SESSION WITH COUNSELLOR AND AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS
HELD OCTOBER 21-23 IN EVANSTON & LINCOLNWOOD, ILLINOIS
PRESENT: COUNSELLORS JACI DELAHUNT, BOB HARRIS, FRED SCHECHTER.
DAVID SMITH AND AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS FROM CENTRAL AND WESTERN
EVENING SESSION: OCTOBER 21, 1988
Introductions. Comments shared around room:
Read the Ridvan message, with someone else, memorize it.
Love each other so much, people think you are family. Live the life. Be supportive of each other. Pray to become a community.
Feast changes; have each person say or write how/what they went Feast to be. Feast content should be joyful.
Strengthening the Local Spiritual Assembly. The Assembly is the source of direction, respect. Assemblies going on a retreat can be unifying. Get the community to support the National.
Deepen our love of the Covenant. The theme of the Six Year Plan.
TEACH FROM THE POINT OF THE COVENANT
Look at our Institution as a unit. Let’s look at strategies, How to bring about an atmosphere of change -a positive environment which will cause growth, Do it without advising. Youth, women and children strategies.
Teach everyone. The Faith is like a hospital, we all enter to become well, Baha’u’llah is the Physician, the prescription will work once we start taking the medication. Not everyone in the hospital has the same disease, some get well soon, others take longer, still others die. Do we choose not to tell the very ill about the hospital? Do we decide they are too sick and will die anyway? This Healing Message is for everyone.
Our responsibility is to deepen with our assistants. As assistants we are teachers, it was suggested that every assistant carry declaration cards, teaching pamphlets and the Peace Message.
MORNING SESSION: OCTOBER 22. 1988
Prayers at the House of Worship and presentation by the National Spiritual Assembly of their committees and agencies. These notes have not been included because most of us took our own and were given the report booklet from the National. If you didn’t receive this booklet, please contact NTC for a copy.
AFTERNOON SE55ION: OCTOBER 22. 1988
Speakers names have been omitted from comments shared below, except for the Counsellors.
Some protection members feel that “crisis” in Faith prevent us, sometimes, from “modeling” the behavior requested of us -TEACHING We desire to teach and have no time.
“Inspire” friends to follow the laws - get beyond despair.
Bahá’u’lláh returned to Baghdad and instead of addressing each crisis, He readjusted community vision and thinking. We need to stop acting like we are obscure and move forward. These things will resolve themselves. We need to look down the road and have assemblies look at positive visual concepts.
Let’s address spiritual health of communities because unhealthy communities can’t teach. If we can be the confidant of the friends, provide them with a place to come to open their hearts, where their problems may be resolved and their teaching will begin; OK
We have reached the point were God is pushing us to turn to Him, We finally realize we cannot rely on our own powers. The Universal House of Justice sent Ridván message 1984 - to get us moving and now we have the latest Ridván message. The task of enrollment is at variance with the amount of energy we spend and the opportunities we have. We are probably putting the emphasis in the wrong places. Focusing on elements within the community which don’t participate, isn’t giving us fresh recruits.
Channel “distressed” individuals toward the elected institutions who can ultimately help them. We as ABM don’t solve the problems. We need to be in the forefront of the teaching working along side of the friends.
Read about Badí' who was transformed and Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl, who was taught the Faith by an illiterate man. We want what they got, but we want to have it easily. Nobody else can give our hearts to the Cause for us. We need to have a process for making our activities meaningful and re-oriented.
The Guardian tells us we are not asked to do that which is difficult, just different. Cannot ask assistants to do what we are not doing, The Guardian says that problems in the community are not the Assembly’s problem; they are everyone’s problem. If spiritual laws aren’t practiced, why do we think administrative laws will work. (See comp. Living the Life pp 30-32 )
How can we draw “strength” from each other - admit if we are incapable and draw upon each other - draw on divine power. There isn’t a “pill” we can take. How can we make our “families” a better teaching tool? The “pill” is in the Ridván message. If we see something that is wrong in the world, change ourselves. Read first page of Living the Life. If we’d live one of the principles to its ultimate we’d see a change in the face of the world.
We need to be consistent in our teaching. Whatever we do, do it well. Daily. Lovingly,
When people have problems, try to involve them in a teaching process - redirect their energy.
How can we make “knowledge of the Covenant” a source of encouragement, unity and progress?
Success stories of those who discover the Faith are very inspiring.
Intro: Counsellor David Smith from Canada
In reports from National Committees only one mentioned ABM/Assistants involvement. Exhilarated by the morning reports, how are we feeling about the lack of mention of the ABM interaction?
Reactions from ABM:
Maybe National agencies don’t understand how ABM/Assistants could collaborate for greater results. Maybe Counsellors/ABM can now become more involved - it used to be that reports of the agencies never mentioned teaching. Maybe in future meetings with the Board we will also be asked to make a report.
Assistants are a wonderful way of communicating the Ridván Message at grass roots level. Although both Institutions are working very hard, still they need to come together.
Today teaching was the focus of all the National agencies and was grateful to be here in this room with them. Our relationship is evolving.
If we had been called upon to speak, I was thinking we wouldn’t have been ready. Perhaps we will be asked to contribute next year. We can move in the direction of fulfilling the tasks of these agencies.
Any ABM members can call any agency or NSA members. There is a need to create an atmosphere which is so rich and healthy that when a match is lit, it stays lit. The Six Year Plan can go nowhere without collaboration and spiritual nurturing from the ABM. Our work is not the work of National Committees; we support them. NSA wanted us to know the burden of the NSA and its agencies. ABM must be more sensitive to the burden of the NSA. (ABM gave advise to a person not to take a job at National because it was hard work. This is not the advise and support we want to give.) See statement pp 27 in the Compilation of the LSA:
“ Individual believers are bound to support …..spiritual assembly, …. The closer the co-operation between the local and national assemblies, the greater will be the power….”.
Last year ABM made a quantum leap with respect to how we, as individual ABMs, could teach, Now, how can we facilitate this same process with our assistants: Have them commit to give firesides?
In some areas large percentages of the enrollments are due to the efforts of ABM/assistants. How can the rest of the community be compelled?
Have you thought of appointing more assistants?
Have you thought of appointing everyone in the area?
National committees would love the offer of help from the ABM/Assistants. The ABM should call on agencies and get answers for us to help the LSA's or individuals who question an agency's actions
Understand that most of the agencies/committees are under staffed and can't do the jobs as they want.
The principal need, between the National agencies and the localities is communication. If you have a question call the National Office and ask someone to explain it.
With only one or two people on a committee we are not working under ideal circumstances. This we must remember and understand; they are very dedicated people.
When our back is against the wall, things become more clear to us. When it's dark we see the stars better. Pressure breeds creativity. We need to use the principle of increased leverage, using other people's talents and energy to obtain results.
A business that has too many chiefs and no followers. Only a few are supporting the burdens of the Faith. How can we simplify things - some in the community feel we're too bureaucratic.
We need to concentrate on our goals as ABM's - if we know our own goals, we can quickly translate them into action.
We have extra responsibilities, we can't just have personal goals but must "motivate" others, our assistants. What are the strategies? We have additional responsibilities as ABM, responsibilities beyond giving firesides. Every Bahá'í is supposed to do that. We have extra work. What are we going to do to lead our people and mobilize them?
Just met with the NSA who is quite unaware of the work of the assistants. We need to sell this work. How often have we sat down with our assistants and gone over what our work is? What is strategy? How many ABM's returned back from last year's meetings of deepening to duplicate this activity with their assistants and send them out to localities. This broke down at some level. The momentum of studying Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet on teaching was supposed to continue.
I spoke with some senior citizens, who met to continue learning. They are interested in what the Faith had to say about issues affecting them. Going back. We are pre-occupied with teaching individuals when we could be speaking to groups. Groups of senior citizens could come in "in mass". Groups will move into the Faith together. We need to become better analysts of the community.
Teaching youth - Youth had no "instrument" by which they could teach their peers. The "instrument" is music. They've created a dialogue pamphlet quoting parts of popular songs from Bob Marley, Sting and quotes from the Faith. Youth wrote a letter to the Youth of the World as a cover letter to Peace message. Letter in language of peers telling them why they need to read the Peace message. Youth have been empowered to teach. Let us think of how can we reach populations in this way."
The assistants we appointed are over committed, serving on LSA, OTC, etc. Assistants are so involved in administrative functions that assistant work is not being developed and knowledge of this Institution is not reaching the friends.
ABM appoint more assistants, some have assistants who only serve three LSA's. Seems to be positive experience and they are not stretched too thin. Can't determine what individuals level of activity should be. Elevate the vision to a global rather then local view.
We are all working for the Faith. No matter if on LSA or as an Assistant. Need to learn with assistants. Concern about the women, educate them about the children, help teach the refugee, FUND, the Arc. Encourage women to have firesides every week as a family. In Iran the women were very active, need encouragement. We can involve them again in our activities, the language of love is common. Work thru women and families.
To encourage Assistants, send letters of focus; example on consultation. Share writings. Our Counsellors expect their contact to be through us regionally. Get involved don't just read or write about it.
Peter Khan clarified some functions of ABM's and Assistants.
(1) Conscientious attempt to appoint those not involved in every committee etc
and cultivate them. People do not always see how they can fit.
(2) A person is not an Assistant 24 hours; only when he or she visits the
(3) We shouldn't be afraid to terminate someone's assignment, either. People
who don't have the time should move on. Be honest about the work. This
Institution is evolving.
Share quotes from compilation on ABM on working simultaneously on two arms of World Order. Shoghi Effendi encouraged that time be devoted to being teachers in the Cause. ABM do not work as administrators ... prefer to keep the teachers teaching and administrators administrating. Need to serve as a humble Institution but one with muscle.
Bahá'í News Oct, 1932 quoted by Universal House Oct 1963 to NSA. (did not get quote)
is it harder to have 5 or 55 assistants?
We are good at appointing 3rd epoch Bahá'ís. We have put in people who do well, are visible and glamorous. We must not be so cautious as to appointing safe people. There is resistance to assistants because they are viewed a wise people. We need to grade these folks down a little and not go for wise guys. We talked to Counsellor Arbab when he came back from the International Teaching Centre. He said go deep into a project, a community, etc. and stop making a superficial show. There is no secret to unlocking the potential. We don't nourish the grass roots by visiting people once every three months. If we appoint the wrong people they cannot go deep. 60% of assistants are delegates. We are cautious. View of job will definitely change. Come across as helpful servants. Go for more assistants.
How to appoint more assistants. The assistant is appointed to assist. We have been wrong in giving them a label rather than a job. Appoint for function. Try to change image of Institution. Stop the paper; use the phone. Assistants can be appointed for a particular short time on special project. Our relationship with them should be personal. We can encourage them to work together in their area. Enlarge the pool of experienced Bahá'ís. Raise up people, consult frankly with people, put people where they can serve best. Raise up people to serve where the National needs them. Let people know who assistants are so people are not over appointed.
International Teaching Centre members said that in many countries there aren't people who can be elected. When ABM's train people, the NSA grabs them up. Great. Present these people as gifts to NSA.
Over burdened families shouldn't be sacrificed for service. We need to sit down with individuals and see how they are feeling and tell them how we honestly feel after listening to them.
Number of appointments should be controlled by the ABM's ability to relate to them. Training. Does anyone really train anyone? Your understanding of the Writings is just as good as mine. I don't presume to train you. I may share a quotation or a thought. We need to be willing to accept that we can all read the Writings applicable to a problem, and then approach the problem in different ways. This is the essence of training. There isn't one answer.
There is possibly a bureaucratic view of our work. Lots of paper? Letter Universal House of Justice 1974... speaks of insuring that assistants are trained. Consisting of joint study of the text and sharing of experience. This is different
than the western view of college course. So we must be careful of how we use the word 'training' in front of people. It may produce misconceptions of formality with teacher/student relationship. Empower the assistant to be an assistant. We don't want to make people dependent on us and cause them to keep coming to us.
In the Fire Department, training means getting people to repeatedly do routine jobs, so they are ready In emergencies. In our Institution we have a grass roots level and two levels of management. Assistants help us get the routine local work done. The Board members have experience which isn't in hands of assistants. Counsellors have more. These people are to help train the others. If our job is done right, local problems should be handled at the grass roots. Learning how to handle recurring problems helps us remove those and go on to new opportunities. Each day there are new problems. We bog down because we are living 3rd epoch style. With use of computers we could facilitate our communications and efficiency. Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh p. 129 8th Ishraq, " ... That which traineth the world is Justice ......"
The Universal House of Justice tells us to enthuse the believers. We can start with assistants. Ask them to Teach. The assistants who went through the deepening were more affected to arise, also those I stay in contact with arise.
"Deepen with "vs" deepen someone" Deepen with, work with others. Don't do something to them.
We are dealing with an evolving organism. Each generation is going to have to redefine what this Institution does. There is a recurring struggle to learn what this is about because it is a living thing.
Labels - 4th epoch thinking, are bothersome, implying what went before was wrong. Let's come to some understanding of training. We are involved in a process and don't know what the next stop is. We are expanding the process under the Universal House of Justice. Let's not give advice to anyone. What we say is the result of an evolving process within our self. It will take different forms for each of us.
Training in the Faith. It is like numbers which are infinite. It is not like the alphabet which ends. We will have many roles for service on this plane. 4th epoch thinking is what comes from Ridván letter.
When we receive information from the World Center we should arrange study sessions immediately with our assistants. This empowers them to go help their communities. We don't do justice to the study of the materials we receive. (Covenant, Crisis & Victory, Ridván message) We have wonderful constant guidance. If only we would spend time on it. The World Center is asking us what
is happening with the assistants. Let's spend one night with assistants and skip something else. We can help 10 communities in doing this.
If we are responsible before God for this Plan, this is serious. If our assistants don't do the job we are in trouble. Is it possible to have more Board members with smaller areas? My training as an ABM has raised me up and made me read the Writings like never before.
We have more ABM in some cases than other parts of the world. Our pool of believers to choose from is enormous compared to other places. This doesn't diminish the difficulty of the task. But for the dignity of the Institution a certain number is needed at a certain time.
Encourage Board members to appoint more assistants. Those chosen are because of their good hearts. How we do the job is a mystery between you and God.
If we will do this, tell our assistants; we chose them because they had a good heart and we feel they can help the friends.
EVENIN6 SESSION: WITH NTC MEMBERS, OCTOBER 22, 1988
Invited NTC to participate and share how they felt ABM's and assistants could participate in their plans.
Brief report from secretary Cruz.
Attitude of NTC is that assistance of ABM's is needed to break through patterns of thought long standing in America and to move plans to action. We wish to carry out the views of NSA brought back from Haifa. The 4 sites for Teaching are not the only places, but are entry points for entry by troops' in America. We want to consult on barriers in community. The entry will change the complexion of the American community.
In consulting on 4th epoch, we came up with a break through challenge: How can we begin to think in new ways and fresh ways in consonance with the Writings. We would like to send break through challenge to community and consult with you first. Without ABM we can't communicate effectively with community.
1 ) Challenge to create dynamic energy and action in the community, requires spirit of genuine love among the friends which will act as a magnet for Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í alike. It includes arousing those who are not involved.
2) To carry out large scale expansion and consolidation efforts so that there is a new level of intensity, eliminating old ups and downs.
3) To involve all members of community in continuous efforts of diverse teaching methods. NTC has no problems with mass teaching and encourages it. Encourage breaking through previous mistakes and old patterns to use mass teaching well.
If we are to achieve Plan, we must realize we cannot get there the way we are today. Real breaking through will require a new culture among American Bahá'ís and we are responsible together to help bring it about. We would like to see every LSA consulting on this. We want ABM's to ask LSA's "What's the break through?" One idea is the winter youth conference in Atlanta coming up. The break through ideas is to have a youth college, with youth selecting a major and minor and working through curriculum and teaching. It will be different. In Griffin they can get 100 enrollments any day, the break through is to sustain teaching and deepening.
There's been plenty of analysis. But we want you to roll up your sleeves with us. The inspiring of people in the 2's and 3's is not the standard set by the Ridván message. The process will not be devoid of mistakes but it is the price of progress.
As materials are developed it will be important for your group to get copies and look through them. You can help got it out to people.
Building Unity of Thought had section on consolidation. Some people misinterpreted it to mean that the NTC wanted people to stop teaching and start deepening. Do them together. Mara Khavari has dedicated her assistants to the NTC project with assignments. This is what we need.
Concern about Teaching Conference held in Seattle
The 8 Teaching Conferences are the responsibility of the special events office In the Secy's office, Questions should go to Carol Yetkin, The NSA has asked for revisions in plans which caused delay In mailing out of material. Some information is in the October and November issues of American Bahá'í. LSA's in areas will be asked to spread the word. The local conference planning committees are totally In charge of plans locally.
Bahá'ís should be aware that if we look to people, we will always be disappointed. When looking to 'entry by troops' we are looking to God, not to people, The Master says every human has subjective faith in Bahá'u'lláh. We have objective faith and are blessed by it. Our teaching break through is to be a channel to move people from subjective faith to objective faith.
There is a real fear of 'who' is going to come Into the Faith. The fear must be talked about in the open. We need to hear the NTC: help the Board deal with this issue within the community. The friends need examples, even from among ourselves, of people who have been different and come Into the Faith. We need genuine love not only among us, but for those who are going to come through our doors.
We need to remind ourselves from time to time not to worry about the purple hair, odd clothes, etc., so that we can work on being genuine instead of just talking about it.
Our community has become comfortable with tea and cookies and is used to living Iin the mess of no growth and low funds, etc. We are acclimated to it. If we want change, we have to be uncomfortable. We are going to trade one mess for another, the new mess will be 'entry of troops'.
We are still looking to enrollments first. When we have enrollments, we will need maturity on institutions to deal with what follows. We first have to get the people who want to be Bahá'ís into the enrolling process.
We need to have ABM's fired up to bring in new people and to remind LSA's that they need to have maturity to deal with diversity and progress.
We need to be pioneers wherever we live, so that we wake up thinking about why we are living where we are living; to teach. The intensity we need is to
think teaching all day, to dream it at night, and to go to other souls In their dreams and teach them. It must be a dominating passion.
We are dealing with two issues and the climate of the country and the specifics of what to do to ensure success of Teaching Conferences.
It is refreshing to hear Americans use the language of revolution. I have been waiting for years. I'd like to now talk about strategy. Most Bahá'ís don't understand the mission of the Faith as spiritual conquest. Why don't we tell the friends again why they became Bahá'ís and get them thinking about the significance. We fail because we are not good revolutionaries. We don't empower people with decision making capacity. We need to find the leaders in communities and get them to teach more people. Stop worrying about what Wilmette will give you and do it yourself locally. Why wait. Mao didn't wait for Peking to get things to Shanghai. Let's keep in mind that we have a spiritual (not material) conquest. Prayer and consultation must be intense. The Faith must also be relevant to the people who come into it. Talk to the people about what is germane to their group and let them find their space in the community instead of molding them. We can pray with friends who are upset but let's not let them stop us.
ABM's have hopes and dreams, but the place where we have power is with our assistants. NTC's have most influence with their DTC's. The DTC's have mandates showing them doing everything. Has NTC consulted on using DTC's as a strategy for diffusion of plans.
NTC addressed issue of DTC's this weekend but consultation is not complete yet. NTC is working at its own mandate, too. The Local institutions will ultimately have to be the conveyors of revolution, not DTC's.
ABM should be told that DTC mandate has been narrowed over the past few years. They used to have mandate to do all things. It has improved.
A DTC in the midwest is doing break through thinking and is getting pledges from believers for service.
Some DTC's work well with LSA's and others don't get invited or welcomed by LSA's. You know this is a problem, too, with assemblies. Where things are not working at all, we try to do new appointments.
We need teaching committee and assistants or NTC's and Board visible together in community, lovingly collaborating. It works well when the Counsellors are with the NSA.
If you want help, know that you have it. We have been consulting about this before our joint meeting. ABM's are meeting with DTC's more now than before. Article on Taiwan teaching in Bahá'í News needs to be printed in American Bahá'í.
The whole emphasis of the American Bahá'í will change, probably beginning in December. It will become a tool for conveying communication between grass roots and National Center, sharing success stories, etc.
We have twin Institutions developing side by side. We are not just redoing a mandate. We are going to do new thinking. There maybe real changes. We have lots of overlap in DTC functions and Board or Assistant functions, as your Institution develops, we may hand off a lot of that work to you. We need to develop not only motivation in community, but also teaching skill. We want to make a manual with teaching skills and let the Board use it in the community.
I think the Seattle conference is an example of something that needs immediate joint work. Please communicate with Carol Yetkin's office. The bottom line is the individual.
In Canada we dismantled the Regional Teaching Committees, and it freed up teachers. Also you may want to engage Hand of the Cause William Sears in the Teaching campaign process. LSA's being worked with need to feel united about what they are doing. ABM's have role to help that atmosphere. Also, let's not create atmosphere that the good Bahá'ís are the ones involved in the activities. Not all Bahá'ís will do things the same.
The NSA had a break through in thinking in the Shrines and then came back to do the action. LSA's may not feel connected yet to this process. How do we get them involved in it, even through they are distant from the Teaching Conference sites.
Let's be sure to included everyone's successes. The stories of 100 enrolled are great but don't leave out the 4 in Wyoming.
Encourage friends to become spiritually affiliated with four (12) conference through prayer for successes there and everywhere.
It was thrilling a few years ago to be Invited (NTC) to come in and set at the back of Foundation Hall and listen while the ABM's consulted. Now this NTC is sitting in the circle with the Board consulting. Collaboration is wonderful.
Suggestion for conferences. Our country is built on revolution. There is a parallel between the 2nd paragraph of the Constitution and a passage of the Guardian. We could print them side by side to get Americans to identify with the Guardian's revolutionary vision.
In a way none of us know what we are doing, but revolutions are rooted in creativity. As long as we are grounded in the Writings we will be okay. There is no wrong or right way. Cruz shared his own story of revolution.
MORNING SESSION: OCTOBER 23, 1986 AT LINCOLNWOOD
It is interesting to see upwardly mobile people in button-down collars calling for revolution. Our way of life can exist because people in the world are going hungry around us.
It is interesting that North America has been picked. Usually people join a revolution out of desperation because they have nothing to lose. We would be giving up the most and are still willing to do this revolution. The rhetoric is scary for people and we will have to share it gently with the friends.
Since a call will go out from the National Off ice it is important that the AMB's help relay it at the local level. There language will probably not be extreme and the Board will have to convey the message.
Our institution should exercise wisdom.
As far as I am concerned there is nothing to be fearful of. We don't have anything to lose.
What we speak about casually can cause some people to lose their faith. We need to begin helping the friends to see the vision gradually.
We are not talking about procedural modification. We have to be aware that we have an effect on the community by what we say out of enthusiasm and fervor.
We have to cloth our words to assemblies in a clothing that will convey, but not alienate.
When someone made a comment about an individual going to a radio station with announcements of meetings. I thought about all the LSA's that would complain that they had not approved the announcements previously. We must strike a balance between encouraging individuals on the one hand and soothing assemblies on the other.
Counsellor Smith mentioned that assemblies need to be profoundly united. We can encourage this so that individual efforts aren't stomped on by their assembly,
At the same time I don't think we can wait for profound unity before teaching. We can go outside the troubled area with other people and continue teaching. If we wait we are going to be in trouble. We can't be too afraid to shakeup people either. Do we want the sleeping giant to continue sleeping.
Going beyond the four National target sites, we have a whole country to deal with. We need to be looking at our own specific geographies and our people and see how many things we can get going. We need to look at the machinery that exists to do it. We need to monitor it and see if it is progressing. Have there been enrollments? What has the change been? We are the ice choppers that have to free these whales.
The Universal House of Justice message is not new. We have been getting it through the Central Figures, etc. Some people can't take the message straight. We are lucky we can be here and have this meeting. We have to be sensitive to the friends and present the message in a way suited to the hearer. We must develop a wide repertoire for presentation. Our job is to convey the principles of the House in a sensitive, appropriate way. We want a formula so that we don't have to exercise judgment. We have to be careful about the purposes of our meetings. The Universal House of Justice message does not give us the right to impose our understanding of the message on the friends. We want to help them get an understanding and release them from what holds them down.
We can laugh at ourselves and that reflects some maturity. When we can't laugh we are in trouble. Our assembles are in trouble when they can't laugh at their mistakes and get stuck thinking about their own perfection.
Let's not make assemblies hopeless. For some areas 100 enrollments are common. For other areas one enrollment a day is a miracle. We mustn't kill people's spirits by discouraging them.
We are in a kind of process similar to an airplane taking off. A period of time, based on certain conditions determines when the plane gets to 500 miles per hour. Our role is to get the process going from non- movement to movement, in a safe way. What can we do to assist the people? What are the steps?
In South America Counsellors are talking about bringing a tribe in a day and then one million. We say 500 here so we don't scare North Americans. How do we translate that vision to a group that only has one enrollment? The House of Justice could release everything in two paragraphs. They give us a step at a time through additional Ridván messages. We need to move our communities a step at a time and be looking to the next step.
We have agencies that are helping us monitor our progress. We can see how many elected a delegate and how many participate the next year. If no change is occurring, then we can see what needs to be done next. An activity is only part of a process that helps us measure how we are doing. The activity is not for the sake of activity. A major part of our role is in aiding assemblies and communities to make the progress.
It is the National Office and the DTC's who make the plans and our role is to get people involved. In our frame of thinking, it isn't just getting the numbers to the meeting, but getting Blacks and Cambodians, etc., to be there.
Many communities look at their current situation only. If we can help them look at where they want to be, they start making new plans and changes. How we talk to assemblies is important. Communities respond best when the Board member says we can work at the problem together, not that the Board will solve the problem. We must also believe that the goal will occur without a doubt. The believers respond when we believe they can do the work.
We have to remember to consult with the friends. We should go to communities with the right questions not with all the right answers.
What is 4th Epoch thinking? It is a new mind set to teach. That's what I want to share with assistants. I anticipate a host of responses from assistants who will come up with things I would never have thought of. How can I refine what I went to take home to the assistants?
The gasoline truck that fuels the fast plane is old and ugly compared to the plane. It has a role in relationship to the plane. It also has to get out of the way and let the plane go clown the runway. The dying part of the world should also not be looked upon with disgust. It is the manure that feeds the new part of the world. We need to celebrate more and more how wonderful each person is.
The plane would never take off and undergo the friction and the shakes unless there was some vision of flying and a place to be going to. It is the steady flow of believers which will lead to 'entry by troops' and then mass conversion. There are no numbers placed on "steady flow." If there is no steady flow, then we need to be concerned. If we stimulate the community to know who they are and who Bahá'u'lláh is, we are empowering them. I think the Ridván message is new. It is the new plan for today because it is the latest focus. I encourage everyone here to go home and read it and to read it with communities. The House message together with the National plans are the focus for me.
My being an ABM is a tremendous test to my wife. If I go away for a weekend and return uninspired, she is mad. The inspiration is the only thing making it worth her while to put up with it. My relationship to the community is like a marriage. If I go away and spend their money and don't return with inspiration, everyone loses.
What are some of the things we haven't done? I'd like Kevin to share some South Dakota experiences.
Jaci & I participated in a trip to Peru last month. We discussed what could be done in the Northern Plains areas. We discussed tapping the spiritual foundation and bringing out the vision. Where I live vision is a part of the culture -' vision quest'. We are going to go through the winter months with a focus on the vision. In my travels it really hits home that every one is endowed with the capacity to recognize. In Greenland we visited some old age homes. The old people told us stories through interpreters. One of the archetype stories was the' Tree of Life'. It occurred to me, these people hadn't been associated with vegetation taller than knee high, for ages. So God has inspired their psyche with these symbols. We need to draw upon this vision which has been dissolved somewhat. The foundation is there.
The basis of the study during winter months, when people like story telling, will be the concordance references on vision. There are many references, and 'vision quest' is still alive among the people.
Convention had such power. The reading of the Universal House of Justice message had such an effect on me and melted the hearts of the audience. To me Convention was the milestone that changed the area. In Ohio and Indiana, communities having no enrollments are now having a few. We should expect great victories.
See page 31, Special Measure of Love, "the extent of the spread and stature of the Faith," inspires one because we know one in five people on Kiribati, in South Pacific, are Bahá'í. Another way of thinking about assistants is as travel teachers. There are things that travel teachers can consult on with assemblies. I was also astounded that there are 34 countries out of our 168 National communities where the believers number over 1%. I think this inspires people to see we have grown. Each time our assistants go out, they are travel teaching and reaping benefits. Our progress is like moving the football 100 yards. You huddle in your group to see where you went wrong and what to do next, and then you keep going. I also take pride in seeing things develop in the community, like the Recovery group. It is also exciting to be able to be revolutionary in a tie and button-down collar.
ON COVENANT BREAKING:
Problems with Jensen's group with many District Conventions. Now there is a P.O. Box in Wilmette using an emblem of the temple on the return address.
The Universal House of Justice asked us to make the Covenant the central focus of the Six Year Plan. We didn't do it then. Now we must. I will be writing up a summary of the status of Covenant-breaking and how the friends should respond. It will be shared with you The NSA and Counsellors are also formulating a strategy of what to do in these situations.
We are concerned about Covenant breaker supporters who are going to the believers to ask for enrollment Please send me any names you know of. A computerized list is being compiled.
A letter went out to affected areas (letters with temple return address). Now it has been found that the mailing was wider. A revised letter wil1 be sent to those areas, too.
This is the day that will not be followed by night. The friends in a disturbed area of New Mexico are focusing their deepenings and firesides around the Covenant. The sooner the friends everywhere use the Covenant the better.
Recognition of Covenant-breakers or supporters happens rapidly based on one's deepening and instinct. In some areas the friends are guided to detect them and in other areas it takes longer. Our role is to assist the friends to understand the subtleties involved.
NSA is looking at whole issue of publication and use of Bahá'í membership list and security at the National Center. Bahá'u'lláh gives everything as an opportunity. We will be strengthened if we respond positively. We should solicit the friends questions and help them answer them. We should all confidently help the friends express their doubts and answer them
The Guardian calls our attention to the fact that Summer Schools are a good place to include the course material on Covenant-breakers. ABM's can suggest this to schools committees.
The friends by and large understand the principles very well. They lack profound understanding of the Administrative Order. This is very true in North America where there is believed to be an inherent right to criticize the government. They look at the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh and want to do the same thing with it. We need to understand how the system works and what distinguishes it from the old order. Earlier as a Board member, we were with Mr. Sears. He told us our role
was as a 'peacemaker'. We were to bring joy and reconciliation and peace among people. When we appointed assistants, we should look for peacemakers.
In scholarship, our Institution has a major role to play. We need to look at each soul as a potential scholar of the Faith, who can take the teachings and relate them to the problems of human affairs. Our old notion of scholarship is academia. It over looks the illiterate person who sees connections between the teachings and world situations. I was recently at the Bahá'í Studies Assoc. which was an inspiration. A presentation on Native Culture started off the program. Kevin Locke is a scholar of the Faith and spoke to the group. It was wonderful to see how the scholarship of the Faith was shown through different cultural media. Our Faith will be attacked by smart guys internally who will, under the guise of scholarship, try to tear down Shoghi Effendi's analysis of history, etc. This isn't scholarship. It is using academic skill to mislead. We need to protect the Faith and keep people on track. Traditional scholars bore me and confuse each other. We need to encourage people to join the Association and promote true scholarship. We need to raise people up and cultivate connecting the teachings to human problems and condition
NSA spoke with Postmaster at Wilmette. That person will contact the Covenant-breakers using the PO Box and say their PO Box is fraudulent, requesting the party to come in and see the Postmaster.
In my area people question why the women are not on the Universal House of Justice.
The friends should deal with the question. There is recent letter of the House dealing with this. Study it and talk to the friends.
Closing prayers and visit with Thelma Jackson.