The Lamp, volume 1 Number 4
A Newsletter Produced by the Wilmette Institute
Volume 1, Number 4, April 1997
Wilmette Institute Programs for 1997-98
Back to index for The Lamps
The Wilmette Institute is offering two programs for 1997-98: the
second year of the Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program and
a correspondence course on Bahá'í scripture.
The principal theme of the second year of the Spiritual Foundations program is
"The Individual and the Family in Bahá'í Community." These two
vital elements are particularly underlined in the Ridván 1996 message
as components of the Four Year Plan. They will be studied from physical,
psychological, educational, and spiritual points of view. Also covered will be
Bahá'í history from 1863 to 1921, including much of the ministry
of Bahá'u'lláh and the entire ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá;
selected writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá;
creative writing skills; and teaching the Faith. Students currently in the
program should have already received information about registering for the
second year. Applications have been coming in from new students as well.
(continued on page 5)
Summer 1997 Schedule
Residential Session (Required):
July 19*- August 8
Irfán Colloquium (Optional):
Fourth Week Studies (Optional):
*Not July 15th, as misstated in the application
The Final Stretch
By now you should have completed the final examination (unless, of course, you
completed one in September as a student who received credit through
National-Louis University). You should also have received all the homework you
submitted over the past year. It is very important that you complete the exam
and return it. The Spiritual Foundations program seeks to be a rigorous program
of study of the Bahá'í Faith as it relates to the world. Allowing
some students to skip the final while requiring others to take it would not be
fair and would undermine the program.
The deadline for returning the exam was April first. If you need an extension
or have any questions, contact Robert Stockman. The exams will be mailed back
to you on May 1st, at which time you will also receive home study assignments
for the second year.
Week 4, The Baghdad Period
An optional fourth week of classes (August 11-15) will follow the 1997 summer
residential session. This fourth week will be devoted to the study of the
Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh during the Baghdad Period (1853-63).
(continued on page 5)
Letter from the Universal House of Justice 3
Teaching Reports 6,7
Registering for Next Year 2
New Faculty 4
Deepenings/Firesides on Tape 7
Call for Papers 2
Getting Credit 2
Thornton Chase's 150th Birthday 8
Credit will probably be available at the undergraduate and
graduate levels through National-Louis University. National-Louis requires that
students pay before or during the session unless they are matriculated at that
As the material for each year of the Wilmette Institute is created, the
Wilmette Institute must apply to National-Louis University to get the course
approved. This approval indicates that it meets their standards for credit. We
have submitted an application for the second-year course and expect to hear
from them in mid-April. This year we are requesting 45 credit hours for
in-class study on the development of the individual and the family. This is the
length of a typical semester-long course at a university. The course will be
worth five quarter-credit hours if you want undergraduate credit or three
semester-credit hours if you want graduate credit. We are still waiting to hear
the exact price. National-Louis University is scheduled to raise their tuition
rates before July, but the new rates have not been finalized. They are likely
to be approximately $135 per quarter-credit hour or $200 per semester-credit
hour. Thus the course will cost approximately $675 for undergraduate credit or
$600 for graduate credit.
Once we are sure of the costs and availability of credit, we will send you a
letter. The letter will also include more information about National-Louis
The Graduate School of America
Credit will be available again this year at the graduate
level through The Graduate School of America (TGSA). TGSA is a virtual
university, an institution for graduate level distance education. It offers
Master's and Ph.D. degree programs in the following four fields of study:
Education, Organization and Management, Human Services, and Interdisciplinary
Studies. Students of the Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization
program may enroll at TGSA for any one of the above degree programs and earn
graduate level credits for their Bahá'í studies at the Wilmette
Institute. The students of the Institute enrolling in such combined degree
programs will receive a special discount for the fees to be paid to TGSA. Those
interested in the degree programs are requested to make necessary arrangements
before attending the residential session in July 1997. For further information
please contact the Wilmette Institute.
Registering for 1997-98
By now you should have received a form to fill out
indicating that you plan to come to the second- year (1997) residential
program. You must return it with a $300 deposit ($150 for tuition and $150 for
dormitory and meals.) You will also receive a payment schedule for the rest of
the tuition and residential expenses. Upon registration you must pay half of
the tuition ($400) and all of the residential costs (about $650) are due. You
must also indicate whether you plan to attend the optional fourth week of
classes in July (about $220 in residential expenses plus a $200 tuition
Call For Papers
The Association for Bahá'í Studies has conducted an essay contest
since at least 1980. Papers are considered in several categories; one is a
"student" category. The paper submitted must be unpublished. The Wilmette
Institute would love for its students to submit papers to the Association for
Bahá'í Studies every year, and, ideally, win a prize each year.
The Irfán Colloquium, which will be held at National-Louis University
after the three-week residential program ends (August 9-10), represents a
special opportunity to prepare a paper of quality and deliver it to an audience
of fellow students and other friends interested in scholarly studies before
submitting it to ABS. The Irfán Colloquium is not connected with the ABS
contest. Manuscripts for ABS should be submitted to Christine Zerbinis at the
Center for Bahá'í Studies, 34 Copernicus St., Ottawa, ON, KIN
7K4, CANADA. Future issues of The Lamp will contain further
Letter from the Universal House of
to the Wilmette Institute 1996 Inaugural Class
This letter was written in response to a letter
from the student council of the 1996 residential session. (That letter appears
at the bottom of the page.)
Transmitted by email to The National Spiritual Assembly of
the Bahá'ís of the United States
Date: 1 August 1996
The Universal House of Justice read with keen interest your fax letter of 24
July 1996 together with the status report on the Wilmette Institute, with
particular regard to the "Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization: A
Four-Your Program". We have been asked to convey the following.
The House of Justice was greatly pleased to hear from the members of the
inaugural class of this program and to sense their enthusiasm for deepening
their knowledge of the Bahá'í Teachings. But it was even more
impressed with their express determination to use the benefits to be derived
from systematic study of the Faith in renewed service to the community. May
unceasing success attend their continuing efforts to uphold the standards that
will ensure the emergence of a global civilization.
We are to assure each and all members of the inaugural class of the ardent
prayers of the House of Justice in the Holy Shrines that they may be surrounded
by divine confirmations.
Department of the Secretariat
Letter to The Universal House of Justice from the Inaugural
Written at the 1996 Residential Session
Dearly Beloved Members of the Universal House of Justice:
"Of all the gifts of God the greatest is the gift of Teaching. It draweth unto
us the Grace of God and is our first obligation. Of such a gift how can we
deprive ourselves? Nay, our lives, our goods, our comforts, our rest, we offer
them all as a sacrifice for the Abha Beauty and teach the Cause of God."
Greetings and a joyous Allah'u'abha to our Supreme Institution from the
students of the Wilmette Institute program, Spiritual Foundations for a Global
Civilization! As its inaugural residential class, we are striving to follow the
Beloved Guardian's directive that, "...Whilst actively teaching, the friends
themselves be taught and deepened in the spirit of the Faith, which brings love
The Wilmette Institute is a pilot project of the Institute for
Bahá'í Studies being carried out under the aegis of the National
Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í s of the United States. Its
chief mission is to educate and raise up a new generation of teachers of our
dearly loved faith. As students of the first residential program, the forty of
us are privileged to be studying in the shadow of the Mother Temple of the
West. We are young and old, male and female, rural and urban, veteran believers
and new, black and white and many shades in between. Our unifying foci are
dedication to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and our struggle to
acquire the gift of Divine Knowledge. (Continued on page 4)
New Faculty Members for the 1997 Residential Session
Dr. Saba Ayman-Nolley
Saba Ayman-Nolley received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of
Chicago. She is an Associate Professor of Psychology and International and
Intercultural Studies and Chairperson of the Psychology Department at
Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. Her fields of specialization are
developmental psychology and early childhood development and education. Her
research areas include children's social development and their development of
creativity. She has served as the coordinator of the special education program
for the six Head Start programs at the Fort Peck Indian reservation in
Dr. Ayman-Nolley has received a number of awards for academic and professional
excellence as well as scholarships, fellowships, and research grants. She has
produced a number of scientific and professional publications and has made over
thirty presentations at various scientific and professional conventions and
conferences. Dr. Ayman-Nolley is a member of the national Bahá'í
Education Task Force, which is charged with developing and implementing a
systematic program for the training of teacher educators and preparation of
curricular materials for Bahá'í education of children.
Dr. Michael L. Penn
Michael Penn is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Franklin
& Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his M.A. and
Ph.D. degrees from Temple University in the area of clinical psychology. He has
won awards for academic excellence and was nominated for a teaching award.
Michael Penn has published a number of scholarly articles in a variety of
areas, including developmental psychopathology, culture and psychopathology,
social psychiatry, public health, race relations, and violence against women
and girls. He has also published magazine articles on a variety of topics and
has given a number of presentations. He is working on a book he hopes will be
published in September.
Dr. Penn's Bahá'í responsibilities include serving as an
Auxiliary Board member for the mid-Atlantic states.
Letter to Universal House of Justice (continued from
Our program, which features components of scholarship, service, and
presentation skills, illustrates the concept of permanent centres of learning
extolled in the Universal House of Justice's Ridván letter to the
believers in North America. The course is fostering the development of
"necessary skills to effectively teach the faith," and providing the
opportunity for us "to embark on a systematic study of the fundamental verities
of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh." Our studies have given us
renewed impetus to follow the directive that enjoins us to "...commit
yourselves to the work of the Cause afresh, liberated from any doubts,
uncertainties or hesitations which may have impeded you in the past."
We humbly request your prayers for our success in our endeavors and place at
your disposal the resources of the Spiritual Foundations program.
Yours in His Service,
The Inaugural Class of Spiritual
Foundations for a Global Civilization
Wilmette Institute Programs for 1997-98
(continued from page 1)
Like last year, the second year of the program will have two aspects--a home
study and a three week summer residential session. This year students will be
required to take both. This is different from the procedure in 1996-97. Last
year, due to certain circumstances, it was decided to start the program with
the home-study portion, which resulted in some students taking only that
portion. Since this year's home study is actually the continuation of and
complementary to the residential session, it cannot be taken alone. Moreover,
the residential session is seen as integral to the program. The Wilmette
Institute Board has decided that the quality of the four year program would
suffer if exceptions to this basic requirement were allowed.
For those who cannot attend the summer session, however, the Wilmette Institute
plans to offer an alternative: distance learning or correspondence courses.
These will not require a residency and thus will be more flexible and less
costly to the students. Such courses may include a list server similar to
Global and conference calls. They will be developed as resources allow.
The first course, projected to be available in late 1997, will explore the
writings of Bahá'u'lláh. At its core will be a textbook the
Wilmette Institute is developing on Bahá'í scripture: a
compilation of various writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
Shoghi Effendi, H. M. Balyuzi, and Adib Taherzadeh about Bahá'í
scriptural works. The textbook will be supplemented by reading the scriptural
texts themselves, and by commentaries, outlines, and other materials--published
We do not recommend that our Spiritual Foundations students also take the
scripture course, because it will be too time consuming to do both, and some
aspects of the scripture course are already integrated into the Spiritual
Foundations program. As stated in the brochure about the Spiritual Foundations
course, "Bahá'í Scripture" is already a part of the program, as
Module F. The Institute is expanding that particular module and making it
available as a stand-alone correspondence course.
Current Spiritual Foundations students who are unable to take the summer
session this year will be given first priority in registering for the scripture
course. If they are able to attend future summer sessions, they will
automatically resume their status as students of the Spiritual Foundations
If you have any questions about this new policy please call the Wilmette
Institute office for further information.
The Fourth Week: The Baghdad Period (continued
from page 1)
The Baghdad period represents the opening decade of Bahá'u'lláh's
revelation. Some of His most important works were revealed during this time:
the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the Hidden Words, the Seven Valleys, and
the Four Valleys. This period was characterized by a focus on the mystical and
spiritual aspects of religion--the core of all religions--and on the
Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths as a fulfillment of the
promises of the earlier religions. Bahá'u'lláh also defined many
of the Faith's basic ethical and theological principles in this period.
In later periods Bahá'u'lláh focused on proclaiming His mission,
revealing His laws, and defining Bahá'í social principles.
The optional course will examine about thirty of Bahá'u'lláh's
tablets from the Baghdad period. It will have a text, homework assignments
during the fourth week, and some homework assignments to complete in August and
September. There is an additional $200 tuition fee for the extra week.
Shoghi Effendi, on the
"Community of the Most Great
"Conscious of their high calling, confident in the society-building
power which their Faith possesses, they press forward, undeterred and
undismayed, in their efforts to fashion and perfect the necessary instruments
wherein the embryonic World Order of Bahá'u'lláh can mature and
develop. It is this building process, slow and unobtrusive, to which the life
of the world-wide Bahá'í Community is wholly consecrated, that
constitutes the one hope of a stricken society. For this process is actuated by
the generating influence of God's changeless Purpose, and is evolving within
the framework of the Administrative Order of His Faith." --The World
Order Of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 195
Carolyn Alperin has been blazing trails with her teaching efforts in her
community in North Carolina. She is conducting workshops and firesides on a
regular basis. Here is her description of one of the events:
"Soon after returning home from Wilmette, I contacted the school board of the
Bahá'í school in Asheville, North Carolina, to arrange a series
of Workshops on teaching the Faith. The Asheville Bahá'í
community is fortunate enough to have a center where classes for children and
adults are held every Sunday morning. They were delighted to have someone
volunteer to conduct classes for the adults every second Sunday starting Sept.
8 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon.
"A fellow Bahá'í from the community, Alex Briber, assisted me
with the first workshop, `The Nature of Deepening.' Since I was only allotted
one hour for this program, I only conducted the first half of the workshop at
this time. There were 17 Bahá'ís in attendance for the session. I
asked people to read aloud several paragraphs on deepening and teaching. I then
divided the class into four groups, told each group to choose one person as
secretary, and let them consult about the answers to seven questions relating
to the readings. Alex and I walked around to each group and facilitated the
discussions. I let them consult for 30 minutes, then I asked each secretary to
present the answers to the large group. The groups came up with thoughtful and
wise answers, and the discussion was lively. I was very nervous before the
class because I had not done
anything like this before. Also, I had felt intimidated because many of the
participants knew much more about deepening than I did. However, after I got
started and saw that people were having good discussions and enjoying
themselves, I started to relax and enjoy the process."
Carolyn has continued her workshops and expanded them to a neighboring
community. She and her husband started holding regular firesides in their home
on September 11. They are now cooperating with another Bahá'í
family in the community to offer firesides each week, renting a room in a
centrally located public building.
Keep up the good work, Carolyn!
"I was very nervous before the class because I had not done anything like this
before... However, after I got started and saw that people were having good
discussions and enjoying themselves, I started to relax and enjoy the process."
Marc Greenburg has been active in his teaching activities in New York.
He has started a series of deepenings on The Dawn-Breakers, held about
twice a month, complete with homework, at his home in East Meadow, NY. He also
recently hosted a talk by Dr. Behrooz Sabet called "Spiritual Transformation:
Developing a New World Order" on February 14. His community hosted Dr. Sabet
for two other talks as well.
Alice Ferro is using the Internet in her Oklahoma
teaching activities. Alice has set up a permanent chat room on the "Talk City"
server as a forum for deepening. Up to 100 people can use it at once! It runs
in real-time, which means that the people using the chat room will see your
comments as you type them. The name of the "room" is #Bahai-Study and
anyone with access to websites can use it. After initial set-up, you can find
instructions at http://www/talkcity.com. You will need to get some free
IRC software, but after that it does not take long to join. If other groups
are interested in holding meetings in Alice's chat room, just send her an email
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will schedule a time for you. Also, if you
are using the room for the first time, please email Alice for directions.
Alice is also running a deepening on the Covenant. The material she uses was
developed by Jimmy and Mona Seow, and has been approved for general use. It
consists of nine lessons of about nine pages each. At the end of each lesson
is a set of short-answer questions (similar to a textbook.) Alice tries to
make the project unique to the student by sending out the lessons in a
three-ring binder with his or her name on it. After each lesson, Alice gives
out the answers, so participants can compare and see if they were correct
without the embarrassment of someone grading their paper. At the end each
participant has his or her own notebook complete with answers and can teach the
course to someone else. Alice currently has 38 students.
Other activities include regular firesides and traveling to five neighboring
towns to meet with isolated believers and small groups. She visits each twice
a month. On a related note, Alice is pleased to welcome Aleata Dinsmoore, a
resident of one of these towns, to the Bahá'í Community. She
recently declared her faith after studying the writings and attending Alice's
firesides. She is the first Baha'í in Langley, OK. Congratulations to
Aleata, and thanks for the great teaching, Alice!
Do you have teaching stories you would like to share? Send them in
to us. We can inspire each other!
"Windows To The Past" audio cassettes are available! Produced by Dr. Darius and
Grace Shahrokh, these tapes are a series of deepenings and firesides on the
history of the Bahá'í Faith and the early believers. These tapes
are highly acclaimed. Their "relevant stories purposefully placed to lighten
the concentration or emphasize a point" make them inspiring and informative.
Tapes are about $6 each, so order one for yourself and one for a friend! Just
contact: IMAGES INTERNATIONAL, 5010 Austin Rd, Hixson, TN 37343,
1-800-470-4525, or locally 423-870-4525.
Do you have pictures from the 1996 Residential session? The Wilmette Institute
is collecting photographs for an album and for future publications. We may even
use them on a Web page! So if you have pictures, we would really appreciate any
donation you could make to the collection. Please send them to the Wilmette
Institute, 536 Sheridan Road, Wilmette, IL 60091, USA. Thanks!
Myriad mirrors of crystaled snow reflect the sun.
Fledgling stars of Bahá'u'lláh's heaven
Attuned to Beauty, Power and Might?
Would it were so!
God's light aglow in the earth burnished soul
See His haven in the darkened night-
Love, joy, peace nearly....
Beyond the reach of mortal sight.
Wilmette Institute Student
'In 1907 he went on pilgrimage and met 'Abdu'l-Bahá; he
recorded his experience in a book that is still in print, In Galilee.
Thornton Chase died on September 30, 1912, as 'Abdu'l-Bahá's train sped
through Nevada on its way to California. Though exhausted, 'Abdu'l-Bahá
made a special trip to Los Angeles to visit Chase's grave, revealed a prayer to
say in Chase's honor, and asked the Bahá'ís to commemorate
Chase's passing annually.
In 1898 Thornton Chase had written 'Abdu'l-Bahá and asked for a prayer
to say daily for his spiritual growth. 'Abdu'l-Bahá revealed the
following prayer, from which the Wilmette Institute's motto ("a Lamp of Thy
knowledge among Thy creatures") is derived:
O God, my God! Thou art my Hope and my Beloved, my highest Aim and Desire!
With great humbleness and entire devotion I pray to Thee to make me a minaret
of Thy love in Thy land, a lamp of Thy knowledge among Thy creatures, and a
banner of divine bounty in Thy dominion.
Number me with such of Thy servants as have detached themselves from
everything but Thee, have sanctified themselves from the transitory things of
this world, and have freed themselves from the promptings of the voicers of
Let my heart be dilated with joy through the spirit of confirmation from Thy
kingdom, and brighten my eyes by beholding the hosts of divine assistance
descending successively upon me from the kingdom of Thine omnipotent
Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Powerful.
--`Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 57-58