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June 2, 2013  

Youth Circles
Local youth group creates spaces to ask life’s deep questions Youth Circles Photo 1

A room full of youth sit in a circle of chairs and sofas, their heads bowed in prayer. When their prayers are done, they share news of the week that stood out for them, either from what they heard on the radio or TV or read in the newspaper. They discuss how they feel about what they’ve learned. Then they begin to talk about acts of service, no matter how big or small, to encourage each other and share ideas. Some talk about service at their school, two youth are in a band that played in the school of some of their Youth Circles Photo 2 younger friends. Others speak of helping their parents around the house. 

Who are these special youth, concerned with others and ready to contribute to the world around them? Many of them are young Baha’is, ranging in age from 11 to 18. They come together every week to study materials that assist them to reflect more profoundly on the deeper questions of life and enhance their capacity to contribute to the development of their neighbourhoods and their world. They connect through their prayers, their discussions and in studying materials based on the Baha’i teachings. Together they learn about how to help their family and community and they make plans for service activities, such as a food bank drive they did in their neighbourhood. 

This youth circle is particularly special in that it has grown from four to fifteen members in four years. Their friendship keeps them coming back and it keeps the group growing. Although they meet as a group, they are currently working on three different books called the Spirit of Faith, Power of the Holy Spirit and Reflections on the Life of the Spirit. The junior youth aged 11 to 14 study the first two books. The older youth study Reflections on the Life of the Spirit, which focuses on prayer, understanding and applying the revelation of God in their own lives and the journey of the soul through this world and the next.

When asked how this group impacted her life,  on of the members said “it helps you with your decisions, good or bad… the questions make you think about what would happen. You wouldn’t think about it by yourself.”

Leanna, a young woman, aged 18, has participated with the group since it began. After participating in study of the first two books, she completed Reflections on the Life of the Spirit with another group but has now returned to help facilitate and animate one of the junior youth groups.

“I never expected it to be fun, but it really is,” she said. She loves seeing the other youth every week, “Every time I come I learn something new and it reminds I shouldn’t be talking behind people’s backs and stuff… it helps me.”

She considers the members of her group friends. She plans on continuing along as a group animator for the next book next year as she begins a communications degree.

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