Written by Nancy Lavoie
One of my favourite Ruhi books is Ruhi Book 3: Teaching Children’s Classes, Grade 1. The profound principles and concepts that inspire and shape the system for the spiritual education of children resonate with all who study it. It underscores why children need the spiritual precepts and teachings of the Divine Educator if they are to create a better world, and the spiritual fortitude, insight and courage they need to withstand the aggressive forces of an increasingly materialistic world.
In the Durham cluster, the Area Teaching Committee has a goal this cycle of strengthening and increasing the number of children’s classes to 5, hopefully in a few of its neighbourhoods. To achieve this goal, and in consultation with collaborators from two other clusters, the ATC raised a call for individuals to participate in a sub-regional Book 3 campaign, to study the revised version of this book and bring added momentum to the spiritual education of children. While not everyone is likely to teach a class directly, we all share in the responsibility to promote this essential aspect of the community building process. Studying this book with a group or team of friends helps us all learn the elements of a meaningful conversation about their spiritual education.
Twenty friends from Durham responded to the request of the ATC and took part in the study with 25 others from neighbouring clusters of Peterborough, Northumberland and Lennox and Addington and South Hastings. Thanks to Zoom, we also had the delight of studying with a group of friends serving throughout Nunavut. The entire campaign experienced the loving support and encouragement of the Counsellor Ayafor Ayafor and Auxiliary Board member Rhona Scoffield, along with members of the Institute Board and the Bahá’í Council of Ontario.
The study was held online on Saturday mornings through May and June. We also had a special day-long session outside at the newly-acquired Bethany Bahá’í Center of Learning. We had sunny skies and warm temperatures which allowed us to enjoy the picturesque grounds of the Centre while following covid-safety guidelines. A couple from Toronto –along with their two children– were happily gardening in the background and enjoying the countryside. They regularly volunteer on weekends, as do many others in the region who give of their time to restore and maintain the buildings and the grounds of the Centre. A virtual gathering was also held simultaneously for those unable to physically attend, and we managed to integrate both groups together for prayers, talks from the Auxiliary Board member, planning and reflections.
Participating in this study has helped us have meaningful conversations with the many people we meet about the responsibility we share to educate the children in our communities. In the section of the book titled A Few Thoughts for the Tutor, it says that beyond the more immediate aim of raising teachers, the study serves to more broadly familiarize every individual with some of the concepts and ideas that shape the educational system for children.
“In this, the book hopes to contribute to a heightened awareness within a community, both of its obligation to nurture children spiritually and of the qualities, attitudes and conduct its adult members must display in their interactions with them.” 
The Universal House of Justice describes children as the most precious treasure a community can possess and that much depends on the quality of the interaction of the adults with them to ensure they are provided with a proper education.
During the final plenary, plans were shared by the participants. In brief, we made plans to engage parents in conversations about the spiritual education of children, holding children’s camps in communities that could potentially lead to regularly held classes, and strengthening the overall conversation on the spiritual education of children through regular devotional meetings. Through this, we hope to raise the number of people in our community who are actively concerned about – and engaged in – the spiritual empowerment of the children we long to serve.
 Ruhi Book 3: Teaching Children’s Classes, Grade 1