children’s classes, and one junior youth group. In addition, at the time of reporting, there were a total of eight study circles in progress around the cluster. At the same time, our review of the statistics made it clear that there is significant room for advancement in the area of multiplying these activities.

The next portion of the meeting was an open discussion about where we are going. A friend shared experiences and insights from experience with another advanced cluster, and spoke to us about the dedication and commitment that is required from individuals and communities to shoulder the responsibilities of intensive growth, the need to go beyond the barriers of comfort, to step into new arenas of service. She also spoke of the joys of collective service and the bonds of love and friendship that are built as believers in a community work together to teach the Cause to the peoples of the world.

We later divided into five teams of two. We examined a map of the neighborhood and assigned routes to take. We prayed and requested the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. Equipped with copies of Anna’s presentation, neighborhood visit charts, prayer cards and invitations, we hit the streets.

We knocked on approximately 60 doors, and spoke to people in 32 homes. Everyone we spoke to was courteous and friendly. Nine households were open to receiving a subsequent visit. Two individuals were happy to hear an in depth presentation of the Faith.

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Upper Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb

Upper Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb

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By nature is meant those inherent properties and necessary relations derived from the realities of things. And these realities of things, though in the utmost diversity, are yet intimately connected one with the other. For these diverse realities an all-unifying agency is needed that shall link them all one to the other. For instance, the various organs and members, the parts and elements, that constitute the body of man, though at variance, are yet all connected one with the other by that all-unifying agency known as the human soul, that causeth them to function in perfect harmony and with absolute regularity, thus making the continuation of life possible…

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel p 13

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(Adapted from a posting at teaching.bahai.us reporting from Upstate Foothills, SC cluster: http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/06/reflection-gatherings-are-important.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

Everyone playing their part

(US, OR, 6 May)

The friends in this “A” stage cluster have been busy and systematic during the first expansion phase of their intensive program of growth, which was launched just before Ridvan 2008. A variety of approaches were used, with each facet supporting the others. Here are some excerpts:

Informational tables were set up at the local Bahá’í Center and at two colleges. The use of Anna’s Presentation at the booth at the Bahá’í Center provided an easy format to present the Faith.

The friends gathered at the Bahá’í Center each day in the morning, noon and evening to offer prayers for the teaching efforts. These were attended by between five to fifteen believers each time.

Children’s classes and one junior youth group were conducted and were attended by members of the wider community.

Exploratory teaching was carried out in a few neighborhoods in the cluster. Several positive opportunities emerged, including requests for subsequent visits, which are being followed up. At one apartment complex, a relatively large percentage of those visited expressed an interest in learning about the Faith.

(Report from the Area Teaching Committee of Eugene, OR)

http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/05/friends-in-eugene-or-have-been-busy-and.html

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Unremitting faith, prayer, the promptings of the soul, Divine assistance — these are among the essentials of progress in any Bahá’í undertaking. But also of vital importance to bringing about entry by troops is a realistic approach, systematic action. There are no shortcuts. Systematization ensures consistency of lines of action based on well-conceived plans. In a general sense, it implies an orderliness of approach in all that pertains to Bahá’í service, whether in teaching or administration, in individual or collective endeavour. While allowing for individual initiative and spontaneity, it suggests the need to be clear-headed, methodical, efficient, constant, balanced and harmonious. Systematization is a necessary mode of functioning animated by the urgency to act.

Our lot, dear brothers and sisters, is to be consciously involved in a vast historic process the like of which has not ever before been experienced by any people…Does not every one of us…have a divine obligation to fulfil, a sacred duty to perform towards every other one who is not yet aware of the call of God’s latest Manifestation? Time does not stop, does not wait. With every passing hour a fresh affliction strikes at a distracted humanity. Dare we linger?

…one thing above all else is necessary: to act, to act now, and to continue to act.

Our heartfelt plea at the Holy Threshold on behalf of us all is that we may be divinely aided and richly confirmed in whatever we do towards meeting the urgent aim of the Divine Plan at so fate-laden a moment in human history.

Universal House of Justice, Ridván 155/1998 message

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