Fireside Compilation

Authoritative texts which use the word ‘fireside(s)’, arranged chronologically:

Letters written by the Guardian, and on his behalf:

A. The Guardian has also noted with deep gratification that you and your dear mother are holding regular fireside meetings at your home, and that you have already formed a class numbering from twenty to twenty-five students.1
B. The Guardian was much rejoiced to know that the Fireside gatherings at your home continue to attract a large number of friends and inquirers. He will pray from all his heart for the success of these meetings, and would urge you and all the friends to help in further enhancing their teaching value.2
C. He was very happy to hear of the marked progress the Cause has made in … and that you have not only a number of new believers but also are actively conducting fireside classes and hold public meetings. All these are evidences of progress, and you should feel happy and encouraged about them.3
D. Through speaking at the fireside meetings you will no doubt find you can gradually address larger audiences!4
E. He was also delighted to hear the Mr. … has been having such well-attended fireside meetings; this type of teaching is very important as through it new souls are often confirmed.5
F. The believers are entirely free to hold as many little teaching groups or Firesides as they please in their own homes privately. No one has the right to intrude in another person’s home uninvited. In fact this personal, informal, home teaching is perhaps the most productive of results.6
G. You yourself should concentrate on teaching people of your former Community and introducing more members of it into the Faith. One of the best ways to teach is what the Americans call a ‘fireside’, in other words a little group of your friends in your own home, to whom you can introduce a few believers whom you feel would be congenial and help confirm them. When you have made them true Bahá’ís, then take them to the community and let them be accepted. In this way they are protected from tests until their faith is really strong."7
H. It should not be overlooked, however, that the most powerful and effective teaching medium that has been found so far is the fireside meeting, because in the fireside meeting, intimate personal questions can be answered, and the student find the spirit of the Faith more abundant there.8
I. In connection with the teaching work, the Guardian feels there is nothing more effective than the intimate fireside meeting in the home. He feels radio work, newspaper publicity, public meetings, etc. are of the utmost importance, but believes where people are confirmed is in the fireside gatherings in the home. He feels the general basis of effective teaching is for the individual to make contacts, to develop these contacts into close friendship, so that the contacts have complete confidence in the individual, and then to gradually teach the individual the Cause. This will confirm the souls, and this work can certainly go on while publicity is carried forward in the way of newspaper publicity, radio work and public meetings.9
J. The beloved Guardian attaches the utmost importance to … and urges the Friends in that city to arise as one soul in many bodies, filled with the enthusiasm of the Faith, and with complete dedication, consecration, and zeal, teach the Faith, individually, and collectively. Each one must establish as his goal for this year’s work, the confirmation of at least one new Bahá’í. This can best be done by each individual determining to give the message to at least one person each day, and have a fireside gathering in his home each 19 days. In this way, each person will fulfil his divine responsibility, and win yet another victory for the Faith of God.10
K. The Guardian feels that the most effective way for the Bahá’ís to teach the Faith is to make strong friends with their neighbours and associates. When the friends have confidence in the Bahá’ís and the Bahá’ís in their friends, they should give the Message and teach the Cause. Individual teaching of this type is more effective than any other type.
The principle of the fireside meeting, which was established in order to permit and encourage the individual to teach in his own home, has been proven the most effective instrument for spreading the Faith….11
L. …I would like to comment that it has been found over the entire world that the most effective method of teaching the Faith is the fireside meeting in the home. Every Bahá’í as a part of his spiritual birthright, must teach, and the one avenue where he can do this most effectively is by inviting friends into his home once in 19 days, and gradually attracting them to the Cause. After the individuals have confidence in the pioneer, and the pioneer in the individuals, then they can be taught and confirmed in the Faith. This method is far more effective than advertising in newspapers, public lectures etc. The Guardian is encouraging the believers over the world, including those on the home fronts, to engage in this method of teaching."12
M. The most effective method of teaching is the Fireside group, where new people can be shown Bahá’í hospitality, and ask all questions which bother them. They can feel there the true Bahá’í spirit - and it is the spirit that quickeneth.13
N. The Guardian greatly values your devoted services to the Cause of God, and the manner in which you continuously teach its Divine Principles. He prays for the success of your work, so Assemblies may be established this year in … and …. The Friends must arise with renewed spiritual enthusiasm, and confirm souls. The most important way to do this is the Fireside Gathering, where the souls can be closely associated with, and their detailed questions answered.14
O. The Guardian hopes the Friends … will display the loving spirit of the Master in their contacts, and then win those souls to the Faith. The fireside method of teaching seems to produce the greatest results, when each one invites friends into their homes once in nineteen days, and introduces them to the Faith. Close association and loving service affects the hearts; and when the heart is affected, then the spirit can enter. It is the Holy Spirit that quickens, and the Friends must become channels for its diffusion.15
P. The friends must realize their individual responsibility. Each must hold a Fireside in his or her home, once in 19 days, where new people are invited, and where some phase of the Faith is mentioned and discussed. If this is done with the intent of showing Bahá’í hospitality and love, then there will be results. People will become interested in ‘what’ you are interested in, and then be interested in studying. Individual firesides will bring the knowledge of the Faith to more people, under favourable circumstances, and thus constantly enrich its circle of friends, and finally its members. There is no substitute for the teaching work of the individual.16
Q. The Guardian was happy to learn of the teaching work in … This is a very important centre, and should have a strong community and Assembly. He hopes, therefore, that each of you will redouble your efforts – so the Faith may spread and grow. Each should invite Friends into his home for Fireside Gatherings, so that each will fulfil his responsibility to teach the Faith of God. If the proper spirit of dedication, consecration and devoted action is taken, results will be achieved.17
R. The primary duty laid upon all Bahá’ís by Bahá’u’lláh, Himself, is to teach the Cause of God. It is their greatest privilege and bounty. They should seek out receptive souls, mingle with all classes, races and denominations, and find amongst them those who are receptive to the spirit of God, and then with wisdom and love lead them to take the great step of acknowledging the Manifestation of God for this Day. Not only must the friends be encouraged to teach in their Hazíratu’l-Quds, through public meetings and study classes, they must also be encouraged to teach in their own homes at what the Americans have called ‘firesides’. This personal loving contact does more to confirm new believers than any other one thing.18

Letters written by the Universal House of Justice, or on its behalf:

S. The examples of local goals listed below are in the form of questions which each Assembly could put to itself, or may be directed to it by the National Spiritual Assembly. The questions are meant to lead to the adoption of a specific goal. An explanatory note follows which may need clarification or comment.
Teaching
  1. How many new believers? (The Plan calls for a "great increase in the number of believers" and confirming individuals "from every stratum of society". The ideal is for each local community to double itself every year, since every believer should, in accordance with the wish of the Master, guide one soul to the Cause of God every year. In some areas this may be an ambitious project at the beginning, and at the outset a more modest goal could be adopted.)
  2. How many firesides? (Shoghi Effendi urged the friends to hold one fireside every nineteen days in their homes. The friends willing to respond to this wish, could give their names to the Local Assembly.)19
T. In this connection we feel you would be well advised to develop a system of travelling teacher circuits. There is no doubt whatever that the constant movement of teachers, even though circulating within a small radius, can have a highly stimulating effect on the teaching work. Permanent settlers, a constant stream of visiting teachers to speak at regular firesides, is a pattern which has not yet been bettered.20
U. The challenge to the local and national administrative institutions of the Faith is to organize and promote the teaching work through systematic plans, involving not only the regular fireside meetings in the homes of the believers, the public meetings, receptions and conferences, the weekend, summer and winter schools, the youth conferences and activities, all of which are so vigorously upheld at present, but in addition through a constant stream of visiting teachers to every locality…21
V. Sustaining all these visible achievements is a constant activity throughout the world of teaching and administration a perpetual movement, like the ceaseless surge of the sea, within the Bahá’í community, which is the real cause of its growth. National and local spiritual assemblies facing difficult problems, devising new plans, shouldering responsibility for a community growing in numbers and consciousness, committees striving to accomplish objectives, Bahá’í youth in eager and dedicated activity, individual Bahá’ís and families making efforts for the Cause, to give the Message, or hold a fireside, these constant services attract the confirmation of Bahá’u’lláh, and the more they supported by prayers and intense dedication and the more extensive they become, the more they release into the world a spiritual charge which no force on earth can resist, and which must eventually bring about the complete triumph of the Cause. It is this organic vitality of the Faith, so readily felt at the World Center, whose exhilaration we wish every believer to share.22
W. …It is now imperative for every Baha'i to set for himself individual teaching goals. The admonition of Abdu'l-Baha to lead at least one new soul to the Faith each year and the exhortation of Shoghi Effendi to hold a Baha'i fireside in one's home every Baha'i month are examples of individual goals. Many have capacities to do even more, but this alone will assure final and complete victory for the Plan."23
Z. This is not to suggest that there is no room for proclamation in the plans of action, for example, for a cluster in which the institute process is sufficiently advanced and in which new souls need to be attracted to firesides and core activities.24
AA. With so firm a foundation in place, the foremost thought in the mind of each and every believer should be teaching. Whether in their personal efforts they teach their friends in firesides and then involve them in the core activities or use these activities as their primary instrument for teaching, whether as a community they make their work with children and junior youth the initial thrust in a cluster or focus first on the older generations, whether in their collective endeavours they visit families in teams as part of an intensive campaign or call on seekers in their homes periodically over time—these are decisions that can only be made according to the circumstances and possibilities of the friends and the nature of the populations with whom they interact.25

Some texts which seem to refer to ‘Firesides’, i.e. gatherings in the homes of believers:

X. They should rather restrict their discussions to glorification and praise and the uttering of proofs and reasons, to quoting verses and traditions and putting forth clear testimonies, so that all the homes of the loved ones will be converted into gathering places for lessons on teaching the Cause.
If ye do so, in a short while the outpourings of the Kingdom will be so manifested that each one of the handmaidens of the Merciful will become a perspicuous book revealing the mysteries of the Lord of Mercy.26
Y. As you say in your letter private, informal gatherings held in homes where different friendly individuals are invited often give better result for only those who are really interested are attracted and then once attracted they could be traced and kept in touch.27

Note

Prepared by Larry Gates, 1998, 1999, 2007. Numbering added. Approved by the Revision Committee of the Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States (texts A-Y. text Z & AA added 5 May 2007). Selected using MARS (Multiple Author Reference System), and additional texts cited in Firesides, by Catherine Samimi, George Ronald, 1999 and a letter from the Universal House of Justice to Catherine Samini, 22 April 1998.

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