Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Black Mens Gathering, Michigan

Brothers get their praise on in New Jersey 2006

On Friday I'll be headed out to Michigan to participate in a local Black Men's Gathering. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Black Men's Gathering, it simply refers to groups of men of African descent who come together throughout the year to learn how to apply the teachings of the Baha'i Faith to the moral and spiritual transformation of themselves and the world. The Universal House of Justice, the International Governing Council of the Baha'i described the purpose of the Black Men's Gathering in this way:

"...the Gathering is a distinctive activity with a different agenda. It does not concern itself chiefly with race unity in the Bahá'í community as such. It addresses itself to a special situation faced by a minority that has suffered severe social and spiritual afflictions imposed upon it by the majority. The program of the Black Men's Gatherings is unique and exemplary as an avenue for transcending the legacy of anguish, frustration and social pathology that is peculiar to black men in the United states; it urges them towards a fullness of life within the spirit and principles of the Bahá'í Revelation."
(The Universal House of Justice, 2000 Mar 14)

Over the many years I've participated in the Black Men's Gathering, I have marveled at the extraordinary sensitivity and support shown by the Universal House of Justice for the plight of black males in the United States. It should be remembered that the House of Justice is a body that governs a global, multi-racial faith community and not a predominantly or exclusively black one. It offers powerful evidence that it is possible to create a multi-racial context in which the spiritual and psychological needs of black people can be taken seriously.

In addition to coming together for prayer, study of the Baha'i writings, consultation and fellowship, the men of the Gathering are actively involved in the activities Baha'is around the world are engaged in aimed at unifying the human race. These include the spiritual education of children, youth, and adults and the promotion of grassroots, informal, collective worship that welcomes people of all backgrounds. You can check out some of my previous posts about the Black Men's Gathering here, here, here, and here. I encourage you if you have never attended to seek out information about how to do so, whether you are currently a member of the Baha'i community or someone who is exploring that possibility. Gatherings are currently held all over the continental U.S., the Caribbean and most recently, South Africa.

"This is not a Cause which may be made a plaything for your idle fancies, nor is it a field for the foolish and faint of heart. By God, this is the arena of insight and detachment, of vision and upliftment, where none may spur on their chargers save the valiant horsemen of the Merciful, who have severed all attachment to the world of being. These, truly, are they that render God victorious on earth, and are the dawning-places of His sovereign might amidst mankind."
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 84)