Play: Everything You Wanted to Know About A Community of Interest, But Were Afraid to Ask!

Left to right:  Sneakers Sally, Fraidy Fran in red, Priscilla Perseverance wearing skates, and Mr. Bear in front.  Photo by Steve Pulley, USA.

A wonderful play on reaching your "communities of interest"!  Use dolls for characters, or make puppets to add an arts and crafts element.

{josquote}As you know, we have the Institute process; which is like an engine of growth, to get the Bahá'í community around the world on the same page and advance the process of entry by troops. {/josquote}

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Empowering new protagonists through devotional gatherings

{josquote}In this case, a teaching team is accompanying participants in Book 1 study circles to host devotionals, and doing this as their focus for their cluster’s latest expansion phase.{/josquote}

These two reports of devotional gatherings in Phoenix, AZ (A) are nothing short of stunning. As you read, you will see the beautiful coherence between all the core activities. You will see descriptions of gatherings that superlatively implement the ideal of unity in diversity. You will see teaching teams lovingly accompanying the hosts, who are both doing this for the first time. And you will see that these gatherings are being organized and hosted by members of the community of interest. Now, what do we mean by “community of interest”? It is someone who is not a declared Bahá’í but is participating in the core activities, such as attending a study circle. What is truly exciting about these two stories is that the member of the community of interest is not just a participant—she is the principal protagonist of the core activity that she hosts!

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The purpose of core activities

Earlier, I compared Ruhi to a virus and criticised the Haifan form of Ruhi for not encouraging social awareness.

...the original pre-1994 Colombian Ruhi “strain” probably had a better chance of catching on because it was more grounded in social action and economic development projects, and thus had a better chance of lifting a community — socially, spiritually and economically. The current “strain” has moved towards the inherently unsustainable Amway pyramid scheme model, where the product — balanced development of a community — is much less important than the “two essential movements” — clusters moving from C to A and participants moving from Book 1 to Book 7.
Swine Flew?

{josquote}…if someone were to ask us whether the purpose of our inviting them to join study circles is to make them Bahá’ís, we can confidently say ‘no’…{/josquote}

Well, it seems I'm wrong. Payman Mohajer, who is a  member of the Universal House of Justice, argues that the purpose of core activities is not to get converts but to serve society. He's reported as saying:

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Purpose of core activities to raise capacity to serve society, promote community development

The Purpose of Core Activities

{josquote}...the purpose of our core activities is to enable us to serve society...{/josquote}

In the course of the consultations, Dr. Mohajer posed a thought-provoking question to the participants, “What is the purpose of our core activities?”

Dr Mohajer then went on to share an explanation by giving the example of a glass. He said that while it is not inaccurate to say that the glass is transparent, it is evident that transparency is not the purpose of the glass. Transparency is one of the attributes of the glass, but its purpose is to hold liquid. Similarly, one of the attributes of our core activities is that they become portals for entry by troops or instruments for teaching — but that is not their purpose. Dr. Mohajer stressed that the purpose of our core activities is to enable us to serve society and help “translate that which hath been written into reality and action” (ToB 166).

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Shaping the Future

Students help youth through spiritual empowerment program

Stanford has been described in the past as a bubble, implying that students often live in isolation from the rest of the world because the campus is a self-sufficient beacon of ideal college life.

However, a look at Stanford’s own student-run Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) goes a little ways toward discrediting that stereotype.

Started as a program to encourage and assist junior youth to take ownership for their spiritual and intellectual development, JYSEP encourages young adults (aged between 10 and 15 years) in Stanford’s neighboring schools to “develop a strong sense of purpose and the volition needed to make good decisions and to engage in meaningful social action in their communities,” according to the program’s Facebook group.

The program is organized around the idea of a junior youth group — a peer group of about a dozen teens — that meets together regularly and is based on the principle of group learning. The program has members from Stanford’s undergraduate community, as well as support from schools in the Palo Alto area.

{josquote}...the program aims to educate the students to “learn how to think, but not what to think.”{/josquote}

According to Jasmine Nachtigall ‘12, the program’s mission statement is simply to help junior youth harness their spiritual and intellectual development and use it to drive decisions.

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