Category Archives: Community Service

The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programme – In their own words

Junior YouthThe period between the ages of 12 to 14 represents a special time in the life of an individual, for it is during these years that he or she leaves childhood behind and undergoes profound change.  The Pasadena Baha’i Community is engaging junior youth in programs that seek to enhance their spiritual and intellectual capacities and will prepare them to participate effectively in the affairs of their communities. Groups of 10 to 15 junior youth are formed and facilitated by trained individuals, who serve as mentors and role models. The themes the participants often study revolve around cooperation, unity, service to humanity, truthfulness, striving for excellence in their lives and for the community, and justice.

Junior Youth Group Pasadena

Junior Youth celebrating after volunteering at the MS Walk in Pasadena

Here is one recent account from a participant in the classes Stephanie Jimenez, who asked to write about her experience:

What, may you ask, is a Junior Youth Group? My take on this wonderful program is that it’s a guide to help lead youth between the ages of 11-14 onto the “right” path. Everyone around the world has experienced at one point in this age range feeling a bit lost. We’re trying to find out who we are, what we want to be, and what the correct decisions in life are. This is where the Junior Youth Group Spiritual Empowerment Program comes in handy. The animators that take part in the Program stand as “heroes” or someone that youth can look up too. It’s really important to show good virtues and qualities to whom we are teaching/guiding.

In the Junior Youth Group that I am currently in, I have seen the amazing differences it has brought into my friends and the community I live in. I am very happy to say, that because of this Program, my friends are able to help out the community through service projects, and have learned how to decipher a bad deed from a good deed. It’s changed our view on life, and has taught us to be detached from material things. We’ve learned from the choices we make every day, and analyze how we can help out our neighbors. These experiences have helped us become like a family, being able to talk to each other whenever something bothers us, and confiding in one another.

This program itself reaches out to people’s hearts. Parents get to see their children growing up into wonderful leaders, and the youth themselves get to learn how to express their feelings, the true meaning of helping out others, and the wonderful bonds that can be made by showing kind virtues to their fellow friends.

I, myself, am very thankful for the change it has brought to my life. If it wasn’t for this program and my wonderful animators, I wouldn’t be appreciating the wonderful things that life has to give us. It has given me a desire to reach out to people’s hearts just like this one touched mine.
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Want to find out more? Check out this video for an example of Junior Youth Groups in Action from North Carolina.
For more information about how to enroll or become an animator email: ATC@SGVCLUSTER.ORG
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Observing the Martyrdom of the Bab

On July 9, members of the Bahá’í Faith from all over the world commemorate the anniversary of the Martyrdom of the forerunner of Baha’u’llah who held the title of the Báb (“the gate” in Arabic).  This is one of only nine holy days on which members of the Faith suspend work and school.  Today in Pasadena members of Baha’i communities from throughout the San Gabriel Valley gathered to mark this solemn occasion.

The following is a brief overview and account of the events of this Sacred day for Baha’is:

In Persia (now Iran)  in 1844, the Báb declared that His mission was to herald the imminent arrival of the long-awaited Promised One, the Messenger of God Who would usher in the age of universal peace and transform the world. That Messenger was Bahá’u’lláh , Who in 1863 announced that He was God’s Messenger for this age.

The proclamation of the Báb attracted thousands of followers in a short time. Fearful of the Báb’s growing influence caused by His proclamation and teachings, which called for spiritual and moral renewal, religious and political leaders arose to oppose and persecute the Báb and His followers

More than 20,000 of His followers were killed in several waves of brutal persecution. Though guilty of no crime, the Báb was arrested, beaten, exiled and imprisoned by the authorities. On July 9, 1850, at the age of 31, He was executed in public by a firing squad in the city of Tabriz in northwest Persia.

The story of the events surrounding the Báb’s martyrdom has captured the interest of many because an apparent miracle was performed in the midst of tragic circumstances and in the presence of thousands of witnesses. The following is an account of the events surrounding this Sacred Day authored by Shoghi Effendi in his historical account of the early years of the Baha’i Faith entitled “God Passes By“:

The farrash-bashi had abruptly interrupted the last conversation which the Báb was confidentially having in one of the rooms of the barracks with His amanuensis Siyyid Husayn, and was drawing the latter aside, and severely rebuking him, when he was thus addressed by his Prisoner: “Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say can any earthly power silence Me. Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall it be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention.” To the Christian Sam Khan — the colonel of the Armenian regiment ordered to carry out the execution — who, seized with fear lest his act should provoke the wrath of God, had begged to be released from the duty imposed upon him, the Báb gave the following assurance: “Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you of your perplexity.”

Sam Khan accordingly set out to discharge his duty. A spike was driven into a pillar which separated two rooms of the barracks facing the square. Two ropes were fastened to it from which the Báb and one of his disciples, the youthful and devout Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali-i-Zunuzi, surnamed Anis, who had previously flung himself at the feet of his Master and implored that under no circumstances he be sent away from Him, were separately suspended. The firing squad ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men. Each file in turn opened fire until the whole detachment had discharged its bullets. So dense was the smoke from the seven hundred and fifty rifles that the sky was darkened. As soon as the smoke had cleared away the astounded multitude of about ten thousand souls, who had crowded onto the roof of the barracks, as well as the tops of the adjoining houses, beheld a scene which their eyes could scarcely believe.

The Báb had vanished from their sight! Only his companion remained, alive and unscathed, standing beside the wall on which they had been suspended. The ropes by which they had been hung alone were severed. “The Siyyid-i-Báb has gone from our sight!” cried out the bewildered spectators. A frenzied search immediately ensued. He was found, unhurt and unruffled, in the very room He had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted conversation with His amanuensis. “I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn” were the words with which the Prisoner, so providentially preserved, greeted the appearance of the farrash-bashi, “Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention.” Recalling the bold assertion his Prisoner had previously made, and shaken by so stunning a revelation, the farrash-bashi quitted instantly the scene, and resigned his post.

Sam Khan, likewise, remembering, with feelings of awe and wonder, the reassuring words addressed to him by the Báb, ordered his men to leave the barracks immediately, and swore, as he left the courtyard, never again, even at the cost of his life, to repeat that act. Aqa Jan-i-Khamsih, colonel of the body-guard, volunteered to replace him. On the same wall and in the same manner the Báb and His companion were again suspended, while the new regiment formed in line and opened fire upon them. This time, however, their breasts were riddled with bullets, and their bodies completely dissected, with the exception of their faces which were but little marred. “O wayward generation!” were the last words of the Báb to the gazing multitude, as the regiment prepared to fire its volley, “Had you believed in Me every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you.”

The very moment the shots were fired a gale of exceptional violence arose and swept over the city. From noon till night a whirlwind of dust obscured the light of the sun, and blinded the eyes of the people. In Shiraz an “earthquake,” foreshadowed in no less weighty a Book than the Revelation of St. John, occurred in 1268 A.H. which threw the whole city into turmoil and wrought havoc amongst its people, a havoc that was greatly aggravated by  the outbreak of cholera, by famine and other afflictions. In that same year no less than two hundred and fifty of the firing squad, that had replaced Sam Khan’s regiment, met their death, together with their officers, in a terrible earthquake, while the remaining five hundred suffered, three years later, as a punishment for their mutiny, the same fate as that which their hands had inflicted upon the Báb. To insure that none of them had survived, they were riddled with a second volley, after which their bodies, pierced with spears and lances, were exposed to the gaze of the people of Tabriz. The prime instigator of the Báb’s death, the implacable Amir-Nizam, together with his brother, his chief accomplice, met their death within two years of that savage act.

On the evening of the very day of the Báb’s execution, which fell on the ninth of July 1850 (28th of Sha’ban 1266 A.H.), during the thirty-first year of His age and the seventh of His ministry, the mangled bodies were transferred from the courtyard of the barracks to the edge of the moat outside the gate of the city. Four companies, each consisting of ten sentinels, were ordered to keep watch in turn over them. On the following morning the Russian Consul in Tabriz visited the spot, and ordered the artist who had accompanied him to make a drawing of the remains as they lay beside the moat. In the middle of the following night a follower of the Báb, Haji Sulayman Khan, succeeded, through the instrumentality of a certain Haji Allah-Yar, in removing the bodies to the silk factory owned by one of the believers of Milan, and laid them, the next day, in a specially made wooden casket, which he later transferred to a place of safety… No sooner had the news of the transfer of the remains of the Báb and of His fellow-sufferer been communicated to Bahá’u’lláh than He ordered that same Sulayman Khan to bring them to Tihran, where they were taken to the Imam-Zadih-Hasan, from whence they were removed to different places, until the time when, in pursuance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s instructions, they were transferred to the Holy Land, and were permanently and ceremoniously laid to rest by Him in a specially erected mausoleum on the slopes of Mt. Carmel.

Thus ended a life which posterity will recognize as standing at the confluence of two universal prophetic cycles, the Adamic Cycle stretching back as far as the first dawnings of the world’s recorded  religious history and the Bahá’í Cycle destined to propel itself across the unborn reaches of time for a period of no less than five thousand centuries. The apotheosis in which such a life attained its consummation marks, as already observed, the culmination of the most heroic phase of the Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation. It can, moreover, be regarded in no other light except as the most dramatic, the most tragic event transpiring within the entire range of the first Bahá’í century. Indeed it can be rightly acclaimed as unparalleled in the annals of the lives of all the Founders of the world’s existing religious systems.

A Day of Service: Saturday, February 20, 2010

This past Saturday a number of members of the Pasadena Baha’i community and their friends came out in the rain to serve the community at the 28th Annual Black History Parade and the Pasadena Marathon Health & Fitness Expo.

Black History Parade & Fair

Each year, Pasadena Baha’is support the Annual Black History and Parade with volunteers.  Marching in the Parade were students from Pasadena City College Ujima Program, headed up by PCC counselor and community member Chiara Thomas

Also supporting at the Fair, held at Jackie Robinson Park, was community member Scott Phelps, VP of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education.  He was promoting the passing of the parcel tax to increase financial support for Pasadena Public Schools in the wake of an impending budget gap facing school districts statewide.

Also representing at the Fair was the City of Pasadena’s Neighborhood Connections department, whose booth was staffed by this blog’s dear friend and community dynamo, Tania Flores.  She was passing out information and promoting the Pasadena Neighborhood Leadership Institute, of which two of the Pasadena Baha’i community members are graduates, Dorothea Bradley in 2007, and Al Cadena in 2009. 

Tania Flores, from the City of Pasadena's Neighborhood Connections

Scott Phelps, VP of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education

 The Baha’is were also there at the Fair.  Despite the rain, many people came up to our table, asking profound questions and wanting to know the Baha’is relationship with Jesus (he is the Son of God), where the Faith was founded (Iran), where is its world center (Haifa, Israel), key principles like the equality of women and men, abolition of all forms of prejudice, and the unique role and contributions that African Americans have made to the Baha’i Faith over the years.

Seen at the Pasadena Baha’i booth were Bill DeTally and Esther Bradley-DeTally, stalwart volunteers in the community in regards to Race Unity, America’s most vital and challenging issue.   Both have volunteered extensively with the San Gabriel Valley Interfaith Council and the YWCA’s Racial Justice Committee.  Esther teaches a writing workshop, “Courage to Write,” at La Pintoresca library, located in Northwest Pasadena, and whose workshop will be featured at the All Saints Women’s Community’s Lunch of Compassion, on Sunday, March 7th, 2010. 

Renee Dixon and Mattie McCrae at the Baha'i booth

Also representing at the booth were Renee Dixon, longtime volunteer for the Black History Parade and member of the Altadena Interfaith Group, and Mattie McCrae, newest member of our community.

Pasadena Marathon | Health and Fitness Expo

Later that afternoon at the Pasadena Convention Center, the Pasadena Neighborhood Leadership Institute (PNLI) Class had a booth to promote their class project: how to improve the community perception of Pasadena Public Schools, especially in light of all the recent improvement in test scores and other statistics.

PNLI have created an advertising campaign, “Yes!  Pasadena Public Schools” which was prominently featured at the booth.  Visitors to the booth were given business-card sized calendars with a fact about Pasadena Public Schools on the reverse.  Quite a number of people came up and chatted with us. Al Cadena, Baha’i and PNLI Class of 2009 remarked:  “People want to hear good things about the school district and are surprised and informed when they learn about the facts that we’re sharing with them.”

Michaun Irby, PNLI Class of 2009 grad at booth

Pasadena Baha’i honored for her Community Service

Dorothea 01

On March 22nd, Pasadena Baha’i Dorothea Bradley (holding flowers in photo) was honored by the City of Pasadena for “her unwavering commitment and unselfish dedication to her neighbors and greater community. Her efforts have helped build stronger neighborhoods which are the very foundation of our great City and the support system for our families.” Indeed.

Having worked with Dorothea on her annual Posada, National Night Out, and other projects, she is a dedicated community organizer, visionary, and true friend.
Dorothea 02