To the friends gathered at the Summer Schools
December 2018/January 2019
To the friends gathered at New Zealand’s two Summer Schools
Dear participants in the institution of the Summer Schools,
Tena Koutou Katoa
The National Spiritual Assembly sends its loving greetings to you all. We have deliberately mentioned that Summer Schools are an institution of the Faith, because this reminds us all of their place and significance in the life of the community. The principle that governs the functioning of all Bahá'í institutions is service to the needs and wellbeing of the community, and Summer Schools are no exception.
The beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, has stated:
“...the institution of the Summer Schools [is] designed to foster the spirit of fellowship in a distinctly Bahá'í atmosphere, to afford the necessary training for Bahá'í Teachers, and to provide facilities for the study of the history and teachings of the Faith, and for a better understanding of its relation to other religions and to human society in general.”*
The programme for all age groups is intended to inspire, educate, and most importantly, to mobilise all of us in the common purpose of contributing our share to the betterment of the world and the advancement of civilisation. The channel through which the utilisation of our talents, capacities, energies and resources are most fruitfully used towards these lofty aims is by our support of, and involvement in, the current Five Year Plan. It is the hope of the National Assembly that during the course of your engagement in the Summer School, you will gain a heightened sense of desire and commitment to lend a greater share of your energies, time and resources to the aims of the Plan.
The basis for the work of the Plan is conveyed so beautifully by the Universal House of Justice, in its message dated 26 November 2018 to the Bahá’ís of the World, one paragraph of which we would like to share:
“ Three brief years remain until the centenary of the Master's passing, when Bahá’ís the world over will gather and take account of the distance traversed over the first century of the Formative Age. May His loved ones, individually and collectively, little by little and day by day, increasingly embody His counsels: to be united in the Cause and firm in the Covenant; to avoid calumny and never speak ill of others; to see no strangers but regard all as members of one family; to set aside divergent theories and conflicting views and pursue a single purpose and common goal; to ensure that the love of Bahá'u'lláh has so mastered every organ, part, and limb as to leave no effect from the promptings of the human world; to arise with heart and soul and in one accord to teach the Cause; to march inserried lines, pressed together, each supporting the others; to cultivate good character, perseverance, strength, and determination; to know the value of this precious Faith, obey its teachings, walk in this road that is drawn straight, and show this way to the people.”
The National Spiritual Assembly calls upon every believer, young and old, to be part of a campaign of prayer, even if unable to contribute anything further to assisting with the community building goals of the Plan. We have the greatest confidence that consecrating even a small amount of time each day, focusing your thoughts and prayers on supplications to the Almighty, will ensure dynamic progress in Aotearoa. We lovingly invite all the friends to contribute prayers (the Tablet of Ahmad and Fire Tablet will be particularly potent) for a summer of intensive activities for everyone, including the success of the summer initiative, and for the achievement of the goals of the Plan.
It is our great pleasure to also announce that in consultation with the Institution of the Counsellors and the Regional Bahá’í Councils, there will be a national teaching conference to which all friends are invited. The aim of the conference is to accelerate the growth in our activities, and it will be held over the weekend of Friday 24 May to Sunday 26 May 2019, incorporating the Declaration of the Báb Holy Day on 24 May. Although a national conference, it is most likely to be held in two locations simultaneously, with one for the North Island region and another for the South Island. More information will be shared at a later date.
The National Spiritual Assembly takes this opportunity to express its warmest gratitude to the hard- working members of the logistics committees of the North and South Islands, whose efforts to ensure your comfort and enjoyment of the school are deeply appreciated. We close this message with an expression of love and thankfulness to each of you who are offering service during this school, whether as a presenter, workshop facilitator, teacher of children’s or junior youth classes, cook, kitchen helper, cleaner or any other role that adds to the mosaic that makes up our Summer School community.
Last but not least, we are indebted to our dear Counsellor, Dr Vahid Saberi, for making himself available for both Summer Schools, where he is contributing a huge share of the sessions that we know will be engaging and inspiring. We are also grateful to Mr Michael Day, for writing books that are treasured resources of information and inspiration concerning the history of our Faith, about which we will hear more at the Summer Schools. We view the presentations of both as being significant springboards from which we can each take away knowledge, insights and motivation to lend our share to making the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb in October 2019 the most memorable and significant of celebrations, involving at least 20,000 of New Zealand’s population. Wholehearted commitment to the work of the Plan during all of 2019 will ensure the celebrations befittingly honour the Blessed Báb.
Arohanui and best wishes,
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of New Zealand
*(Compilations, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 79)