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NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities

NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities



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Published by Bahai_stuff
A compilation from the sacred writings and scripture of the Baha'i Faith
A compilation from the sacred writings and scripture of the Baha'i Faith

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Published by: Bahai_stuff on Sep 10, 2007
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THIS ELECTRONIC TEXT VERSION CONTAINS THE COMPLETE TEXT OF THE ORIGINAL PRINTEDEDITION WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE TABLE OF CONTENTS AND THE INDEX BECAUSE THEY AREUNNECESSARY AND INTERFERE WITH EFFICIENT ELECTRONIC SEARCHES.PAGINATION IS THE SAME AS THE PRINTED VERSION.SINCE ASCII TEXT DOES NOT ALLOW FOR ITALICIZED TEXT, ALL ITALICIZED PARAGRAPHS,WHICH ARE NON-SACRED PASSAGES AND COMMENTS, HAVE BEEN DEMARCATED BY THIS SYMBOL:///Example:/// Dear Baha'i Friends,/// To assist Local Spiritual Assemblies in their efforts to rise to the new stagein the exercise of their responsibilities, "Developing Distinctive Baha'iCommunities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies" has been revised and theNational Spiritual Assembly is pleased to provide you with this publication as aready reference to facilitate your consultations.================================================DEVELOPING DISNTINCTIVE BAHA'I COMMUNITIESGUIDELINES FOR SPRITIUAL ASSEMBLIESPage iiOffice of Assembly Development, Evanston, Illinois 60201Copyright (c) 1998 by the National Spiritual Assemblyof the Baha'is of the United StatesAll rights reserved. Published 1998Cover design by Pepper Oldziey(Pages iii to xxxii, Table of Contents, removed)xxxiiiPREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION/// To All Local Spiritual Assemblies/// Dear Baha'i Friends,/// To assist Local Spiritual Assemblies in their efforts to rise to the new stagein the exercise of their responsibilities, "Developing Distinctive Baha'iCommunities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies" has been revised and theNational Spiritual Assembly is pleased to provide you with this publication as aready reference to facilitate your consultations./// Local Spiritual Assemblies have been asked by the Universal House of Justiceto "rise to a new stage in the exercise of their responsibilities as channels ofdivine guidance, planners of the teaching work, developers of human resources,builders of communities, and loving shepherds of the multitudes." The Supreme Bodytells us, "They can realize these prospects through increasing the ability oftheir members to take counsel together in accordance with the principles of theFaith and to consult with the friends under their jurisdiction, through fosteringthe spirit of service, through spontaneously collaborating with the ContinentalCounselors and their auxiliaries, and through cultivating their external
relations." Further, the progress in the evolution of the institutions must be"manifest in the multiplication of localities in which the functioning of theSpiritual Assembly enhances the individual believers' capacity to serve the Causeand fosters unified action."/// "Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities: Guidelines for SpiritualAssemblies" is a compilation of the Baha'i writings designed to aid LocalSpiritual Assemblies in applying the principles of Baha'i Administration withwisdom and love. In addition to the Writings of the Central Figures of the Faith,Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, the Guidelines offer thecurrent policies and general practices of the National Spiritual Assembly inadministering the affairs of the American Baha'i Community.xxxiv Preface to The Revised Edition/// In its infallible wisdom, the Universal House of Justice has explained that"the plan to which we are now committed is set at one of the most critical timesin the life of the planet." The Supreme Body emphasized that "the need at thisexact time is so to intensify our efforts in building the Baha'i System that wewill attract the confirmations of Baha'u'llah and thus invoke a spiritualatmosphere" that will stimulate the release of "pent-up forces," bring aboutlarge-scale growth of the Baha'i community, and "change the direction of humanaffairs throughout the planet."NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA'IS OF THE UNITED STATESMARCH 1998================================================1.1Chapter 1THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLYSPIRITUAL FOUNDATIONOrdained by GodThe Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be establishedwherein shall gather counselors to the number of Baha. . . . It behoveth them tobe the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as theguardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth.Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, par. 30Let no one, while this System is still in its infancy, misconceive its character,belittle its significance or misrepresent its purpose. The bedrock on which thisAdministrative Order is founded is God's immutable Purpose for mankind in thisday. . . . Its consummation [is] the advent of that golden millennium -- the Daywhen the kingdoms of this world shall have become the Kingdom of God Himself, theKingdom of Baha'u'llah.Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 156-57The Uniqueness of the Administrative OrderThe world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of thismost great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionizedthrough the agency of this unique, this wondrous System -- the like of whichmortal eyes have never witnessed.
Baha'u'llah, in The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 146The Spiritual Assemblies to be established in this Age of God, this holy century,have, it is indisputable, had neither peer nor likeness in the cycles gone before.For those assemblages that wielded power were based on the support of mightyleaders of men, while these Assemblies are based on the support of the Beauty ofAbha. The defenders and patrons of those other assemblages1.2 The Local Spiritual Assemblywere either a prince, or a king, or a chief priest, or the mass of the people. Butthese Spiritual Assemblies have for their defender, their supporter, their helper,their inspirer, the omnipotent Lord.'Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 82This Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that anyProphet has previously established, inasmuch as Baha'u'llah has Himself revealedits principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpretHis Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplementand apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, itsfundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism.Nowhere in the sacred scriptures of any of the world's religious systems, nor evenin the writings of the Inaugurator of the Babi Dispensation, do we find anyprovisions establishing a covenant or providing for an administrative order thatcan compare in scope and authority with those that lie at the very basis of theBaha'i Dispensation.Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 145Pattern for Future SocietyBaha'u'llah . . . has not only imbued mankind with a new and regenerating Spirit.He has not merely enunciated certain universal principles, or propounded aparticular philosophy however potent, sound and universal these may be. Inaddition to these He, as well as 'Abdu'l-Baha after Him, has, unlike theDispensations of the past, clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws,established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials of a DivineEconomy. These are destined to be a pattern for future society, a supremeinstrument for the establishment of the Most Great Peace, and the one agency forthe unification of the world, and the proclamation of the reign of righteousnessand justice upon the earth.Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 19Aided by the Spirit of GodThese Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is'Abdu'l-Baha. Over them He spreadeth His wings. What bounty is there greater thanthis? These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, fromwhich the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights ofknowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of lifestreameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progressof man, at all times and under all conditions.'Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 801.3 Newly-born InstitutionsBasic Administrative Unit of Baha'u'llah's World OrderThe divinely ordained institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly operates at thefirst levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit ofBaha'u'llah's World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom itmust constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Baha'i society, vitalized and

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