Types of Events for Bahai Club

Hello everyone!
I am so happy we have this tool to share our learnings and insights.

I am a part of the NYU Bahai Club and we had an event this past week titled “What is the Bahai Faith?”. Our events used to be interfaith based where we picked a topic and used writings from various religions (sometimes also philosophers and thinkers) to explore that specific topic. This most recent event, on the other hand, was directly a conversation about the Bahai Faith (who is Baha’u’llah? what are the principles? what are the community-building activities?) It felt like a fireside and although on zoom everyone was comfortable sharing their questions and reflections. (Starting with an icebreaker and breakout rooms seem to be helpful).

I’m curious what the structure/approach is for other Baha’i clubs and associations? What kind of events do you hold? Also any advice on holding events online?

thank you!

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What kinds of questions are typically asked in these events? In my experience, most people new to the Baha’i Faith struggle most with the concept of progressive revelation. It always helps to participate in other groups’ activities to get to know them better.

In the past, we’ve picked discussion topic, but recently we’ve been picking sources from the UHJ or bahaiworld.bahai.org to guide the discussion.

We’ve also had good discussions around non-Baha’i sources. Some examples are “Mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockheart and “The Egg” by Andy Weir. We plan to throw in a couple TED talks later.

A couple times we’ve done online games, such as Among Us. The effectiveness of these activities is really dependent on the group of students, but these kinds of activities have the potential to get the group to know one another.

Before COVID, we had weekly meetings that would cover various topics, as well as had Ruhi books and devotionals sprinkled in. Now that we are virtual, we just have weekly Zoom meetings that replicate our weekly discussions.

Keep up the good work!

Hi Felicia, It’s so great to hear about your activities at NYU! I would love to know how your fireside went in comparison to the more interfaith based events. Did mostly people who were coming to the initial gatherings come to the fireside? Best, Chitra

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So cool to hear about the different kinds of discussions you guys have. Hope to hear more! Best, Chitra

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Thank you for your response! I will definitely look into those resources

Hi Chitra,
Thank you for allowing me to reflect more deeply on this :slight_smile: We noticed that zoom has allowed for our events to be more accessible. Students who we met at club fests 2 years ago have started attending our zoom meetings (not sure if they have more time now or if zoom makes it easier for them to attend).

Everyone who attended the fireside had come to a previous Bahai Club event or knew of the Bahai Faith in some way. The structure of the event was more a presentation and then we opened it up for questions. We realised that our presentation could have been more concise as the questions ended up being very deep leading us to another hour of rich conversations.

Since then we had an event entitled “What is the Soul?” which was more interfaith based. We decided we would switch on and off in terms of having events directly about the Bahai Faith and more general spiritual/meaningful discussions.

In our zoom era we have become more consistent and courageous in our efforts. I would love to hear more about what you are learning?

Hi friends!

Really love learning about what others have been doing. The GW Baha’i Club along with one Baha’i from WPI in Massachusettes (he’s the only Baha’i there, so supporting one another, zoom is great in that we can collaborate and support smaller communities across states and regions).

There are many details I could share, but overall, we have been having weekly devotional gatherings with alternating themes since concluding book 1 with a friend of the faith who declared after studying! (Woot woot. love the love<3)

We then started a devotional as a result of unit 2, book 1, and as the summer concluded and school was approaching, we figured we could continue this weekly devotional respective to our universities.

Our format has evolved a bunch overtime. The devotionals have become like a devotional - fireside - study circle hybrid…!

It has gone from scripted introductions and programs to slideshows with readers associated with quotes on a chosen theme and lots of music integrated. The most recent format has been choosing a theme and having a bank of quotes that friends can read from open-floor style. Each week, one participant or planner who is familiar with the space will introduce the nature of a devotional gathering and share about any contextual things for people who it is their first time. We also have invited the Baha’i Community to come and support us it has been great!

This past week we just expanded our nucleus and invited two regular participants who go to GWU and are friends of the faith to plan with us and learn more about the community building vision. Hopefully, over break, we can start book 1 and another devotional as a result!

its the ciiircle of…serviceeee…

much love!

  • nica
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Hi everyone! I absolutely love hearing about the different ways Baha’i students are connecting to their peers and their community at large… it’s very inspiring to read about these serviceful endeavors.

I’m a member of the UCLA Baha’i Club, and I guess I wanted to share a little about what we do in hopes of providing a different perspective on holding Zoom club meetings. Since we’ve been on Zoom for quite a while now, we’ve been having weekly discussions on important or relevant topics, such as the power of meditation, how to remain non-partisan in a political world, or the significance of tests and difficulties in life. Typically we use broad, Baha’i-inspired topics in order to present the conversation as welcoming and open to friends of various backgrounds.

For example, in our Baha’i Club we have friends of the Faith as well as Baha’is. This way, we oftentimes get Baha’i, Christian, Catholic, agnostic, and several other perspectives on the topics we discuss. We open the discussion with a prayer, have a few moments of catching up or introducing a new face, and then we use quotes from the Baha’i Faith on the topic of interest as the foundation of our individual and collective reflections.

We have also invited members of different religions as guest speakers (ex. a Catholic priest, a Baha’i professor, or a Mormon missionary) to give their perspective on a topic and to open the floor for everyone else to share their thoughts and beliefs. All in all, it is a beautiful space where we have deep conversations among friends, all while learning about diverse views from each other!

I am excited to hear more from everyone, as I believe every campus Baha’i club has a unique way of bringing unity to their community, and I know by sharing our various ideas, we can all learn from each other and amplify the effectiveness of our own approaches!

Sending much love to everyone, and hoping you remain safe and healthy during these times.

Regards,
Sanam

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Thank you for sharing Sanam! These examples are inspiring to hear. If possible I would love to read the quotes you have compiled on how to remain non-partisan in a political world. Or any resources you have :slight_smile:

Hi Felicia!

Sure, I actually based our conversation on the quotes in a Baha’i Teachings article called “Why Bahai’s Don’t Participate in Partisan Politics.” Here’s the link!

The quotes in this article are very thought-provoking and great in providing insight into our non-partisan role in the political world. Hope you enjoy it as much as our club did!

Best,
Sanam

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I have a question. Have you taken Nader Saedi’s course on the Bahai Faith, and if so, how many people took it?

I have not yet taken Professor Saiedi’s course on the Baha’i Faith in Iran, but I believe they’re small classes (about 20 people per class). However, he sometimes teaches multiple classes a quarter and has been doing so for years at UCLA, so I’m sure he’s had hundreds of students take his class:) it’s incredible because it’s a Religion class open to anyone and focuses on the analysis of major writings by the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and 'Abdu’l-Bahá! Several of my friends at UCLA have taken it and loved it! I’ve listened to several talks by Professor Saiedi, and I can tell that he is very knowledgeable and extremely passionate about what he teaches. We are fortunate to have him teaching a Baha’i course at UCLA!

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