What is Community Building?
Guidance from the Bahá’í Writings: “...raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development. The activities that drive this process, and in which newly found friends are invited to engage--meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; circles of study, open to all, that enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the application of the teachings to their individual and collective lives....” (Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2010, para. 5)
Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation: The planet has been subdivided into clusters to facilitate this spiritualization process described above. Neighborhood activities are organized and hosted by both Bahá’ís and people of a variety of faiths (with the Bahá’ís assisting and tracking progress).The goal of these activities is building a global community beginning with strong bonds of fellowship and friendship at the local level.
Note: Some of the skills needed for relationships and marriage can be similar to those needed for neighborhood community building. For reflection on this, see: The Sacred Commitment of Marriage pdf download.
Friendship and Community Building: If you would like a fun perspective on building friendship skills, watch this video link from a television show: www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0xgjUhEG3U. Here is another link about transformation through building community: http://www.building-community.ca/.
Relationship & Marriage Education and the Core Activities
Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation: While relationship and marriage education involve detailed subject matter that is not part of study circle courses or other core activities, there is potentially a synergistic relationship between the processes of marriage preparation and marriage strengthening together with the core activities. By implementing the core activities, participants contribute to the strength of the Bahá’í Faith on every scale, including the fundamental units of the marriage and family. Regular and systematic study and implementation of these core activities, and incorporating the learning shared by the local, regional, national, and international institutions, therefore, is implicitly in the best individual and collective interest of all units of society.
As people participate in the core activities, absorbing and applying the content and learning from the experiences, they strengthen their spiritual lives and improve their ability to apply spiritual principles in all aspects of their lives. Of course, this includes their relationships, marriages, and families. Of particular focus in many core activities is character, the development and knowing of which is an essential prerequisite to a successful marriage. Individual and family transformation can be one potential outcome of participation in the core activities.
Couples who have strong and happy relationships and marriages are also more likely to participate fully and effectively in the life of the community, hosting activities and being of service. Their service will likely include the core activities.
Linking Marriage Strengthening with the Plans from the Universal House of Justice (Marriage Transformation)
Devotionals on the Topics of Relationships and Marriage (Marriage Transformation)
Below are links to pdf files of pre-planned devotionals. You can print, copy, and use these to lead devotional gatherings. Each includes an introduction, quotations, suggestions for including music, discussion questions, and skill building/educational components. Each is designed to last approximately 1 hour. They are suitable for married couples or unmarried individuals or couples.
Handouts: Below are links to downloadable pdf files that you can print or copy to use as handouts for devotional gathering participants. Please contact us with feedback or topic requests.
Music: If you need suggestions for recorded music to accompany the devotional, please see the list on the Weddings page.
Are these helpful? Feedback from those using these devotionals is very welcome, both what worked well and where further development is needed: Staff@marriagetransformation.com.
Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation: Those serving as tutors for Ruhi Book 1, Reflections on the Life of the Spirit, and those participating, may find that being in the study circle helps couples and families to be more loving and unified. In addition, Unit 3, Life and Death, can be very helpful for individuals, couples, and families who are responding to a dying or grieving relative or friend or who are going through this themselves. When grieving people feel lovingly supported by the members of a study circle, it can assist them to stay connected to the community during a difficult time. See Resources on Death and Grief for a downloadable pdf of activity ideas for Unit 3. More information on the Ruhi Institute and its materials can be found at www.ruhi.org.
Junior Youth Groups
Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation: Junior Youth Moral/Spiritual Empowerment Groups for 11-14 year olds are growing rapidly globally. The materials for the groups include significant character-building content. Character is a foundation for relationships.
Groups are assisted by Junior Youth Animators, who are often youth or young adults. Often the junior youth ask the animators questions about relationships. The materials on this website for youth and adults who are not married may be helpful for answering some of the questions. See the downloadable handouts at Learning-in-Action.
Additional quotations about relationships and marriage are available at Resources.
Printed books and eBooks are available at www.marriagetransformation.com.
Please contact Susanne M. Alexander, firstname.lastname@example.org if any additional service or preparation of materials is helpful.
Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation: One of the primary aspects of a marriage is having and rearing children. This is a signficant task, and the more skillful parents are, the better. One of the many ways that an individual and couple can gain experience in working with children is through being trained to work with children's classes.
Additional resources: http://www.bahaimarriage.net/resources_children.htm