Of the eight articles we publish every month, we always try to have at least one of them relate to the Institute Process in some way, and so here’s a roundup of 22 Baha’i Blog articles we’ve published over the last few years which relate in various ways to the Institute Process.
1. Frontiers of Learning: New Film from the Baha’i World Centre
This uplifting film captures the insights and experiences of four different communities on four different continents. In these communities, children, junior youth, youth, and adults are all taking part in a process of community building based on concepts enshrined in the Baha’i Teachings.
Filmed in Canada, Colombia, India, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Frontiers of Learning is divided into four main parts and it is approximately 90 minutes in length. The film also has subtitles in 5 different languages, and you can either stream or download the film for free. Continue Reading…
2. 6 Ways Study Circles have Helped the Baha’i Community
Over the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to participate, tutor, and be involved to varying degrees in numerous Baha’i study circles in different parts of the world. I’ve experienced very good ones, and ones that could use a little work. Ones that completed the Ruhi book we were working on, and ones that fizzled out before completion. Ones that were run at an extremely intensive and accelerated pace, and ones that took over a year to complete. Ones that brought people into the Faith, and ones that weren’t very well received by some of the participants.
The fact is that no matter what you think about study circles or what your involvement has been with them over the years, study circles have and continue to revolutionize many Baha’i communities worldwide, helping to change the overall culture of the Baha’i community – and I think for the better. Continue reading…
3. 8 Creative Ideas for Your Next Devotional Gathering
Getting together to share prayers and writings from the Baha’i faith, other scriptures and enlightened souls, is a staple of Baha’i life. These devotional gatherings are one of our core activities and all Baha’is are encouraged to not only attend, but to host them.
There is no set format or formula for running a devotional, and they run the gamut from organized public events through to informal sharing of prayers and readings around a coffee table. And since there is no particular way that a devotional should be held, it’s open for creativity and inventiveness!
So in this post I thought I would explore some ideas for devotional gatherings. If you have more ideas, please do share them in the comments! Continue reading…
4. Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences
Although the 114 World-wide Baha’i Youth Conferences drew to a close towards the end of October, the energy generated from these conferences continues to be felt throughout the Baha’i world. I was recently at a reflection gathering in Los Angeles and the energy which the youth brought to the gathering after having attended the youth conference was absolutely inspiring and contagious!
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see any of the videos from the 114 conferences yet, I highly recommend them! The Baha’i World Centre has posted all of the videos from the individual conferences online, and they’ve also produced a series of five videos called Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences based on some of the main conference themes, and they’re AWESOME! Continue reading…
5. New Songs Available for Ruhi Book 3, Grade 1 & 2
The Ruhi Institute has made available for download, recordings of the songs contained in the new lesson plans for Grades 1 and 2 of the Teaching Children’s Class book.
These songs can be downloaded for free, and you can also download a page which contains both the lyrics and the chords for each song – so that’s pretty cool!
These materials can be used in both children’s classes and other educational activities, and The Ruhi Institute also permits the songs to be translated and recorded into various languages, provided that no recording be sold or used for commercial purposes in any way. Continue reading…
6. 3 Ways to Engage with Changemakers in Our Community
For many of us, determining our role in the current Five Year Plan can be a major struggle. The Baha’i community is progressing and learning at such a rapid rate that it can seem difficult to keep up. There may also be certain community initiatives that are new to us and make us feel uncomfortable, so we watch others conduct the teaching work as we try and find our place.
In its most recent Ridvan message, the Universal House of Justice praised and encouraged our global teaching efforts and indicated that there is no formula to how we serve the current plan. During each cycle of activity, several methods of teaching can be employed depending on the characteristics of each population. Continue reading…
7. 9 Service Project Ideas for You and Your Community
While on holiday to Hawaii, I was driving down a highway on the island of Oahu and passed a sign for the “Adopt a Highway” program. The program is for local organizations and communities to keep their roads and areas clean and free of litter. I was really pleasantly surprised to see that this particular highway stretch had been adopted by the Baha’is of Wahiawa!
Rendering service to humanity is an important part of being not just a Baha’i, but a member of any religion and in fact pretty much any good moral code. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Well here are nine simple ideas to get you thinking. Continue reading…
8. 10 Instrumental Tracks for Your Next Devotional Gathering
In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah has said “We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high” and I’m sure you have all experienced this to be true at times while listening to certain music. The emotions and thoughts that music can engender in heart, mind and soul can at times be truly sublime. Now combine this with the blessed words of the Holy Messengers in a reflective atmosphere and its effects can become soul-stirring.
Over the last 8 years that we’ve been holding a monthly public devotional event called Soul Food, we have learnt how the accompaniment of music to the Holy Writings can truly uplift the atmosphere. Continue reading…
9. 114 Youth Conferences Still Rockin’ the World!
The 114 Youth Conferences currently taking place around the world has Baha’i communities buzzing with excitement and activity!
Brisbane, Australia just had theirs over the weekend, and so far 86 of the 114 youth conferences have already taken place leaving 28 still to go!
These conferences were first announced by the Universal House of Justice in February this year, and the aim of these conferences is to promote an understanding of how youth can help contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way through the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program. Continue reading…
10. The MANA Story …and why I think it’s important.
For the past decade I’ve had the pleasure of working with the music group MANA, who’ve recently finished recording their fifth album. Many of my friends and the Bahá’ís I’ve met while travelling have asked about MANA and why this project in particular is so important to me.
Well, before I answer that and start going on and on about MANA (which, trust me, I can do for hours), for those of you who haven’t heard of them, here’s a quick introduction.
MANA, which means “inner power” or “strength of spirit” in many of the Polynesian languages, is a musical and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Island Bahá’ís who are mainly based in Sydney, Australia. MANA’s albums are all based on the passages from the Writings which are studied in the sequence of Ruhi books. Continue reading…
11. 6 Ways You Can Support the Junior Youth Program – Even if You’re Not an Animator
Most Baha’is, both young and old, can accept that the future of our community and the driving force behind its growth will be the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program – or JYSEP.
What fewer Baha’is can reconcile with is their role within this movement. There are children who become junior youth, and junior youth who become participants, and “older” youth who become the animators that accompany them.
And then there’s the rest of us. Continue reading…
12. Meaningful and Distinctive Conversations
Over the past few decades, The Universal House of Justice (the elected international body which guides the work of the global Bahá’í community) has outlined a vision of action for Bahá’ís that includes a number of separate but interrelated “core” activities: the gathering together of friends for the purpose of sharing prayers and reading writings of various religious traditions, the intentional study of the sacred writings of the Bahá’í Faith, programs for the spiritual education of children, and groups designed to allow pre-youth to explore themes of spiritual import and engage in service activities together.
Given the importance of these core activities to the overall efforts of the Bahá’í community, it seems prudent to discuss a concept that The Universal House of Justice describes as one of the primary impetuses behind all of these activities: engaging in “meaningful and distinctive conversations” with our friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and co-workers. Continue reading…
13. Junior Youth: The UN Chimes In
Every year, UNICEF publishes it’s flagship report “State of the World’s Children”. This report – read by thousands of people in governments, the United Nations, the media and the general public – typically examines a key issue affecting the welfare of children and strongly influences policy-makers and practitioners working in the field of children’s rights around the world.
So, it is exciting to see how policy-making at both the national and international levels will respond to the bold statement underlying the entire report: Young people, truly, can change the world. Continue reading…
14. 5 Great Resources for your Ruhi Book
As most of you already know, Baha’is and their friends around the world participate in what is known as study circles, and these study circles use a sequence of books which are mainly based on the Baha’i Writings, and they were developed by the Ruhi Institute in Colombia, so the books are often referred to as Ruhi books.
I often get asked by a lot of friends about different ideas or resources they can use for their study circle, and there’s no doubt that there are a bunch of great initiatives and resources out there for us all to use. Using different ideas and accompanying resources is encouraged, and it’s a great way to enhance the study circle experience and really bring the Ruhi books to life, so I thought it would be a good idea to share five of them with you so you can benefit from them too. Continue reading…
15. Soul Food: Food for the Soul
It’s Sunday morning in the city of Melbourne, Australia, and a crowd of about 100 people gathers at the State Library of Victoria. Everyone’s eager to enter the auditorium, and they start lining up next to a sign labelled “Soul Food”. Everyone’s here because they’re hungry – but not for physical food, they’ve come to receive food for the soul.
Rated as one of the Top Ten things to do in Melbourne, Soul Food is a monthly event which has been running consistently for six years now. The program runs for about 40 minutes, and it features live readings from various faiths and philosophers woven together with beautiful imagery and live music. Continue reading…
16. 5 Easy Ways to Involve Children in Community Activities
In the 2000 Ridvan Message, the House of Justice said the following of children:
“Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and the guarantee of the future.”
While reflecting on this quote recently, I was inspired to think of ways we could engage the children of our community more in our activities. These are some of the thoughts that came to mind. Some are from past experiences; others are from stories I’ve heard. Continue reading…
17. Junior Youth Matter: 4 Principles for Social Transformation
Junior youth can change the world. There is an ever-increasing recognition of this in today’s world.
Internationally, there is more attention being paid to the education and well-being of children and adolescents. Slowly, but surely, governments have started to realise that an investment in the youngest members of their countries is the best investment that they can make.
The other day, I was talking to a friend (we both work in fields related to children and community development) about a program for junior youth that we are both working on together. We sat together, sharing our ideas for the program, but as time passed, the conversation became more philosophical in nature, and we began talking about the nature of children and youth, the kind of educational and developmental experiences that they need, and the role of programs for children and youth in the broader efforts for social transformation. Continue reading…
18. 5 Tips to Help You Memorize the Writings
Ever since I was a kid, it seemed implied in Baha’i culture that we should memorize the Writings and prayers not only because they became more readily accessible during the teaching of the Faith but also because it had a deep spiritual impact within.
“From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages” Baha’u’llah enjoins in one of His Tablets, and Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone used to say that we should memorize prayers because when we die we can’t take our prayer books with us, but we can take our memory!
The importance of memorization has also been stressed in recent times through the Institute Process. Both as participants and as tutors we have seen ourselves and many others struggling when memorizing quotes, complaining how they are not young anymore or how the quotes are too long. But memory is like any other muscle or skill, it may be unused but it’s right there waiting for us to make the most out of it, and the more we use it, the stronger it gets. Continue reading…
19. ‘Towards a Better Society’ – A New Video about Junior Youth
Towards a Better Society is a new 53 minute documentary from the Baha’i Community of the United Kingdom which follows the movement of youth; before, during and after the London Youth Conference in 2013.
The London Youth Conference was one of 114 Youth Conferences announced by the Universal House of Justice across the globe, and the documentary captures the personal stories of young people from Camberwell (London), Sheffield and Ennis (Republic of Ireland) as they strive to work towards building a better society.
Hopefully this film will serve as an inspiring resource and tool for furthering the community building efforts at the grassroots. Continue reading…
20. Blogging about Children’s Classes: An Interview with Leyla Neilsen
At Baha’i Blog, we like our blogs. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about the importance of encouraging Baha’i blogging. A few months ago, we featured Blog The Faith, a fantastic resource for Baha’is who want to use blogs as a form of social discourse. In addition to its very helpful Baha’i Blogging 101, with tips for those new to blogging, the website also features examples of 8 great Baha’i Blogs to inspire you and get you started on your own.
Recently, I came across a fantastic blog by Leyla Neilsen from New Zealand devoted entirely to one of the core activities: children’s classes! It’s a fantastic resource – not just for lots of creative ideas for really great children’s classes, but also as a source of inspiration and motivation for everyone out there who currently runs, or is looking to start, their very own children’s class! Continue reading…
21. ‘To Serve Humanity’: A New Series of Short Videos from the Baha’i World Centre
The Baha’i World Centre has just released a series of 11 short videos commissioned by the Universal House of Justice which are collectively called To Serve Humanity. The Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) explained that “To Serve Humanity explores, through the diverse voices of a few of the 80,000 young people who participated in the 114 gatherings, the ways in which young people can contribute to the spiritual and material well-being of their communities. As the young participants articulate insights on themes covered at each conference, what it means for their generation to be dedicated to the service of humanity is brought to life. Continue reading…
22. A Talk by Mr. Paul Lample on the Current Plan and the Community-building Process
Here at Baha’i Blog we’re always looking for good resources for the Baha’i world community to use, so we’re happy to share with you a recent talk by Mr. Paul Lample called ‘The Current Plan and the Community-building Process’.
Mr. Lample gave the talk in August last year at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, USA, and he covers a number of topics including his personal thoughts on the current Plan and the activities propelling the community-building process forward. Continue reading…
Well that’s it for now. Thanks for supporting Baha’i Blog and we hope you’ve enjoyed and found this selection of 22 artcles relating to the institute process both informative and useful!