BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
CENTERVILLE — Before Zayne Webb attended two conferences aimed at building spirituality this summer, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
But upon returning home from the second, he knew he wanted a job that would not only give him a paycheck, but would allow him to serve mankind in the process.
Webb, a 16-year-old member of the Baha’i faith attended a month-long “Youth Intensive,” study in Denver, before attending a three-day youth conference in Phoenix. Both were sponsored by the faith.
Together, “They helped me come to terms with who I am,” Webb said, “not just my place in the world, but with who I am as a person.”
With that new-found knowledge, Webb is making plans to attend the Colorado School of Mines after graduating from NUAMES High School (the Northern Utah Academy for Math, Education and Science) in Ogden.
The “Youth Intensive” conference is an intense study of a series of texts designed for spiritual education of an individual, Webb said. The studies are based on the Ruhi textbooks, a series of eight courses focusing on Baha’i writings and teaching on spirituality and service.
“The books I studied focused on unlocking the potential of junior youth (ages 11-15),” Webb said. During the course he learned the skills of a teacher, or animator. Webb describes the position as being something more like a mentor, who helps the younger teens through the crucial changes kids of that age group face.
The program is so intensive, Webb and his fellow classmates studied only two of the eight courses. After completing the two books, Webb is more prepared to share with the younger teens what community service means, and help them build on their faith in God.
“We help them kindle the fire,” already burning for God within the hearts of the younger ones, Webb said.
Now that he’s back home, Webb plans on starting study circles, possibly before school or on Saturdays.
“One of the things we talked about (in Denver) was that the junior youth groups should be more than just a get-together,” Webb said.
He’s already found several young teens interested in participating. Webb notes the courses aren’t just for Baha’i youth, but for any teens interested in building their spirituality and wanting to be of service to the community.
The youth conference Webb attended in Phoenix focused on community building. Those attending the conference came in from the states making up the four corners region plus Nevada, he said.
Seeing approximately 900 people attending helped Webb see the wide interest the conferences have. About half the people who attended were not Baha’is,” Webb said. The Baha’i faith hosted 114 of the conferences globally.
The monotheistic Baha’i faith holds that God has sent divine messengers including Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Baha’u’llah, the latest of these messengers, founded the religion about 150 years ago in Persia.