Local Spiritual Assemblies
Category: Bahá’í
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Local Spiritual Assemblies is compiled by the Research Department of Universal House of Justice on topics and questions related to Importance, Development and Goals of Local Spiritual Assemblies. Extracts from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi.

Local Spiritual Assemblies


Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi

© Bahá’í International Community

I. The Importance of the Local Spiritual Assembly

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As the Bahá’í Administrative Order rapidly expands throughout the world it behooves everyone associated with it to familiarize himself with its principles, to understand its import and to put its precepts into practice. Only as individual members of Local Spiritual Assemblies deepen themselves in the fundamental verities of the Faith and in the proper application of the principles governing the operation of the Assembly will this institution grow and develop toward its full potential.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a letter 11 August 1970 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

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“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.

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....

“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 programmes, by turning to it in time of trouble or difficulty, by praying for its success and taking delight in its rise to influence and honour. This great prize, this gift of God within each community must be cherished, nurtured, loved, assisted, obeyed and prayed for.

Such a firmly founded, busy and happy community life as is envisioned when Local Spiritual Assemblies are truly effective, will provide a firm home foundation from which the friends may derive courage and strength and loving support in bearing the Divine Message to their fellow-men and conforming their lives to its benevolent rule.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a Naw-Rúz 1974 to the Bahá’ís of the World

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The institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly is of primary importance in the firm establishment of the Faith, and we hope that you will give particular attention to ensuring that as many as possible, and in increasing numbers, are, in the words of the beloved Guardian, ’broadly based, securely grounded’ and ‘efficiently functioning’.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a Naw-Rúz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

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“…the one vital activity which will enrich the quality of Bahá’í life is the strengthening of Local Assemblies, for in this institution, operating at the first level of human society, rests the greatest opportunity to foster the sound and healthy growth of the Bahá’í community. In other words, however efficient the National Assembly and its staff may be, and however diligently the national committees may function, it is only when the Local Spiritual Assemblies begin to operate vigorously that a firm home base can be provided from which to carry the Divine Message further afield.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a letter 3 April 1974 to
the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa

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“It is becoming increasingly understood by the friends why ... such great emphasis upon the firmness of the foundation and the efficiency of the operation of the Local Spiritual Assemblies. This is very heartening, 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 fulfil their prescribed and sacred duties, and persevere in their endeavours, 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.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a letter 25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

II. The Development of the Local Spiritual Assemblies

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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….

What we find expounded in the writings of our Faith is the lofty station Local Spiritual Assemblies must attain in their gradual and at times painful development….

“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.

“In its own meetings it must endeavour to develop skill in the difficult but highly rewarding art of Bahá’í consultation, a process which will require great self-discipline on the part of all members and complete reliance on the power of Bahá’u’lláh. It should hold regular meetings and ensure that all its members are currently informed of the activities of the Assembly, that its Secretary carries out his duties, and its Treasurer holds and disburses the funds of the Faith to its satisfaction, keeping proper accounts and issuing receipts for all contributions. Many Assemblies find that some of their activities such as teaching, observance of Feasts and Anniversaries, solution of personal problems, and other duties are best dealt with by committees appointed by the Assembly and responsible to it.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a letter 30 July 1972 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia

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“The time has come, we believe, when increasing numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies should assume responsibility for helping the teaching work of groups, isolated believers, and other Spiritual Assemblies in their neighborhood. Such extension teaching goals should be assigned by the National Spiritual Assembly or one of its teaching committees, or can be spontaneously adopted by Local Spiritual Assemblies, and should be carried out within the framework of the overall teaching plans of the country. It should also be made clear that by being given such goals a Spiritual Assembly is not being given any jurisdiction over believers outside its area, still less over other Local Spiritual Assemblies, but is being called upon to collaborate with them in their work.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a Naw-Rúz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

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We long to see every Local Spiritual Assembly either spontaneously adopt its own goals or warmly welcome those it has been or will be given by its National Spiritual Assembly, swell the number of the adherents who compose its local community and, guided by the general policy outlined by its National Spiritual Assembly, proclaim the Faith more effectively, energetically pursue its extension teaching and consolidation goals, arrange the observances of the Holy Days, regularly hold its Nineteen Day Feasts and its sessions for deepening, initiate and maintain community projects, and encourage the participation of every member of its community in giving to the Fund and undertaking teaching activities and administrative services, so as to make each locality a stronghold of the Faith and a torch-bearer of the Covenant.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a letter 25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

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The adoption of a local plan by the Local Assembly can exert a far-reaching influence on its work and on the life of the community.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a letter 24 December 1975 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Reunion

III. The Supporting Role of the Auxiliary Board Members and Their Assistants

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The National Spiritual Assemblies in consultation with the Counsellors should avail themselves of the services of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who, together “...with the travelling teachers selected by the Assembly or its Teaching Committees, should be continuously encouraged to conduct deepening courses ... and to make regular visits to Local Spiritual Assemblies....”

The visitors, whether Auxiliary Board members, their assistants or travelling teachers “…should meet on such occasions not only with the Local Assembly but, of course, with the local community members, collectively at general meetings and even, if necessary, individually in their homes.”

The subjects to be discussed at such meetings with the Local Assembly and the friends should include among others the following points:

1. the extent of the spread and stature of the Faith today;

2. the importance of the daily obligatory prayers (at least the short prayer);

3. the need to educate Bahá’í children in the Teachings of the Faith and encourage them to memorize some of the prayers;

4. the stimulation of youth to participate in community life by giving talks, etc. and having their own activities, if possible;

5. the necessity to abide by the laws of marriage, namely, the need to have a Bahá’í ceremony, to obtain the consent of parents, to observe monogamy; faithfulness after marriage; likewise the importance of abstinence from all intoxicating drinks and drugs;

6. the local Fund and the need for the friends to understand that the voluntary act of contributing to the Fund is both a privilege and a spiritual obligation. There should also be discussion of various methods that could be followed by the friends to facilitate their contributions and the ways open to the Local Assembly to utilize its local Fund to serve the interests of its community and the Cause;

7. the importance of the Nineteen Day Feast and the fact that it should be a joyful occasion and rallying point of the entire community;

8. the manner of election with as many workshops as required, including teaching of simple methods of balloting for illiterates, such as having one central home as the place for balloting and arranging for one literate person, if only a child, to be present at that home during the whole day, if necessary;

9. last but not least, the all-important teaching work, both in the locality and its neighbouring centres, as well as the need to continuously deepen the friends in the essentials of the Faith. The friends should be made to realize that in teaching the Faith to others they should not only aim at assisting the seeking soul to join the Faith, but also at making him a teacher of the Faith and its active supporter.

“All the above points should, of course, be stressed within the framework of the importance of the Local Spiritual Assembly, which should be encouraged to vigorously direct its attention to these vital functions and become the very heart of the community life of its own locality, even if its meetings should become burdened with the problems of the community. The local friends should understand the importance of the law of consultation and realize that it is to the Local Spiritual Assembly that they should turn, abide by its decisions, support its projects, co-operate whole-heartedly with it in its task to promote the interests of the Cause, and seek its advice and guidance in the solution of personal problems and the adjudication of disputes, should any arise amongst the members of the community.”

The Universal House of Justice, from a letter 2 February 1966 to
all National Spiritual Assemblies Engaged in Mass Teaching Work

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