Bahá’ís in Johannesburg, like their fellow Bahá’ís in tens of thousands of localities around the world, meet regularly with their families, friends, and neighbours to hold devotional gatherings.
These meetings provide a space where people of all faiths and beliefs can come together to pray, meditate and contemplate the spiritual dimensions of human existence, in an uplifting environment.
Bahá’ís believe that prayer is essential for our spiritual lives and that promoting a culture of prayer and reverence within ourselves, our families, and the communities in which we live, will contribute towards a healthy and unified society which is able to advance spiritually and materially.
A spirit of communal worship is generated by these gatherings, and this spirit begins to permeate the community’s collective endeavours. All are welcome to attend these devotional gatherings.
Bahá’í children’s classes are open to all children and aim to nurture hearts and minds. People everywhere are eager to ensure that their children receive a well-rounded education and that their moral and spiritual educational needs are met. Classes are held regularly in neighbourhoods around Johannesburg.
The classes follow a structured program in which children are guided through a series of materials. During the early years of childhood, emphasis is placed on the development of spiritual values and qualities, and on building a strong relationship with God.
Teachers recognize that each child is fundamentally a spiritual being, with an abundance of potential positive qualities to be nurtured and developed.
Children are encouraged to reflect on and apply, spiritual principles and virtues such as justice, unity, and kindness, and are encouraged to strive for excellence in all that they do, and to love humanity in all its diversity.
Classes include short lessons; activities and games which foster friendship and unity; stories; art; and music.
The moral and spiritual education of children is fundamental, not only to the well-being of the children, but to the advancement of humanity itself.
Recognizing the need for a fundamental transformation of attitudes and behaviors to effect change in the dynamics of human interaction, the Bahá’í community has placed a particular focus on the spiritual and moral education of junior youth aged between 12 and 15.
At this critical age, the junior youth not only experience rapid physical and emotional changes, but also begin to question many things in life.
They start developing a sense of personal moral responsibility and decision-making, refine their critical-thinking skills and are eager to explore the many issues to which their consciences are slowly awakening.
As they navigate through this impressionable time of their lives, they need to be given tools to help them form a strong moral identity, to build their intellectual capacities and to encourage their capabilities for service to their societies.
The junior youth empowerment program offers spaces for junior youth to interact with their peers and explore what is beneficial to them and to their communities. Groups are formed in neighbourhoods across Johannesburg, often by an older youth who has previously undergone training.
In such spaces, the junior youth are encouraged to develop their powers of expression, to elevate their thinking, and to adopt an outward-looking orientation.
Through activities such as artistic expression, discussion, drama, cooperative games, study of literature, storytelling and acts of community service, the junior youth are inspired and empowered to work towards the betterment of their communities and to become agents of positive change.
The Bahá’í Teachings emphasize that each person is responsible for his or her own spiritual development.
To facilitate this, Bahá’ís across Johannesburg – together with their friends, neighbours and colleagues – come together in small groups called “study circles” to draw inspiration from the Word of God through the study of a series of books.
Study circles entail participatory learning where insight is gained through discussion and exploration of spiritual themes, as well as through the use of artistic expression.
Recognizing that spiritual and social transformation cannot be achieved through study alone, participants are encouraged to translate their insights and skills into acts of service, thus contributing to the betterment of society.
Participation in the series of courses paves the way for systematic efforts to increase and intensify one’s capacity for service. In the process, participants walk a spiritual path of service, both individually and collectively.
They constantly explore the dynamics of working to bring about an ever-advancing society, through daily effort to progressively reflect, in their thoughts and actions, the standards prescribed by God.