Hello dear friends.
Welcome to Foundation Hall University. This is a very unique space where in a spiritual atmosphere, we study guidance, learn, listen, consult, heal, and build relationships and capacity to serve. Unlike many spaces, this space favors the pupil of the eye (people of African descent) who while having been entrusted with a noble station, still require healing from receiving for so long, "such grievous and slow healing wounds" stemming from the attitudes of ignorance and white supremacy that are woven into our country's fiber, institutions, and have contaminated so many hearts and minds. This BRIDGE space (bringing together both black and white daily) continues the goals of the POTE movement that began in 2019 in Nashville to help us understand, accept, and arise to our station of nobility.
If you really want to understand the POTE movement and what this space and other POTE-led spaces have done to nurture and encourage the pupil of the eye over the past two years, please listen to the following podcasts on Bahai.chat where many of us share our stories of healing and service. It was recorded in July 2021 after our 3rd Arise Conference.
3-Part Series Hosted by Barbara Talley and Steve Sarowitz)
Part 1: https://youtu.be/IH3IG5Q0YKM (Music by indieb)
(Willis Burris, Sue St. Clair, Gwen Etter-Lewis, Martine Hubbard, Derik Smith, and Angela Murray)
Part 2: https://youtu.be/91_gRo9lLtI
(Volari Taqi Morgan, Carol McGrath, Beverly Freeman, Carol Mansour, Carmen Brown, Clyde Herring, Rabi Musa, Cynthia Phillips, and Aura Denise Ragston)
Part 3: https://youtu.be/7eUIRPojJ2g
(Hoda Hosseini, Christian Hansen, Agnes Ivory, Kimberly Taillon,
Steve Sarowitz, Tony Hollinger, Karen Anderson, and Ladjamaya Green)
This is Barbara Talley; I am the developer of this site, the "architect" of Foundation Hall University (FHU), and the visionary of the first ARISE pupil of the eye conference held in Nashville in November 2019., the ARISE 2020, and the 2021 Virtual Conferences.
The Nashville conference has been described by James and others who attended it as a "sea change" and he graciously invited me into the virtual prayer call space that had been going on for eleven years (now 12), 365 days a year. Those eleven years of prayer have created a fertile ground for building a virtual meeting space that is now focusing on the elimination of racism, building community and elevating the station of black people designated as pupil of the eye. You can click on the 2021 schedule to see what we're studying and if you wish to join us, complete the invitation on the Welcome page to receive information on how to dial into the daily conversation.
Inspired by the conference and anxious about the urgent need to focus on the "most VITAL and challenging issue" and moved by Sadie Oglesby's twenty days with the Guardian back in 1927, the organizers in consultation with the participants agreed to allow me to transform the space into a virtual university focused primarily on restoring dignity to people of African descent. It has evolved into a space where after daily prayer, we study, reflect, grow together. and keep the conversation focused on eliminating racial prejudice.
While it was primarily created as a virtual physical space to coordinate efforts for our daily conference call reflections, it clearly has applicability for any group that wishes to use the space to find pertinent documents, access the daily schedule, to join us, or become part of the expanding nucleus of race unity activists who choose to build their own tribes locally and use these resources without duplicating the effort.
"It [Freedom from racial prejudice] should be consistently demonstrated in every phase of their activity and life, whether in the Bahá’í community or outside it, in public or in private, formally as well as informally, individually as well as in their official capacity as organized groups, committees and Assemblies. It should be deliberately cultivated through the various and everyday opportunities, no matter how insignificant, that present themselves, whether in their homes, their business offices, their schools and colleges, their social parties and recreation grounds, their Bahá’í meetings, conferences, conventions, summer schools and Assemblies. It should, above all else, become the keynote of the policy of that august body which, in its capacity as the national representative, and the director and coordinator of the affairs of the community, must set the example, and facilitate the application of such a vital principle to the lives and activities of those whose interests it safeguards and represents."
AT FHU (FOUNDATION HALL UNIVERSITY)
In April of 2021, after a break for the FAST and a two week Reflection Gathering and a written survey, we moved into Phase III which began with a several month study on the Ridvan Message, November 25, 2020 letter, and the annual report during our transitions schedule.
2021-2022 Schedule is as follows:
Wednesday- NSA Call to Action
Thursday- UHJ Packet Study
Friday- POTE focused study
There have been many changes implemented during Phase 3,
but these are the highlights.
The format of how we we gathered however is entering its 5th change.
The last two weeks of March, we began having a virtual Reflection Gathering after many hours of consultation in our virtual conference call consultation space on how to restructure phase two of our consultation space.
After two weeks of virtual consultation spanning many hours, along with data compiled from a Reflection Questionnaire sent to those who were participating, we came up with a new schedule for Phase II beginning April 2020. Forty-five of a possible 50 at the time completed the questionnaire. Now we have a whole new structure that is more focused and yet offers more flexibility.
While the focus is always about the elimination of prejudice, the formats have changed several times since we began in December 2019.
When we first started our dialogues, there were a lot of hurt feelings, disinterest in the new focus on the most vital and challenging issue, habits of consultation that were not necessarily inclusive, and anger that the space was changing. So we made many changes during those first few months.
In April 2021, we had another Reflection Gathering, to consult, and make the changes necessary for our spiritual, emotional, intellectual and numerical growth.
Dear Friends. We have just completed the first phase of our Foundation Hall Virtual Spiritual Experiment where we transformed a space that had been ongoing for eleven years praying and building community to one that is focused on education that will eliminate prejudice and contribute to the building of the Divine civilization Baha'u'llah envisioned where peace and harmony would prevail.
During Phase One, we:
This past year (2020) was an intense year of study at FHU. Many individual initiatives spun off from FHU participants. COVID19 happened and our numbers grew immensely. Over 800 people have registered on the site to pray, study, and use the resources provided here in the website launched April 2020.
Since December 2019, we have entertained 4 different formats for consultation. For the past year: Format 4: Four JOINT Days, two POTE days, and one SOTE day.
Now during our reflection, we will reexamine the pros and cons of this structure.
We studied the following, which have become the base curriculum for FHU:
In addition, we:
OTHER POINTS TO REFLECT ON:
On Mondays, we seek to accomplish
"When the holy souls, through the angelic power, will arise to show forth these celestial characteristics, establishing a band of harmony, each of these souls shall be regarded as one thousand persons and the waves of this greatest ocean shall be considered as the army of the hosts of the Supreme Concourse." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 401)
Mental Tests to be Suffered by
Believers in the West
"And yet, how often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warning of our beloved Master, who in particular during the concluding years of His Mission on earth, laid stress on the severe mental tests that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West... tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.
"Ours then is the duty and privilege to labour, by day, by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-man, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interests, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in the carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world."
(From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to the believers in Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, pp. 1-2)
On Tuesdays, after a welcome from Carmen Brown, we will discuss Abdul-Baha's journey, teachings, and lessons during his 239 days he spent in America. If new people have joined, James will spend some time at the end of the study getting to know them.
We are choosing to study his life based on the survey results:
Sixty-seven people responded to this question on the survey when asked the question: "Are you interested in studying the Life of Abdul-Baha for the next year?"
82%, or 55 people responded, "Yes."
16.4% or 11, responded with, "Maybe."
1.5% or 1 persons responded with, "No."
The full account of his journey is in the book "Promulgation of Universal Peace"
We will however begin study from a wonderful daily source on the web that has compiled a journalistic perspective of his stories. You can access it at the link below:
DURING MAY WE ARE STUDYING THE RIDVAN LETTER
On Wednesdays, we will begin studying the recent attachment sent to us in the April 7, 2021 Feast letter to America.
The document is 60 pages long and entitled, " Pilot Project_ The Elimination of Racial Prejudice and the Community Building Process-" This is an excerpt:
"Our team was asked to create this report by the National Spiritual Assembly, and we have endeavored to prepare it with the utmost humility. We have attempted to share, openly and honestly, what we learned from the participant responses and what we observed working with the communities. This report contains many stories and concrete examples, and it might be tempting to go directly to that section. However, we urge you to read the entire summary first, as it provides necessary context and framing.
In brief, it is important to understand that
• the report presents only a sampling of examples from a diverse group of project participants in the three pilot communities
• their examples represent their own experiences but not necessarily those of their entire community
• as you read what participants are learning, in many cases you will see that they describe effort, growth, and progress as well as the need to continue building capacity.
DURING MAY WE ARE STUDYING THE RIDVAN LETTER
Thursdays will remain the same. We will continue studying the Guidance from our Universal House of Justice. We have over 11 new documents already that we have not studied added since February 2021. We are also aware that we will be getting a 1 Year Plan and will make study of that Guidance priority over all other study when received.
"As to racial prejudice, the corrosion of which, for well-nigh a century, has bitten into the fiber, and attacked the whole social structure of American society, it should be regarded as constituting the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Bahá’í community at the present stage of its evolution.
The ceaseless exertions which this issue of paramount importance calls for, the sacrifices it must impose, the care and vigilance it demands, the moral courage and fortitude it requires, the tact and sympathy it necessitates, invest this problem, which the American believers are still far from having satisfactorily resolved, with an urgency and importance that cannot be overestimated.
White and Negro, high and low, young and old, whether newly converted to the Faith or not, all who stand identified with it must participate in, and lend their assistance, each according to his or her capacity, experience, and opportunities, to the common task of fulfilling the instructions, realizing the hopes, and following the example, of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Whether colored or noncolored, neither race has the right, or can conscientiously claim, to be regarded as absolved from such an obligation, as having realized such hopes, or having faithfully followed such an example.
A long and thorny road, beset with pitfalls, still remains untraveled, both by the white and the Negro exponents of the redeeming Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. On the distance they cover, and the manner in which they travel that road, must depend, to an extent which few among them can imagine, the operation of those intangible influences which are indispensable to the spiritual triumph of the American believers and the material success of their newly launched enterprise. "
Advent of Divine Justice p 34-35
Black Friday will not change. It is the only POTE-only time for us to discuss the most vital and challenging issue and how it affect us while also offering a listening opportunity for all others. Keeping POTE day was the most highly voted item on the survey.
"...As your own analysis shows, there are advantages to sometimes working in multiracial spaces and at other times to spaces for African Americans alone.
" (Universal House of Justice to the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly, March 24, 2019)
DURING MAY WE ARE STUDYING THE RIDVAN LETTER
Pick your Topic, Your Time, and Tribe
Many topics are of interest to the participants within this space. We have discussed during the survey and during our Reflection Gathering. With decentralized offerings, anyone can choose a topic, a time, and we can offer to the community to those who are interested.
To accomplish this need, and at the same, we will be facilitating the discussions a different way. It was not possible to do it in this space since the majority wish to be online fewer days and fewer hours.
MORE TO COME LATER ON HOW TO ACCOMPLISH THIS! STAY TUNED!
KEN BOWERS, OUR NSA SECRETARY WILL SPEAK AGAIN ON MAY 17, 2021 ABOUT THE RECENT RIDVAN MESSAGE AND ANNUAL REPORT
KEEP STUDYING THE RIVAN MESSAGE. THANK YOU TO KEN FOR SHARING YOUR TIME AND WISDOM WITH US.
" When God calls a soul to a high station, it is because that soul has capacity for that station as a gift of God, and because that soul has supplicated to be taken into His service. No envies, jealousies, calumnies, slanders, plots, nor schemes, will ever move God to remove a soul from its intended place, for by the grace of God, such actions on the part of the people are the test of the servant, testing his strength, forbearance, endurance and sincerity under adversity.
At the same time those who show forth envies, jealousies, etc., toward a servant, are depriving themselves of their own stations, and not another of his, for they prove by their own acts that they are not only unworthy of being called to any station awaiting them, but also prove that they cannot withstand the very first test—that of rejoicing over the success of their neighbor, at which God rejoices.
Only by such a sincere joy can the gift of God descend unto a pure heart. Envy closes the door of Bounty, and jealousy prevents one from ever attaining to the Kingdom of Abha. No! Before God! No one can deprive another of his rightful station, that can only be lost by one's unwillingness or failure to do the will of God, or by seeking to use the Cause of God for one's own gratification or ambition. No one save a severed soul or a sincere heart finds response from God.
By assisting in the success of another servant in the Cause does one in reality lay the foundation for one's own success and aspirations. Ambitions are an abomination before the Lord. How regrettable! Some even use the affairs of the Cause and its activities as a means of revenge on account of some personal spite, or fancied injury, interfering with the work of another, or seeking its failure. Such only destroy their own success, did they know the truth."
Excerpted from a letter of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the husband of Mrs. Lua Getsinger, in the book “Lua Getsinger: Herald of the Covenant”
1 . Share your "outward looking" activities.
2. Share what activities you have initiated,
3. Share how you are more engaged in local experiences.
4. Share how what you are learning here is contributing to the
effectiveness of the plans of local or regional institutions or agencies.
From Feast Letter- April 7, 2021 Feast of Jalal (Glory / Majesty)
"which provoked in the hearts of the community of the Greatest Name
• renewed desire,
• a sense of urgency, and
• restiveness to apply the balm of His message to the slow-healing wounds of racism.
"were especially interested in learning about neighborhoods where the work is being carried out with
• a conscious intent to build communities characterized by inclusiveness,
• a frank and loving conversation about race, and
• an effective empowerment of all people―
that is, communities where racial justice and unity will be watchwords in all the activities of the community and in all its institutional decisions.
• Remember the power of humility and a posture of learning as effective means to build bonds of friendship and create environments for frank and loving consultation about race.
• Find practical ways to make freedom from racial prejudice the watchword in every event and occasion connected with the Plan.
• Become more knowledgeable about the history of American race relations, to better understand longstanding realities and how the Faith can address them.
• Develop increasing unity of thought on how we can address the eradication of racial prejudice through the community-building work of the Divine Plan