A group of friends in OH-27 Wyandot cluster were inspired by reading the case study from a community the East Coast of the United States.
On November 2, 2021, with encouragement from Counsellor Billy Silva, they started meeting weekly via Zoom to study guidance, plan activities, and consult about how traveling teachers could assist the Wyandot cluster to start children’s classes, Junior Youth groups, and other activities. Counsellor Silva advised the nucleus of friends to “move quickly and accept learning from other friends” to work with their plan. “You need to act and see what confirmations are given,” he said. The following story tracks the response over a period of six weeks.
The group first identified six devotional meetings that were already in progress, then invited a few more Bahá’ís to start saying prayers with their own families. An immediate for action was started, to encourage more prayers for assistance to gain a more unified vision.
A second Zoom gathering was held November 10, 2021 with focused study of paragraphs 7-9 of the 29 December 2015 message from the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors.
A plan was made for the next three weeks, with two main initiatives: First, to try to establish a devotional meeting in the home of every Bahá’í in the cluster. Second, to accept the Counsellor’s offer to assemble a team of friends from Columbus, Ohio, to come to visit, teach and serve. The visiting friends planned to assist with an outreach and teaching activity on December 4-5, 2021, to invite the community at Elmwood Villas Apartments to join Junior Youth spiritual empowerment groups and to offer small prayer books to families, with encouragement for them to pray together. Spanish-speaking Bahá’ís were enlisted to assist with outreach to this community.
Then, on December 4, 2021 five Bahá’ís from Columbus and three Bahá’ís from OH-03 met with Counsellor Silva at Elmwood Villas Apartments from 10am to 3pm. Two of the friends were Spanish-speaking, which assisted greatly with the outreach. The first two hours included study of the Writings, planning, then going out to meet families in the community. A two-sided flyer was prepared in both English and Spanish to share ideas about the junior youth spiritual empowerment program. Small prayer books were offered if the families expressed interest in praying with the team or with their own families. Teams of two went out and knocked on 57 doors. Eleven families expressed some interest in the Junior Youth program or learning more about animating. On Sunday, there were different Bahá’ís from OH-03 and the teams knocked on 30 additional doors; ten families expressed interest in the activities. Two animators were identified and asked to start the group in a few weeks.
After reflection on Sunday, an additional plan was made to host an informational meeting on Saturday, December 18, to give another overview of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program. A Zoom call was held on December 15, 2021. One of the animators was able to participate and shared the vision of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment program. At that time, it was decided to skip the informational meeting and just start the group, since several families had expressed interest already and given verbal permission for their children to attend.
Saturday, December 18 was a successful day. Two animators and one person from the Area Teaching Committee of OH-03 went to the homes of the Junior Youth and invited them to start. One mother brought her child to the group promptly at 1 p.m. For this first gathering only two Junior Youth attended, but they had a lively session consulting about what they saw as needs for the community and learning about the implications for spiritual empowerment in their lives. With Christmas coming so quickly, it was a challenging time to start a group, but plans are now being made for regular gatherings with this group.
– Marylou Miller, Marysville, Ohio