The Spiritual Assembly
Bahá'í administration is divided into two arms: 1) Elected, 2) Appointed
- What is it? What does it do?
A Spiritual Assembly belongs to the elected arm of the Bahá'í Administrative Order.
In any location where there are nine or more registered adult Bahá'ís residing, a Spiritual Assembly is formed. If the number exceeds nine the Assembly membership of nine is determined by election. Elections are held annually. Those eligible for election are adult Bahá'ís (ie. 21 years old or over) in good standing.
The role of a Spiritual Assembly is to administer the affairs of the Bahá'í Faith in its area of jurisdiction. Duties include:
A local Spiritual Assembly can, and usually does, appoint committees to assist it with its duties.
- administering Bahá'í marriages and funerals
- processing applications for membership in the Bahá'í community
- holding of monthly (every 19 days) community meetings called Feasts
- organising Baha'i Holy Day celebrations and commemorations
- planning and implementing campaigns for public awareness of the Bahá'í Faith and its principles and facilitating personal investigation of the Bahá'í Faith by interested members of the public
- ensuring that facilities exist for the religious education of children
- providing opportunities for Bahá'ís to study their Faith in depth
- mediating and counselling in any disputes or difficulties in the Bahá'í community that are brought to its attention
- administering the local funds (to which only registered Bahá'ís can contribute)
- ensuring that each individual Bahá'í has the opportunity to contribute his or her views to the Assembly
- to justify and explain its decisions to the community on all non-confidential matters
- encourage universal participation by the Bahá'í community in all aspects of Bahá'í life
- to participate in regional conventions to elect delegates to the annual national convention at which the National Spiritual Assembly which administers the affairs of the Bahá'í Faith on a national level is elected
Members of a National Spiritual Assembly meet in Haifa, Israel once every five years to elect the nine members of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body of the Bahá'í Faith.
Principles of Bahá'í Elections
Bahá'í elections at all levels have no process of nomination and no electioneering. All eligible Bahá'ís can vote and can be voted for. The criteria which Bahá'ís use in determining their choice were laid out by the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith Shoghi Effendi:
"...to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience."
(Bahá'í Administration, page 88)