Message to delegates at National Convention

Posted: 2014/05/12

From the National Spiritual Assembly to delegates assembled at Canada’s National Convention, 25 April:

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

It was with great joy that the National Assembly approached this Convention, eager for the opportunity to consult with you who represent such a cross-section of the Bahá’í community, about the momentous developments of the past year.

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A delegate contributes to the consultation. Photo: Louis Brunet

You are a unique assemblage. You come from north and south, communities large and small, clusters at the very beginning of a programme of growth and those where the work of years has empowered a hundred friends to facilitate the participation of a thousand, and thus begin to discern the movement of entire populations. This rich diversity of experience is exactly what the National Spiritual Assembly wishes to benefit from as we consult together. We hope that you will seize these precious moments, offer your gifts of thought freely, reflecting on the themes in light of guidance and your own experience. As the National Assembly unfolds its hopes and cares, we long to hear yours.

The Ridván message we have just reflected on together has given rise to the three broad themes we have placed before you this year. The first aims at exploring how individuals, communities and institutions are advancing, and how the relationship between them is developing.  The second explores how to advance “the capacity for learning among the local friends, within a common framework, that fosters progress along the path of development.”[1] The third focuses on accompaniment and mutual support, and the environment that supports growth.

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A delegate consults her list during the time allotted for voting. Photo: Maya Mostaghim-Vaezi

As you have seen in the Ridván message and echoed in the annual report, the most urgent need is to strengthen existing programmes of growth and establish new ones. To achieve this, the momentum of the youth movement must be maintained. In addition, what has been learned about working with groups, and especially with large groups, must begin to be applied to the broad spectrum of the Bahá’í community and their friends, to involve many more people in this spiritual enterprise. In the words of the House of Justice, “Everyone has a share in this enterprise; the contribution of each serves to enrich the whole.”[2]

In its 5 December 2013 message to the Bahá’ís of the World, the Universal House of Justice issued a challenge to Bahá’í institutions, one that is central to our consultation here:

During the second half of the Five Year Plan, the society-building power of the Faith must be released within thousands of clusters where programmes of growth need to be initiated, reinforced, or extended.  The challenge for Bahá’í institutions and their agencies will be to furnish the means to accompany all those who cherish a pure and earnest desire for a better world, whatever their degree of involvement in the process of spiritual education so far, and help them translate that desire into the practical steps that day by day and week by week accrete to build vibrant, flourishing communities.

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A delegate casts her ballot for the election of the National Spiritual Assembly. Photo: Louis Brunet

The pattern of Bahá’í community life that is emerging is very different from what was experienced in the past. Even the nature of the teaching work is evolving as teaching approaches and methods are more closely “aligned with the capacity acquired from the study of the institute courses”[3]. The Person of Bahá’u’lláh is introduced in new ways as His Words are studied in such settings — children’s classes, junior youth groups, study circles and devotional gatherings — in addition to the formal presentations and informal conversations that have attracted souls for decades. Allegiance to His vision for humanity and the capacity to serve it are developing among populations as diverse as the settings in which the Word of God is taking root in their hearts. The boundaries are dissolving, as larger and larger numbers commit themselves to action. In this “current stage in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan, an undertaking that binds together the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in one united spiritual endeavour”[4], such exciting, unfamiliar ground awaits!

Delegates

Delegates applaud the election of the National Spiritual Assembly. Photo: Louis Brunet

Dear co-workers, during these treasured few days we seek your insights and advice about what will be required in the coming year to release the potential that now exists for large-scale growth in some clusters, and for a significant advance in others.  As we consider together the magnitude of this work, may the Ridván message’s assurances of heavenly aid inspire us: “If only ye exert the effort,” is the Master’s reassurance in one of His Tablets, “it is certain that these splendours will shine out, these clouds of mercy will shed down their rain, these life-giving winds will rise and blow, this sweet-smelling musk will be scattered far and wide.”

You are ever in our prayers.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada

[1]Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the World, Ridván 2014

[2]Ibid

[3] Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 27 December 2005

[4]Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the World, Ridvan 2014