Letter from the delegates of the 71st National Convention to the Universal House of Justice

Posted: 2019/05/10


The delegates to the 71st National Convention of Canada, with Counsellors Shabnam Tashakour (third row, sixth from left) and Borna Noureddin (third row, fourth from right) seated with the members of the National Spiritual Assembly. Photo: Liam Moore

From the delegates to the 71st National Convention to the Universal House of Justice, 28 April 2019.

To our most beloved Universal House of Justice,

Joy has filled our hearts at this 71st National Convention, overwhelmed and inspired as we are by the bounties of this Ridván. “Lowly and tearful, we raise our suppliant hands” in thanks for the gifts unceasingly being showered upon us.

We received with heart-stopping awe the thrilling news contained in the Ridván message that we have now arrived at the historic moment for the erection of a befitting Shrine for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Holy Land, bringing “His boundless love and tender solicitude” close. The reflections and stories shared by delegates of the relationship that young people of all backgrounds in Canada are developing with the beloved Master, through the influence of the institute and through visits to the Shrine in Montreal, demonstrated their deep and personal connection with Him. Together with accounts of the spiritual character, the attitudes, skills and qualities they are developing as they take charge of their own progress and that of their communities – these give us confidence that there are hundreds of thousands more of such souls to be found in Canada. Delegates were pleased with the augmentation of the budget by the National Spiritual Assembly of $500,000 for the new Shrine in the Holy Land and encouraged further commitment.

Our gratitude to the International Teaching Centre is deep, for bestowing on two of our clusters the bounty of participating in the pilot learning project with clusters that have passed the third milestone. The conceptions of teaching and the marvellous opportunities associated with the approaching bicentenary, as described in the Ridván message, were enhanced by the stories and learning from Sydney, which friends from Toronto and Vancouver shared. We hunger to learn how to apply these insights and to explore their manifold implications in the company of our Counsellors Shabnam Tashakour and Borna Noureddin and their Auxiliary Board Members. We are deeply grateful to have them by our sides and beg your prayers that our labours will be confirmed.

The news, on the morning of the election, that the soul of our most cherished brother, Otto Donald Rogers, had pierced that delicate membrane between earth and heaven, was deeply moving. Having prayed for him only two days before, we found ourselves in a kind of conversation with souls. We recalled the passing of Shapoor Monadjem together with a number of distinguished and fondly-remembered servants of the Canadian community during the past year. Following a spiritual period of voting, we were astonished at the head teller’s announcement that not only had the Convention again achieved 100% participation in the election, but that we had done so with a stunning achievement of excellence never before seen, with zero spoiled ballots or votes. We joyfully welcomed the new membership of our National Spiritual Assembly. We soared even higher on the news that over the lunch break our national body, in the company of the Counsellors, and having heard the delegates’ eagerness to respond to the precious opportunity of this day, their readiness to move ahead, and seeing the Convention being of one mind, was raising the call for a heroic response to the material needs of the coming year. The National Assembly anticipates needs of at least two million dollars beyond the budget. With this news, the Convention consultation responded with unflinching confidence in the capacity of the friends to arise and reorient their lives in whatever way necessary to respond to the ongoing material needs that will arise, with the view that an open and relevant flow of communication between the three protagonists in more and more spaces will attract the community to the sacrificial standard modelled by the Dawn-Breakers.

How can we further describe the atmosphere, character and content of such a dynamic Convention? The humble service of many radiant and happy volunteers and the lovingly- selected and potent devotions, including the voices of children, lent a sanctified quality to the sessions. The consultation–at once serious and focused, unified and joyful–was guided by the National Spiritual Assembly’s skillfully prepared materials. The discipline of the delegates in addressing the pertinent questions posed by the National Assembly, their unity of thought, their expressions of hopefulness, the clarity around the essential contributions needed from all ages, gave evidence that our diverse community is decidedly in one conversation, born of firsthand experience with the framework and instruments of the Plan. We saw glimpses of a “more worthy etiquette of expression”, one that is devoid of criticism, that “refocuses endeavour” and “contributes to happiness and well-being”.

Other distinctive elements included the message of the Board of Trustees of Huqúqu’lláh which raised our consciousness to the level of how daily reflection on this holy act might shape our choices and habits, to attune to the spiritual reality at work in the world and not the “acutely disordered” worldly environment that surrounds us. The Convention was graced by the visits of an honoured guest, Mr. Douglas Martin, who was so happy to be present, and we were deeply touched by his gift to each one present of a memoir of his helpmate and beloved handmaid of Bahá, Mrs. Elizabeth Martin. The calibre of the annual reports of the National Spiritual Assembly, its agencies at the national and regional levels, and the insights shared in the report from the Learning Desk were illustrative for us of thought processes characteristic of an attitude of learning. The Convention noted that these reports, as well as the comments of the delegates, highlighted the progress of the teaching work with Indigenous populations in every region of the country. The Counsellors emphasized the power of the institute to remedy the suffering of society and their confidence in the capacity of the Indigenous and French-Canadian peoples, like all others in Canada, to wield this instrument for the advancement of their communities. Finally, we are grateful to the National Assembly’s commitment to the ongoing learning around the use of technology to expand the space of the Convention, through live-streaming to the Canadian Bahá’í community.

With our hearts consumed with love for Bahá’u’lláh, we pledge to take back to our communities the spirit that has galvanized this Convention and emboldened each of us to take advantage in the upcoming months of “this moment incalculably precious” to offer universal “efforts to befittingly honour the Báb” and “succeed in advancing the Cause He foretold”, ultimately “guiding the lovers to the seat of sanctity and to this resplendent Beauty”.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
The delegates of the 71st National Convention of Canada