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NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities

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THIS ELECTRONIC TEXT VERSION CONTAINS THE COMPLETE TEXT OF THE ORIGINAL PRINTED EDITION WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE TABLE OF CONTENTS AND THE INDEX BECAUSE THEY ARE UNNECESSARY AND INTERFERE WITH EFFICIENT ELECTRONIC SEARCHES.

PAGINATION IS THE SAME AS THE PRINTED VERSION.

SINCE ASCII TEXT DOES NOT ALLOW FOR ITALICIZED TEXT, ALL ITALICIZED PARAGRAPHS, WHICH ARE NON-SACRED PASSAGES AND COMMENTS, HAVE BEEN DEMARCATED BY THIS SYMBOL: ///

Example:

/// Dear Bahá'í Friends,
/// To assist Local Spiritual Assemblies in their efforts to rise to the new stage in the exercise of their responsibilities, "Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies" has been revised and the National Spiritual Assembly is pleased to provide you with this publication as a ready reference to facilitate your consultations.

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DEVELOPING DISNTINCTIVE BAHÁ'Í COMMUNITIES
GUIDELINES FOR SPRITIUAL ASSEMBLIES

Page ii

Office of Assembly Development, Evanston, Illinois 60201
Copyright (c) 1998 by the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahá'ís of the United States
All rights reserved. Published 1998

Cover design by Pepper Oldziey

(Pages iii to xxxii, Table of Contents, removed)

xxxiii

PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION

/// To All Local Spiritual Assemblies

/// Dear Bahá'í Friends,
/// To assist Local Spiritual Assemblies in their efforts to rise to the new stage in the exercise of their responsibilities, "Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies" has been revised and the National Spiritual Assembly is pleased to provide you with this publication as a ready reference to facilitate your consultations.

/// Local Spiritual Assemblies have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to "rise to a new stage in the exercise of their responsibilities as channels of divine guidance, planners of the teaching work, developers of human resources, builders of communities, and loving shepherds of the multitudes." The Supreme Body tells us, "They can realize these prospects through increasing the ability of their members to take counsel together in accordance with the principles of the Faith and to consult with the friends under their jurisdiction, through fostering the spirit of service, through spontaneously collaborating with the Continental Counselors and their auxiliaries, and through cultivating their external relations." Further, the progress in the evolution of the institutions must be "manifest in the multiplication of localities in which the functioning of the Spiritual Assembly enhances the individual believers' capacity to serve the Cause and fosters unified action."

/// "Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies" is a compilation of the Bahá'í writings designed to aid Local Spiritual Assemblies in applying the principles of Bahá'í Administration with wisdom and love. In addition to the Writings of the Central Figures of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, the Guidelines offer the current policies and general practices of the National Spiritual Assembly in administering the affairs of the American Bahá'í Community.

xxxiv Preface to The Revised Edition

/// In its infallible wisdom, the Universal House of Justice has explained that "the plan to which we are now committed is set at one of the most critical times in the life of the planet." The Supreme Body emphasized that "the need at this exact time is so to intensify our efforts in building the Bahá'í System that we will attract the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh and thus invoke a spiritual atmosphere" that will stimulate the release of "pent-up forces," bring about large-scale growth of the Bahá'í community, and "change the direction of human affairs throughout the planet."

NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁ'ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES

MARCH 1998

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1.1

Chapter 1

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY

SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION
Ordained by God
The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counselors to the number of Baha. . . . It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth.
Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, par. 30

Let no one, while this System is still in its infancy, misconceive its character, belittle its significance or misrepresent its purpose. The bedrock on which this Administrative Order is founded is God's immutable Purpose for mankind in this day. . . . Its consummation [is] the advent of that golden millennium -- the Day when the kingdoms of this world shall have become the Kingdom of God Himself, the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh.

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 156-57

The Uniqueness of the Administrative Order
The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System -- the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.

Bahá'u'lláh, in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 146

The Spiritual Assemblies to be established in this Age of God, this holy century, have, it is indisputable, had neither peer nor likeness in the cycles gone before. For those assemblages that wielded power were based on the support of mighty leaders of men, while these Assemblies are based on the support of the Beauty of Abha. The defenders and patrons of those other assemblages

1.2 The Local Spiritual Assembly

were either a prince, or a king, or a chief priest, or the mass of the people. But these Spiritual Assemblies have for their defender, their supporter, their helper, their inspirer, the omnipotent Lord.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 82

This Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Bahá'u'lláh has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, its fundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism. Nowhere in the sacred scriptures of any of the world's religious systems, nor even in the writings of the Inaugurator of the Bábí Dispensation, do we find any provisions establishing a covenant or providing for an administrative order that can compare in scope and authority with those that lie at the very basis of the Bahá'í Dispensation.

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 145

Pattern for Future Society
Bahá'u'lláh . . . has not only imbued mankind with a new and regenerating Spirit. He has not merely enunciated certain universal principles, or propounded a particular philosophy however potent, sound and universal these may be. In addition to these He, as well as 'Abdu'l-Bahá after Him, has, unlike the Dispensations of the past, clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws, established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials of a Divine Economy. These are destined to be a pattern for future society, a supreme instrument for the establishment of the Most Great Peace, and the one agency for the unification of the world, and the proclamation of the reign of righteousness and justice upon the earth.

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 19

Aided by the Spirit of God
These Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Over them He spreadeth His wings. What bounty is there greater than this? These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of life streameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 80

1.3 Newly-born Institutions

Basic Administrative Unit of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order
The divinely ordained institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá'í society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá'í flock.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated Naw-Ruz, 1974, to the Bahá'ís of the World

Development of Local Spiritual Assemblies
Newly-born Institutions
Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His writings. . . .

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated July 30, 1972, to a National Spiritual Assembly

Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in the future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power.

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 6-7

The Bahá'í administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only first beginning to grasp and practice it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful -- how to live together as a community of Bahá'ís, according to the glorious teachings.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 28

The Guardian is, doubtless, well aware of the existing imperfections in the administrative machinery of the Cause, but these, he strongly feels, should be attributed not to the administrative system itself, but to the administrators of the Faith, who by reason of their human limitations and imperfections can never hope to entirely fulfill those ideal conditions set forth in the Teachings. Much of the

1.4 The Local Spiritual Assembly

existing defects in the present-day activities of the believers, however, will as the Community develops and gains in experience be gradually removed, and healthier and more progressive conditions prevail. And it is towards the realization of this high aim that the friends should earnestly and unitedly strive.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 34

Assembly Development Related to Entry by Troops
As for the institutions, entry by troops will act upon them as much as they will act upon it. The evolution of local and national Bahá'í Assemblies at this time calls for a new state of mind on the part of their members as well as on the part of those who elect them, for the Bahá'í community is engaged in an immense historical process that is entering a critical stage. Bahá'u'lláh has given to the world institutions to operate in an Order designed to canalize the forces of a new civilization. Progress toward that glorious realization requires a great and continuous expansion of the Bahá'í community, so that adequate scope is provided for the maturation of these institutions. This is a matter of immediate importance to Bahá'u'lláh's avowed supporters in all lands.

For such an expansion to be stimulated and accommodated, the Spiritual Assemblies must rise to a new stage in the exercise of their responsibilities as channels of divine guidance, planners of the teaching work, developers of human resources, builders of communities, and loving shepherds of the multitudes. They can realize these prospects through increasing the ability of their members to take counsel together in accordance with the principles of the Faith and to consult with the friends under their jurisdiction, through fostering the spirit of service, through spontaneously collaborating with the Continental Counselors and their auxiliaries, and through cultivating their external relations. Particularly must the progress in the evolution of the institutions be manifest in the multiplication of localities in which the function of the Spiritual Assembly enhances the individual believer's capacity to serve the Cause and fosters unified action. In sum, the maturity of the Spiritual Assembly must be measured not only by the regularity of its meetings and the efficiency of its functioning, but also by the continuity of the growth of Bahá'í membership, the effectiveness of the interaction between the Assembly and the members of its community, the quality of the spiritual and social life of the community, and the overall sense of vitality of a community in the process of dynamic, ever-advancing development.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated Ridvan 153, to the Bahá'ís of the World

1.5 Salient Objectives

Strengthening and development of Local Spiritual Assemblies is a vital objective. . . . Success in this one goal will greatly enrich the quality of Bahá'í life, will heighten the capacity of the Faith to deal with entry by troops which is even now taking place and, above all, will demonstrate the solidarity and ever-growing distinctiveness of the Bahá'í community, thereby attracting more and more thoughtful souls to the Faith and offering a refuge to the leaderless and hapless millions of the spiritually bankrupt, moribund present order.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated Naw-Ruz, 1974, to the Bahá'ís of the World

The establishment and strong growth of Local Spiritual Assemblies is one of the most fundamental requirements for the spread of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, the development of Bahá'í community life and the emergence of a transformed society.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated March 6, 1977, to National Spiritual Assemblies

Salient Objectives
Among the more salient objectives to be attained by the Local Spiritual Assembly in its process of development to full maturity are to act as a loving shepherd to the Bahá'í flock, promote unity and concord among the friends, direct the teaching work, protect the Cause of God, arrange for Feasts, Anniversaries and regular meetings of the community, familiarize the Bahá'ís with its plans, invite the community to offer its recommendations, promote the welfare of youth and children, and participate, as circumstances permit, in humanitarian activities. In its relationship to the individual believer, the Assembly should continuously invite and encourage him to study the Faith, to deliver its glorious message, to live in accordance with its teachings, to contribute freely and regularly to the Fund, to participate in community activities, and to seek refuge in the Assembly for advice and help, when needed.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated July 30, 1972, to a National Spiritual Assembly

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND THE BAHÁ'Í COMMUNITY
Attitude of Assembly Members Unity within the Assembly itself is, of course, of immediate importance to the wider unity your actions are intended to foster and sustain. At no time can any member of your Assembly afford to be unmindful of this basic requirement nor neglect to work towards upholding it. Of particular relevance is the attitude that the members adopt towards their membership on that exalted body. There needs to be a recognition on their part of the Assembly's spiritual character and a feeling in their hearts of respect for the institution

1.6 The Local Spiritual Assembly

based upon a perception of it as something beyond or apart from themselves, as a sacred entity whose powers they have the privilege to engage and canalize by coming together in harmony and acting in accordance with divinely revealed principles. With such a perspective the members will be better able to acquire an appropriate posture in relation to the Assembly itself, to appreciate their role as Trustees of the Merciful and to counteract any impression that they have assumed ownership and control of the institution in the manner of major stockholders of a business enterprise.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

The members of these Assemblies, on their part, must disregard utterly their own likes and dislikes, their personal interests and inclinations, and concentrate their minds upon those measures that will conduce to the welfare and happiness of the Bahá'í Community and promote the common weal.

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 41

Through their repeated appeals, through their readiness to dispel all misunderstandings and remove all obstacles, through the example of their lives, and their unrelaxing vigilance, their high sense of justice, their humility, consecration and courage, they must demonstrate to those whom they represent their capacity to play their part in the progress of the Plan in which they, no less than the rest of the community, are involved.

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 12

The Cause . . . is a divine institution whose responsible administrators should consider themselves as mere channels whereby God protects and guides His Faith. The Administration should never be allowed to become a bone of contention between individuals and groups. It stands above human personalities and transcends the scope of their limited and inevitably selfish ideas. Its custodians should continually purge themselves of every trace of personal desire or interest and become wholly imbued with the spirit of love, of cooperation and of genuine self-sacrifice.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated August 8, 1933

Only as individual members of Local Spiritual Assemblies deepen themselves in the fundamental verities of the Faith

1.7 Latitude for Initiative

and in the proper application of the principles governing the operation of the Assembly will this institution grow and develop toward its full potential.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated August, 1970, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 5

For upon the degree to which the members of these Assemblies grasp the true significance of the divine institution on which they serve, arise selflessly to fulfill their prescribed and sacred duties, and persevere in their endeavors, depends to a large extent the healthy growth of the world-wide community of the Most Great Name, the force of its outward thrust, and the strength of its supporting roots.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 25, 1975, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

The Relation of the Assembly with the Bahá'ís There is no task more urgently necessary than the insurance of perfect harmony and fellowship among the friends, especially between the local assemblies and individual believers. The local assemblies should inspire confidence in the individual believers, and these in their turn should express their readiness to fully abide by the decisions and directions of the local assembly: the two must learn to cooperate, and to realize that only through such a cooperation can the institutions of the Cause effectively and permanently function. While obedience to the local assembly should be unqualified and whole-hearted, yet that body should enforce its directions in such a way as to avoid giving the impression that it is animated by dictatorial motives. The spirit of the Cause is one of mutual cooperation, and not that of a dictatorship.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 28, 1935, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 23

The maintenance of a climate of love and unity depends largely upon the feelings among the individuals composing the community that the Assembly is a part of themselves, that their cooperative interactions with the divinely ordained body allow them a fair latitude for initiative and that the quality of their relationships with both the institution and their fellow believers encourages a spirit of enterprise invigorated by an awareness of the revolutionizing purpose of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, by a consciousness of the high privilege of their being associated with efforts to realize that purpose, and by a consequent, ever-present sense of joy. In such a climate,

1.8 The Local Spiritual Assembly

the community is transformed from being the mere sum of its parts to assuming a wholly new personality as an entity in which its members blend without losing their individual uniqueness. . . .

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Bahá'í can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion, and prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor, and courage on the other.

The duties of those whom the friends have freely and conscientiously elected as their representatives are no less vital and binding than the obligations of those who have chosen them. Their function is not to dictate, but to consult, and consult not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the friends whom they represent. They must regard themselves in no other light but that of chosen instruments for a more efficient and dignified presentation of the Cause of God. They should never be led to suppose that they are the central ornaments of the body of the Cause, intrinsically superior to others in capacity or merit, and sole promoters of its teachings and principles. They should approach their task with extreme humility, and endeavor, by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candor, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the Cause, and humanity to win, not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they serve, but also their esteem and real affection. They must, at all times, avoid the spirit of exclusiveness, the atmosphere of secrecy, free themselves from a domineering attitude, and banish all forms of prejudice and passion from their deliberations. They should, within the limits of wise discretion, take the friends into their confidence, acquaint them with their plans, share with them their problems and anxieties, and seek their advice and counsel.

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 63-64

The temperament of authority in the administration of justice varies according to the degree of the gravity of each case. Some cases require that the Assembly take action that is firm or drastic.

1.9 The Relation of the Bahá'ís with the Assembly

Even so, Assembly members have always to be mindful that the authority they wield must in general be expressed with love, humility and a genuine respect for others. Thus exercised, authority strikes a natural note and accords with that which is acceptable to spiritually attuned and fair-minded souls.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

The administrators of the Faith of God must be like unto shepherds. Their aim should be to dispel all the doubts, misunderstandings and harmful differences which may arise in the community of the believers. And this they can adequately achieve provided they are motivated by a true sense of love for their fellow- brethren coupled with a firm determination to act with justice in all the cases which are submitted to them for their consideration.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 9, 1934, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 23

These bodies have the sacred obligation to help, advise, protect and guide the believers in every way within their power when appealed to -- indeed they were established just for the purpose of keeping order and unity and obedience to the law of God amongst the believers.

"You should go to them as a child would to its parents. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 28, 1941, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 16

The Relation of the Bahá'ís with the Assembly
In order to avoid division and disruption, that the Cause may not fall a prey to conflicting interpretations, and lose thereby its purity and pristine vigor, that its affairs may be conducted with efficiency and promptness, it is necessary that every one should conscientiously take an active part in the election of these Assemblies, abide by their decisions, enforce their decree, and cooperate with them whole-heartedly in their task of stimulating the growth of the Movement throughout all regions.

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 41

The Guardian believes that a great deal of the difficulties from which the believers . . . feel themselves to be suffering are caused by their neither correctly understanding nor putting into practice the administration. They seem -- many of them -- to be prone to continually challenging and criticizing the decisions of their assemblies. If the Bahá'ís undermine the very leaders who are, however immaturely, seeking to coordinate Bahá'í activities and administer

1.10 The Local Spiritual Assembly

Bahá'í affairs, if they continually criticize their acts and challenge or belittle their decisions, they not only prevent any real rapid progress in the Faith's development from taking place, but they repel outsiders who quite rightly may ask how we ever expect to unite the whole world when we are so disunited among ourselves! There is only one remedy for this: to study the administration, to obey the assemblies, and each believer seek to perfect his own character as a Bahá'í. We can never exert the influence over others which we can exert over ourselves. If we are better, if we show love, patience, and understanding of the weaknesses of others, if we seek to never criticize but rather encourage, others will do likewise, and we can really help the Cause through our example and spiritual strength. The Bahá'ís everywhere, when the administration is first established, find it very difficult to adjust themselves. They have to learn to obey, even when the assembly may be wrong, for the sake of unity. They have to sacrifice their personalities, to a certain extent, in order that the Community life may grow and develop as a whole. These things are difficult, but we must realize that they will lead us to a very much greater, more perfect, way of life when the Faith is properly established according to the administration.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 26, 1943, in The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 34-35

We should respect the National Spiritual Assembly and the Local Spiritual Assembly because they are institutions founded by Bahá'u'lláh. It has nothing to do with personality, but is far above it. It will be a great day when the friends, on and off the assemblies, come to fully grasp the fact that it is not the individuals on an assembly which are important, but the assembly as an institution.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 13, 1944, in The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 18-19

The authority to direct the affairs of the Faith locally, nationally and internationally, is divinely conferred on elected institutions. However, the power to accomplish the tasks of the community resides primarily in the mass of the believers. The authority of the institutions is an irrevocable necessity for the progress of humanity; its exercise is an art to be mastered. The power of action in the believers is unlocked at the level of individual initiative and surges at the level of collective volition. In its potential, this mass power,

1.11 The Relation of the Bahá'ís with the Assembly

this mix of individual potentialities, exists in a malleable form susceptible to the multiple reactions of individuals to the sundry influences at work in the world. To realize its highest purpose, this power needs to express itself through orderly avenues of activity. Even though individuals may strive to be guided in their actions by their personal understanding of the Divine Texts, and much can be accomplished thereby, such actions, untempered by the overall direction provided by authorized institutions, are incapable of attaining the thrust necessary for the unencumbered advancement of civilization. Individual initiative is a pre-eminent aspect of power; it is therefore a major responsibility of the institutions to safeguard and stimulate it. Similarly, it is important for individuals to recognize and accept that the institutions must act as a guiding and moderating influence on the march of civilization. In this sense, the divine requirement that individuals obey the decisions of their Assemblies can clearly be seen as being indispensable to the progress of society. Indeed, individuals must not be abandoned entirely to their own devices with respect to the welfare of society as a whole, neither should they be stifled by the assumption of a dictatorial posture by members of the institution.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

The friends are called upon to give their whole-hearted support and cooperation to the Local Spiritual Assembly, first by voting for the membership and then by energetically pursuing its plans and programs, by turning to it in time of trouble or difficulty, by praying for its success and taking delight in its rise to influence and honor. This great prize, this gift of God within each community must be cherished, nurtured, loved, assisted, obeyed and prayed for.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated Naw-Ruz, 1974, to the Bahá'ís of the World

Also relevant to effecting unity is the attitude of the friends, whether serving on any Assembly or not, towards the exercise of authority in the Bahá'í community. People generally tend to be suspicious of those in authority. The reason is not difficult to understand, since human history is replete with examples of the disastrous misuse of authority and power. A reversal of this tendency is not easily achievable, but the Bahá'í friends must be freed of suspicion towards their institutions if the wheels of progress are to turn with

1.12 The Local Spiritual Assembly

uninterrupted speed. A rigorous discipline of thought and action on the part of both the friends and the National Assembly will succeed in meeting this challenge; both must live up to their responsibilities in this regard by recognizing some fundamental realities.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND ITS RELATION TO OTHER INSTITUTIONS
The National Spiritual Assembly, Its Authority and Significance The National Spiritual Assembly shall have exclusive jurisdiction and authority over all the activities and affairs of the Bahá'í Faith throughout its area.

The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, By-Laws, Article III, p. 9

All matters arising within a local Bahá'í community which are of purely local interest and do not affect the national interests of the Cause shall be under the primary jurisdiction of the Spiritual Assembly of that locality, but decision whether a particular matter involves the interest and welfare of the national Bahá'í body shall rest with the National Spiritual Assembly.

Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States , 1975, Article VII, Section 8

Whatever functions and powers are not specifically attributed to Local Spiritual Assemblies in these By-Laws shall be considered vested in the National Spiritual Assembly, which body is authorized to delegate such discretionary functions and power as it deems necessary and advisable to the Local Spiritual Assemblies in its jurisdiction.

Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States , 1975, Article X

I wish to reaffirm in clear and categorical language, the principle already enunciated upholding the supreme authority of the National Assembly in all matters that affect the interests of the Faith in that land. There can be no conflict of authority, no duality under any form or circumstances in any sphere of Bahá'í jurisdiction whether local, national, or international.

Shoghi Effendi, June 11, 1934, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 12

The Guardian wishes me to again affirm his view that the authority of the N.S.A. is undivided and unchallengeable in all matters pertaining to the administration of the Faith . . . and that, therefore, the obedience of individual Bahá'ís, delegates, groups, and Assemblies to that authority is imperative, and should be whole-hearted and unqualified. He is convinced that the unreserved

1.13 Its Relation with Regional Bahá'í Councils
acceptance and complete application of this vital provision of the Administration is essential to the maintenance of the highest degree of unity among the believers, and is indispensable to the effective working of the administrative machinery of the Faith in every country.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 11, 1934, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 28

Its Relation with Regional Bahá'í Councils
The expansion of the Bahá'í community and the growing complexity of the issues which are facing National Spiritual Assemblies in certain countries have brought the Cause to a new stage in its development. They have caused us in recent years to examine various aspects of the balance between centralization and decentralization. In a few countries we have authorized the National Spiritual Assemblies to establish State Bahá'í Councils or Regional Teaching and Administrative Committees. From the experience gained in the operation of these bodies, and from detailed examination of the principles set forth by Shoghi Effendi, we have reached the conclusion that the time has arrived for us to formalize a new element of Bahá'í administration, between the local and national levels, comprising institutions of a special kind, to be designated as "Regional Bahá'í Councils."

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 30, 1997, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Regional Bahá'í Councils partake of some, but not all, characteristics of Spiritual Assemblies, and thus provide a means of carrying forward the teaching work and administering related affairs of a rapidly growing Bahá'í community in a number of situations. Without such an institution, the development of a national committee structure required to cover the needs in some countries would run the danger of over-complexity through adding a further layer of committees under the regional committees, or the danger of excessive decentralization through conferring too much autonomy on committees which are characterized by the Guardian as "bodies that should be regarded in no other light than that of expert advisers and executive assistants."

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 30, 1997, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

2.2.1 The members of an elected Regional Bahá'í Council, who shall be nine in number, are elected from among all the adult believers in the region by the members of the Local Spiritual

1.14 The Local Spiritual Assembly

Assemblies in that region every year on 23 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb according to the Gregorian calendar, or on a weekend immediately before or after that date.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 30, 1997, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Its Relation with Local Spiritual Assemblies Unity is, therefore, the main key to success. And the best way to insure and consolidate the organic unity of His Faith is to strengthen the authority of the local assemblies and to bring them within the full orbit of the National Assembly's jurisdiction. The National Assembly is the head, and the local assemblies are these various organs of the body of the Cause. To insure full cooperation between these various parts is to safeguard the best interests of the Faith by enabling it to counteract those forces which threaten to create a breach within the ranks of the faithful.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 20, 1933, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 57

It [the Local Spiritual Assembly] shall faithfully and devotedly uphold the general Bahá'í activities and affairs initiated and sustained by the National Spiritual Assembly. It shall cooperate wholeheartedly with other Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout the United States in all matters declared by the National Spiritual Assembly to be of general Bahá'í importance and concern.

Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 24-25

Just as the individual believers are bound to support and sustain their spiritual assembly, for the preservation of the unity of the Faith and the strengthening of its as yet embryonic World Order, so must the local assemblies obey and sustain their national representatives. The closer the cooperation between the local and national assemblies, the greater will be the power and radiance which can and must stream forth from these institutions to the suffering ranks of humanity.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 29, 1942, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 27-28

It is obvious that through the consolidation of the foundations of the Administrative Order on the local level, the national institutions of the Faith will receive support and strength in the conduct of their activities. In turn, the National Spiritual Assembly and its agencies should not only oversee the activities of the local communities, but it has the duty and privilege to coordinate the efforts and to stimulate and give direction to the spirit of enterprise and initiative

1.15 The Institution of the Learned

of the individual friends. When a proper and balanced relationship is maintained between these two levels of Bahá'í activity, and a healthy interaction takes place between them, a foundation is laid for the community to become "spiritually welded into a unit at once dynamic and coherent."

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated April 17, 1981, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Coordinating National and local interests
Local activities should always be subordinated to those of a national character and importance. This is intended not to minimize the role of the local assembly in the administrative order, but to establish and ensure a sane relationship between that body and the national organism of the Cause.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated May 10, 1934, to an individual believer

The Institution of the Learned
In the Kitáb-i-'Ahdi (the Book of His Covenant) Bahá'u'lláh wrote "Blessed are the rulers and the learned in Al-Baha," and referring to this very passage the beloved Guardian wrote on 4 November 1931:

In this holy cycle the "learned" are, on the one hand, the Hands of the Cause of God, and, on the other, the teachers and diffusers of His teachings who do not rank as Hands, but who have attained an eminent position in the teaching work. As to the "rulers" they refer to the members of the Local, National and International Houses of Justice. The duties of each of these souls will be determined in the future. (Translated from the Persian)

The Hands of the Cause of God, the Counselors and the members of the Auxiliary Boards fall within the definition of the "learned" given by the beloved Guardian. Thus they are all intimately interrelated and it is not incorrect to refer to the three ranks collectively as one institution.

However, each is also a separate institution in itself.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated April 24, 1972, in Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 215

As you know, a distinguishing feature of the Administrative Order is the existence of elected institutions, on the one hand, which function corporately with vested legislative, executive and judicial powers, and of appointed, eminent and devoted believers, on the other hand, who function primarily as individuals for the

1.16 The Local Spiritual Assembly

specific purposes of protecting and propagating the Faith under the guidance of the Head of the Faith. The two sets of institutions collaborate in their functions so as to ensure the progress of the Cause.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

This Administrative Order consists, on the one hand, of a series of elected councils, universal, secondary and local, in which are vested legislative, executive and judicial powers over the Bahá'í community and, on the other, of eminent and devoted believers appointed for the specific purposes of protecting and propagating the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh under the guidance of the Head of that Faith.

The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, p. 8

Every institution of this Divinely created Order is one more refuge for a distraught populace; every soul illumined by the light of the sacred Message is one more link in the oneness of mankind, one more servant ministering to the needs of an ailing world. Even should the Bahá'í communities, in the years immediately ahead, be cut off from the World Center or from one another -- as some have already been -- the Bahá'ís will neither halt nor hesitate; they will continue to pursue their objectives, guided by their Spiritual Assemblies and led by the Counselors, the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants.
Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated November 3, 1980, to the Bahá'ís of the World

The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 13

The Hands of the Cause of God
The Hands of the Cause of God are one of the most precious assets the Bahá'í world possesses. Released from administration of the Auxiliary Boards, they will be able to concentrate their energies on the more primary responsibilities of general protection and propagation, "preservation of the spiritual health of the Bahá'í communities" and "the vitality of the faith" of the Bahá'ís throughout

1.17 International Teaching Center

the world. The House of Justice will call upon them to undertake special missions on its behalf, to represent it on both Bahá'í and other occasions and to keep it informed of the welfare of the Cause.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated June 24, 1968, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 5-6 (See also in this Chapter the Section entitled "International Teaching Center")

International Teaching Center
The time is indeed propitious for the establishment of the International Teaching Center, a development which, at one and the same time, brings to fruition the work of the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land and provides for its extension into the future, links the institution of the Boards of Counselors even more intimately with that of the Hands of the Cause of God, and powerfully reinforces the discharge of the rapidly growing responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice. . . .

The duties now assigned to this nascent institution are:

To coordinate, stimulate and direct the activities of the Continental Boards of Counselors and to act as liaison between them and the Universal House of Justice.

To be fully informed of the situation of the Cause in all parts of the world and to be able, from the background of this knowledge, to make reports and recommendations to the Universal House of Justice and give advice to the Continental Boards of Counselors.

To be alert to possibilities, both within and without the Bahá'í community, for the extension of the teaching work into receptive or needy areas, and to draw the attention of the Universal House of Justice and the Continental Boards of Counselors to such possibilities, making recommendations for action.

To determine and anticipate needs for literature, pioneers and traveling teachers and to work out teaching plans, both regional and global, for the approval of the Universal House of Justice.

1.18 The Local Spiritual Assembly

All the Hands of the Cause of God will be members of the International Teaching Center. Each Hand will be kept regularly informed of the activities of the Center through reports or copies of its minutes, and will be able, wherever he may be residing or traveling, to convey suggestions, recommendations and information to the Center and, whenever he is in the Holy Land, to take part in the consultations and other activities of the Center. Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated June 8, 1973, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 46-47

The Continental Boards of Counselors
The Universal House of Justice decided . . . to establish Continental Boards of Counselors for the protection and propagation of the Faith. Their duties will include directing the Auxiliary Boards in their respective areas, consulting and collaborating with National Spiritual Assemblies, and keeping the Hands of the Cause and the Universal House of Justice informed concerning the conditions of the Cause in their areas.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated June 24, 1968, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 131

The Counselors are responsible for stimulating, counseling and assisting National Spiritual Assemblies, and also work with individuals, groups, and Local Assemblies.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 1, 1969, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 151

We are confident that the institution of the Boards of Counselors will lend its vital support and, through the Counselors' own contacts with friends, through their Auxiliary Boards and their assistants, will nourish the roots of each local community, enrich and cultivate the soil of knowledge of the teachings and irrigate it with the living waters of love for Bahá'u'lláh. Thus will the saplings grow into mighty trees, and the trees bear their golden fruit.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 25, 1975, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 63-64

The Continental Boards of Counselors and the National Spiritual Assemblies share in the functions of propagation and protection, but the Counselors specialize in these functions from a different level and in a different manner. From a continental vantage point, the Counselors bring a perspective to their functions which, when offered to a National Assembly in the form of counsel, advice, recommendations, suggestions, or commentary, enriches the

1.19 Propagation Boards

latter's understanding, acquaints it with a broader experience than its own, and encourages it to maintain a world-embracing vision.

An aspect of the difference in the manner of functioning of the Counselors derives from the instructions given in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Hands of the Cause of God, the extension into the future of whose functions of protection and propagation is the responsibility of the Counselors. As appointees of the Universal House of Justice, the Counselors assist the Head of the Faith to broaden the base, foster the strength and ensure the security of the National Spiritual Assemblies and the institutions and communities under their jurisdiction. Through their Auxiliary Boards, the Continental Counselors spread the benefits of their functions to the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the grassroots of the community. These functions are shaped by their obligations, in the words of the Will and Testament, "to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things." It can be seen, then, that through their work in propagating and protecting the Faith, the Counselors play a major role in knitting and bolstering the entire fabric of the Bahá'í community.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

The Auxiliary Board Members
The beloved Guardian's message of October 1957 [cited in Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 124-30] clearly indicates that the two Auxiliary Boards must have distinct but complementary functions. In that message he charges the Protection Board with "the specific duty of watching over the security of the Faith" and says that the duty of the Propagation Board would "henceforth be exclusively concerned with assisting the prosecution of the Ten- Year Plan" [1953-1963].

Protection Boards

Above all, members of the Protection Boards should concentrate on deepening the friends' knowledge of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it, on clearly and frankly answering, in conformity with the teachings, whatever questions may trouble any of the believers, on fostering the spiritual profundity and strength of their faith and certitude, and on promoting whatever will increase the spirit of loving unity in Bahá'í communities.

Propagation Boards

The primary tasks of the Propagation Boards, however, are to direct the believers' attention to the goals of whatever plans have

1.20 The Local Spiritual Assembly

been placed before them, to stimulate and assist them to promote the teaching work in the fields of proclamation, expansion, consolidation and pioneering, to encourage contributions to the funds, and to act as standard-bearers of the teachers of the Faith, leading them to new achievements in the diffusion of God's Message to their fellow human beings.
Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 10, 1976, to the International Teaching Center

It is the Spiritual Assemblies who plan and direct the work, but these plans should be well known to the Counselors and Auxiliary Board members, because one of the ways in which they can assist the Assemblies is by urging the believers continually to support the plans of the Assemblies.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 1, 1969, to the Continental Boards of Counselors and National Spiritual Assemblies, in Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p.152

When a Local Spiritual Assembly begins to function properly, it does not mean it can dispense with the service and work of Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who can and should continue to provide stimulation and inspiration not only generally to the Assembly and local Bahá'í activities, but to individual believers as well.

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated June 9, 1980, to an individual believer

Above all the Auxiliary Board members should build up a warm and loving relationship between themselves and the believers in their area so that the Local Spiritual Assemblies will spontaneously turn to them for advice and assistance.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 1, 1969, to the Continental Boards of Counselors and National Spiritual Assemblies, in Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986 , pp.152-153

Their Supporting Role
Authority and direction flow from the Assemblies, whereas the power to accomplish the tasks resides primarily in the entire body of the believers. It is the principal task of the Auxiliary Boards to assist in arousing and releasing this power. This is a vital activity, and if they are to be able to perform it adequately they must avoid becoming involved in the work of administration. . . . The Auxiliary Boards should work closely with the grass roots of the community:

1.21 Referring Matters

the individual believers, groups and Local Spiritual Assemblies, advising, stimulating and assisting them.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 1, 1969, in The Continental Boards of Counselors , pp. 37-38

Relation to Administrative Work
Assemblies sometimes misunderstand what is meant by the statement that Counselors and Auxiliary Board members are concerned with the teaching work and not with administration. It is taken to mean that they may not give advice on administrative matters. This is quite wrong. One of the things that Counselors and Auxiliary Board members should watch and report on is the proper working of administrative institutions. The statement that they do not have anything to do with administration means, simply, that they do not administer. They do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems. All these activities fall within the sphere of responsibility of the Spiritual Assemblies.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 1, 1969, in Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973 , p. 32

Systematic Visits and Correspondence with Communities
Our beloved Guardian urged Auxiliary Board members to establish contact with Local Spiritual Assemblies, groups, isolated centers and the individual believers, and through periodic and systematic visits to localities as well as by correspondence help in promoting the interests of the Plan, assist in the efficient and prompt execution of the goals, watch over the security of the Faith, stimulate and strengthen the teaching and pioneer work, impress upon the friends the importance of individual effort, initiative and sacrifice, and encourage them to participate in Bahá'í activities and be unified under all circumstances.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated November 17, 1971

Referring Matters
The question has been raised as to how Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers are to know which matters they should refer to which Auxiliary Board member. We feel that this will be worked out at the local level in the light of experience, and that meanwhile the Assemblies and believers should not concern themselves unduly about it. They should feel free to refer to either Board, and if the Auxiliary Board member feels that the matter would better have been referred to his colleague, he can either himself pass the question on, or suggest the different approach to the Assembly or believer. This is similar to the situation, already familiar to Board members, when they have referred to them a matter which should

1.22 The Local Spiritual Assembly

properly be dealt with by a National Spiritual Assembly or one of its committees.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 10, 1976, to the International Teaching Center

Flexibility and Speed in Response
Support Maturation
The flexibility and speed with which the Counselors and their Auxiliary Board members can respond to a perceived need in the community -- such as a need for encouragement, explanation of plans, deepening in the Teachings, protection of the Covenant -- are elements of their functioning which distinguish them from Spiritual Assemblies; this flexibility enables them to operate as occasions demand, whether it is in giving counsel at a meeting, or advising an individual in private, or helping the friends to understand and obey a ruling of the Spiritual Assembly, or dealing with issues of the Covenant. In such different modes these officers of the Faith are able to draw attention to relevant Texts, to impart information, explore situations, and acquaint themselves with conditions in ways not possible to a Spiritual Assembly but important to the success of its plans. They are able then to share with Spiritual Assemblies, as deemed necessary, ideas, analyses, perceptions, and advice which inevitably enhance the ability of these Assemblies to serve their communities. They thus assist Assemblies to mature. Where Local Assemblies are new or weak, Auxiliary Board members help them to understand their functions, encourage them to organize their work, and rally the local believers in support of their Assemblies' initiatives.

Prop and Mainstay of National Spiritual Assembly
Through the various modes of their activities, the Counselors aided by their Auxiliary Boards spark and buttress the growth and development of Spiritual Assemblies and local and national communities. With this perspective, Shoghi Effendi's regarding of the Auxiliary Board members as "a prop and mainstay to the often overworked and overburdened National Spiritual Assemblies" becomes clear. The indispensability of the involvement of Continental Counselors and Auxiliary Board members in the planning stages of the teaching work and the benefits of acquainting them with the hopes and concerns of National Spiritual Assemblies and of seeking their advice are also obvious.

Free to Determine Manner of Support
While the Counselors and their Auxiliary Boards, in addition to the discharge of their specific responsibilities, will support the initiatives adopted by a National Spiritual Assembly, the Assembly should recognize that the Counselors must be free to determine,

1.23 The Assistants to the Auxiliary Board Members

according to their own best judgment, in what manner that support will be given. There is a great difference between the functions of national committees and Auxiliary Board members in this respect. Whereas the committees may be required by the Assembly to follow particular procedures, Auxiliary Board members are not similarly bound; yet they should not act in a manner that undermines the operations of the National Assembly or its agencies. This does not mean that Auxiliary Board members may not decide, upon request or not, to participate in the execution of a particular programme or educational project devised by a national committee, or even to contribute towards the conceptualization and fruition of the project. It does mean, however, that their prerogative to proceed within a wider latitude than that accessible to the national committee should be respected.

Should not Divert Attention from Adopted Plans
By working at the grassroots of the community, an Auxiliary Board member is often able to satisfy a need not being met by any national or local programme, but which if dealt with by the Auxiliary Board member will better equip the local friends to achieve the established goals of the community. Such a flexibility on the part of the Auxiliary Board member in dealing with immediate situations, such a freedom for independent action, should be taken for granted by all concerned. However, a pattern of activity on the part of the Auxiliary Board member, or even of a Counselor, which appears to the National Assembly to be seriously diverting attention from the adopted plans of the community should unhesitatingly be made a matter for remedial consultation with the Counselor.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated May 19, 1994, to a National Spiritual Assembly

/// (See also Chapter 5, "Protection of the Faith," for further information on the relation of the Protective Boards to the Local Spiritual Assembly; and Chapter 7, "Teaching and Consolidation," for further information on the relation of the Propagation Boards to the Local Spiritual Assembly)

The Assistants to the Auxiliary Board Members
We have decided to take a further step in the development of the institution by giving to each Continental Board of Counselors the discretion to authorize individual Auxiliary Board members to appoint assistants. . . .

Their aims should be to activate and encourage Local Spiritual

1.24 The Local Spiritual Assembly

Assemblies, to call the attention of Local Spiritual Assembly members to the importance of holding regular meetings, to encourage local communities to meet for the Nineteen Day Feasts and Holy Days, to help deepen their fellow-believers' understanding of the Teachings, and generally to assist the Auxiliary Board members in the discharge of their duties.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 7, 1973, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, p. 54

One of the most potent aids to the consolidation of local communities and Assemblies and the deepening of the faith of the believers, is the services of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants. Here is an institution of the Faith, reaching into every locality, composed of firm believers who know the area they have to serve and are familiar with its problems and potentialities -- an institution expressly designed to encourage and reinforce the work of the Spiritual Assemblies, to enthuse the believers, to stimulate them to study the Teachings and apply them in their lives -- a body of Bahá'ís whose efforts and services will complement and support the work being done by your committees and by the Local Assemblies themselves in every sphere of Bahá'í endeavor.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated December 2, 1976, to a National Spiritual Assembly

Believers Can Serve Both as Assistants and on Administrative Institutions
Appointment of a believer as a Board member's assistant does not require the resignation of the appointee from a Spiritual Assembly or a committee. The House of Justice leans towards "assistants" not retiring from administrative work, although in consultation with their Spiritual Assembly it may be quite in order; it would be preferable, however, for the suggestion to come from the appointee and not from the Spiritual Assembly.

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated November 10, 1975, to a National Spiritual Assembly

Assistants Who Are Also Members of an Administrative Institution
Assistants who are members of a National Assembly or a national committee do not function as assistants in relation to that body, and they have the same duty to observe the confidentiality of its consultations, and of matters considered by the Assembly to be confidential, as does any other member. An assistant can, of course, be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, but his task here as an assistant is to help the Spiritual Assembly to function harmoniously and efficiently in the discharge of its duties and this will hardly succeed if he gives the Assembly the feeling that he is

1.25 The Local Spiritual Assembly

reporting privately everything it does to the Auxiliary Board member. He should, on the contrary, do all he can to foster an atmosphere of warm and loving collaboration between the Local Assembly and the Board member.

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated August 2, 1982, to a National Spiritual Assembly

/// (See also Chapter 3, "Organization of the Local Spiritual Assembly," for further information on confidentiality)

SUGGESTED READINGS
The Covenant and the Administrative Order

SUGGESTED READINGS

Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, pp. 217-23

Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 158-329

The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 141-57

The Covenant, compiled by the Universal House of Justice

Electing Bahá'í Assemblies, published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 1997

The Covenant: Its Meaning and Origin and Our Attitude Toward It, compiled by the National Teaching Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

A Miracle of Governance: the Local Spiritual Assembly, a video and workbook deepening program prepared by the Office of Assembly Development of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, 1997

March of the Institutions, Eunice Braun

Eternal Covenant, Lowell Johnson

Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, Adib Taherzadeh

The National Spiritual Assembly
The National Spiritual Assembly, compiled by the Universal House of Justice