Australian Baha'i Sites

‘Share their joys and sorrows’: building a community founded on love and friendship 

A small band of well-wishers of humanity dedicated to the betterment of society is being raised up in the Gold Coast – growing in size and dynamism and continuing to widen its sphere of influence in the city and beyond. 

Over the past decade, more than 90 individuals have embraced the Baha’i Faith in the city, with many becoming active protagonists in the capacity-building process. According to local tutor Soheil Abedian, dedication, love and creativity have proven indispensable when building such a vibrant community. 

Soheil and his wife Anne – assisted by a few other dedicated souls – are currently tutoring 19 study circles engaging 185 individuals. Of the current study circles, eight groups are studying the first unit of ‘Discourse on Social Action’ developed by the Foundation for the Application and Teaching of Science (Fundaec), a Baha’i-inspired non-government organization based in Colombia.  

Discourse on Social Action study circle participants break the fast together in the Gold Coast.

Soheil says using this course introduces potential institute participants at the workplace, in university spaces, at sporting groups and charities to the concept of a two-fold moral purpose. 

“As they study this course, participants are asked to research historical figures who have had a significant and lasting positive impact on the world,” he says. “This naturally leads to an exploration of the role of the Manifestations of God in shaping human progress.” 

While many of the individuals who have joined Gold Coast’s capacity-building process have invited friends along, allowing for a steady flow of new participants into the institute process, others have felt empowered to take on roles such as children’s class teachers, tutors, committee members, and co-ordinators. 

One such example is of Yas Daniel Matbouly, an individual who has been part of the process for many years and had joined the Baha’i community as a result. During the Covid pandemic, he was moved to establish the charity organisation ‘Serving Our People’ – delivering food and essential items to isolated individuals. The organisation has now opened a free supermarket for those in need, expanding to other cities and engaging more than 2,000 volunteers. 

Some of the Gold Coast friends involved in the capacity-building process.

For Soheil, the capacity-building process needs to be infused with connection and community in order to advance. He says WhatsApp groups, phone calls completed during drives to-and-from work, regular visits with friends, and celebrating special occasions such as birthday parties all combine to create a process that is founded on mutual support and friendship. 

“We share with them in their joys and sorrows,” he says. 

Thanks for reading.

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Gold Coast

The Baha’is of Gold Coast organise service activities to contribute to the moral and intellectual development of the community. Free and open to all, these activities include devotional meetings, children’s classes, junior youth groups and study circles.

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Published in April, 2024, in Community Stories > Community Building

Available online at: horizons.bahai.org.au/community-stories/share-their-joys-and-sorrows-building-a-community-founded-on-love-and-friendship/

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