Members of a community in Brazil plant flowers. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
Baha’is and their friends around the world are currently engaged in a process of community-building that primarily consists of four core activities: the education of children, the spiritual empowerment of junior youth, the strengthening of the devotional character of communities through prayer gatherings and collective worship, and engagement in the institute process which serves both to deepen our understanding of the Baha’i teachings and to develop our skills to carry out these various acts of service. These are obviously not the only arenas of service for Baha’is. For example, the Universal House of Justice has begun to increasingly emphasize the role Baha’is play in social action, or efforts to improve the social and material conditions of our communities, as well as public discourse, or the infusion of Baha’i ideals into spaces dedicated to discussing social issues such as the media, governments, and civil society organizations. Continue reading
One of the interesting features of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) is the fact that the arts are used to explore the various concepts presented in the series of books the particpants go through. While the use of the arts is something which happens organically and the participants themselves are encouraged to come up with artistic ways and ideas to explore these concepts, sometimes sharing ideas of activities can help to get things going.
So if you’ve got a junior youth group and are looking for some more ideas of activities to help you jump-start those creative engines, here are three ideas we’ve used with our junior youth groups which are a lot of fun and may help! Continue reading
A Cluster Reflection Meeting in Greater London, United Kingdom. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
Cluster Reflection meetings are an important part of Baha’i community life now, but depending on the community you live in, attendance can sometimes be low and it’s still something many communities are learning about, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the importance of these meetings and why we should make an effort to attend. Continue reading
Junior Youth in Banting Malaysia. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
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.
If you’re a youth in spirit though not in reality, you may feel you are on the periphery of a phenomenon. As we are encouraged more and more to support the youth, to support this Program, it is easy to ask, “But, how?” if you are neither a youth nor part of this Program.
It is, of course, never too late to become an animator of a junior youth group, particularly if you are in a cluster, community or neighbourhood, in which the need outweighs the available resources.
If, for whatever reason, serving as an animator is not feasible for you, there are still a number of ways you are able to contribute to the JYSEP. Continue reading
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. Although these albums are predominantly in English, most of their songs are infused with the languages, chants and rhythms of the Pacific Islands. The group has released four albums so far – one album for each of the first four books of the Ruhi sequence – and is currently preparing their fifth album (based on Book 6 of the Ruhi sequence of books) for release.
MANA’s albums have been incredibly well-received around the world, but the MANA project (as we like to call it) is far more than being just about making music and selling CDs. Personally, I have always found MANA to be such a powerful and incredibly inspiring initiative because of the way it exemplifies many of the concepts and ideas discussed by the Universal House of Justice in relation to the Institute Process and the various Plans. To me, MANA represents many of the aspects of the new and exciting culture taking shape in the Bahá’í community. Continue reading