Message from the National Spiritual Assembly to all Local Spiritual Assemblies regarding health guidelines

Posted: 2021/08/30

27 August 2021 / 9 Names 178

To all Local Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

Over the summer months, and although a fourth wave of the pandemic is becoming a reality in many parts of the country, restrictions to activities have been gradually lifted by provincial and territorial governments.  The National Spiritual Assembly has admired the degree to which the community, led by your institutions, has carefully followed public health guidelines as they have evolved.  We have recently considered a number of questions that have arisen.

The first question relates to the interpretation of activities in public health guidelines, when there is not a clear correlation between the Bahá’í community’s activities and the description of faith-based activities in the public health guidelines.  For example, “worship services” as defined in some guidelines presume that they take place in designated churches, temples, synagogues or mosques and the guidelines are articulated accordingly.  If a Bahá’í activity is not clearly recognizable in the guidelines, involves a small number of friends gathering and is initiated by an individual or a family, they may choose to follow public health guidelines related to private or social gatherings, whether in a home or outdoors.  For activities organized by the training institute, the Council or the Assembly, the organizing body is encouraged to turn to the National Assembly if they are unable to resolve their questions by consulting the guidelines.

The second question relates to the increasing number of jurisdictions that are requiring proof of vaccination status for various in-person activities.  In some cases, provincial guidelines make it very clear that only those who are fully vaccinated would participate in certain in-person activities.  In others, clear guidelines have not yet been adopted.  Some Assemblies have asked for guidance about Feasts and Holy Days, in their desire to extend special protection to the most vulnerable members of the community and limit the spread of COVID-19.  As you will recall from our letter dated 5 April 2021, the National Assembly has echoed the government’s encouragement of all those who are eligible to be vaccinated to do so and has provided Assemblies with related guidance of the Universal House of Justice that addresses various questions and concerns about vaccination.  We attach a copy of that letter and its attachments for ease of reference.

As you know, the community must scrupulously follow public health guidelines related to their region or locality.  When these guidelines are not clear, the National Assembly has weighed public health advice and decided that it is prudent to limit attendance at in-person gatherings organized by an Assembly, such as Feasts and centralized Holy Days, to those who are fully vaccinated.  One community has adopted a practice of having both an in-person Feast and a virtual Feast, to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate even if they are unable to be vaccinated.  More flexibility can be extended to discretionary teaching and community-building activities at the neighbourhood level, or that are initiated by the individual.  In these cases, the friends should at the very least carefully obey public health guidelines related to wearing a mask, social distancing, and size limitations.  Conditions vary widely across the country, and we rely on your institutions to keep abreast of relevant guidelines and make the necessary decisions accordingly.  As has been the case and will continue to be, such measures must adapt to change in public guidelines and are therefore, by nature, temporary.

Dear friends, we understand that addressing these questions at the local level can be a delicate matter, and we will welcome any questions that you may wish to raise with us.  Above all, it is hoped that no contention will arise among the friends around this subject, and that your Assembly, in collaboration with your Auxiliary Board members, will protect the friends and foster a spiritually healthy conversation in the community.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Karen McKye, Secretary


Information about vaccination

The Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly regarding Coronavirus and Vaccination

The Universal House of Justice to an individual regarding Covid Vaccines

The Universal House of Justice to an individual regarding Seeking Out Best Expert Advice