Baha’is all over the world are working in neighborhoods to support local residents in their efforts to take charge of their own social and spiritual development. If you’d like to learn more about what’s happening in your neighborhood, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
This community-building work follows a distinctive 3-month cycle. During the majority of the cycle, Baha’is and friends of all ages are engaged in learning activities of various kinds to explore the vision of Baha’u’llah to create a unified, richly varied and prosperous human civilization. In all of these activities, the focus is on expanding our knowledge, sharing our experience and exploring new insights:
- Devotional gatherings where people of all faiths and all paths can come together in a spirit of harmony, worship together and discuss spiritual ideas and concepts.
- Children’s classes designed to help the youngest members of our communities develop spiritual qualities and a sense of their own inner potential.
- Junior youth groups that empower early teens (ages 12-14) develop their capacities, identify needs in their community and work together to create a plan and address those needs.
- Study circles where older youth and adults learn to consult together and apply spiritual principles to address the challenges they face in their individual lives and in their neighborhood.
Reflecting and Planning
At the end of this period of consolidating our learning, everyone gathers together to reflect on what they’ve learned and make plans for the next three months, based on what they know now.
In all of this, the emphasis is on developing those inner qualities of the heart and on serving the current needs of the community. As neighbors of all ages begin to study and serve together, they learn to apply spiritual principles to solve problems, both individually and collectively. They learn to read the reality of their neighborhood, see what could improve and consult together to formulate a plan of action.
Expanding the Circle
Once they’ve developed a plan of action, youth and adults form small teams, visit with friends and neighbors, explain the vision of Baha’u’llah and find those who are interested in joining these community building efforts. The youth are often the ones to spear-head junior youth groups and children’s classes, while the adults reach out to the parents and explore opportunities to worship, serve and study together. As more people participate in these simple but profound activities, neighborhoods are starting to see a renewed vitality and a lifting of the spirit.
At the close of this two-week effort to expand the circle of friends, the cycle begins again with those who have just joined the community building efforts learning side by side those who have gained some experience. Everyone learns together, everyone learns from each other. With new insights, come deeper reflections and greater levels of service, which attracts more people and the learning continues.
Because our young people possess such incredible potential, the focus of this work right now is on the youth. Perceiving very clearly the conditions of society, youth are finding in this neighborhood work a way to address the problems they see around them. They understand the world needs help and that the surest route to a positive future is to train a new generation of children and youth who are dedicated to serving their communities. Adults accompany these youth in talking to their friends and explain to their parents the nature and purpose of the program.
Periodically, the youth all gather for weekend conferences. There they study together to really understand what service to the community entails. When they finish, they’re ready to reach out to more neighbors, engage more youth and create learning environments where we all progress together.
Creating a Worldwide Community
In engaging in this process, these neighbors, young and old, are also connected with neighborhoods and communities across the globe who are all working together to build a better world. They share stories of both challenges and successes and learn from each other. Across the planet, neighborhoods and villages in every country are working to the same rhythm, the beating pulse of the heartbeat of humanity. In Africa, Asia, Europe, the Islands and the Americas, neighbors are gathering, learning together, teaching their children and consulting on how to apply principles and skills to the challenges they face. We invite you to join us on this extraordinary, surprising, perplexing, invigorating, and richly rewarding journey.
Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.