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CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland

Issue 83 - 8 Rahmat 160 BE - 1 July 2003 CE




Dear Bahá'í Friends,

Reflection Meetings

In a recent round of consultations with local Spiritual Assemblies, the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland was asked to clarify the main elements necessary for the holding of a reflection meeting. We decided to share these points generally with the community, to act as an aid to other clusters in their preparations for such meetings.

The International Teaching Centre gave us some guidance on this subject in their 26th Nov. 2001 letter.

“Reflection Meetings. An effective vehicle for the multiplication of these lines of action has been a reflection meeting at the cluster level. In these gatherings the institutions consult with the believers, many of whom are involved in the institute process, on the achievements and strengths within the cluster. They also discuss the nature and scope of activities to be undertaken in the next phase of their plan. A simple, short-term plan is devised that reflects the pledges of individuals as well as the collective activities proposed by the Area Teaching Committee and Local Assemblies. This plan is incorporated into a calendar of activities that becomes the framework for the subsequent three to four month period.”


  • It is helpful at each reflection meeting to appoint a chairman to conduct it and a secretary to make a record of decisions and offers made. (The Council has asked for a copy of this record after each meeting).
  • The Groups and local Spiritual Assemblies should share their plans with those present.
  • The previous offers of study circles, devotional and children's classes should be reviewed.
  • New offers for core activities should be noted.
  • The Assistants for the cluster should always be invited
  • Representatives from the Council and the Training Institute Board should be invited.
  • Where possible the youth, junior youth and children should be involved in the programme.
  • The meeting should be of a joyful and happy nature and to aid this an innovative use of the arts could be explored.

The communities' response to the challenge of the Five Year Plan in establishing these meetings, while still not yet fully understanding their function, is a tribute to their staunchness of faith. A number of clusters are becoming strong vehicles for grass roots participation, fostering the growth of study circles, devotionals and in recent months the increase in children's classes that are open to all.


2.3.3 Reflection Meetings

“A natural vehicle for multiplying core activities has been reflection meetings. These meetings at the cluster level have been particularly effective in well-established areas where an expanding pool of human resources exists. In such gatherings the institutions and the believers, many of whom are involved in the institute process, study the relevant Five Year Plan documents, share experiences, and consult on the achievements and strengths within the cluster. Avoiding "grandiose and elaborate plans," the friends reach a consensus on short-term goals which reflect the pledges of individual initiatives and collective actions that have emerged from the consultation. These goals are generally incorporated into a calendar of activities that becomes the framework for the subsequent two-to three-month period…..”

4.1 Learning and Planning at the Grass Roots

“Two observations that are important to the ongoing prosecution of the Five Year Plan can be made about the experience of working in clusters. First, reflection meetings have become the learning matrix of the clusters. These periodic consultations have enabled the believers to "reflect on issues, consider adjustments, and maintain enthusiasm and unity of thought." The value of short-term goals is immediately recognized, as accomplishments and challenges can regularly be evaluated, "obstacles removed, resources multiplied and lessons learned," and modifications in the goals made without losing continuity of action. Flexibility and patience are encouraged, as essential prerequisites of the learning process. The friends have begun to appreciate that not all answers can be tied down in advance but are garnered through experience.”

With warmest Bahá'í greetings,


Extracts and digest from a letter recently by the National Spiritual Assembly to all four Bahá'í Councils in the United Kingdom

The National Spiritual Assembly strongly believes that the societies continue to have a range of extremely valuable roles. Such roles include:

  • Focusing and developing the three core activities of the Plan
  • Proclaiming the Faith to the university and college populations - which are viewed as potentially receptive populations by the National Assembly
  • Encouraging Bahá'í scholarship
  • Pastoral care activities
  • External affairs activities.

The constitution of Bahá'í Societies was clearly defined by the Universal House of Justice more than twenty years ago. A copy is available from the Council. The National Assembly explains,

“The basic problem is that the university unions (or equivalent) have overall administrative responsibility - not the local Spiritual Assembly for the area. Local Assemblies cannot direct the activities of any Bahá'í Society. Rather their only prerogative is to able to dissolve the Society if it is acting outside of Bahá'í law.”
“"The major responsibilities that the Councils will now have in relation to Bahá'í Societies are as follows:
  • Encouraging Bahá'í students at universities and colleges to form Bahá'í Societies whenever feasible
  • Helping Bahá'í students to recognise the importance of developing the activities detailed above on a regular basis (especially the core activities of the Plan)
  • Encouraging the Societies to apply to their union (or similar administrative body) for whatever type of grants that may be available to them
  • Liasing with Local Spiritual Assemblies to help them understand the administrative relationship between them and the Bahá'í Societies.
In order to service the needs of Bahá'í Societies in the United Kingdom the National Spiritual Assembly has established an Office of University Bahá'í Societies (OUBS).This Office will be specifically asked to organise annual or bi-annual UK-wide Bahá'í Society events and activities.”



Great news!

The youth website is up and finished and running and functional and…empty. We need input to spice this baby up a little. You got the ideas, and we wannem. There is nothing we won't consider (and subsequently reject). Just think of what you saw and really liked in a website, now remember that it has to not go in direct violation of Bahá'í laws. Are you left with anything? Anything at all? There are empty columns that need filling, so anybody with an article or even a regular section can come forward. We could have pages devoted to areas of your choice, dance workshop, music, reviews, anything. Perhaps you think the design could be better in some way, or that there is some vital link or concept missing. Check it out at:

Your ideas, please, to

Youth Committee for Northern Ireland




Date 13-14 September 2003
Venue: Birmingham University
Deadline for Registration: 15 August 2003

To All Study Circle Tutors in Northern Ireland

Dear friends,

“We are delighted to extend the following invitation to all tutors in Northern Ireland: "It gives us great happiness to invite you to the fourth annual Study Circle Tutors' Conference to be held on 13-14 September 2003 at the University of Birmingham. We are confident that this conference will be as full of life and spirit, learning, joy and laughter as the last one - even more so because this year it is to be a national conference, including the tutors from all of the United Kingdom.” (From the Board of the Training Institute for England) We would like to encourage all tutors to attend this exciting event. Group travel arrangements are being investigated at present. For further information please contact your area coordinators.

With much love and appreciation for your valuable services,
Training Institute Board for Northern Ireland


Twenty tutors joyously gathered in Omagh on the weekend of 29/30 March 2003 for the first ever tutor residential conference to be held in Northern Ireland. Overall theme for the conference: 'Nourishing the Gardeners of the Institute Process'. Its purpose: to further periodic on-going training, share study circle and course experiences and foster the bonds and fellowship among those who are so directly responsible for the institute process - the tutors, who constitute of this process. On this occasion the Institute welcomed and introduced the tutors to the newly appointed Regional and Area Co-ordinators, whose presence and input added significantly to the tenor of the Conference.

In line with the continual guidance that emanates from the Universal House of Justice and the International Teaching Centre, participative sessions were held on the following themes: Integrating the Three Core Activities: Study Circles, Devotional Meetings and Children's Classes; Arts and the Five Year Plan; Study Circles Open to All; Helping the Group with Memorisation of the Writings; The Relationship of Co-ordinators and Tutors; Stories and Feedback from the Tutors; Movement Through the Sequence of Courses.

The above sessions were highlighted and facilitated by some of the tutors themselves. It was evident that tutors are increasingly taking greater ownership of their own learning.

The Institute is extremely gratified to observe the progress and experience gained by tutors in the first two years of the Five Year Plan. Their dedicated service has now enabled over 135 adults, youth and junior youth to initiate their study and begin to move through the sequence of courses. This process is gradually building that pool of human resources so vital to fulfilling the growing number and complexity of services required in the Five Year Plan.

Another highlight of the conference was the presentation of two excellent AV presentations, which moved and inspired everyone. The first of these depicted the institution of the Training Institute in action, and the second portrayed the life of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Master, and our Perfect Exemplar.

Saturday evening's session was dedicated to the varied use of the arts, particularly story-telling and recitation by most of those present. The entire weekend programme was ably and lovingly co-ordinated by Arjang Agahi, Regional Co-ordinator.

The Training Institute expresses its loving gratitude to all the co-ordinators and tutors who made this event such a memorable and productive one. It looks forward to making this experience an annual event. Such a conference, together with more periodic gatherings of tutors called by the each area co-ordinator, will provide a continual means of learning, sharing and fellowship for this vital component of the institute process

Training Institute Board for Northern Ireland




The support that the Northern Ireland Bahá'í community has given to the communities of the North Sea over the years has been notable, but Les Gornall returned on 4th June from a trip that literally eclipsed all. On arriving in Stornoway, (complete with a hundred giveaway protecting solar eclipse shades ) it was suggested that the local schools could use a talk about the coming solar eclipse. This was to be uniquely Scottish and Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore had been dispatched to the highlands. Mina Shepherd rose to the challenge of inviting the speaker to the schools and all six accepted. The talks went amazingly well to lecture halls, gyms and large classrooms packed full of(up to 300 at a time) with repeats in some schools. The message was clear, Saturday morning would see a most amazing eclipse -this was Stornoway's day and incoming flights were full of telescope bearing travellers. Most went to the standing stones of Callanish, an ancient stone 'henge' aligned with the moon. The BBC was up in- we chose the North End of the Island of Lewis for the best since this is where the weather map showed good prospects (i.e. better than 50%) of seeing the two and a 1/2 minute event through the clouds. the time the lecturing had finished, and over a thousand children were begging their parents to be allowed to stay up till 4.30am in the morning we were thinking - if this thing does not happen in Lewis we dead! Well it did happen - and the only photographs of the complete ring of fire eclipse that are available from land sites came- yep you got it - Lewis. The lighthouse is the Butt of Lewis.

Les Gornall


Ring of fire

(Photograph © Dr Leslie Gornall)


As a new resource for the Friends pursuing the core activities of the Five-Year Plan we are offering simple template leaflets for inviting people to devotional meetings (leaflet DM-1) and to study circles (leaflet SC-1).

Each is an A4 trifold flyer in Microsoft Publisher 98 format (readable by all subsequent versions of Publisher), ready to be edited on your own PC, have local information inserted etc. The final form of a leaflet and the use to which it is to be put are for local consultation - your community / cluster being best placed to decide what you want to use. Please treat the templates as a resource to be adapted as you see fit and used. We have kept them simple: you may wish to change the illustrations to something more colourful, make sparing use of coloured text / WordArt, etc. It's up to you!

The fonts used on the template leaflet are Century Schoolbook (for the body text) and Century Gothic (for the section headings etc.). We chose these because they are generally recognised to be "friendly" and inviting typefaces to the reader, as well as being installed already on many PCs. If you do not have them on your computer the appearance and layout will change slightly and you'll have to reformat using the font(s) of your choice.

To obtain the file electronically please e-mail and ask for leaflet DM-1 and / or SC-1.

IMPORTANT NOTE: .You will need Microsoft Publisher 98 or later to open and edit the files. However if you do not have this on your PC or just want a hard copy to see what they look like and perhaps draw on them please contact OPI at 27 Rutland Gate, London SW7 1PD and they will be posted to you.

Office of Public Information




You are warmly invited to a special meeting with the National Spiritual Assembly on Saturday 6 September 2003 at the Derrynoid Centre in Draperstown. The meeting will take place in The Lecture Theatre, The Derrynoid Centre, Draperstown BT45 7DW and will start promptly at 7.30pm

This gathering will afford the friends a very important opportunity to meet with the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly and to learn about the progress of the Five Year Plan and the current challenges facing the Bahá'í community in this country.

A map and directions can found on the Website of the Derrynoid Centre at


Don't Miss it! 12th October 2003 “Changing Zones

Come and experience a Funday Festival of Sight, Sound & Vision

More details to follow

Organised by the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland


1414 JULY- 21 JULY

THEME: ‘Nurturing Souls’



Welsh Summer School 2003

South Wales
July 26-August 2

For registration forms and further information e-mail:

CommuNIqué is published by the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom

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