Junior Youth Groups
Formed from a natural group of friends focused on the program's books and activities, a junior youth group in La Jolla teaches us all about just how important a role relationship building plays in building sustainable projects.
"The friendships formed organically because the parents see each other regularly," said Junior Youth Group Animator, Faraz Masoumabadi, "and the time spend outside of the group gives the participants the familiarity needed to engage in fruitful discuss during each lesson." The group consists of 7 boys and 2 girls, all of which regularly see one another at school, during extracurricular activities, and even summer camps!
The parents' support has been especially crucial in the development of the program. Because they spend time with one another during family-friendly extracurricular activities, the initial foundation of community building had already been laid and has translated into the high level of dedication to the program seen today.
As the participants transition out of the program and into the Ruhi Institute Courses, the parents hope to carry on the discussions in forming a new Book 1 study group for the youth.
Content Contributed by Faraz Masoumabadi
The first time I participated in a Ruhi study circle, my intention was to gain more knowledge on different aspects of the Faith and develop a better understanding of the writings. I used to think that this could be accomplished in a much faster way on an individual basis by reading texts in the comfort of my own home, but little by little, I started to appreciate just how much knowledge and understanding I was able to gain from the rest of the participants in addition to the writings. Through this process, I have been able to more deeply connect my heart and mind, and feel as though my spiritual consciousness has been awakened. I believe it is from these study circles that my desire to be of service has received its greatest inspiration and energy.
The insight and knowledge I have gained from each participant in the study circles I have tutored have been priceless. Every individual, regardless of their age, religious background, culture, or ethnicity, has brought inspiration and valuable points to our discussions. This practice of sharing and discussing each lesson has helped both the participants and me to have a better understanding of the purpose of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings.
I also would like to mention that I feel a great sense of gratitude for the opportunity to share the Word of God and teachings of the Bahá'í Faith with a group of new friends. From my experience, one of the key secrets to a successful study circle has been to expound a strong focus on the text itself. I have found that this has brought a greater sense of purpose for the group and has resulted in both the tutor and participants to gradually feel a greater sense of ownership for their own studies, reflections, and practice.
Content provided by Samim Kasiri
Children from around San Diego gathered for a week-long camp focused on building their capacity for practicing praiseworthy virtues. We hope you will join us next summer for another week of play, songs, prayer, and arts & crafts!
Devotional meetings account for almost one third of all of the Bahá'í-sponsored community activities in San Diego. Friends from all corners of the community are participating and hosting weekly and monthly devotionals where friends from a wide range of ages and backgrounds meet to pray, socialize, reflect, consult, and even plan for service activities. Devotionals that are organized for youth or families of a particular neighborhood often also serve as a space to build a more unified team of individuals serving the community.
At the monthly youth devotional held at the Bahá'í Center, the youth of San Diego have started to strengthen their bonds of fellowship, which has in turn developed into a stronger sense of responsibility towards supporting each other in local community service projects. "When they recite the verses of God with such vibrant and passionate voices, it sets everyone’s hearts on fire; the fire of love for Him and service to His Cause."
Music has played a pivotal role in these devotionals where youth are given the opportunity to chant the Word of God together and play their instruments in such a supportive environment. Music has not only brought enjoyment and unity to the spirit of our devotional, it has also provided every participant with the opportunity to concentrate and meditate on every Word in a peaceful manner.
As reflected in the passage below and in my own experience, I have seen how much the advancement of our community in the last few years has greatly been dependent upon these consistent, vibrant, and widespread community devotional gatherings:
“The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, described by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as “one of the most vital institutions of the world”, weds two essential, inseparable aspects of Bahá’í life: worship and service. The union of these two is also reflected in the coherence that exists among the community-building features of the Plan, particularly the burgeoning of a devotional spirit that finds expression in gatherings for prayer and an educational process that builds capacity for service to humanity. The correlation of worship and service is especially pronounced in those clusters around the world where Bahá’í communities have significantly grown in size and vitality, and where engagement in social action is apparent.” -The Universal House of Justice, Riḍván Message 2012
Content contributed by Samim Kasiri