Interacting with other campus religious groups

Hello, I’m Justin Ting from the Georgia Tech Baha’i Club.

During my time at Georgia Tech, some of my Christian friends would invite me to their Bible study and worship services, so I joined them. I’ve also been involved in the events that the Muslim Student Association hosts, as well as some meetings with the Secular Students Organization.

After getting to know people in these student organizations, we managed to get a few activities off the ground that involved the collaboration between multiple groups.

COVID-19 has really thrown a wrench into these plans, but at the very least the religious scene at Georgia Tech is somewhat familiar with the existence of the Baha’i Faith and it’s students.

I was wondering if any other Baha’i college students would like to share their thoughts and experiences with combining the efforts of multiple student organizations. I’m sure there is a lot to discuss.

Here’s a relevant quote from Bahá’u’lláh:
“It is permitted that the peoples and kindreds of the world associate with one another with joy and radiance. O people! Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. Thus hath the day-star of His sanction and authority shone forth above the horizon of the decree of God, the Lord of the worlds.”

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Hi Justin, welcome, and thanks for opening the conversation!

It’s great to hear about your interactions with the the other associations and collaborations, very exciting!

Two bodies of Guidance come to mind. One is the spiritual prerequisites of success of our endeavors mentioned by Shoghi Effendi in the Advent of Divine Justice where he says that,

“These requirements are none other than a high sense of moral rectitude in their social and administrative activities, absolute chastity in their individual lives, and complete freedom from prejudice in their dealings with peoples of a different race, class, creed, or color”
-Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice
www.bahai.org/r/464301738

And in describing the first the Gaurdian shares a quote from the Master that stood out in my mind regarding the association with other student organizations,

“O army of God!" writes 'Abdu’l-Bahá, "Through the protection and help vouchsafed by the Blessed Beauty—may my life be a sacrifice to His loved ones—ye must conduct yourselves in such a manner that ye may stand out distinguished and brilliant as the sun among other souls. Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a center of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so that the people of that city may cry out and say: ‘This man is unquestionably a Bahá’í, for his manners, his behavior, his conduct, his morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the Bahá’ís.’ Not until ye attain this station can ye be said to have been faithful to the Covenant and Testament of God.”

Then associated in my mind with these requisites, or maybe even dependent on them, the beautiful passage from the recent Message from the Universal House of Justice Regarding racial prejudice and the American Bahá’í community’s distinctive contribution to its eradication describes the transformative power of love and our relationship with it in the spaces we enter, of which it sounds like you have striven to be in many.

“Ultimately, the power to transform the world is effected by love, love originating from the relationship with the divine, love ablaze among members of a community, love extended without restriction to every human being. This divine love, ignited by the Word of God, is disseminated by enkindled souls through intimate conversations that create new susceptibilities in human hearts, open minds to moral persuasion, and loosen the hold of biased norms and social systems so that they can gradually take on a new form in keeping with the requirements of humanity’s age of maturity. You are channels for this divine love; let it flow through you to all who cross your path. Infuse it into every neighborhood and social space in which you move to build capacity to canalize the society-building power of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. There can be no rest until the destined outcome is achieved.”

Finally, a question that may be useful arises with the first line of that same message opening,

“A moment of historic portent has arrived for your nation as the conscience of its citizenry has stirred, creating possibilities for marked social change.”

Where is the stirring of consciousness manifesting itself within those organizations and members?

It seems that taking steps or engaging with conversations around that question could give access to some of the Divine Bounties planted in the heart of the tribulations, disrupt and difficulties of the pandemic.

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The only interactions we have had really are with the interfaith club! One of the officers in the Interfaith club has become really involved in the weekly devotionals we host and she has many ties to other organizations (religious ones, that is).

So, curious to see how it goes. Our org is quite small and new, about two semesters in!

What plans did you have with the other religious clubs? That is very interesting would love to learn from that Justin

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I think that the interactions should serve both a social purpose or a service-oriented one. When I mean social purpose, I’m thinking like a Smash tournament, soccer tournament, board game night, etc. What makes this easier is that these religious orgs host social events on their own, so you might not even need to make a new one. You can just invite and be invited.

From a service perspective I we did struggle with that a little. There’s a volunteer group called Trees Atlanta where I invited people of many groups to all do the same small service project, and it was fun. We were also thinking of projects to help with homelessness or doing discussion panels, but those never really took off especially with the virus.

Sorry for the late reply. Hopefully this response doesn’t get lost in the void.