Joined: Nov 2015
From: United States
Highlights (in my opinion):
- The ambitious goal of raising to 5,000 the number of clusters where a programme of growth, at whatever level of intensity, is under way looks set to be achieved in the months that remain before Riḍván 2016.
- Worldwide, half a million individuals have now been enabled to complete at least the first book in the sequence of courses, an extraordinary feat that has laid a sure foundation for the system of human resource development.
- Marvelling at what they have seen, leaders of society in certain places are pressing the Bahá’ís to make their programmes for educating the young widely available.
- The unfoldment of the process of growth in a cluster, while naturally possessing unique features in every instance... conforms to certain shared characteristics. ... A collective understanding of what is required for
the friends in a cluster to pass the first of the milestones we described [in the 2010 letter], and then the second, has grown over this period.
- Much depends on the ability of the institutions to draw on help from friends in other clusters.
- Well over 4,500 believers have already arisen to serve [as homefront pioneers] during the present Plan.
- Essential, of course, is the support of Auxiliary Board members and their assistants.
- The number of those starting their study [of the institute materials] continues to rise.
- Progress relies to a large extent on the quality of the efforts of those serving as tutors.
- Efforts to usher in the first cadre of tutors from the cluster should steer a path between two undesirable outcomes. If individuals proceed through the courses of the institute too hastily, the capacity to serve is not sufficiently developed; conversely, if study is overly prolonged, the process is robbed of the dynamism essential to its advancement.
- As the institute process in a cluster gains momentum, the act of teaching comes to assume greater prominence in the lives of the friends.
- The precise objectives of each expansion phase vary, depending on conditions in the cluster and the circumstances of the Bahá’í community. In some instances, its main aim is to increase participation in the core activities; in others, readiness to enrol in the Faith is discovered. Conversations about the Person of Bahá’u’lláh and the purpose of His mission occur in a variety of settings, including firesides and visits to homes. The actions undertaken during this phase allow abilities developed through studying the relevant institute materials to be exercised and refined. As experience grows, the friends become more adept at discerning when they have found a hearing ear, at deciding when to be more direct in sharing the message, at removing obstacles to understanding, and at helping seekers to embrace the Cause.
- The pattern of community life has to be developed in places where receptivity wells up, those small centres of population where intense activity can be sustained.
- Therefore, a significant task facing you and your auxiliaries at the outset of the coming Plan will be to assist the friends everywhere to appreciate that, for existing programmes of growth to continue to gain strength, the strategy of initiating community-building activities in neighbourhoods and villages that show promise must be widely adopted and systematically followed.
- What is required from those involved is long-term commitment and a yearning to become so familiar with the reality of a place that they integrate into local life and, eschewing any trace of prejudice or paternalism, form those bonds of true friendship that befit companions on a spiritual journey. The dynamic that develops in such settings creates a strong sense of collective will and movement.
- Reaching the second milestone along the continuum of development is accompanied by advances qualitative, but also quantitative.
- In the last five years, the path that leads to the emergence of an intensive programme of growth has become more readily discernible. It must be earnestly pursued. In the Plan that will commence this Riḍván, we are calling for growth to be accelerated in all clusters where it has begun. Notwithstanding the natural ebb and flow characteristic of an organic process, there should appear a clear arc of progress over the course of twenty cycles. This combined effort should seek to raise the number of clusters where a programme of growth has become intensive to 5,000 by Riḍván 2021. [Emphasis added]
- Being able to reach out to large numbers—mobilizing a hundred people or more, whose service connects them with many hundreds or even thousands—requires the capacity to adapt to a substantial increase in complexity.
- In the course of their endeavours, the believers encounter receptivity within distinct populations who represent a particular ethnic, tribal, or other group and who may be concentrated in a small setting or present throughout the cluster and well beyond it. There is much to be learned about the dynamics involved when a population of this kind embraces the Faith and is galvanized through its edifying influence.
- The Area Teaching Committee is rising to a new level of functioning. It is engaged in a more thorough reading of circumstances in the whole cluster: on the one hand, accurately assessing the capacities of the community and the effects being produced by sustained growth, and on the other, understanding the implications of various social realities for community building in the long term.
- A variety of questions become more pressing: how to mobilize the entire company of believers in support of teaching goals; how to organize systematic home visits to the friends who would benefit from deepening and discussions that connect them with the community; how to strengthen spiritual bonds with the parents of children and junior youth; how to build on the interest of those who have shown goodwill towards the Faith but have yet to take part in its activities.
- Promoting the widespread holding of devotional meetings is another concern, so that hundreds of people, eventually thousands, are engaged in worship in the company of their households and their neighbours.
- A notable characteristic of advanced clusters is a mode of learning that permeates the whole community and acts as a spur to the rise in institutional capacity.
- There are locations within these clusters where a significant percentage of the entire population is now involved in community-building activities. For instance, there are small villages where the institute has been able to engage the participation of all the children and junior youth in its programmes... Figures of authority from the wider society start to draw on the insight and experience arising from initiatives of social action inspired by Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings... Beyond the Bahá’í community, people are coming to regard the Local Spiritual Assembly as a radiant source of wisdom to which they too can turn for illumination.
- In the wake of the youth conferences convened in 2013, in which 80,000 youth participated, an additional cohort of over 100,000 have joined them in taking part in numerous encounters held since then.
This list is mostly in the words of the letter, but I edited the sentences to be more readable in list form, so please do not attribute excerpts from this list to the Universal House of Justice.
I got as far as Page 10 of 16 before I needed to take a break.