Bahá’í activities are open to all, regardless of class, ethnicity or religious background. Inspired by the unifying vision set out in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings, the Bahá’ís of Sheffield invite everyone to walk a path of service and learn together about the process of community building.
In addition to personal prayer and meditation, Bahá’ís communities hold regular devotional gatherings for collective worship. These gatherings unite people in prayer and awaken their spiritual susceptibilities.
Because there is no ritual or clergy in the Bahá’í Faith, devotional gatherings are often held in peoples’ homes or in public places and they are diverse in their form. Prayer and reflection upon sacred scriptures is at the heart of such programs, and music, singing, poetry are often incorporated as well.
These gatherings are held in every Bahá’í community to nourish a pattern of life characterized by its devotional character. The spiritual atmosphere created within a devotional meeting imparts a sense of joy, fellowship and love that enriches the relationships among participants.
Bahá’í devotional gatherings are intended to embrace the attitude of prayer and practice of devotion that is universal to all religions, and they are open to people of all beliefs and backgrounds.
Study circles bring groups of people together to deepen their understanding of the Bahá’í teachings through systematic study. This involves structured group discussion of passages from the Bahá’í writings that encourage reflection on one’s moral purpose and capacities for service. Participants follow a sequence of courses that address various themes in the Bahá’í writings, such as prayer, the education of children, and the lives of central figures of the Bahá’í Faith.
Each course allows participants to develop new skills, such as organizing devotional gatherings or leading junior youth empowerment groups. As they strive to apply their new insights through a process of action, reflection and consultation, their capacity to offer service to their communities is raised to new levels. Within a study circle everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning in an environment that is at once serious and uplifting.
Study circles are facilitated by trained tutors, who have completed the sequence of courses and now accompany others through the same educational process. Study circles are one of the core activities of Bahá’í community life, and they are designed to imbue participants with a feeling of personal responsibility for the advancement of their communities, nation and world. They happen in Bahá’í communities all around the country and anyone is welcome to join – regardless of religious or cultural background.
Junior Youth Groups
Junior youth – or those between 11 and 14 years – are at a crucial stage in their lives when they are defining their identity and values. Junior youth groups offered by the Bahá’í community address the needs of these young people by helping them to develop a strong moral identity and to empower them to contribute to the well-being of their communities.
In these groups, trained animators use creative activities to engage the interests of junior youth and mold their capacities for service. A curriculum of material designed for junior youth is used in tandem with drama, story-telling, visual arts, discussion of social issues, and acts of service to their community. These groups aim to develop a cohesive identity that revolves around optimism about the future, high ideals, and a sense of purpose about life. The animators of groups are trained in a sequence of courses that emphasizes the great potential of junior youth to understand social processes and to contribute towards building a more peaceful and just world. The training program also calls upon animators to reflect on their own moral purpose and to see leading a junior youth group as a path of service that contributes to their personal transformation.
Bahá’í children’s classes are offered to all children between 5 and 10 years old for their spiritual education and moral development. The aim of these classes is to inspire in each child a love for our diverse human family and to cultivate a praiseworthy character. They are guided by the Bahá’í belief that children are noble beings with great potential to develop into upright and active participants in their community. Children’s classes awaken an understanding and love for the messengers of God and humanity’s collective spiritual heritage. Stories, games, arts, and songs are the main methods of instruction.
At the heart of these classes is the belief that the education of children is essential to the future development of our communities. That is why Bahá’í children’s classes convey an appreciation of the arts, respect for science, and a focus on empowering spiritual education. Teachers are trained to see each child as a mine rich in gems, and to convey an all-embracing love of children.