Baha'i followers in Jamaica urged to recommit to original visionWednesday, July 28, 2021
By Candice Haughton
KINGSTON, Jamaica – A leader of the Baha'i community in Jamaica has called on followers of the faith locally to remember the original vision of early Baha'is.
Stacy Mitchell, chairperson of the National Spiritual Assembly Baha'i of Jamaica, made the call as the community celebrated its 19th observation of Baha'i Day in Kingston on Sunday.
Though the first adherents of the Baha'i faith in Jamaica declared their belief in 1942, and subsequently established the first local Spiritual Assembly of Baha'is in Kingston in 1943, the proclamation Baha'i Day was not issued until 2003, by then Governor General Howard Cooke.
In her presentation, Mitchell reiterated the purpose of the religion by saying, “The central teaching of the Baha'i faith is the oneness of humanity. Baha'is fundamental teaching is that God always had a plan for humanity and this grand redemptive scheme has been unfolding overtime, so that all the major world religions are really coming from one source.”
She added that the celebration is “a reminder to us of what the faith is about, the vision that the early Baha'is caught and how we need to recommit to that vision - fighting for empowerment.”
Noting that early Baha'is were Garveyist, and they believed in the idea of racial pride and racial empowerment and the understanding that everyone is a child of God, Mitchell encouraged those who might be interested in learning about the Baha'i faith to do their own investigation.
“The first thing is to challenge Jamaicans to investigate it. Baha'i faith tells us that we must all independently investigate, not because your granny seh so, or it used to do so and everybody always does it,” she said.
Mitchell continued: “You need to check it out for yourself. We have to be open to look at the ways in which we have a lot to gain from unity and togetherness, and actually we are closer than we realise. If you look at all the religions, you would be frightened [at] how all of them have similarities. We should grow to respect each other and love each other despite our differences.”
Mitchell told Observer Online that it is every Baha'is duty to ensure that they spread the word of the faith. She confirmed that they do that through various community outreach programmes.
“We try to work at the local level in the communities with young people and children. We have educational classes, between 11 to 15 years. We have a programme that is specially designed for that age group. Of course we have study classes in which adults can participate,” Mitchell said, explaining that for younger children they are taught the importance of virtues such as honesty.
“The junior youth programme has books that have to deal with language and articulation, books that have to deal with mathematical thinking and observation. Books that relate to people in the society. There are some books that are Baha'i specific, but it's not a compulsory part of the programme because actually most of the people in our programmes are not Baha'is and those books would only be used if the parents agree,” she stated.
She further said, “the aim of this programme is to get young people to understand that they can be agents for change, that they can be of service to their community. It's to try and make them better youngsters.”
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