Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hi Reflections

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Blog spam posts

Hi readers,
Somehow a spam post (titled "Hi Reflections", which I've since deleted) entered my blog today even though I'd changed the password just yesterday for security reasons!
- Alex 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fostering a sense of group-feeling, identity, as means to heal, grow

The approach of this Liberian health worker to helping people traumatized by war would be applicable equally to spiritual "traumas"/problems stemming from a lack of faith in religious principles! The methods described here confirm the importance of the methods of the core activities, like devotional meetings, where an atmosphere of fellowship conducive to openness/sharing is fostered. Likewise, the importance of helping people to become aware of what is conducive to one's spiritual health, as through the Baha'i institute courses, children's classes and junior youth groups.

How do you help refugees suffering from conflict-linked trauma?
It helps to communicate to those suffering that they are not alone. We organize group sessions where we share our experiences. In these sessions, I sometimes share my own experiences of fleeing my country because it helps others to open up. The stories shared in our coping groups can be heartbreaking: one lady saw her husband getting shot dead in front of her, another lady survived a massacre in a church because she was buried under dead bodies.

What do you consider the most vital aspect of your job?
If I had to choose just one thing, it would be our role in helping to raise health awareness among refugee communities. Preventing disease is better than curing it. Awareness sessions further help refugees to come forward and discuss their problems. Some refugees are too shy to discuss their condition, others might not be aware about where they can find vital medication [at little or no cost]. Health awareness-raising can deal with these issues appropriately.

"Giving back, Liberian health worker cares for displaced Ivorians",   

Monday, February 1, 2010

Glossary list of terms in the Five Year Plan

A useful dictionary/vocabulary list of terminology used with regard to the current Five Year Plan.

                THE A-Z OF THE FIVE YEAR PLAN

    Originally compiled by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom.
                   Adapted by the Regional Bahá'í Council of the Southwestern States
January 2007

          The Universal House of Justice describes an A-cluster as an area where "strong
  communities of deepened believers will be in a position to take on the challenges of systematic
  and accelerated expansion and consolidation." Such a cluster has attained conditions propitious
  for intensive growth. See also CLUSTER.
          Training is important because it gives more and more Bahá'ís the skills, knowledge, and
  spiritual insights they need to carry out "accelerated expansion and consolidation." (Universal
  House of Justice, 12/26/95) The process of entry by troops has got to advance, but it must also
  accelerate – it must advance faster and faster!
          "Advancing the process of entry by troops will continue as the aim of the Five Year
  Plan—indeed the aim of the series of Plans that will carry the community to the end of the first
  century of the Formative Age." (Universal House of Justice, 1/9/01) See also PROCESS OF ENTRY
          Someone who is trained to run a set of courses for junior youth (ages 12-14). These
  courses are "Breezes of Confirmation," "Walking the Straight Path," and "Drawing on the Power
  of the Word."
          A group of individuals appointed by the Regional Council right before a cluster is
  declared an A and is getting ready for an intensive program of growth to help, in collaboration
  with the Cluster Institute Coordinator (CIC) and the Auxiliary Board member, to coordinate
  cluster activities, plan campaigns, and mobilize individuals who have arisen to serve.
          The arts have played, and will continue to play "a major role in extending the influence
  of the Cause" (Universal House of Justice, Ridván 1996). Artistic activities are an essential
  element of any study circle, and the Bahá'ís are encouraged to incorporate the arts into all aspects
  of Bahá'í life. "A graceful integration of the arts into diverse activities enhances the surge of
  energy that mobilizes the believers." (Universal House of Justice, 12/27/05)
    5YP A-Z                                                                                 Page 1 of 15
           Assistants are appointed by Auxiliary Board members to help them with their various
  duties. They serve in a specific area (e.g., a cluster or community) or field of endeavor (e.g.,
  youth). The "active involvement of several assistants to Auxiliary Board members in promoting
  community life" is one of the signs that a cluster is ready for a program of intensive growth.
           The Continental Board of Counsellors appoints two Auxiliary Board members for every
  part of the United States, one for Propagation and one for Protection. They offer advice to
  individuals and institutions and encourage the friends to act on their own disciplined initiative.
           Clusters where "established communities will be gaining strength through a vigorous
  institute process" (Universal House of Justice, 1/9/01).
           "The main sequence [of Ruhi courses], much like the trunk of a tree, supports courses
  branching out from it, each branch dedicated to some specific area of training." (Universal House
  of Justice, 1/9/01). For example Ruhi Book 3a, Teaching Children Classes, Grade 2, joins the
  trunk at the Ruhi Book 3 level. In addition, in the United States, the Core Curriculum for training
  teachers of children's classes ha s been designated as a branch joining the trunk at the Ruhi Book
  3 level.
           A document produced by the International Teaching Centre in April 2003, which
  reviewed the learning which had been gained worldwide, two years into the Five Year Plan. A
  video called 'Building Momentum' was also produced, looking at the experience of successful
  clusters around the world.
           Clusters which "contain a few isolated localities and groups" (Universal House of Justice,
  1/9/01), often encompassing a broad spectrum of Bahá'í activity where the institute process has
  not yet been established. (Building Momentum 2.2)
           C clusters with 100 or more Bahá'í youth and adults.
    5YP A-Z                                                                               Page 2 of 15
         There are four types of cluster defined by the Universal House of Justice, often referred
to as A, B, C and D. This is not a statement about a cluster's status. Rather it is a way of
evaluating its capacity for growth. When we know how strong a cluster is, we will know the best
way to make it even stronger.
         One of the four core activities of the Five Year Plan. "The establishment of children's
classes is … an indispensable element of any plan for the sustained, large-scale expansion of the
Faith." (International Teaching Centre, July 2000)
         A cluster is a geographic area defined by the Regional Bahá'í Council to enable the
friends to think about the growth of the Faith on a manageable scale and to design and
implement plans of expansion and consolidation close to the grassroots of the greater
         An individual appointed by the Regional Council soon after a cluster is categorized as a
B level cluster to help coordinate and plan intensive practice campaigns, intensive training
campaigns, and cluster reflection gatherings, in collaboration with the Cluster Institute
Coordinator (CIC) and the Auxiliary Board member.
         Formerly known as Area Coordinators, appointed by the Regional Training Institute and
assigned to specific clusters. They train tutors, follow their progress, ensure they have access to
the materials they need, and organize meetings fo r them to come together and share experiences,
as well as coordinating and tracking study circles throughout their clusters.
         An advanced cluster may get to the stage where it needs a cluster coordinator, responsible
for making sure the core activities in the area steadily multiply.
         All the participants in a study circle, including the person serving as tutor, are
collaborators. A study circle is not made up of a teacher and students – everyone learns.
         "The movement of clusters from each level of activity to a higher one is well in hand and,
as it proceeds, the kernel of avowed believers is being joined by a larger circle of people, still not
Bahá'ís but enthusiastically involved in core activities of the [Five Year] Plan." (Universal House
of Justice, Ridván 2004) The "community of interest" is the circle of people who are involved in
core activities on a regular basis while not yet being enrolled Bahá'ís. Evidence from advanced
clusters suggests that the larger the community of interest over the course of a year, the faster the
rate of enrolment.
  5YP A-Z                                                                                  Page 3 of 15
         One of the phases of an intensive program of growth. "One of the primary objectives of
this...phase is to bring a percentage of the new believers into the institute process so that an
adequate pool of human resources will be available in future cycles to sustain growth." "The
nature of the consolidation phase...largely involved nurturing the interest of seekers and
accompanying them in their spiritual search until they are confirmed in their faith." (Universal
House of Justice, 12/27/05)
         Three steps needed for increasing our effectiveness in planning and teaching. We practice
the art of consultation to reach decisions on how to proceed with our teaching plans. Having
reached a consensus, we then move into the field of action, without fear of failure, assured of the
support of institutions and individuals, and open to learning. We come back from the field to
reflect on the lessons learned in action so that they may be articulated and incorporated into plans
for the next cycle of activity.
         The Universal House of Justice refers to study circles, devotional gatherings, children's
classes, and junior youth groups as "core activities." (Universal House of Justice 12/27/05) They
are among the initial goals that every community should try to achieve, and they should be open
to all the people living in a locality, whether Bahá'í or not.
         A branch course for training teachers of children's classes.
         Training institute coordinators, Auxiliary Board members/assistants, and Area Teaching
Committees. "The implementation of such a program [of intensive growth] will require the close
collaboration of the institute, the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, and an Area
Teaching Committee." (Universal House of Justice 1/9/01) Sometimes referred to as a "troika"
or "triad."
         Every Training Institute Board adopts a sequence of courses, which it uses to raise up
large numbers of believers who can "foster and facilitate the process of entry by troops with
efficiency and love." (Universal House of Justice, Ridván 153) The sequence of courses that has
been adopted by the Training Institute Boards of the United States is the program created by the
Ruhi Institute.
  5YP A-Z                                                                                 Page 4 of 15
          "Chief among the requirements for motivating believers and nurturing a culture of growth
  is the capacity to foster an encouraging environment where, as the Universal House of Justice
  wrote in its 9 January message, 'teaching is the dominating passion of the lives of the believers'
  and 'mutual support, commitment to learning, and appreciation of diversity of action are the
  prevailing norms.' In the same message, the House of Justice also stated that an upsurge in
  teaching activity depends on 'sustained encouragement'" (Building Momentum 3.1.1)
          The process of growth within a cluster. A proportion of the Bahá'ís within a cluster move
  through the sequence of training institute courses to raise up resources for expansion and
  consolidation of the community. An outcome of this is the multiplication of the core activities
  within the cluster. These core activities are opened to the wider community, so that the number
  of non-Bahá'ís involved in core activities grows steadily, thus increasing the community of
  interest. Many of the new believers in the cluster come from these individuals, who are invited
  to join study circles, thus further building resources for multiplying the core activities and
  opening them to the wider community. Teaching initiatives and campaigns, both individual and
  collective, drawing from the people and skills raised up by the training institute, lead to further
  growth in the community of interest and the Bahá'í community itself. Thus we have a self-
  sustaining cycle of growth.
          A cluster that is not yet open to the Faith; there are no Bahá'ís living there. The Universal
  House of Justice suggests that virgin territories are opened to the Faith by home front pioneers.
          A message of the Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards
  of Counsellors outlining the main features of the second Five Year Plan (2006-2011).
          Deputy Regional Coordinators are appointed by the Regional Training Institute and
  assigned to specific territories, usually matching those of each Auxiliary Board member. They
  oversee the Area Coordinators in helping to train and support tutors and coordinating and
  tracking study circles.
          One of the four core activities of the Five Year Plan. A devotional meeting is a gathering
  of Bahá'ís and their "not- yet Bahá'í" families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to pray and
  meditate. It can be as small as one Baha'i and one seeker only. "Bahá'ís are encouraged to use
  the revealed prayers of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb as well as those of 'Abdul- Bahá. It is
  permissible to have prayers and readings from the sacred scriptures of other religions. The form
  of the programme would appear to depend in part on the setting, the occasion, and the purposes
  of the gathering.' (Memorandum from the Research Department to the Universal House of
  Justice, 9/19/01)
    5YP A-Z                                                                                Page 5 of 15
          "When training and encouragement are effective, a culture of growth is nourished in
  which the believers see their duty to teach as a natural consequence of having accepted
  Bahá'u'lláh." (Universal House of Justice, 1/9/01) For growth to occur, we must encourage
  each other to carry out a rapidly increasing number of core activities. Auxiliary Board members
  and their assistants, as well as Local Spiritual Assemblies, must look to how they can foster
  individual initiative.
          "The rise in activity around the world testifies to the success of these courses in evoking
  the spirit of enterprise required to carry out the diverse actions that growth in a cluster, at
  whatever stage, demands." (Universal House of Justice, 1/17/03)
          New believers entering the Faith in large numbers.
          One of the phases of an intensive program of growth. "The expansion phase, often a
  period of two weeks, demands the highest level of intensity. Its objective is to widen the circle of
  those interested in the Faith, to find receptive souls and to teach them. Although this phase might
  include some element of proclamation, it should not be seen as a time to hold a few events for
  this purpose or to undertake a set of activities that merely convey information. Experience
  suggests that the more closely teaching approaches and methods are aligned with the capacity
  acquired from the study of the institute courses the more rewarding the results." (Unive rsal
  House of Justice, 12/27/05)
          See NINETEEN- DAY F EAST.
          "…the Faith of Baha'u'llah now enters the fifth epoch of its Formative Age." (Universal
  House of Justice, 1/16/01) The Formative Age began in 1921, with the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-
  Bahá. It has been marked by a series of epochs – the fifth epoch opened at the beginning of
    5YP A-Z                                                                                 Page 6 of 15
           Warm, intimate, small gatherings where seekers feel comfortable to come and ask their
  questions and get involved in a profound spiritual encounter. One of the principal means of
  teaching open to every Baha'i. The Universal House of Justice notes that those seekers who
  attend devotional gatherings, and parents whose children attend Bahá'í children's classes, are
  often "eager to attend firesides and join study circles." (1/17/03)
           A series of four Five Year Plans was launched by the Universal House of Justice at
  Ridván 2001, and it will last until Ridván 2021. Its main aim is to advance the process of entry
  by troops. Its main features were outlined in the January 9, 2001 message from the Universal
  House of Justice.
           "The elements required for a concerted effort to infuse the diverse regions of the world
  with the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation have crystallized into a framework for action that now
  needs only to be exploited.... Experience in advancing the movement of clusters from one stage
  to the next is now so widespread that the methods and instruments are well understood. The
  institute process must be strengthened so that a sizeable number of friends proceed through the
  main sequence of courses. Intensive institute campaigns that pay adequate attention to the
  practice component will be essential in this respect. The number of core activities should be
  steadily multiplied, and outreach to the wider community systematically extended. Meetings of
  reflection will have to be held periodically in order to monitor progress, maintain unity of
  thought and mobilize the energies of the friends. And schemes for administering the growth
  process should gradually be put in place, as circumstances demand." (Universal House of Justice,
           The people with whom we come into contact most frequently, from which we cultivate a
  community of interested. "It is evident, then, that a systematic approach to training has created a
  way for Bahá'ís to reach out to the surrounding society, share Bahá'u'lláh's message with
  friends, family, neighbours and co-workers, and expose them to the richness of His teachings.
  This outward- looking orientation is one of the finest fruits of the grassroots learning taking
  place. The pattern of activity that is being established in clusters around the globe constitutes a
  proven means of accelerating expansion and consolidation." (Universal House of Justice,
           In the Five Year Plan, planning is taking place at the grass roots. When the friends gather
  at a reflection meeting, their planning is based on the human resources that are available. For
  instance, a reflection meeting is unlikely to plan to hold ten study circles at once if there are only
  five tutors in the cluster!
           See CULTURE OF GROWTH
     5YP A-Z                                                                                Page 7 of 15
           "Conceived as a means for exposing believers to the fundamentals of the Faith, 'home
  visits' are giving rise to an array of deepening efforts, both individual and collective, in which
  the friends are delving into the Writings and exploring their implications for their lives."
  (Universal House of Justice, 12/27/05) They may involve studying a prayer with a person or a
  family, sharing a deepening theme with them, or recounting stories of the Faith. Home visits are
  an important practice element of many of the courses of the Ruhi Institute.
           "The role of the individual is of unique importance to the work of the Cause." (Universal
  House of Justice, Ridván 1996). It is the duty of every Bahá'í to teach the Faith: "Let him not
  wait for any directions, or expect any special encouragement, from the elected representatives of
  his community, nor be deterred by any obstacles which his relatives, or fellow-citizens may be
  inclined to place in his path, nor mind the censure of his critics or enemies." (Shoghi Effendi,
  The Advent of Divine Justice). The capacity of the individual is nurtured through "a sequence of
  courses that seeks to build capacity for service by concentrating on the application of the
  spiritual insights gained through profound study of the Writings." (Universal House of Justice,
           Institute campaigns help move groups of friends through the Sequence of courses quickly
  without reducing the number of hours spent on a course. It means completing the same course
  and its practices in their entirety, but in a shorter period of time, perhaps days instead of weeks or
  weeks instead of months. (International Teaching Center, 11/28/04)
           The Five Year Plan is about bringing about growth; the aim is to advance the process of
  entry by troops. To achieve this, institutions (like Local Spiritual Assemblies) need to show new
  strengths and capacities. This is achieved more easily when the members of those institutions
  have first hand experience of nurturing growthfor instance, they have completed the sequence
  of courses and their practices.
           This institution was brought into being by the Universal House of Justice to carry forward
  the work of the Hands of the Cause of God. Nine International Counsellors are appointed to the
  International Teaching Centre which is based at the World Centre. The House of Justice
  appoints a Continental Board of Counsellors on each continent (the number of Counsellors on
  each board varies) for five-year terms.
    5YP A-Z                                                                                 Page 8 of 15
           When a cluster is ready – and not before – it should establish an intensive program of
  growth. The Regional Council will determine when a cluster is an A-cluster ready to initiate an
  Intensive Program of Growth. It will have satisfied the propitious conditions (see P ROPITIOUS
  CONDITIONS ) Typically each cycle of an IPG lasts about three months. Each cycle of activity
  consists of three phases: 2 weeks for expansion, 10 weeks for consolidation, and 1 week for
  reflection and planning. The first few cycles may not produce many declarations, but should
  increase the number of individuals in the community of interest.
           A message of the Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards
  of Counsellors gathered in the Holy Land at that time, outlining the main features of the Five
  Year Plan.
           A letter written by the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the world. "...cogent
  analysis of the progress of the Bahá'í world in advancing the process of entry by troops since the
  beginning of the Five Year Plan." (ITC, Building Momentum, April 2003)
           Young people between the ages of 12 through 14 (pre youth)
           A series of courses adopted by many training institute boards for the training of junior
  youth, facilitated by trained youth animators. The courses are "Breezes of Confirmation,"
  "Walking the Straight Path," and "Drawing on the Power of the Word." More books are under
           "Learning in action is becoming the outstanding feature of the emerging mode of
  operation." (Universal House of Justice, 1/17/03). At reflection meetings, the friends are
  sharing experience, learning from the results of their actions, and making new plans on the basis
  of what they have learned.
           "The books of the Ruhi institute should constitute the main sequence of courses for
  institutes everywhere." (Universal House of Justice, 12/28/05)
           The Ruhi Institute courses emphasize the importance of memorizing the Sacred Texts and
  Writings so that we may freely impart them to friends and seekers.
    5YP A-Z                                                                               Page 9 of 15
          The movement of clusters towards the stage where they are ready for intensive growth is
  directly linked to the multiplication of core activities. This requires an increase in the number of
  trained individuals who carry out the core activities. However, "a proliferation of core activities
  that does not serve the purpose of involving a growing number of seekers" should be avoided.
  (Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly 8/18/05)
          Monthly gathering of the Bahá'í community to pray, consult, and socializea divinely
  ordained a cornerstone of Bahá'í community life. "As the spiritual foundations of the community
  are fortified in this way [i.e., through 'the steady multiplication of core activities, propelled by the
  training institute'], the level of collective discourse is raised, social relations among the friends
  take on new meaning, and a sense of common purpose inspires their interactions. Little wonder,
  then, that a study carried out by the International Teaching Centre shows that, in some fifty
  advanced clusters surveyed, the quality of the Nineteen Day Feast has improved." (12/27/05)
          The Universal House of Justice tells us that the core activities of the Five Year Plan must
  be "open to all the inhabitants of the locality", i.e. whether they are Bahá'ís or not (Universal
  House of Justice, 1/9/01). Experience has shown that when seekers know there is no pressure or
  proselytizing involved, but rather a genuine desire to share the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, they
  readily return to Bahá'í gatherings on their own.
          Creating an "open to all" culture requires a concerted, courageous, and imaginative
  effort. Bahá'ís are striving to expand their social circles and friendships. Reordering our lives,
  including the services we render to the Faith, will allow us more time for interaction with friends,
  family, neighbors, and co-workers. (Building Momentum, 4.4) "...[A] systematic approach to
  training has created a way for Bahá'ís to reach out to the surrounding society, share
  Bahá'u'lláh's message with friends, family, neighbours and co-workers, and expose them to the
  richness of His teachings. This outward- looking orientation is one of the finest fruits of the
  grassroots learning taking place" (Universal House of Justice, 1/17/03). "From among all those
  they encounter – parents of neighbourhood children, peers at school, colleagues at work, casual
  acquaintances – they seek out souls with whom they can share a portion of that which He has so
  graciously bestowed on humanity. Increase experience enables them to adapt their presentation
  to the seeker's needs, employing direct teaching methods that draw on the Writings to offer the
  message in a manner both forthcoming and inviting." (Universal House of Justice, 12/27/05)
    5YP A-Z                                                                                  Page 10 of 15
          "These core activities, which at the outset were devised principally to benefit the
  believers themselves, are naturally becoming portals for entry by troops. (Universal House of
  Justice, Ridván 2002)
          A campaign conducted for the purpose not only of increasing core activities and
  community of interest, but of enhancing participants' skills in the elements of teaching
  campaigns, such as working with teams and reaching out to seekers. Practice campaigns are
  usually conducted in a B cluster in preparation for becoming an A cluster and launching
  intensive programs of growth. "As would be expected, experience demonstrates that the more
  closely the teaching efforts and approaches have been related to the capacities acquired from the
  study of institute courses, the more fruitful has been the outcome. For this reason, in many
  instances offering refresher courses, particularly sections of Ruhi Institute Books 2 and 6,
  immediately prior to the start of the expansion phase, has proven highly beneficial." (ITC 6/8/05)
          See SERVICE, ACT OF
          A cluster which shows great promise or capacity for growth. "Focus in almost every
  country has now turned to stimulating the movement of its priority clusters from their current
  stage of growth to the next." (Universal House of Justice, 1/17/03). This focus is intended not
  only to promote growth in these clusters, but it also to help other areas to develop more quickly
  as well through the lessons learned in the stronger areas.
          "…to advance the process implies that [the] process is already in progress and that local
  and national communities are at different stages of it." (Universal House of Justice, Ridván
  153). The process of entry by troops is not something that will "just happen" it is a stage of
  growth that the Bahá'ís can bring about through their own actions.
          The process of preparing for mass enrollment and ensuring that new believers are not
  only enrolled but retained as active members of the community. New believers entering the
  Faith in large numbers should not happen in short, uncoordinated bursts, but through a sustained
  process. As the situation is ripe, and "the stage is set," anytime we hit a nerve, the possibilities
  will overwhelm us. Therefore, in advancing the process of entry by troops, the challenge is to be
          It requires a means of systematically training a number of those new declarants to take on
  the challenges of promoting the process of entry by troops themselvesthis is what the training
  institute process is for.
    5YP A-Z                                                                               Page 11 of 15
          A cluster's readiness for a program of intensive growth can be assessed in relation to
  having attained conditions propitious for intensive growth, which includes:
          § Believers being fully involved in institutes courses, with a significant number having
               completed the current sequence and who understand the pre-requisites for sustainable
          § Presence of a critical mass of 40 to 50 friends who have completed the Ruhi sequence
          § Increase in the number of Bahá'ís in the cluster
          § Multiplication of core activities and their integration, providing "portals for entry by
          § Regular participation of seekers in the core activities
          § Vibrant community life
          § Well attended, vibrant, and lively cluster reflection meetings
          § Commitment to an ongoing learning process
          § A high degree of enthusiasm and a strong sense of ownership
          § Ever growing number of individual and collective teaching initiatives
          § Pronounced spirit of collaboration among the institutions
          § Increased institutional capacity. Reasonable degree of administrative capacity
  (Building Momentum 2.4)
          Also known as a reflection gathering; held from time to time in A, B, and some C
  clusters. "A natural vehicle for multiplying core activities has been reflection meetings. … In
  such gatherings the institutions and the believers, many of whom are involved in the institute
  process, study the relevant Five Year Plan documents, share experiences, and consult on the
  achievements and strengths wit hin the cluster." (Building Momentum, April 2003). The friends
  at reflection meetings also set short-term goals for themselves.
          One of the phases of an intensive program of growth. "Key to the progress of an
  intensive programme of growth is the phase dedicated to reflection, in which the lessons learned
  in action are articulated and incorporated into plans for the next cycle of activity. Its principal
  feature is the reflection meeting-as much a time of joyous celebration as it is of serious
  consultation. Careful analysis of experience, through participatory discussions rather than overly
  complex and elaborate presentations, serves to maintain unity of vision, sharpen clarity of
  thought and heighten enthusiasm." (Universal House of Justice 12/27/05)
          Elected bodies that govern the teaching affairs of the Bahá'ís of a region within a nation.
  In the United State there are five Regional Councils, for the Central, Northeastern, Northwestern,
  Southern, and Southwestern regions. "The main task of a Regional Bahá'í Council is to devise
  and execute expansion and consolidation plans in close collaboration with the Local Spiritual
  Assemblies and the believers within its area of jurisdiction." (Universal House of Justice
    5YP A-Z                                                                                 Page 12 of 15
           Individual appointed by the Regional Training Institute to oversee the services of the
  Deputy and Area Coordinators serving the institute process, often a member of the regional
  training institute.
           "…in Colombia … a systematic and sustained programme of education in the Writings
  was devised and soon adopted in neighbouring countries." (Universal House of Justice, Century
  of Light). This program was the sequence of courses devised by the Ruhi Institute, and
  subsequently adopted by the majority of national communities around the world. The House of
  Justice said this was because national communities found them "most responsive to the Five
  Year Plan's needs." (Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2004).
           A sub-division of a cluster, usually in large metro areas. "For the most part, large urban
  areas under the jurisdiction of one Local Spiritual Assembly have been designated single
  clusters, these in turn being divided into sectors, so as to facilitate planning and implementation."
  (Universal House of Justice, 1/17/03)
           The Universal House of Justice stresses that each training institute must choose "a
  sequence of courses which, building on one another, [will] gradually endow the students with the
  knowledge, skills and qualities needed to serve the Faith with increasing effectiveness."
  (Universal House of Justice, cited in ITC, Training Institutes and Systematic Growth, Feb. 2000).
  So it is important that friends proceed through the courses systematically, one after another – the
  skills they acquire in one course will be built upon in future courses, and it won't help to study
  them out of sequence!
           For every course in the sequence devised by the Ruhi Institute, there is a specified act of
  service or "practice activity." A participant is not considered to have completed the course if the
  act of service has not been carried outafter all, what is the use of training that involves theory
  but no practice? As an example, the act of service in Ruhi Book 1 is to visit another person and
  study a prayer with them.
           A practice activity, or act of service, for Ruhi Book 4, The Twin Manifestations, is to
  learn to tell stories about the lives of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh to share with friends and seekers.
           One of the four core activities of the Five Year Plans; a delivery system for the sequence
  of courses chosen by the training institute. In essence, it consists of a group of friends, meeting
  on a regular basis in a local area, with one person serving as a tutor. Everyone involved is a
  collaborator, and each participant is actively involved in the process of learning – they are not
    5YP A-Z                                                                                Page 13 of 15
           "Systematization ensures consistency of lines of action based on well- conceived plans …
  it implies an orderliness of approach in all that pertains to Bahá'í service … Systematization is a
  necessary mode of functioning animated by the urgency to act." (Universal House of Justice,
  Ridván 155)
           A small groups of friends, preferably living near one another, who band together to teach,
  often as part of a teaching campaign or intensive program of growth. The team consults on
  approaches for teaching, acts collectively and individually, supports each other through prayer,
  and reflects together on lessons learned. "Plans being devised for this [expansion] phase
  invariably involve the implementation of carefully designed teaching projects and campaigns of
  home visits and firesides, often through the mobilization of teaching teams." (Universal House of
  Justice, 12/27/05)
           An institution appointed by the Regional Council and the National Spiritual Assembly in
  consultation with the Continental Board of Counselors. It is responsible for overseeing the
  training institute process within a region and is under the supervision of the Regional Councils.
  It appoints a Regional Coordinator, Deputy Regional Coordinators, and Area Coordinators, and it
  selects and creates training material.
           Training institutes "have as their goal one very practical outcome, namely, the raising up
  of large numbers of believers who are trained to foster and facilitate the process of entry by
  troops with efficiency and love." (Universal House of Justice, Ridván 153). In order to achieve
  this, they adopt a sequence of courses which will endow students with the knowledge, skills and
  qualities they need for this purpose.
           See CORE GROUP.
           A person who serves as a tutor of a study circle has been trained in the methods of the
  Ruhi Institute, so that he or she can help every participant in the study circle to gain the
  maximum benefit from the course. He or she is a collaboratorthe model is not that of a teacher
  with a classroom full of students.
           A gathering organized by an Area Coordinator for the tutors of an area so they can share
  and analyze experiences, answer questions, and enhance skills.
    5YP A-Z                                                                                Page 14 of 15
           "The Five Year Plan … requires concentrated and sustained attention to two essential
  movements. The first is the steady flow of believers through the sequence of courses offered by
  training institutes, for the purpose of developing the human resources of the Cause. The second,
  which receives its impetus from the first, is the movement of geographic clusters from one stage
  of growth to the next." (Universal House of Justice, 12/22/01)
           Letters written by the Guardian that analyze the world situation, published in The World
  Order of Bahá'u'lláh. The Universal House of Justice urged the Bahá'ís to study these letters in
  its Ridván message of 2003.
           Bahá'ís of ages 15 through 20. "Multiplying [the core] activities ranks high among the
  priorities of institutions everywhere, and you should not underestimate the importance of the part
  Bahá'í youth must play in this mighty endeavor. Who more than the young people of our
  communities can lend the collective energy needed to achieve so necessary an increase in the
  level of activity?" (Universal House of Justice, to the youth forums held in the Western States,
           The term sometimes used by regional agencies to refer to the territory covered by an
  Auxiliary Board member.
    5YP A-Z                                                                              Page 15 of 15

Accessed at

Friday, January 29, 2010

Intensity implies focus on ongoing, not new, activities

An interesting learning from the Northeast US.
The three areas of focus for this cycle are:
  • Increasing the level of intensity during this two week period
  • Engaging in more active accompaniment: both asking for help and offering our assistance where needed
  • Directly teaching the Faith and effectively consolidating those who declare
We should note that the call to increase intensity does not necessarily mean doing more activities but rather focusing on activities about which we are passionate and sharing that excitement with those around us be they friends, family or co-workers.
The Area Teaching Committee

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Befriending, sharing Message with each and all; sensitivity to openness

Below find two comments from an active teacher of the Faith - Gil - that summarizes in simple language many of the learnings that have been gathered about effective teaching methods. The first was posted to the Yahoo! group "gnats into Eagles" while the second was shared personally. They are being reproduced with his kind permission.

November 30, 2009

My beloved Baha'i Friends,
I am not sure, either, about what the Universal House of Justice want us to do, but I do have an idea of what, IMHO, would be the kind of Teaching that Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, and the Guardian wanted.

Now this is the message that I get from all of them: Become a very virtuous person that could win the trust of his neighbors and acquaintances both on and off the job. After getting to be their friend, or even maybe as you become their friend, you would gently tell them about the Baha'i Faith. You invite them to your house for dinner or just an evening of conversation or cards or maybe chess. This is the type of fireside that I suspect 'Abdu'l-Baha was talking about.

Now because you, the Baha'i is well versed in religion, you might mention something about it. When this happens, the person might ask you what religion you belong to. Now When you say the Baha'i Faith, he or she will ask what is that...

I was talking to a crowd about a month or so ago and when I told all people there that I was a Baha'i, a young lady said that she knew about that religion and would I give a talk to the Unitarian Church she belongs to about the Baha'i Faith. Now you know, after she pulled the gun on me, I gave in and volunteered to do the talk (that a joke). Now let's talk about making more and more friends. Well if you gently gave them the Story and they were not interested you don't persist unless you know that's what they are wanting you to do.

About thirty years ago I asked one of the Hands of the Cause what should I do in then (in the case that someone isn't interested). He said: "Make new friends." I know it will take time and sacrifices, but what can we give God but our lives teaching the Faith. Well, that is what he said. The point that I am trying to get across is that you make a lot of friends, and then make them Baha'is with your actions and your words. If this hasn't worked then I would say follow the Universal House of Justice's lead and study the Ruhi (courses), but I think that you will be able to do both. I am also in favor of anyone teaching in any way they want as long as they can get new members and make the Faith stronger. I know that all of you have these same thoughts but I just thought that I would try to put them all together.

With the Love of Baha'u'llah ...


(Second comment:)

My friend, when I first became a Baha'i, nobody I ever talked to knew about the Baha'i Faith, but now when I talk to people I am not surprised to know there are several who know about it, has some relative who is a Baha'i, or maybe even read about it.

Let me tell you a little episode that I went through when I was teaching on the street. After a long day of going up and down streets and telling everyone we could about the Faith, we went to bed that night tired. The next morning I went to an area that I had be chosen to teach in. The very first person said: "I know about that; yesterday a man told me about it just two blocks over." Another time I went into an ice-cream shop and was asking if anyone knew about the Faith. A black man in the back said he did. He learned about this white middle class religion from one of the students at college in Edinburgh, Texas. More and more are hearing about it and even though they don't become Baha'i right away, they store the information and who knows what may make them declare? Some of this is in the Hand of God, but we have our responsibility too. And that is to show the Faith in words and actions. Also to show them our love.


Used with the author's kind permission.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Courage, conviction to introduce Faith as heart suggests - relating it to world events, history

Our blessed Baha'i teacher-friend, Richard, in the following report clearly shows the result of following 'Abdu'l-Bahá's advice:
When you are about to begin your address, turn first to Baha'u'llah and ask for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit, then open your lips and say whatever is suggested to your heart; this, however, with the utmost courage, dignity and conviction....

(From "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", Sec. 216 p. 269; Source is here)

I introduced the Faith in a manner that was totally different from anything I had said in the past. I had not planned what to say. It was spontaneous and came out of my subconscious.

I was at a meeting of the Mecklenburg minister's alliance this week, and was asked by an area coordinator of a church what the Baha'i Faith was.

I stated, "The Baha'i Faith was sent to the world by the same God Christians believe in. It was 165 years ago or the year 1844.

The Baha'I Faith refers to Terrorism and atomic weapons. If their message and teachings had been listened to and applied we would not have had the two world wars and other wars.

As well as other reasons, all the wars in the past 165 years have occurred because the Religions of the world have ignored or actively
worked at turning the world's people of against God's word through the Baha'I Faith. Inspite of this, Baha'is have grown to over 6 million
members in every nation on earth with many of it concepts being implemented by the governments of the world.

20,000 Baha'is were killed in public the 6th year of the initial founding of the Baha'I Faith. Religious opposition continues to this day. The Baha'is teachings consist of 200 books and a world organization to implement these teaching.

The Baha'i Faith's teachings are sent by God as a blue print for world peace and security with God's power to make it happen. If this blue print had been adopted in 1844, this plan and God's power would have prevented all the wars of the past 165 years. In the future the Baha'i teachings will bring the "Kingdom of God On Earth". Two new Divine teachers gave these teaching and this blueprint is now being put into practice by the flowers of the Baha'i Faith.

God asked Ishrel God through Christ asked the Jewish people to accept Christ over 2,000 years ago.

Baha'is understand that God is asking you as an individual and your church to investigate the claim of the Baha'I Faith that God has sent the Baha'is to renew God's spirit in the world and bring world peace.

You asked me what the Baha'i Faith teaches, therefore I offer you the chance to receive a free book to prove this claim that two new Teachers have been sent again by God to the world. May I give you our material that makes this claim.

He responded by saying, "Yes." I handed him my personal card and he gave me his card to send him material.

The above statement only took 2 minutes!!!!! !!!!!!!!! ! Wow!!!!!!!!! !!!!!
WHAT I SAID TOTALLY CAUGHT ME OFF GUARD! I had not planned out what I had said and did not follow through as I now will with a plan of follow up. I am going to use the same approach with refinements to dramatize this entire idea with pictures and materials.

So often in the past people have responded to us Baha'is in a brief moment like (this is interesting or Baha'is believe like I do and they see no need to pursue it further.)

I am sure this approach came out of my sub-conscious in response to my desire to challenge them to make a commitment to pursue the Faith further in a brief moment like this.

Shared by Richard on 29 september on the Yahoo! group "gnats into Eagles." Reproduced with his kind permission.