ASSOCIATION OF BAHÁÍ
for the empowerment of women everywhere:
At the first session it is
important to point out that this is a Bahá'í inspired workshop
and to give a brief introduction to the Faith, so that those attending are
informed of the community from which it was developed. The Bahá'í
Women of NI have been involved in events promoting equality and peace for many
years and are represented in local communities across the Province. We dedicate
this compilation to two Bahá'í women, Jane Villiers-Stuart, from
Greenisland and Pari Twiname from Cullybackey. Jane was founder of the
Bahá'í Women's Committee of NI and worked remorselessly in peace
and equality issues and was a familiar and much loved figure in many women
groups in NI. Jane's determination was immense and whether it was in running a
youth club or in promoting equality or working in cross border initiatives she
refused to be deflected. Pari, a former district nurse, was very involved with
carers in the community and opened her home and heart to all she came into
contact with. She uniquely combined a commitment to fight injustice and a
wonderful elegance. Pari's kitchen echoed with laughter and the smell of her
delicious cooking. Both Jane and Pari achieved so much, gave so much and loved
so much and are missed greatly. We ask you to remember them in your prayers
along with all those who have worked so hard to contribute to peace here in NI
and across the world.
Faith is a worldwide religion based on the teachings of Baha'u'llah
(1817-1892). He stated that the time had come for the people of the world to
put aside their differences and to unite on the basis of the teachings that he
had brought. In the brief course of its 160+ year history, the Baha'i Faith has
become a fast-growing religion that has established itself in every country of
the world and is rapidly transforming individuals and communities. )
It is our hope that this
course allows you to get a glimpse of the dynamics of spiritual change that are
a feature of real community life. Bahá'í women from Lurgan and
Coleraine designed the material and have piloted the project to the wider
community over the past two years. We are grateful to all the participants both
within and outside the Bahá'í community who acted as guinea pigs
and who gave of their time and experience to enrich the project.
The course is
participative and spiritual principles will be introduced and there should be
plenty of opportunity to share and learn from each other's insights. Putting
these principles into practice is the next stage and doing this within a group
can help individuals transform together and make dynamic change a real option.
Reflecting on your life, looking forward to your legacy and understanding
equality all contribute to anchoring your spiritual nature in real action. Each
group we have used this material with has been different and yet the privilege
of being nurtured and encouraged has been consistent. We hope that you
experience this too as a facilitator or participant.
To the Facilitator
Introduce the source of
Explain that we plan to
read, reflect, and apply spiritual principles in our
lives. The principles are universal, anyone, of any belief or none, can benefit
- We found this worked best around a table, sessions
should last 2-3 hours, one person is designated clearly as facilitator and it
is good practise to send thank you cards to all participants at its end. Around
5 to 8 in number is ideal and makes for a personal encounter. Get them to fill
in evaluation form so that things can be improved and lessons learned. Be
prepared for tears, it seemed to happen at some point during the course.
- Also be aware that there is a reluctance to read aloud
(due to difficulty with language) in some, be sensitive to this and respect the
choice of the individual, although most enjoy participating in all
- There can be a resistance to participate in artistic
pursuits, especially in older women, don't be sensitive about this, they will
enjoy it eventually when they get into it, be persuasive and confident.
- Don't have devotionals with long sections, short with
plenty of music in between seems to go down better. Gives everyone a chance to
really digest the words properly.
- Can be useful to have a person as a helper/assistant,
if only to tell you when you talk too much, dominate, drift or just make a
complete hash of it. Don't worry if you do, but do learn from mistakes and try
not to repeat them.
- Don't have hidden agendas or expectations just focus
on spiritual progress for all, which is the real goal.
- Ask each participant at the beginning of the course to
introduce themselves, give their name and say what they are hoping to gain from
the course. Don't be surprised if they don't have a clue as to why they are
there, but do ask and be prepared to listen. The amount you gain from this
course will be directly related to how willing you are to really listen and
learn. The same thing applies to all on the course with you!
These courses are made
available as a community resource for anyone to use. We ask only that the
source is attributed: Association of Baháí Women (Northern