Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bloggin' Da BMG: 2009: Part Two

The Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Baha'i Faith had this to say about the Black Men's Gathering:

The universal spirit conveyed from a group of individuals who are daily pressured by the myopic cultural vision of those among whom they live and work, the certitude of the participants’ commitment to the Lord of Mankind, the clarity of their understanding of the essentials of the … Plan in relation to the individual, the institutions and the community, the vibrancy of their fellowship - all evoke in us feelings of admiration and gratitude.

This is indeed an exemplary achievement at a time when so many other groups in the United States are gripped in the self-imposed strictures of cultural divisiveness. Would to God that the news of this accomplishment be noised abroad as a lesson and an inspiration to others.

--The Universal House of Justice 8 August 1996

The second half of this year's Black Men's Gathering Leadership Forum featured remarks from Mr. Glenford Mitchell. Glenford Mitchell is a former member of the Universal House of Justice and a highly distinguished Baha'i respected around the globe. His reflections and commentary centered around a letter addressed by the House of Justice to an individual African American Baha'i dated June 3rd, 2007. In brief the letter addresses a variety of issues related to African Americans including their potential contributions to the creation of a new civilization, the spiritual significance of their oppression, the historical context of American chattel slavery, and Christianity and slavery. The essence of Mr. Mitchell's remarks was the need for African Americans to transcend limited notions of racial or ethnic identity and attachment to past suffering, while embracing our spiritual identity and destiny as contributors to the building of God's kingdom on earth. He specifically quoted the Hidden Words in this regard:

O SON OF MAN! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty. (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

We were also reminded that the success of the Black Men's Gathering has and will continue to depend upon its alignment with the guidance flowing from the Universal House of Justice and those spiritual forces which are leading humanity towards unity, justice and peace. Needless to say, Mr. Mitchell's remarks provoked deep reflection and energetic consultation among the participants. Specifically, we discussed how to embody the insights from the June 3rd letter in our services to people of African descent in America, the Baha'i community generally, and humanity as a whole. The session ended with prayers for those needing healing or who had passed on to the next world.