Striving to strengthen community ties in Charlotte, North Carolina
The challenge of conducting Baha’i-initiated core activities of community building during a pandemic was further brought home to Charlotte, North Carolina, Baha’is and friends when the county’s more than one million residents were placed under a “stay at home” order that was announced March 24 to take effect two days later.
The appointed Area Teaching Committee (ATC) that oversees community-building efforts had sent out an email just days before listing ways activities could be sustained and even expanded.
“As we are considering how to become channels for the promulgation of the spirit of the Faith by providing comfort and hope to our families, close friends, neighbors, and personal contacts, the Charlotte ATC invites every individual to participate in a collective teaching campaign to offer the encouragement and the support we are called upon to share during these trying times,” the email reads.
“Whether we are inclined to initiate a new family or small-group devotional gathering, or whether we prefer to use the free technological tools at our disposal, there are a number of ways we each can participate in this collective teaching effort.”
The committee urged daily recitation of an excerpt from a prayer revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, son of Baha’i Faith prophet-founder Baha’u’llah:
O Thou Provider! Assist Thou these noble friends to win Thy good pleasure, and make them well-wishers of stranger and friend alike. Bring them into the world that abideth forever; grant them a portion of heavenly grace; cause them to be true Bahá’ís, sincerely of God; save them from outward semblances, and establish them firmly in the truth. Make them signs and tokens of the Kingdom, luminous stars above the horizons of this nether life. Make them to be a comfort and a solace to humankind and servants to the peace of the world.
Also recommended were new or continued devotionals — with a goal of each household in the Baha’i community hosting one with family, within the neighborhood or beyond — as well as new study circles and fireside gatherings.
“During this historic period in which our meeting spaces, as well as our physical proximity, are being impacted by limitations, let us strive to strengthen our community ties through our unified participation in collective action,” reads the email.
Then the county edict hit. Stay tuned for news of how Charlotte-area Baha’is and others regroup and carry on.