Riḍván 2009 Annual Report

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States early loved Co-workers, One year ago, the Universal House of Justice called attention to a rising capacity in the worldwide Bahá’í community for service to the Faith, as the result of “systematic study of the Creative Word,” and the application of insights through “a process of action, reflection and consultation.” With hearts filled with gratitude to the Blessed Beauty, we celebrate a range of achievements in the past year demonstrating that our collective capacity to advance the process of entry by troops continues to develop. We look forward to the coming year with confidence in the still greater victories to come. Increased understanding of and commitment to the institute process; increased collaboration among individuals, the institutions, and the community—the three participants in the Five Year Plan; and greater ability to act as a learning community—all played a role in the achievements of the past year. Progress is also due in great measure to the stimulating effects of the conferences called for by the Universal House of Justice, six of which were held in the United States. Some 18,000 American believers attended the U.S. conferences held in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Portland, and Stamford. The friends who attended took inspiration from presentations by members of the International Teaching Center, wonderful and diverse cultural celebrations, workshops focused on understanding and action, and stories shared by various individuals at the forefront of the teaching work. Thousands of individual pledges of service resulted, which added greatly to the momentum that had already been achieved and ensured the establishment of an unprecedented number of new intensive programs of growth. In all these developments we are seeing glimpses of the new culture envisioned by the Universal House of Justice—a culture in which all members

of the community find a place in service, a culture with an outward-looking orientation that welcomes multitudes of people of all backgrounds. This progress occurred against the backdrop of significant world events: on one hand, the collapse of the world economy, the political, social, and material repercussions of which will no doubt be felt for some time to come; and on the other, a new level of international effort aimed at resolving these problems. It was only last year that the Universal House of Justice reminded us of “the forces of integration and disintegration operating in society today” and “the relationship between the rise in receptivity to the Faith in all parts of the globe and the failing of the world’s systems.” The Supreme Institution continued: That such receptivity will increase as the agonies of humanity deepen is certain. Let there be no mistake: The capacity building that has been set in motion to respond to mounting receptivity is still in its earliest stages. The magnitude of the demands of a world in disarray will test this capacity to its limits in the years ahead. Humanity is battered by forces of oppression, whether generated from the depths of religious prejudice or the pinnacles of rampant materialism. Bahá’ís are able to discern the causes of this affliction. “What ‘oppression’ is more grievous,” Bahá’u’lláh asks, “than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it?” There is no time to lose. Continued progress must be achieved in the activity and development of the three participants in the Plan. These words remind us of the urgent need for sustained and focused attention on the framework of the Plan.

n all these developments we are seeing glimpses of the new culture envisioned by the Universal House of Justice—a culture in which all members of the community find a place in service, a culture with an outward-looking orientation that welcomes multitudes of people of all backgrounds.

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Advancing the process of growth
As of this writing, 167 clusters with intensive programs of growth are projected for Riḍván 2009, an increase of 77 in one year. Activities at the cluster level, with the institute process as their driving force, will have yielded at least 2,500 adult and youth enrollments, plus some 1,200 child and junior youth registrations. This not only far exceeds each of the previous two years of the current Plan, it is an aggregate level of annual growth not seen in this country in well over two decades. The two essential movements at the heart of the Plan—the progress of individuals through the sequence of institute courses, and the consequent advancement of clusters from one stage of growth to the next—have now become an established pattern throughout the Bahá’í world. Much is being learned from year to year, and even from cycle to cycle, about the dynamics of this process. We offer the following observations about recent experience in the United States. In last year’s annual report, we noted that a handful of clusters had produced high numbers of enrollments in the expansion phases of their growth cycles in the preceding year. Three clusters saw about 50 new believers enter the Faith within periods of 10–14 days—and three more of them had about 100 in at least one cycle. In the past year, however, these same clusters experienced much more modest levels of growth in each cycle. This decrease in enrollments was the result of decisions made by the same core teams that earlier had organized collective teaching efforts; they were determined not to overwhelm the human resources available for proper consolidation to take place. The capacity to set enrollment goals commensurate with the capacity to nurture new believers marks an important step forward in the maturation of the growth process. It is interesting to note that, although no clusters experienced the dramatic enrollments of the previous year, more clusters experienced growth. As a result, aggregate growth for the country rose considerably. In addition, new believers are now far more likely to participate in one or more core activities. Collective teaching activities were the object of greater focus in the past year. Receptive populations were identified in specific neighborhoods, where the entire array of core activities, plus direct teaching efforts of various kinds, were established and took root. Many of the more successful efforts have emphasized the establishment of neighborhood children’s classes. In fact, there is a high correlation between enrollments in a cluster and the existence of neighborhood classes for children. We are beginning to see patterns of community life emerging in these neighborhoods that include the participation of both veteran and new believers, as well as large numbers of seekers. Last year we noted an emerging emphasis on direct teaching, “an open and bold assertion of the fundamental verities of the Cause,” for which the cogent presentation from Ruhi Book 6 (commonly known as “Anna’s presentation”) was serving as an effective model. A related element was the readiness

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lthough no clusters experienced the dramatic enrollments of the previous year, more clusters experienced growth. As a result, aggregate growth for the country rose considerably. In addition, new believers are now far more likely to participate in one or more core activities.

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of a growing number of the friends to invite individuals to become members of the Bahá’í Faith. Direct teaching at that time was primarily taking place in door-to-door campaigns in receptive neighborhoods. This year there were numerous reports of the use of a more direct approach in firesides, devotional meetings, and other venues, where it was meeting with notable success, underscoring the difference between the method of teaching and the setting. The correlation between cluster advancement and the active involvement of Local Spiritual Assemblies is striking. We see progress wherever local Assembly members are actively involved in the Plan, and where the institutions encourage the friends, support the activities of the core teams, and in other ways help to ensure proper focus on the framework for action. National and regional developments Regular three-month cycles of planning, action, and reflection taking place at the cluster level continue to be paralleled by similar patterns at the regional and national levels. The Regional Bahá’í Councils undertake systematic reviews of each cluster in consultation with the Counselors, National Spiritual Assembly, Auxiliary Board members, Regional Training Institutes, and Area Teaching Committees. From these consultations, specific lines of action emerge that are designed to lend further impetus to growth. The National Spiritual Assembly meets regularly with all five Counselors resident in the United States for a joint assessment of the Plan’s progress. These plenary consultations, complemented by frequent meetings and communications between the Counselors and officers of the Assembly, ensure unity of vision and affect decisions related to resource allocation, guidance to the community, and administrative activities. The departmental reports contained in this document provide detailed information about the activities of the Regional Bahá’í Councils and the various offices and agencies of the National Spiritual Assembly. The following are a few highlights from the past year. Due to the economic crisis, the Assembly cut back a total of 40 salaried positions from various national offices. In addition, all capital expenditures for national properties were postponed unless they were already under contract or addressed issues of life safety or building integrity. These changes necessitated a commensurate reduction in services, with only highest priorities retained. Most of

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e see progress wherever local Assembly members are actively involved in the Plan, and where the institutions encourage the friends, support the activities of the core teams, and in other ways help to ensure proper focus on the framework for action.

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the effects will be felt in the coming year, but to some extent they are already reflected in the departmental reports. A number of efforts were undertaken to help the community achieve greater focus on the elements of the Five Year Plan. For example: The preponderance of courses offered at the permanent and seasonal Bahá’í schools addressed the Plan. The participants, numbering several thousand, reported very positive experiences, and we are now working to measure whether the courses helped these same participants become more active in their clusters. All major communications were aimed at helping the believers to understand and become engaged with the Plan. The American Bahá’í, now in magazine format, was key to this strategy, as was the U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel. Both publications have emphasized the many features of the process of learning at the cluster level. Feast letters continued to address themes related to the Plan. In addition, the Assembly sent out hundreds of unique letters and emails related to the Plan to various individuals and institutions. The National Teaching Office in the last year acted as a clearinghouse for teaching materials and resources for the use of the friends, assisted in developing information for publication in The American Bahá’í, published the teaching blog http://teaching.bahai.us on the Internet, and supported the National Spiritual Assembly with regular analysis and reports on the progress of the Plan. Two new Regional Bahá’í Councils were established in the southern region. The Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southeastern States serves Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia; the Regional Bahá’í Council of the South Central States serves Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. This change was made in response to the progress that has been made in the 78 goal clusters once overseen by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southern States. The number of junior youth programs rose in response to stimulus provided by the Universal House of Justice’s Office of Social and Economic Development (OSED), which held two training seminars in the past year. This was a good example of how to begin to develop human resources for a specific purpose. The first seminar, held last June, included about 25 individuals who had been invited based upon demonstrated commitment to and experience with junior youth programs. Together they shared their own experiences and experiences from around the world, as documented in various materials provided by OSED. They also spent time refining their understanding of the junior youth curriculum. Most of the same individuals returned six months later for a follow-up seminar, having spent the interim applying their learning in the field and gaining deeper experience. These friends returned to the field with a more profound grasp of the issues affecting junior youth and have now begun to help others understand how to successfully undertake this service.

wo new Regional Bahá’í Councils were established in the southern region, in response to the progress that has been made in the 78 goal clusters once overseen by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southern States.

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Other developments
n spite of the economic crisis in the world, believers still made the National Fund a priority and pursued achievement of the $25 million goal with vigor. The spirit accompanying these efforts is the same spirit that pervades our community— anticipating growth and development, with high hopes for the future.

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In brief, some other significant developments of the past year occurred in the following areas. Since Riḍván 2006, 614 believers from the United States have undertaken service as international pioneers as of late March. The goal for the current Plan is 1,300, indicating the need for many more of the friends to arise for this priceless service to the Cause. In addition, some 1,273 trips have been recorded by believers serving as international traveling teachers. In the past year, we have received contributions from a significant number of individuals who had not before contributed directly to the National Bahá’í Fund. In spite of the economic crisis in the world, believers still made the National Fund a priority and pursued achievement of the $25 million goal with vigor. The spirit accompanying these efforts is the same spirit that pervades our community—anticipating growth and development, with high hopes for the future. The work of the Kingdom Project continues. Restoration of the House of Worship is proceeding, and plans for the new Visitors’ Center have been approved. We plan to break ground for the Center in early summer of this year. Both restoration and the Visitors’ Center are scheduled for completion by spring 2011. This is a delay of six months caused mainly by the discovery of two old fuel tanks that had been buried several decades ago beneath one of the gardens. One of the tanks had leaked fuel oil, which required a vast amount of soil to be removed and replaced. In early 2008, the Bahá’í Distribution Service underwent a major reorganization, closing its Atlanta operation and relocating to Wilmette. New features of the operation included outsourced fulfillment and the use of “print-on-demand” technology, the combination of which, it was thought, would save significant personnel and warehousing expenses while providing a wider range of services in a timely manner. In the past year, the benefits became clear: the annual contribution of the National Fund to support publishing dropped from $900,000 to $290,000. This is in spite of a 30 percent downward turn in sales revenues, the result of the temporary closing of the House of Worship Bookstore and general economic conditions.

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Opportunities
In the months leading up to the December regional conferences, it remained clear that the bulk of service related directly to the Five Year Plan was being undertaken by a relatively small cadre of believers. The number of individuals deployed in the arena of action was not commensurate with the many thousands who had received at least some training through participation in institute courses. Of those who did engage in service, not all were able to sustain their activities. In addition, the number of new human resources being developed through the institute process was beginning to flatten. The conferences brought to the process of growth a renewed vigor, as thousands of believers pledged specific services within the context of the Plan. The Regional Councils and Auxiliary Boards lost no time following up with them, and it has now become clear that in many clusters the resulting progress has been dramatic. The true success of the conferences must be measured not in weeks or months, but throughout the remainder of the Plan. The best means of harnessing the energies created by these extraordinary events is to cultivate a culture of accompaniment, whereby every believer receives loving and continuing encouragement in his or her path of service. Institutions can play a role as they maintain the focus of the community on the Plan and, in each cluster, “boldly guide the friends who have demonstrated their enthusiasm for teaching and the core activities, lovingly encourage those who are trying to find their place, and wisely remove any obstacles to progress that may emerge.” Individuals also have a contribution to make, through wholehearted commitment to service and a corresponding willingness to help others achieve their potential. Every additional believer in the field of action will make a profound difference.

he conferences brought to the process of growth a renewed vigor, as thousands of believers pledged specific services within the context of the Plan. The true success of the conferences must be measured not in weeks or months, but throughout the remainder of the Plan.

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Conclusion

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e take example and inspiration from the believers in the Cradle of the Faith, who remain unswerving in their devotion to the Cause of God. Let us beseech the Almighty that our efforts may shine with the very same spirit of fidelity and sacrifice.

We have no doubt that it will be possible to win the goal of establishing intensive programs of growth in 233 clusters by Riḍván 2010. Such a monumental achievement is certainly within our grasp and will leave us with an additional year both to increase that number and to strengthen those that already exist. We take example and inspiration from the believers in the Cradle of the Faith, who remain unswerving in their devotion to the Cause of God. Let us beseech the Almighty that our efforts may shine with the very same spirit of fidelity and sacrifice. We are moved to offer our gratitude to the Continental Board of Counselors and their Auxiliaries, whose loving and untiring services have had an incalculable impact on the progress of the Faith. We especially call to mind our dear Rebequa Murphy, now in the company of the Concourse on high and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to come to our assistance. All who knew her still feel the presence of her beautiful and pure spirit. And finally, we offer profound gratitude and tribute to our beloved Universal House of Justice, which has so patiently and lovingly brought forth new capacities in all of us. In particular, we are grateful for the many lessons learned from the six conferences held in this country. Not only did we grow in our understanding of the Plan—we were reminded of the wonderful strength and diversity of this extraordinary and blessed Bahá’í community. And we learned how much can be achieved in a very short time, provided we are united in spirit and purpose. We close with these words addressed by the Universal House of Justice to the six conferences held in the United States: Undeflected by the turmoil and distractions of the world around you, direct your energies to the task at hand with expanded vision and renewed consecration. New achievements invariably bring new challenges. Every steadfast believer is called to a faith and determination, a commitment to unity and sacrifice that will lift the Cause to a new stage

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in its development. May all find a part to play. May all appreciate the contribution of others. May all pour forth time and resources to support the advancement of your clusters, to foster the capacity of your co-workers, and to quicken the spirit of love and devotion that propels you forward. Be assured of our ceaseless prayers for your happiness and for the success of your endeavors in the path of service. With loving Bahá’í greetings, NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES

ot only did we grow in our understanding of the Plan—we were reminded of the wonderful strength and diversity of this extraordinary and blessed Bahá’í community.

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Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States
During 2008–09, in keeping with the spirit of the Chicago regional conference held in December 2008, the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States reorganized its thinking and action to provide for greater impact at the cluster level. The December 6, 2008 message from the Universal House of Justice to the six regional conferences taking place across the United States expressed this vision: “May all find a part to play. May all appreciate the contributions of others. May all pour forth time and resources to support the advancement of your clusters.” The elements of this vision have become guiding principles in the Council’s efforts to further the work of the Five Year Plan in the Central States. Coherence and the Council To best utilize the Council’s time and maximize its efficiency, several changes in its operations are being implemented. The Council’s meeting agenda has been realigned to mirror the two essential movements necessary for sustainable growth. The Council is exploring ways to cut back on physical meetings in order to: • Save money and divert these unused funds into the work of the Regional Training Institute (RTI). • Permit Council members to be in the field more often. The Council is also developing proactive goals and strategies in three-month cycles to seamlessly support the work of the RTI, cluster advancement, and Local Spiritual Assemblies. Transparency in communication and strengthened collaboration between it, the Auxiliary Boards, and the RTI are also part of the Council’s strategies for achieving coherence throughout the region. Coherence in the clusters To achieve the goal of strengthening and orienting the core teams and developing an understanding of the schemes of coordination for the Local Spiritual Assemblies, cluster agencies and institutions have been coming together in multi-cluster workshops to study the available guidance and consult with each other to determine how best to achieve a coherent approach to growth within their own clusters. Studying the guidance “again for the first time” has been very helpful, especially as the clusters have firsthand experience of the guidance in action. Understanding the role of data in coherence is evolving. Collecting, analyzing, and using the data from past cycles is proving more effective; some core teams are beginning to use the data in decision-making and planning. The Council will need to learn how to assist the core teams and Local Spiritual Assemblies to continually consult, act, and reflect on what is being learned. Central States RTI During 2008–09, the Central States Regional Training Institute evolved from a five-person Board meeting monthly to a three-person Board trying to meet bi-

Regional Bahá’í Councils
11 ...Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States 14 ...Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern States 18 ...Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northwestern States 22 ...Regional Bahá’í Council of the South Central States 25 ...Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southeastern States 28 ...Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern States

nderstanding the role of data in coherence is evolving. Collecting, analyzing, and using the data from past cycles is proving more effective; some core teams are beginning to use the data in decision-making and planning.

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Regional Bahá’í Councils

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he book currently in progress with the largest number of study circle participants is Book 1 (298), which may reflect an increased number of individuals from the clusters’ communities of interest becoming engaged in core activities.

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annually. Its work was promoted first by three Regional Coordinators, then by one Regional Coordinator, then by four Regional Coordinators—all within the span of three months. The Regional Council, RTI Board, and Regional Coordinators are all feeling the impact of these changes as they learn their new roles and ways to consult and collaborate with each other to maximize learnings at the cluster level while driving and sustaining this critical “engine of growth.” The Council secretariat is beginning to work more closely with the RTI Board to practically implement the learnings more quickly. The Regional Coordinators have been analyzing the quality and success of the institute training process in each of their clusters, appointing new Cluster Institute Coordinators (CICs) as needed, and working closely with the CICs to revitalize the institute process within each cluster. Modest gains have been made in the number of believers completing the entire course sequence in the Ruhi curriculum, although the greatest gain has been the number completing Book 4. The book currently in progress with the largest number of study circle participants is Book 1 (298), which may reflect an increased number of individuals from the clusters’ communities of interest becoming engaged in core activities. Cluster advancement The Central States will have elevated 10 clusters from the “B” to “A” stage of development by Riḍván 2009, each launching its own intensive program of growth (IPG) at the time of elevation; 24 IPGs will then be in place, which is 74 percent of the region’s Five Year Plan goal. Further, seven more clusters will by Riḍván be elevated to the “B” stage of growth, which will bring the total of “new” “B” clusters to 11, or 122 percent of the goal. The original nine clusters selected to launch IPGs by Riḍván 2010 are still making progress toward that goal. It is unclear at this point whether or not the additional two “B” clusters will be able to launch IPGs by Riḍván 2010. Despite the modest gains shown in engagement in the institute process, enrollments are up for the year by nearly 50 percent (293 enrollments by February 2009 compared to 198 enrollments by February 2008), as more teachers gain confidence and skills in direct teaching.

Stages of advancement in the Central Region as of 3/31/2009
‘A’-stage clusters IA-07 (Ames/Des Moines, IA) IL-03 (Aurora area, IL) IL-09 (Springfield, IL) IL-16 (Chicago, IL) IL-17 (Evanston area, IL) IL-20 (Wilmette area, IL) IN-01 (Indianapolis, IN) KS-13 (Wichita, KS) MI-17 (Ann Arbor, MI) MI-11 (Central Lower Peninsula, MI) MI-18 (Oakland Co., MI) MI-28 (Wayne Co., MI) MN-27 (Minneapolis, MN) MN-28 (St. Paul/Ramsey Co., MN) MN-30 (E & SE Mpls/St. Paul area) MN-33 (Hennepin Co. S., MN) MO-01 (St. Louis Co., MO) MO-03 (Columbia, MO) MO-07 (Kansas City, MO/KS) NE-13 (Omaha, NE/IA) OH-01 (Cleveland area, OH) OH-03 (Columbus/Franklin Co., OH) WI-19 (Madison, WI) WI-21 (Waukesha Co., WI) ‘B’-stage clusters IA-14 (Cedar Rapids, IA) IL-01 (Rockford, IL) IL-11 (Champaign, IL) MI-09 (Grand Rapids, MI) MN-02 (Lake of the Woods Co., MN) MN-34 (Hennepin Co. North, MN) OH-05 (Hamilton Co, OH) OH-06 (Montgomery Co, OH) WI-16 (Appleton, WI) WI-17 (Sheboygan, WI) WI-22 (Milwaukee Co., WI) ‘★C’-stage clusters IL-02 (Waukegan, IL) IL-18 (Des Plaines, IL)

Ruhi book completion in priority clusters
Book 7 Book 6 946 1,131 Book 5 172 Book 4 Book 3 Book 2 Book 1 2,714 As of May 1, 2008 As of February 1, 2009 1,950 1,481 1,514 953 Book 7 Book 6 1,193 221 Book 5 1,565 1,540 Book 4 Book 3 1,989 Book 2 2,708 Book 1

Enrollments / registrations
293 Total
79 Children 12 Junior youth 32 Youth 170 Adults

198 Total
49 Children 7 Junior youth 14 Youth 128 Adults

5/2007– 2/2008

5/2008– 2/2009

Developing strong Area Teaching Committees (ATCs) while keeping equally strong CICs in place remains a challenge. Auxiliary Board members have taken this to heart, working on both fronts. Relatively high turnover in membership on the ATCs continues, although immediate orientation and training is helping to stabilize them. The intensified level of activity within the clusters brings new understanding of the requirements, roles, and responsibilities of ATCs and CICs. ATC members are encouraged to build capacity in others through accompaniment. Much is yet to be learned about coherence of growth when the agencies of the core team bring their unique strengths and expertise “to the table.” Activating pledges The Regional Coordinators are beginning to mobilize tutors to expand and strengthen the institute process in priority clusters by identifying the strengths of the tutors and matching those strengths with the needs of the clusters. Homefront pioneers are similarly sharing what they see as their strengths and working with the Council to determine where the needs are and where the pioneers are willing to go to support those needs. The services of some pioneers will more closely resemble the services of traveling teachers—living and teaching in goal areas for perhaps the entire summer, rather than settling in them with any permanence. The Council has also contacted individuals who made deputization pledges at the Chicago Regional Conference to thank and encourage them, as well as provide information on how to contribute to the recently established Regional Deputization Fund. Local Spiritual Assembly development Intensified teaching activities have had profound effects on the Local Spiritual Assemblies in the region. Whether in “C” or “A” clusters, Assemblies are asking questions and searching for ways to support growth at the cluster level. Signs of growth—whether by developing a unified vision for the cluster or in actual enrollments—is evident in those clusters in which the Assemblies are actively participating in core activities and home visits. Assembly representatives have been asked to participate in the multi-cluster workshops mentioned earlier. This has given them insights into the schemes of coordination that are being implemented in the clusters as growth and activity warrants and has provided many with a clearer understanding of Local Spiritual Assemblies’ vital role in the teaching work. In summary, the Central States are working to strengthen and expand the institute process in all priority and emerging clusters. Another goal is to enhance the work of expansion and consolidation by reinforcing clusters with homefront pioneers and ongoing training and accompaniment of individuals as they continue to share the love of Bahá’u’lláh with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.

igns of growth— whether by developing a unified vision for the cluster or in actual enrollments— is evident in those clusters in which the Assemblies are actively participating in core activities and home visits.

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Regional Bahá’í Councils

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ver 20 individuals have been placed as homefront pioneers, with many more arising as pioneers, traveling teachers, and youth year-of-service volunteers.

Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern States
The year 2008–09 has been a remarkable year of growth, change, and learning for the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern States. The Council is grateful to have throughout the year benefited from the loving partnership of Counselor Gerardo Vargas, the members of the Auxiliary Boards serving the Northeast, the National Spiritual Assembly, cluster agencies, Local Spiritual Assemblies, and the Bahá’í World Center. The December 2008 regional conference, held in Stamford, Connecticut—at which over 2,000 participants received counsel and encouragement from members of the International Teaching Center and other senior institutions of the Faith—focused the region on the elements of the Five Year Plan and generated some 3,727 pledges of service, which are still being added to every week. Over 20 individuals have been placed as homefront pioneers, with many more arising as pioneers, traveling teachers, and youth year-of-service volunteers. The region’s youth gathered once again at the Northeastern Bahá’í Youth Conference—now referred to as “NEBY: The Movement”—this year with an increased focus on engaging youth and young adults in the core activities and direct teaching. Among the many continuing youth and junior youth activities in the region was last summer’s Project Mírzá Mihdí in New York City and Long Island; the Council hopes the project will expand eventually to all “A” clusters. Regional Council members met with 19 Local Spiritual Assemblies to develop greater collaboration among the agencies and institutions of the Faith in the region to further the progress of the Plan in their clusters. During this third year of the current Five Year Plan, the number of clusters that have reached the “A” stage of development in the Northeastern states grew from 12 to 22—all with intensive programs of growth in place—with 10–12 more anticipated by the Plan’s conclusion. At Riḍván 2009, we project the following statistics for the third year compared to where the region stood at the start of the Plan: • 420 enrollments of adults and youth compared to 97 in the Plan’s first year • 392 study circles compared to 123 • 65 junior youth groups compared to 24 • 959 individuals completing the sequence of Ruhi courses compared to 479 • 310 devotional meetings compared to 156 • 150 children’s classes compared to 110 How growth took place What were the factors that led to such rapid growth and change in the region in one year? Three strengths emerged during 2008–09 that had an enormous impact

Riḍván 2009

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on systematic, sustainable growth: 1. Direct teaching: “Open and bold assertion of the fundamental verities of the Cause”; “Bahá’u’lláh’s message should be given liberally and unconditionally to humanity.” 2. Identifying receptive populations: Seeking out “souls with whom they can share a portion of that which He has so graciously bestowed on humanity.” 3. Placing homefront pioneers and resource people: people that are “capable of generating enthusiasm and intensity.” Three examples follow. The Power
of

DirecT Teaching: new York ciTY.

• An “A” cluster in 2005, New York welcomed about 15 new believers a year. • Auxiliary Board members and others were sent to Atlanta, a Dallas seminar, and Norte del Cauca in Colombia, and brought learning back. • “Teaching Workshop Days” were held to raise skills and scout for receptive neighborhoods. • A skilled and experienced teacher (resource person) from the Southwest came forward. • The April 2008 expansion phase brought about 72 enrollments in two weeks. • Follow-up was difficult: some drifted away. The cluster consulted with and

hree strengths emerged during 2008–09 that had an enormous impact on systematic, sustainable growth: Direct teaching, identifying receptive populations, and placing homefront pioneers and resource people.

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Stages of advancement in the Northeast Region as of 3/31/2009

‘B’-stage clusters 07 (Upper Maine) 09 (Vermont) 14 (Franklin/Hampshire, MA) 16 (Northeast Massachusetts) 19 (Rhode Island) 22 (Cherry Hill area, NJ) 24 (Newark area, NJ) 27 (Albany area, NY) 32 (Newburgh area, NY) 36 (Syracuse area, NY) 37 (Westchester Co., NY) 38 (Allentown/Reading, PA) 44 (Philadelphia SW, PA) 45 (Pittsburgh area, PA) ‘★C’-stage clusters 01 (Fairfield Co., CT) 04 (New Haven Co., CT) 12 (Bristol/Plymouth, MA) 18 (Worcester Co., MA) 20 (Bergen/Passaic, NJ) 43 (Philadelphia NW, PA)

‘A’-stage clusters 02 (Hartford/Tolland, CT) 06 (Lower ME/NH) 08 (New Hampshire) 11 (Boston area, MA) 15 (Hampden Co., MA) 17 (S. Middlesex Co., MA) 21 (Central Jersey, NJ) 28 (Buffalo area, NY) 30 (Long Island, NY) 31 (New York City, NY) 35 (Rochester area, NY) 41 (Harrisburg/Lancaster, PA) 42 (Philadelphia, PA)

learned from other clusters. The quality of early presentations has a powerful impact on consolidation. • Expansion phases since have resulted in fewer enrollments, but the teaching is more methodical; consequently, a number of Book 1 study circles, children’s classes, and junior youth classes are starting. • New Bahá’ís are now neighborhood teaching coordinators, hosting Feasts and devotional gatherings, teaching friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

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rogress in the Lancaster/ Harrisburg cluster has been achieved through unity, through creativity, and through action that is animated by confidence in divine power.

• How this was accomplished: · Relied on prayer, studied guidance. · Created unity among institutions and community. · Took bold step into direct action. · Identified receptive neighborhoods. · Learned to share the Faith directly. finDing
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r ecePTive PoPulaTion: new h amPshire clusTer.

• Began Five Year Plan with 50 pledges to complete sequence of Ruhi courses. • Formed teaching teams, made home visits, and multiplied core activities. • Conducted “Sundays in the Park” pilot program: neighborhood children’s classes over eight weeks. • Identified a neighborhood: immigrant populations, friendly, children ages 4 through 12 from Burundi, Congo, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Somalia, Sudan, and United States. • Welcomed 18 new believers in three months. • Serve needs of 31 now in neighborhood children’s classes. • How this was accomplished: · Remained flexible and persevered. · Identified receptive neighborhood. · Mobilized Ruhi Book 3 course graduates. · Offered genuine service: children’s classes. · Shared Faith directly when receptive souls emerged. · Started Book 1 study circles and devotional gatherings. r esource P ersons
anD

homefronT P ioneers: h arrisburg/l ancasTer clusTer.

• Advanced from “C “to “A” stage of development in less than a year — from gradual to rapid growth. • Auxiliary Board members and Council placed and supported a homefront pioneer. • Resource person worked with small group to scout neighborhoods. • IPG resulted in 19 enrollments, core activities multiplied, two new Bahá’ís on ATC, fund goal doubled, three new Bahá’ís on the Assembly. • Rented home with three homefront pioneers, two of whom have been Bahá’ís

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for six months: holding regular Feasts, core activity focus. • Auxiliary Board members appointed assistants to work with young people: hiking and overnight camping, meeting new friends in the park, learning different modes of meditation, even setting up a “haunted house” for the entertainment of neighborhood children at Halloween. • Progress in this cluster has been achieved through unity, through creativity, and through action that is animated by confidence in divine power. • How this was accomplished: · Relied on prayer. · Were courageous in the face of fear. · Placed homefront pioneers. · Utilized resource person for first teaching project in receptive neighborhood. · Utilized skills from the institute training process. · Multiplied core activities. · Mobilized new believers. · Had fun with youth. Conclusion Space considerations prohibit the telling of a story from each cluster in the Northeast, particularly those clusters, in addition to the three examples above, that achieved double-digit growth during 2008–09, including the Rochester area, the Boston area, Lower Maine/New Hampshire, Upper Maine, South Middlesex County, Philadelphia, the Syracuse area, Allentown/Reading, Hampden County, the Newark area, and Hartford/Tolland. Perhaps the most important development of all is the spirit of genuine service that is awakening as the friends arise to offer real assistance to their neighbors.

P

erhaps the most important development of all is the spirit of genuine service that is awakening as the friends arise to offer real assistance to their neighbors.

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Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northwestern States
Summary Progress of the Five Year Plan in the Northwestern States has accelerated to keep pace with the needs of the Plan. Actions of the believers in goal clusters in key areas—progress through the sequence of institute courses, application of learned skills, and participation in the core activities, teaching, and understanding of the Plan—have increased markedly since the Plan’s inception. Participation of almost 30 percent of the region’s believers in the December regional Bahá’í conference held in Portland has resulted in a surge of enthusiasm and documented action in the field, greater understanding of the framework of the Plan, and an even closer connection to the Universal House of Justice—all of which will greatly assist the prosecution of the Plan in this region in the remaining two years.

‘A’-stage clusters CO-13 (Colorado Springs, CO) CO-14 (Fort Collins, CO) CO-15 (Boulder, CO) CO-17 (Westminster/Arvada, CO) CO-19 (Denver, CO) OR-09 (Jackson Co., OR) OR-14 (Eugene/Lane Co., OR) OR-15 (Corvallis/Benton/Linn Cos., OR) OR-24 (Tigard/Lake Oswego/West Linn, OR) OR-26 (Beaverton/Washington Co., OR) OR-31 (Portland, OR) WA-08 (Redmond/N. King Co., WA) WA-09 (Whatcom/Skagit Cos., WA) WA-13 (Snohomish Co., WA) WA-14 (Seattle area, WA) WA-15 (Bellevue/Cent. King Co., WA) WA-17 (Renton/S. King Co., WA) WA-19 (Tacoma/Pierce Co., WA) WA-24 (Yakima, WA) ‘B’-stage clusters CO-09 (Grand Junction / Mesa Co., CO) CO-16 (Lakewood, CO) CO-18 (Arapahoe/Douglas Co., CO) ID-01 (Boise, ID) MT-01 (Yellowstone Co., MT) OR-18 (Salem/Woodburn, OR) OR-23 (Milwaukie/Gladstone, OR) UT-06 (Salt Lake City, UT) UT-08 (Salt Lake Co., UT) UT-09 (Sandy, UT) WA-01 (Port Angeles/Olympic Peninsula, WA) WA-04 (Vancouver/Clark Co., WA) WA-05 (Bremerton/Kitsap Co., WA) WA-06 (Olympia/Mason/Thurston Cos., WA) WA/ID-28 (Spokane, WA/Kootenai Co., ID)

Stages of advancement in the Northwest Region
as of 3/31/2009

‘★C’-stage clusters OR/WA-21 (Pendleton/Walla Walla/ Umatilla Res., WA) OR-28 (Gresham/Multnomah, OR)

Special victory in Colorado As the year 2008–09 draws to a close, the region celebrates the launch of new intensive programs of growth (IPGs)—including four in Colorado. The surge of activity in Colorado goal clusters in the few months preceding Riḍván is a special victory for the believers there and is attributable to a number of important and connected developments: • Visits last fall by the late Counselor Rebequa Murphy, who clarified the urgency for engagement in Plan activities to communities and Local Spiritual Assemblies. • Purposeful study of the Plan guidance by more and more of the believers, giving rise to a heightened awareness of actions needed before Riḍván 2009. • Improved understanding—brought about through the efforts of the Regional Bahá’í Council—of how believers can apply their enthusiasm to the needs of the Plan. • Effective release of individual initiative in the goal clusters encouraged by Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who gave their all to help the believers find it. • Helpful and practical interaction by the state representative of the Office of Cluster Advancement with the Area Teaching Committees, and growing capacity in goal clusters. • Increased enthusiasm throughout the state inspired by news of victories shared among the various goal clusters planned to advance by Riḍván 2009. • Effective leadership of the institute training process provided by Cluster Institute Coordinators, who developed the necessary skills with the assistance of the Regional Institute Coordinator. • Insights shared at Feasts and cluster reflection meetings by a large number of returning pilgrims, whose enthusiasm for the Plan was utilized as a resource. Northwestern Regional Training Institute As of March 2009, the number of people completing the full sequence of courses in the Ruhi curriculum has increased by 81 percent in the span of two years. The region-wide increase in direct teaching yielded a Individual completion wider application of skills developed through the training institute as well as a deeper understanding of the need for high-quality training. It has become clear that developing the needed skills requires completion of the course pracA B tices and that neglecting the practices limits the desired Colorado 91 91 results. In seeking to develop these skills further, a number of refresher courses were held—particularly for Ruhi Books Idaho 13 1, 2, and 6—with an emphasis on completing the required Montana 10 practices. Through study of the presentation in Book 6, now well-known as “Anna’s presentation”, many felt emOregon 237 34 powered and experienced new confidence in their teachUtah 49 ing, gaining an appreciation for the value of explaining concepts together with giving facts. Washington 310 76 A growing number of neighborhood children’s classes provided opportunities to put Book 3 to good use and created demand for training in Book 3A, as well as for additional
Wyoming Total 638 273 15

he surge of activity in Colorado goal clusters in the few months preceding Riḍván is a special victory for the believers there and is attributable to a number of important and connected developments.

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of the main sequence
Percentage of youth and adults 14.7% 5.9% 10.5% 15.0% 9.9% 11.2% 4.2% 12.3%

★C

C 8 9 19

Total 190 22 29 328 58 407 5 1039

12

45 9

3

18 5 113

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Enrollments by state
2006– 2007 Colorado Idaho Montana Oregon 13 6 6 35 5 41 2 108 2007– 2008 24 6 10 31 16 51 1 139 2008– 2009 24 10 6 73 14 96 3 226

curriculum materials. The fourth core activity, forming and working with junior youth groups, was given much added support and momentum through the appointment of coordinators who focus on this activity. Some of these individuals participated in seminars conducted by the World Center’s Office of Social and Economic Development, and upon their return, applied the fresh insights they had gained to the strengthening of efforts for the spiritual and moral empowerment of this important segment of population. A recent “snapshot” of the children’s

hrough study of the presentation in Book 6, now wellknown as “Anna’s presentation”, many felt empowered and experienced new confidence in their teaching, gaining an appreciation for the value of explaining concepts together with giving facts.

T

Utah Washington Wyoming Total

Enrollments per 100 adults and youth classes and junior youth groups active
2006– 2007 Colorado Idaho Montana Oregon Utah Washington Wyoming Region 1.0 1.7 2.2 1.6 1.1 1.2 1.5 1.3 2007– 2008 1.9 1.6 3.7 1.5 2.9 1.4 0.8 1.7 2008– 2009 1.8 2.7 2.1 3.3 2.3 2.6 2.5 2.7

in goal clusters in the region shows 142 children’s classes and 45 junior youth groups. Cluster advancement The Council is tracking 33 clusters that are designated to have fully operational intensive programs of growth by the Plan’s conclusion. The Council is also working with three other clusters as alternates and tracking two clusters with a modest Bahá’í population whose activity and movement is of special note.

Some 70 percent of the “A” clusters in the region have been engaged in intensive programs of growth for an average of eight months. Learning in action has been their hallmark—specifically, learning about what intensity means, how to find receptive populations, how to integrate the core activities into the teaching work, and how to achieve higher levels of growth per cycle. “B” clusters comprise the other half of the region’s goal clusters. Some 80 percent of these have been in that stage for an average of nine months. They are learning the fundamentals of the framework for action: to scale their efforts to the level of neighborhoods, to multiply the core activities, and to effectively teach the Faith directly. There are no “C” clusters among the goal clusters. Youth development The Council established a Youth Development Office with the goal of mobilizing an army of youth into action in support of the Plan. Working in close collaboration with members of the Auxiliary Boards and selected cluster agencies, the Youth Office organized summer teaching and consolidation projects in three clusters (Seattle, Washington; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Benton County, Oregon).

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Youths participated in institute courses, conducted home visits, taught children’s classes, hosted devotional gatherings, assisted with firesides, participated in cluster reflection meetings, went door-to-door teaching, and helped organize a junior youth camp. The projects enabled them to return home with new skills and confidence, prepared to be at the forefront of advancing the process of entry by troops in their own clusters. The Youth Office also organized Fall Campus Planning Retreats at the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. During the retreats, participants reviewed the Plan’s major elements, studied recent guidance, reflected on personal goals, and developed concrete action plans aligned with local cluster efforts. Conclusion The building of the framework for action in the Northwest region is well under way. Use of this framework for substantial growth is the task at hand. The upcoming months will bring to the friends many new experiences associated with a greater connection to children, young people, singles, and families in the general population as the Bahá’í community engages with them in the application of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation to our lives. The Council is honored to have the opportunity to serve this glorious spiritual enterprise in the Northwest region.

ummer projects enabled youths to return home with new skills and confidence, prepared to be at the forefront of advancing the process of entry by troops in their own clusters.

S

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he Council has especially focused on contacting those friends who pledged to serve as mobile tutors, as travel teachers, and as homefront pioneers, and encouraging them to arise as never before to win the goals of the Plan.

T

Regional Bahá’í Council of the South Central States
Regional Bahá’í Conferences in Atlanta and Dallas The Southern region of the United States is now, as a result of a decision implemented by the National Spiritual Assembly during 2008–09, blessed with two Regional Bahá’í Councils, and two of the six regional conferences that took place throughout the United States in December 2008 were held in the South. One conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia, which attracted 3,600 attendees from both the Southeastern and South Central regions. A second conference was held in the South Central region in Dallas, Texas, with more than 2,200 attendees. Attending the conferences as representatives of the Universal House of Justice were members of the International Teaching Center. In addition, members of the Continental Board of Counselors and the National Spiritual Assembly were in attendance. The members of the International Teaching Center gave moving presentations at both conferences. They brought the love of the Universal House of Justice and shared inspiring stories and relevant passages from both the Bahá’í sacred texts and the most recent guidance regarding the Five Year Plan. The two newly established Councils gave reports describing how Bahá’í communities in the regions are changing significantly. Newly formed devotional meetings, study circles, children’s classes, and junior youth programs are continually multiplying and include greater numbers of seekers. The arts were alive and vibrant throughout the conferences, as part of the devotional segments and the memorable artistic program on Saturday evening. Saturday sessions focused on celebrating achievements and sharing learnings, while Sunday sessions were devoted to making commitments to serve. Over 1,000 Bahá’ís from the new South Central region made pledges to host devotionals, start firesides, and/or serve as tutors, as children’s class teachers, as traveling teachers, or as homefront pioneers in clusters planning to launch intensive programs of growth (IPGs) by Riḍván 2009. To sustain the momentum from the regional conferences, the Councils responded to all the pledges for service that were received as soon as the conferences ended. The pledges and contact information were entered into spreadsheets and shared with cluster agencies so they could follow up at the grassroots level. The Regional Bahá’í Council of the South Central States has especially focused on contacting those friends who pledged to serve as mobile tutors, as travel teachers, and as homefront pioneers, and encouraging them to arise as never before to win the goals of the Plan. Advancement of clusters The South Central region began with 16 “A”-stage clusters and 24 “B”-stage clusters. Of these, 14 “B” clusters were identified as priority clusters to be advanced to the “A” stage of development by Riḍván 2009. A new Cluster Development Office

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in the South Central region was established to collaborate closely with the Continental Counselors, Auxiliary Board members, and core teams to meet these goals. In but four months, the number of “A” clusters nearly doubled because of the heroic efforts of the Area Teaching Committees, Cluster Development Facilitators, Cluster Institute Coordinators, and Auxiliary Board members and their assistants— all collaborating to win these victories. Seeker Response System and Statistics Reporting Program The Seeker Response System (SRS) is functioning well in the South Central region, helping to ensure that teaching is understood to be the highest priority for every Bahá’í community. The Regional Seeker Response Specialists are supervising the follow-up of every precious seeker from the 1-800-22UNITE phone line and the national public website. A strategy to route seekers to the cluster level for followup was adopted in preparation for the anticipated increase of seekers from the Online Registration System. The region receives over 500 inquiries annually from individuals who are actively seeking information about the Faith. The South Central region has for some time been able to claim the second highest number of enrollments in the country. During 2008–09, the enrollments for the South Central region will reach approximately 800, a total that includes adults, youth, junior youth, and child registrations. The Council appointed a Regional Statistics Officer who coordinates the collection of data from cluster-level statistics officers. The Regional Statistics Officer reports this data regularly to the National Statistics Officer, who then reports it to the World Center.

he Seeker Response System (SRS) is functioning well in the South Central region, helping to ensure that teaching is understood to be the highest priority for every Bahá’í community.

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Stages of advancement in the South Central Region as of 3/31/2009
‘A’-stage clusters Broward Co., FL Miami-Dade, FL First Coast, FL (Jacksonville/St. Augustine area) Gainesville, FL Lee Co., FL Orlando, FL Palm Beach, FL Pasco/Hernando Cos., FL Pinellas Co., FL Tallahassee, FL Tampa, FL Norman, OK Oklahoma City, OK Chattanooga area, TN/GA Knoxville area, TN Memphis area, TN/AR/MS Nashville, TN Austin area, TX Collin Co., TX Dallas, TX Dallas Co. NE, TX Dallas Co. SW, TX Denton Co., TX El Paso area, TX Fort Bend/Brazoria Cos., TX Harris Co., TX (Houston) San Antonio Area, TX Tarrant Co., TX (Fort Worth) ‘B’-stage clusters Birmingham area, AL Limestone/DeKalb Cos., AL (Huntsville area) Little Rock area, AR Springdale area, AR Daytona, FL Emerald Coast, FL (Pensacola area) Marion Co., FL Melbourne, FL Sarasota/Manatee Cos., FL Baton Rouge area, LA New Orleans area, LA Jackson area, MS Amarillo area, TX Bryan/College Station, TX Rio Grande Valley, TX ‘★C’-stage clusters Montgomery Co., TX

Martha Root and Magdalene Carney Regional Training Institutes The South Central region is blessed with two active and capable Regional Training Institutes (RTIs) focused on the development of human resources for expansion and consolidation. The Martha Root Regional Training Institute has 55 Cluster Institute Coordinators who nurture, accompany, and train tutors throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. These devoted friends—along with 400 active tutors—keep the wheels of the “engine of growth” turning at the grass roots. A total of 550 people have completed the full sequence of Ruhi courses, with 310 study circles having been completed in one year, with a strong emphasis on the course practices. Neighborhoods have 53 children’s classes in progress with a total of 438 Bahá’í children and 258 non-Bahá’í children involved. There are 30 junior youth groups, involving 136 Bahá’í junior youths and 56 non-Bahá’í junior youths. The Magdalene Carney Bahá’í Institute serves Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. It manages 27 Cluster Institute Coordinators and 350 active tutors. A total of 640 people have completed the Ruhi sequence and 227 study circles have been completed this year. There are 108 children’s classes, with 386 Bahá’í children and 309 non-Bahá’í children participating. There are 37 junior youth groups, involving 110 Bahá’í junior youths and 91 non-Bahá’í junior youths. A principal focus of the Regional Training Institutes is developing capacity among youth at the cluster level by engaging them in special youth projects, such as Project Badí‘ and Project Anís. The institutes have appointed a Junior Youth Group Program Coordinator and a Children’s Class Program Coordinator to increase the number of these core activities and inspire the animators of junior youth groups and teachers of children’s classes. The institutes are also working to enhance the effectiveness of tutors, especially with regard to mobilizing participants to action. The Regional Bahá’í Council of the South Central States is committed to moving forward—in the words of the Universal House of Justice’s letter of December 6, 2008 to the six regional Bahá’í conferences taking place in the United States —“undeflected by the turmoil and distractions of the world” and to calling upon everyone to “find a part to play”—so that all believers will dedicate their “utmost to this sacred enterprise.”

he South Central region is blessed with two active and capable Regional Training Institutes (RTIs) focused on the development of human resources for expansion and consolidation.

T

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Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southeastern States
Formation of the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southeastern States took place shortly before the December 2008 regional Bahá’í conference held in Atlanta. Since the conference, the region has witnessed, in clusters of all stages, an increasing number of individuals arising to attend reflection gatherings and participate in their cluster’s teaching plans. It has seen a few hundred individuals arise to teach by traveling to nearby priority clusters and to the Bahamas. A spirit of dynamism is permeating the region, and it appears that the believers are fulfilling the Universal House of Justice’s call in its message to the six regional conferences held throughout the United States: “Every steadfast believer is called to a faith and determination, a commitment to unity and sacrifice that will lift the Cause to a new stage in its development.” Movement of resources and traveling teachers At the Atlanta regional conference, the focus provided for the 10 priority clusters slated to launch an intensive program of growth (IPG) by Riḍván 2009 helped to galvanize the friends into action. This movement of the friends in the region to assist the priority clusters has been an uplifting experience. Many friends from the Central Mountains, North Carolina cluster (Asheville area) drove to support the IPG launching and intensive teaching in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Polk, South Carolina cluster. Friends from Washington, D.C.; Montgomery County, Maryland; Howard County, Maryland; Fairfax County, Virginia; and others arose to assist the Prince Georges County, Maryland cluster to advance by Riḍván. Dozens of Bahá’ís from the Metro Atlanta and Gwinnett-North Fulton, Georgia clusters have traveled to priority clusters in the Atlanta area to teach. Friends from the Columbia area, South Carolina cluster consistently supported the newly advanced CharlestonBerkeley, South Carolina cluster. Friends from the Blue Ridge and Lower Shenandoah Valley, Virginia (“C”- stage) clusters arose to teach in Roanoke, Virginia. Friends from the Triangle, North Carolina cluster, many of whom are youth and young adults, drove weekend after weekend to assist the Triad, North Carolina cluster to advance by Riḍván. One dedicated person drove all the way from Charleston, West Virginia on two weekends to Greensboro (Triad) to assist in the teaching initiatives. One cluster from outside the region provided a dedicated cadre of friends from Nashville, Tennessee to support Kentuckiana, Kentucky. Three clusters have each launched an IPG since then, with the seven remaining clusters striving to achieve the necessary conditions of readiness and growth. Advancing clusters with increased capacities New levels of growth and learning are being seen in the case of these recently launched intensive programs of growth. In the Greenville-Spartanburg-Polk cluster in South Carolina, their first intensive phase welcomed 10 new believers in the span of a few weeks. The Roanoke area, Virginia cluster experienced the confirmations of five new believers in their first few weekends of teaching. Finally, in the

A

spirit of dynamism is permeating the region, and it appears that the believers are fulfilling the Universal House of Justice’s call in its message to the six regional conferences held throughout the United States: “Every steadfast believer is called to a faith and determination, a commitment to unity and sacrifice that will lift the Cause to a new stage in its development.”

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Pee Dee, South Carolina cluster, during its first intensive cycle the friends are well on their way to reaching their goal of 18 enrollments with the confirmations of 17 new believers having accepted the message of Bahá’u’lláh. The clusters are learning how to immediately engage “these fresh adherents in the courses of the training institute,” which is vital to the raising up of resources to establish a sustainable pattern of expansion and consolidation. Many clusters are experiencing an over-50 percent rate of involvement of new believers in institute courses. They are striving to learn not only how to ensure that a new believer completes Ruhi Book 1 training within the same cycle that he or she is enrolled, but how to ensure that he or she makes consistent progress with Book 2 within that same cycle. Training and development of Area Teaching Committees The Council is beginning to learn about the training and development of Area Teaching Committees and cluster development facilitators. It has collaborated with members of the Continental Board of Counselors to conduct “Renewing the Spirit of Teaching” seminars. By Riḍván 2009, two such seminars will have been held in the region. Regional Training Institutes The Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southeastern States is now served by two Regional Training Institutes (RTIs): The Crimson Ark Regional Training Institute and the Louis Gregory Institute (LGI). The Crimson Ark RTI administers the institute training process for Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and the Louis Gregory Institute oversees Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Each training institute has an RTI Board overseeing its work. The two Regional Training Institutes have experienced significant progress over the past year, most notably in neighborhood children’s classes and junior youth groups. Each training institute has developed strengths in specific areas—the Louis Gregory Institute in establishment of junior youth groups and the Crimson Ark in multiplication of neighborhood children’s classes. The louis gregorY insTiTuTe is responsible for the institute training process and related core activities in 18 priority clusters, and is served by 38 Cluster Institute Coordinators (CICs). The scheme of coordination at the Louis Gregory Training Institute has greatly assisted the advancement of junior youth programs in that three-state area. The training institute has appointed a Deputy RTI Coordinator for junior youth, who has assisted in establishing 45 junior youth groups with approximately 450 junior youths participating throughout the Carolinas and Georgia. The Triangle, North Carolina cluster has recently been identified as a learning site for junior youth training and will launch its first training seminar within the next few months. Plans are also in progress for junior youth retreats/camps during summer, to keep junior youth groups together during the school vacation period. These day camps will also be used for Ruhi Book 5 training to raise up junior youth group animators. This is a significant advance for this core activity in the Southeast region. The crimson ark regional Training insTiTuTe is responsible for 16 priority clusters served by 31 Cluster Institute Coordinators. The institute has had great success in establishing neighborhood children’s classes, particularly in the Northern Virginia area, where the largest centralized Bahá’í school in the country was disbanded by the sponsoring Local Spiritual Assembly in order to foster and encourage the establishment of neighborhood children’s classes with an outward orientation. The three affected clusters went from one centralized school with little participation

n the Northern Virginia area, three clusters went from one centralized school with little participation from non-Bahá’í children to nearly 30 neighborhood children’s classes with over 120 non-Bahá’í children participating.

I

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from non-Bahá’í children to nearly 30 neighborhood children’s classes with over 120 non-Bahá’í children participating. The appointment of an Assistant Regional Coordinator for Children’s Classes for the Crimson Ark RTI greatly facilitated this process. This has been a remarkable success for the three clusters served by the former centralized school. As a result, a centralized Bahá’í school in nearby Maryland is in the process of phasing out its operations, and neighborhood children’s classes are already taking its place. The greatest challenge for the areas served by the Crimson Ark RTI has been training and development of junior youth group animators and establishment of junior youth groups. Since the regional conference in Atlanta, however, an apparent upsurge has been seen in the number of those who wish to start junior youth groups and to be trained as animators. It is anticipated that the Deputy Regional Coordinator for Junior Youth Groups at the Louis Gregory Institute will be working in close collaboration with the Crimson Ark RTI to assist it with the raising up of junior youth group animators who can, in turn, train and accompany others in this field of service. It is expected that in the process, the youth, who are numerous in the area but not engaged in the core activities in large numbers, will be mobilized and motivated to serve. Mobilizing youth and encouraging them to complete the full sequence of Ruhi courses, teach children’s classes, and engage in animating junior youth groups has been an ongoing challenge. Nevertheless, the number of junior youth groups has increased from 17 to 24 over the past year with an increase from 35 to 45 non-Bahá’í junior youth participating. Children’s classes have increased from 27 to 57, with the number from the community of interest expanding from 86 to 215. To foster the development of Cluster Institute Coordinators, both the Louis Gregory and Crimson Ark RTIs hold lively and effective periodic CIC gatherings that include training and the sharing of learning. As a result, Cluster Institute Coordinators are becoming more strategic and effective. Study circles including both new believers and seekers have steadily increased in most priority clusters.

he clusters are learning how to immediately engage “these fresh adherents in the courses of the training institute,” which is vital to the raising up of resources to establish a sustainable pattern of expansion and consolidation.

T

Stages of advancement in the Southeast Region as of 3/31/2009
‘A’-stage clusters Washington, D.C. Metro Atlanta, GA Cobb/Douglas Cos., GA Gwinnett/North Fulton Cos., GA North of Atlanta, GA S. Fulton/Fayette/Clayton Cos., GA Savannah area, GA Kentuckiana, KY/IN (Louisville area) Baltimore, MD Howard Co./Laurel, MD Montgomery Co., MD Prince Georges Co., MD Charlotte area, NC/SC Triangle, NC (Raleigh-Durham) Berkeley/Charleston Cos., SC Greater Columbia area, SC Georgetown/Horry Cos., SC Greenville/Spartanburg, SC Pee Dee, SC Fairfax Co., VA Loudoun Co., VA NoVA East, VA (Arlington / Alexandria) Richmond, VA Roanoke, VA ‘B’-stage clusters Central Delaware Northern Delaware, DE/MD Greater Augusta, GA Salisbury, MD Central Mountains, NC Triad, NC (Greensboro / Winston-Salem) Upstate foothills, SC Charlottesville, VA South Hampton Roads, VA ‘★C’-stage clusters Beaufort area, SC Greater Orangeburg, SC

uring 2008, the region gained 1,649 new believers, including adult and youth enrollments and child registrations— about 6.6 times the number of new believers in 2006.

D

Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern States
During 2008–09, the Southwestern region continued to advance systematically toward achieving the goal of 60 intensive programs of growth before Riḍván 2011. Movement of clusters A total of 33 clusters have developed to the point that intensive programs of growth either have been launched or stand ready to be initiated. Table 1 (below) shows the movement of the region’s clusters toward “A” stage in the past three years. Progress of the first movement of the plan Advancement of the clusters has depended on the ongoing development of human resources through their engagement in the institute training process. Figure 1 (page 30) indicates the steady development of human resources in the region. More than 8,000 people have completed Book 1 of the Ruhi curriculum and 2,700 have reached the level where they can serve as study circle tutors. More than 1,900 have completed the full sequence of courses, preparing them to be effective resources on teaching teams. Multiplication of core activities Figure 2 (page 30) shows steady progress in all four core activities of the Five Year Plan. The number of study circles has dramatically increased by 134 percent since the start of the Plan; over 871 study circles are held in the region. In the same period, the number of children’s classes increased by about 56 percent, devotional gatherings increased by 30 percent, and junior youth spiritual empowerment groups increased steadily. Growth The number of enrollments and the increase in the size of the community of interest in the region since the start of the Plan is plotted in Figure 3 (page 30). During 2008, the region gained 1,649 new believers, including adult and youth enrollments and child registrations—about 6.6 February February February February times the number of 2006 2007 2008 2009 new believers in 2006. “A” stage 6 8 21 33 The size of the commu“B” stage 16 19 15 11 nity of interest has increased by 124 percent “C★” stage 32 31 22 13 in 2008 as compared “C” stage 82 60 60 60 to 2006, with a total of 3,341 in 2008. Figure “D” stage 0 2 2 2 3 indicates a direct relationship between the Table 1: Stages of advancement during the size of the community

Five Year Plan

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of interest and the number of enrollments. Qualitative analysis In large part, the focus of the cluster agencies since their study of the September 30, 2007 message from the International Teaching Center has been on the “dimension missing from the framework for action”—that is, “direct, collective teaching.” Learning to recognize receptivity and identifying receptive neighborhoods in clusters with established intensive programs of growth became an integral part of the work of the cluster agencies since December 2007. Training and mobilizing the friends to present the fundamental verities of the Cause in a straightforward, forthcoming manner has been crucial to the effectiveness of the expansion phase of intensive programs of growth. Critical to the success of consolidation efforts has been the formation and training of teaching teams that focus on assigned homes in receptive neighborhoods for more than one cycle.

Stages of advancement in the Southwest Region as of 3/31/2009
‘A’-stage clusters AI-03 (Fort Defiance, AZ/NM) AZ-07 (East Valley, AZ) AZ-09 (Scottsdale, AZ) AZ-11 (Greater Tuscon, AZ) AZ-13 (Phoenix, AZ) AZ-21 (West Valley, AZ) CA-NC03 (Alameda Co. S., CA) CA-NC04 (Santa Clara Co. W., CA) CA-NC05 (San Jose, CA) CA-NC08 (East Bay, CA) CA-NC09 (San Francisco / San Mateo, CA) CA-NC15 (Santa Cruz Co., CA) CA-NC16 (Contra Costa Co. E., CA) CA-NI04 (Fresno, CA) CA-NI10 (Sacramento, CA) CA-NI12 (Yolo Co., CA) CA-SE08 (Laguna Niguel, CA) CA-SE09 (Mission Viejo, CA) CA-SE13 (Escondido, CA) CA-SE14 (San Diego Co. E., CA) CA-SE15 (Oceanside, CA) CA-SE18 (San Diego, CA) CA-SE20 (Anaheim, CA) CA-SE22 (Irvine, CA) CA-SW01 (Los Angeles, CA) CA-SW02 (Santa Monica, CA) CA-SW06 (San Gabriel Valley, CA) CA-SW08 (Glendale, CA) CA-SW17 (Thousand Oaks, CA) CA-SW28 (Ventura, CA) CA-SW31 (South Bay, CA) CA-SW32 (Long Beach, CA) NM-29 (Los Alamos/Santa Fe, NM) NM-32 (Albuquerque Metro, NM) NV-01 (Nevada N.) NV-S01 (Nevada S.) ‘B’-stage clusters AI-02 (Chinle Agency, AZ/NM) CA-NC14 (Sonoma Co., CA) CA-NC18 (Solano Co., CA) CA-NC23 (Monterey Co., CA) CA-NI07 (Stanislaus County, CA) CA-SE01 (Upland, CA) CA-SE19 (Newport Beach, CA) CA-SW29 (Santa Clarita, CA) ‘★C’-stage clusters AZ-18 (Pinal Co., AZ) CA-NC07 (Marin Co., CA) CA-NI09 (Stockton, CA) CA-NI16 (Chico, CA) CA-SE02 (Coachella Valley, CA) CA-SE04 (San Bernardino, CA) CA-SE06 (Riverside, CA) CA-SE07 (Temecula, CA) CA-SE23 (Fullerton, CA) CA-SW10 (Claremont, CA) CA-SW27 (San Luis Obispo Co., CA) CA-SW30 (Whittier, CA) NM-02 (Las Cruces, NM)

8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0

Figure 1: Development of human resources
8,281 7,915

Book 1

6,373 5,748 5,188 4,131 3,628 3,392 2,301 1,717 987 2,293 1,552

Book 2

5,682

Book 3 Book 7

3,978 2,710 1,901

1,705 1,429 630

The pattern of scouting a receptive neighborhood, training teachers to engage in a spiritual encounter as they visit people at their homes, forming teaching teams, dispatching teams into selected neighborhoods, returning for reflection, and organizing for revisits and consolidation is now a well-tested strategy. This pattern is implemented not only in the context of intensive programs of growth, but also in priority clusters at earlier stages of development. Opening receptive neighborhoods in priority clusters has made it possible for believers who have completed their training courses to arise to serve. Rapid expansion in such clusters as Phoenix and East Valley, Arizona; Los Angeles and San Diego, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and many others has helped the friends recognize many opportunities for teaching the Faith. However, most clusters reduced declaration goals in order to balance expansion and consolidation for sustained growth. Summer youth projects were initiated in four “A” clusters in 2008. The projects combined elements of training and immediate deployment into the teaching field. The participants were trained as animators of junior youth groups and effective members of teaching teams. Sizable numbers of youth participants came not only from the four project clusters, but also from surrounding clusters. Most of the participants have remained engaged in the intensive programs of growth and as animators of the junior youth groups throughout the year. The youth projects will continue in summer 2009. As learning is accumulating, more clusters with established intensive programs of growth will initiate such projects this summer. The Southwest was invigorated by the Los Angeles regional conference in December called by the Universal House of Justice. The conference raised a new wave of fresh recruits of human resources, especially from among the friends who have been trying to find their place in the Plan. Experience in the region has shown that utilizing resource persons is extremely effective in assisting clusters to intensify teaching efforts, mobilize resources, and multiply core activities in neighborhoods. Establishing homefront pioneers in receptive neighborhoods has proved an effective strategy in developing deeper roots of the Faith in many

Complete sequence

2006

2007

2008

2009

900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0

Figure 2: Progress in the core activities
871

636 560 562 433 372 248 108 61 467

Study circles
563

Devotional gatherings
350 370

Childrens classes

237

0

Junior youth groups

113

2006

2007

2008

2009

3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0

Figure 3: Growth: enrollments and community of interest

3,341

1,937 1,494

Community of interest
1,642

Enrollments
249 409

2006

2007

2008

Riḍván 2009

30

communities. Homefront pioneers were settled in three receptive neighborhoods during 2008. Learning sites for expansion and consolidation were established in the Phoenix, East Valley, and San Diego clusters for training newly appointed cluster agencies. These sites were valuable in providing a vision of how an intensive program of growth operates. The Council, in collaboration with Counselor Farzin Aghdasi, continued to develop Local Spiritual Assemblies in relation to the teaching work by providing daylong training sessions. Assembly members were given the opportunity to study the recent guidance interactively and to have their questions and concerns addressed by the Counselor. An increasing number of Assemblies are realizing the thrilling opportunities open to them by utilizing the energies and talents of human resources in their communities. The number of Assemblies and individuals contributing directly to the Regional Fund has increased significantly since the start of the Plan. To support accelerated expansion and consolidation in the coming year, the Council has set a goal of 15 more Assemblies contributing to the Regional Fund in addition to their support of the National Fund. The friends’ ceaseless labor in the teaching field has generated new insights that are instrumental in accelerating the growth process in clusters at earlier stages of development. Among these valuable lessons: • Accurately identifying a receptive neighborhood is a critical factor for the success of a direct, collective teaching project. Some signs of a receptive neighborhood include many children playing outside, the presence of new immigrants, and people acknowledging each other with friendly faces. • Parents in all types of neighborhoods enthusiastically welcome Bahá’í children’s classes and often prefer classes held more than once a week. • Establishing strong bonds of friendship between teaching teams and families is essential to the sustainability and multiplication of neighborhood children’s classes. • Expansion and consolidation are not two distinct phases. Expansion continues throughout the consolidation phase, as teaching teams visit seekers or new believers at their homes and have the opportunity to teach their family, friends, and neighbors. • When seekers or new believers learn they can be trained to serve their neighborhood as children’s class teachers or animators, their response is enthusiastic and immediate. • Seekers and new believers often are prepared to attend study circles several times during the week, limited only by the availability of tutors. None of these accomplishments could have been possible without the loving collaboration between the two arms of the administrative order in the region and the support and encouragement of the National Spiritual Assembly.

E

xpansion continues throughout the consolidation phase, as teaching teams visit seekers or new believers at their homes and have the opportunity to teach their family, friends, and neighbors.

Regional Bahá’í Councils

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Contents
External Affairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Treasury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Financial highlights Statement of activities National Teaching Office Office of International Pioneering WLGI-FM Radio Bahá’í Office of Assembly Development Persian-American Affairs Office Office of Education and Schools Green Acre Bahá’í School Native American Bahá’í Institute House of Worship Activities Office Statement of financial position Notes to financial statements

Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Office of Communications

Community Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Office of Community Administration

Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Bosch Bahá’í School Louhelen Bahá’í School Wilmette Institute House of Worship Choir

Bahá’í House of Worship, Wilmette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Publishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Bahá’í Publishing Trust and Distribution Service Bahá’í Media Services The American Bahá’í Brilliant Star World Order

Research Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
National Bahá’í Archives Office of Review Conventions Office Bahá’í Service for the Blind Information Technology Public Safety Properties Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project

Logistical Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Bahá’í Center Assistance Human Resources Meetings and Hospitality

Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Bahá’í House of Worship Restoration

Affiliated Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
Association for Bahá’í Studies—North America Association of Friends of Persian Culture Bahá’í Association for Mental Health Bahá’í International Radio Service Health for Humanity

Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Annual Report of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace, University of Maryland Membership of the National Spiritual Assembly and the Regional Bahá’í Councils Membership of key consultative and directorial bodies

Events in Iran during the past year called to mind the words of Shoghi Effendi, written in August 1955: A crisis in the fortunes of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, of exceptional severity, extensive in its ramifications, unpredictable in its immediate consequences, directly involving the overwhelming majority of His flowers in the land of His birth … has plunged the Bahá’í world, whilst engaged in the prosecution of a world-wide spiritual crusade, into intense sorrow and anxiety. External affairs activities during 2008–09 were dominated by the arrests and imprisonments on May 14, 2008 of six members of the Yaran, the “Friends in Iran,” the national ad hoc coordinating group for the Iranian Bahá’í community. The Bahá’í world also learned that Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, the secretary of the Yaran, had been arrested and imprisoned in March 2008. The attorney for the Yaran, Nobel Laureate Ms. Shirin Ebadi, was not given access to her clients or to their files. On February 11, 2009, the deputy prosecutor in Tehran announced these seven Bahá’ís would go on trial for “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” During the following weeks, the Prosecutor General of Iran announced that the Friends in Iran were guilty of all charges and that they had confessed to their “crimes.” The United States and other governments, the European Union, worldwide media, and the global Bahá’í community rose to condemn the baseless charges and to call for a fair trial and for their release from prison. A new president and change in the U.S. administration in January 2009 brought many opportunities to work with new government officials, many of whom were already well-known to the Office of External Affairs. They had held government positions in the past and were familiar with Bahá’í positions on several issues. The External Affairs staff began again to work with U.S. government agencies on projects dealing with women’s rights, human rights, and climate change on which the office had been working for years, but which had not been dealt with by the previous administration. Office of External Affairs staff continued to defend the Bahá’ís in Iran with government officials, including Congress, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), “think tanks,” and the media. The staff also worked on other human rights issues, the advancement of women, sustainable development, and climate change, as well as representing the U.S. Bahá’í community at the UN. There were staff changes during the year. The Office of External Affairs was asked to cut staff, as were several other offices of the National Spiritual Assembly, in response to the National Bahá’í Fund’s budget shortfall. Three staff positions were eliminated, including the communications manager and the refugee desk officer. The administrative director and the representative for the advancement of women went from working full-time to working half-time.

External Affairs

he External Affairs staff began again to work with U.S. government agencies on projects dealing with women’s rights, human rights, and climate change on which the office had been working for years, but which had not been dealt with by the previous administration.

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External Affairs

35

Defense of the Bahá’ís
Diplomatic work in defense of the Bahá’ís in Iran and Arab countries
The past year witnessed significant developments in the situation of the Bahá’ís in countries where they are persecuted. As the Universal House of Justice explained in a letter dated March 6, 2009, “the heroic steadfastness of the Bahá’ís in the Cradle of the Faith has released mighty spiritual forces into the world.”

he United Nations General Assembly adopted its 21st resolution on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran in December 2008. In coordination with the government of Canada, which introduced the resolution, the U.S. government played a critical role in ensuring successful passage of the resolution.

T

The National Spiritual Assembly’s representatives carried out the directives of the Universal House of Justice in defense of the Bahá’ís in Iran, Egypt, and Yemen. They worked closely with the White House, the Department of State, Congress, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to keep the U.S. government informed about the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran, where they suffered persecution. The representatives also worked with NGOs, think tank experts, and the media leading to statements, media coverage, and other responses in support of the human rights of the Bahá’ís in Iran, Egypt, and Yemen, as well as for all religious minorities in Iran. Iran Throughout the year, the Iranian government escalated its anti-Bahá’í rhetoric and activities implementing the official policies outlined in the 1991 Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council document on “the Bahá’í question,” intended to serve as a blueprint for the eradication of the Iranian Bahá’í community. A detailed summary of events, with governments’ and media responses to the Iranian government’s actions, may be found at http://iran.bahai.us. selecTeD r esPonses To The P ersecuTion bY The un, The u.s. governmenT anD congress. The United Nations General Assembly adopted its 21st resolution on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran in December 2008. In coordination with the government of Canada, which introduced the resolution, the U.S. government played a critical role in ensuring successful passage of the resolution. The director of external affairs, Ms. Kit Bigelow, and the human rights officer, Mr. Shastri Purushotma, participated in several meetings at the State Department focused on coordinating strategies to ensure the passage of the UN resolution on Iran. The State Department released its 2008 International Religious Freedom and Human Rights Reports on Iran, which provided a comprehensive overview of the treatment of the Bahá’í community. Persecution of the Bahá’ís in Egypt and Yemen were also described in the State Department’s report, which is available at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/index.htm u.s. governmenT sTaTemenTs. The U.S. Government issued three statements about the jailed leaders in Iran. The U.S. State Department condemned the Iranian government for the arrests of the Bahá’í ad hoc leadership group in Iran on May 15, 2008. The White House National Security Council spokesman made a statement on June 14, 2008 about the imprisoned national Bahá’í leaders in Iran: “The Iranian regime’s human rights record is shameful. A month ago today, the regime arrested six Bahá’í leaders solely on the grounds of their religion. They should be released immediately. Iran should uphold the basic human right to practice religion and should end its persecution of the Bahá’í community.”

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Riḍván 2009

The State Department then issued a statement on February 13, 2009, “Persecution of Religious Minorities in Iran,” which “condemns the Iranian government’s decision to level baseless charges of espionage against seven leaders of the Iranian Bahá’í community.” The statement also said: “We join the international community in urging the authorities to release all religious minorities who are currently in detention for peacefully exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.” u.s. commission on i nTernaTional r eligious freeDom sTaTemenTs. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called for strong international condemnation of the arrest of Bahá’í leaders in Iran on May 15, 2008. It released a statement on September 17, expressing its “serious concern” regarding possible Iranian parliamentary legislation of a penal code which could call for the death penalty for acts of “apostasy” from Islam. The commission then wrote an open letter on September 19 to several organizations taking part in a “dialogue” with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on “the significance of religious contributions to peace.” The letter mentioned the persecution of Bahá’ís among numerous other human rights violations committed by the Iranian government. Regarding the trial of the Iranian Bahá’í leaders, the U.S. Commission made a statement on February 13, 2009, expressing its serious concern and labeling the Iranian government’s accusations against them “contrived.” congressional r esoluTions. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 1008 on August 1, the 10th Congressional resolution condemning the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. H. Res. 1008 had been introduced by Representatives Mark Kirk and Robert Andrews. Representative Kirk also introduced H. Res. 175 in February 2009, “condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá’í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Senator Ron Wyden introduced a concurrent Senate resolution, S. Res. 71, in March 2009. The Senate version had similar language to H. Res. 175. m eDia r elaTions: i ran. News of the arrests of seven Bahá’í leaders in 2008 resulted in substantial media coverage on the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran. Media coverage spiked again after the February 2009 announcement by Tehran’s deputy prosecutor of a possible trial. News of the arrests and trial was covered by CNN.com, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, World Focus on PBS, and other national media. External Affairs’ media relations officer worked with these national outlets, sharing news of developments in Iran with key journalists, editors, and producers who cover Iran and human rights issues. Media coverage on the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran was available at http://iran.bahai.us. Ms. Bigelow visited the studios of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague in December, taping an interview on the Bahá’í situation in Iran that was later broadcast into Iran. She also gave presentations on external affairs and on the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran and Egypt at the annual Changing Times conference in the Czech Republic. nongovernmenTal organizaTions’ suPPorT for i ranian bahá’ís. The National Spiritual Assembly worked with several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and kept them informed about the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran.

ews of the arrests of seven Bahá’í leaders in 2008 resulted in substantial media coverage on the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran. Media coverage spiked again after the February 2009 announcement by Tehran’s deputy prosecutor of a possible trial.

N

External Affairs

37

The Institute for Religion and Public Policy issued a statement condemning the Iranian government on the charges and trial of the seven Bahá’í national leaders in Iran. The President of the Institute said, “The charges, particularly of espionage, are absurd.” Freedom House issued a strongly worded statement condemning the Iranian government’s persecution of the Bahá’ís. The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the “delusional” Iranian persecution of the Bahá’í community.

he National Spiritual Assembly contacted all Bahá’í Campus Associations and university faculty who are Bahá’ís asking them to urge action by their fellow students, faculty, and university administrators on behalf of Iranian Bahá’ís who have been denied access to higher education since 1980. Actions taken included resolutions, public meetings, and letters to Iranian officials written by university presidents.

T

Denial of h igher eDucaTion i niTiaTive. The campaign to draw attention to the denial of access to higher education for Iranian Bahá’í students continued during the year. The National Spiritual Assembly contacted all Bahá’í Campus Associations and university faculty who are Bahá’ís asking them to urge action by their fellow students, faculty, and university administrators on behalf of Iranian Bahá’ís who have been denied access to higher education since 1980. Actions taken included resolutions, public meetings, and letters to Iranian officials written by university presidents. The National Assembly also sponsored an online video contest to encourage the production of short videos to draw attention to the denial of access to higher education for Iranian Bahá’í students. Egypt The Egyptian government continued to delay implementation of a January 2008 court verdict which granted Bahá’í plaintiffs in two separate cases the right to receive their identification documents. All appeals were denied by the Supreme Administrative Court in March 2009, clearing the way for eventual implementation of the verdict. The National Assembly’s diplomatic representatives continued to work with several government agencies and offices on the issue. A Congressional resolution, H. Res. 200, was introduced by Representative Frank Wolf, “calling on the Egyptian Government to respect human rights and freedoms of religion and expression in Egypt.” The resolution mentioned the situation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt and called for “a repeal of the 1960 presidential decree banning members of the Bahá’í community from practicing their faith.” Yemen After learning about the imprisonment and possible deportation of several Bahá’ís in Yemen during the summer of 2008, representatives of the office worked with the U.S. government to prevent the deportation to Iran of three long-term Bahá’í pioneer families.

Diplomatic seminars and consultations
Through the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) UN Offices, the Office of External Affairs continued to assist building the capacity of other National Spiritual Assemblies’ external affairs officers. Ms. Bigelow assisted with diplomatic training in the Pacific region in Fiji in June 2008. In August, Mr. Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary-General of the National Spiritual Assembly, Ms. Bigelow, and External Affairs’ human rights officer attended the 13th annual diplomatic seminar in Europe, where Ms. Bigelow provided workshops to the more than 70 participants from Europe, North America, Brazil, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Mr. Bowers and Ms. Bigelow attended the 13th annual consultations on external affairs at the Bahá’í World Center in January 2009.

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Riḍván 2009

Refugee desk
During 2008–09, the Office of External Affairs continued to strengthen relationships among NGOs and U.S. government agencies that resettled Bahá’í refugees, such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Although the National Assembly did not assist Bahá’í refugees with resettlement, it maintained a strong working relationship with these organizations and agencies to ensure that Bahá’í refugees were treated justly and in accordance with applicable legal standards. The office also participated with several leading NGOs and like-minded organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Amnesty International, the International Rescue Committee, and others in a variety of initiatives and projects aimed at protecting and enhancing the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

General media relations
The Office of External Affairs’ media relations officer, Ms. Kathleen Holmlund, was vice-chair of the D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC), and a part of the organizing committee for the national convention of the RCC held in April 2008. She attended the Religion Newswriters Association Conference in September and continued to strengthen relationships with national religion reporters throughout the year. In collaboration with the Office of Communications, she assisted local public information officers and Local Spiritual Assemblies in their efforts to gain media coverage on external affairs subjects.

he National Spiritual Assembly joined two important human rights coalitions during the year: the Coalition to Defend Free Speech and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

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Communications
As part of the National Spiritual Assembly’s Secretariat, the Office of External Affairs provided guidance to Local Spiritual Assemblies and individuals on matters related to external affairs, such as participation in political activities and voting; interfaith activity participation; Middle East issues; contacting government officials, national organizations, and the media; involvement with the UN; and responding to the National Assembly’s call to support the Bahá’ís in Iran.

Human rights
The 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was on December 10, 2008. During the year, representatives of the office attended a number of conferences in observance of the anniversary, including the UN Department of Public Information/NGO (DPI/NGO) conference in Paris. Several staff members attended the annual human rights luncheon on December 10 on Capitol Hill sponsored by the UN Association’s National Capital chapter. Ms. Bigelow was asked to give the invocation. The American Bar Association invited Ms. Bigelow to represent the Bahá’í Faith at the opening forum in July of the World Justice Project in Vienna, Austria. It was attended by more than 400 people worldwide from several disciplines to discuss the rule of law and to design related projects. The National Spiritual Assembly joined two important human rights coalitions during the year. The Coalition to Defend Free Speech, chaired by the American Jewish Congress, addressed the issue of defamation of religion and spoke out on relevant resolutions passed at the UN. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture worked with the U.S. government on the moral and legal consequences of torture.

External Affairs

39

Religious freedom The past year was the 10th anniversary of the passage by Congress of the International Religious Freedom Act. Representatives of the office attended several events to commemorate this anniversary, including a conference at Georgetown University entitled “The Future of U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy: Recommendations for the Next Administration” and an event held at the Library of Congress hosted by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus Task Force for International Religious Freedom entitled “Promoting Religious Freedom in Our Post-9/11 World.” The Bahá’ís in Iran were prominently mentioned at the conferences observing the anniversary of this legislation. International Criminal Court (ICC) Mr. Jeffery Huffines, the National Spiritual Assembly’s UN representative, continued to serve on the American NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC). As co-chair of the Faith & Ethics Network for the ICC, he represented the BIC at the annual meeting of the board of directors of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims and at the annual session of the ICC Assembly of States Parties at The Hague. At the UN Commission on Social Development, in collaboration with the BIC UN Office, the Faith & Ethics Network and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN organized a seminar on the role of religion in transitional justice that included Mr. Huffines and the executive director of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims as panelists. Representatives of the Office of External Affairs continued to participate in the ICC Task Force, based in Washington, D.C. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The Office of External Affairs continued its involvement in the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a broad-based coalition of child rights, religious, academic, and legal organizations. The office hosted the meetings of the campaign and assisted with various events and activities to educate the public and lawmakers on the CRC and move ratification efforts forward toward eventual adoption by the U.S. government.

he National Spiritual Assembly’s Secretary-General was among a small group of religious leaders invited to attend the White House arrival ceremony honoring His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in April 2008.

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Interfaith
National Spiritual Assembly Secretary-General Kenneth E. Bowers was among a small group of religious leaders invited to attend the White House arrival ceremony honoring His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in April 2008. Ms. Bigelow accompanied Mr. Bowers. On behalf of the National Assembly, Ms. Bigelow attended the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral in January 2009.

United Nations
As chair of the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, Mr. Huffines helped organize and spoke at the 61st annual UN DPI/NGO conference, “Human Rights for All: The Universal Declaration at 60.” The conference was held outside of New York for the first time at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. He also helped organize there a preparatory seminar on NGOs and entrepreneurship, as well as a human rights village and conference reception at the City Hall of Paris. In recognition for his work, Mr. Huffines received the “2008 Friendship Award” hosted by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation at the UN.

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Riḍván 2009

Mr. Huffines represented the DPI/NGO executive committee on a UN mission hosted by the Foreign Ministry of Mexico, which agreed to host the 2009 DPI/NGO conference on the theme of disarmament. He also spoke at a national conference in Taiwan, where he had a private audience with the Taiwanese President. Mr. Carl Murrell, the National Assembly’s alternate representative to the UN, served on the NGO planning committee for the 53rd UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2009, as well as on its violence against women subcommittee, where he participated in programs throughout the year that promoted awareness of violence against women in partnership with other UN agencies. Mr. Murrell completed 15 years of service as co-chair of the UN Values Caucus, which hosted regular meetings and off-the-record coffees for UN ambassadors. He also completed his term as vice-chair of United Nations Association (UNA)-USA New York Council of Organizations now that UNA-USA has merged the New York and Washington Councils into one body. The U.S. UN office also collaborated with the National Spiritual Assembly’s Education and Schools Office to encourage Bahá’í community participation in the annual “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” program that this year included materials on the right to education.

ahá’ís were part of a coalition of more than 50 organizations focused on legislation to eliminate international gender-based violence.

B

Women’s issues
The National Spiritual Assembly continued its more than two decades of involvement in promoting U.S. ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Office of External Affairs representative for the advancement of women, Ms. Gleibys Buchanan, served on the CEDAW Working Group Steering Committee. Bahá’ís were part of a coalition of more than 50 organizations focused on legislation to eliminate international gender-based violence. The Office of External Affairs also promoted the full participation of women in international development assistance programs, with particular focus on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government entity that provided funding to developing countries based on their ability to rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom. Bahá’ís also continued involvement with the Women, Faith and Development Alliance (WFDA), launched at the April 2008 “Breakthrough Summit,” which was attended by Mrs. Juana Conrad, Deputy Secretary-General of the National Spiritual Assembly; Ms. Fulya Vekiloglu, representative of the BIC; and Ms. Bigelow. The WFDA joined together international religious women’s networks with international development organizations to advocate for setting women’s empowerment as a key priority for investment in development. The National Spiritual Assembly also continued support of programs addressing issues of domestic violence. Ms. Buchanan regularly attended meetings of the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition, a network of national faith-based organizations working together to support national legislation aimed at supporting domestic violence survivors. Ms. Bigelow completed her third term as co-chair of the Women in International Law Interest Group (WILIG) of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and continued to serve on its steering committee. She chaired the annual WILIG luncheon and introduced Judge Graciela Dixon of Panama at the April 2008 ASIL annual meeting.

External Affairs

41

Ms. Bigelow also attended the State Department’s Women of Courage Award ceremony in March 2009 at which the First Lady and the Secretary of State honored seven women from around the world.

Sustainable development
Mr. Peter Adriance, the NGO liaison, continued to work with other organizations on a broad range of issues related to sustainable development. In May 2008, he co-led the delegation of the BIC to the 16th meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, where he helped plan a side-event on the ethical dimensions of climate change. He also helped arrange a reception on “urban-rural” linkages and sustainable food systems, held at the BIC UN Office, attended by nearly 100 international, national, and local leaders. At the invitation of Berkshire Publishing, he arranged for an article on “Sustainability and the Bahá’í Faith” to be included in one of nine volumes comprising the “Encyclopedia of Sustainability.” Mr. Adriance attended the 14th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poznan, Poland, where he spoke on a panel on the ethical dimensions of climate change. In connection with this event, he co-authored an essay, “Summoning the Courage: Arising to the Ethical Challenge of Climate Change,” which was published on climateethics.org, listed by Time magazine and CNN as one of the “top 15 ‘green’ websites.” He helped organize and facilitate a pre-conference seminar on the challenges and opportunities related to sustainable development in a changing world at the Bahá’í Conference on Social and Economic Development in Orlando, Florida. He also organized and moderated a half-day plenary session on climate change, and cofacilitated a workshop based on the outcomes of the pre-conference seminar. Mr. Adriance also participated in a week-long Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting at the UN for the 17th meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development, on the themes of agriculture, rural development, land, desertification, drought and Africa. He continued to serve as secretary of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and co-chair of its Faith Sector team.

he National Spiritual Assembly’s NGO liaison attended the 14th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poznan, Poland, where he spoke on a panel on the ethical dimensions of climate change.

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External Affairs

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As the year 2008–09 hastens to a close, we pause as a community to reflect on the distance we have traveled and the lessons we can gain from the journey. Though it was a year filled with strenuous tests, unprecedented challenges, and occasional setbacks, it was also a year that presented abundant opportunities for learning and—especially—for deeply enriching and soul-satisfying victories. If such tests and challenges represent potential growth, we can surely anticipate unparalleled development ahead. The Universal House of Justice has expressed “heartfelt gratitude and admiration for the sacrificial manner in which they [the American believers] support the various funds—local, national, continental and international—to which they contribute substantially in fat or lean times.” After absorbing a $3 million shortfall from the previous year, the National Spiritual Assembly, alert to the impending economic recession in the world, took major cost-cutting and cost-containment decisions in the autumn of the year. These actions were applied only to National Center operations. Budgets supporting the teaching work on the regional level were spared, thereby supporting progress toward achievement of the number of intensive programs of growth to be launched by Riḍván 2009. These steps were taken in stages and with great care, reducing the burden placed on the National Fund during this unpredictable period. Contributions to the National Fund, notwithstanding the turmoil surrounding us, were truly remarkable. This year we witnessed a 22 percent increase in the number of contributors over the previous year, a 4.5 percent increase in believers using the Automatic Contribution System, and a 37 percent increase in believers sending traditional checks. Mention must also be made of the enormous contributions-in-kind of goods and, especially, services given by individuals and Bahá’í-owned organizations—making possible innovations impossible to budget. We are grateful and celebrate all these acts of generosity. These signs demonstrate significant progress toward greater participation and direct support for the National Fund from across the nation. Measured progress was charted in the support of special funds as well: • Chilean Temple Initiative $874,944 • Bahá’í House of Worship Visitors’ Center $586,300 • Kingdom Project / Temple Restoration $40,926 As this report is being written, a month before the close of the fiscal year 2008– 09, contributions supporting the $25 million goal for the year total $19.8 million, creating a $5.2 million shortfall. Yet, even when, in the larger society, doom is predicted everywhere, the spirit within our ranks is optimistic, nay even resilient. In spite of, and perhaps because of, the tests heroically faced by our fellow-believers in Iran, we stand firm in faith, press forward with our mission, and support our

Treasury
50 ...Financial highlights 51 ...Statement of financial position 52 ...Statement of activities 53 ...Notes to financial statements

he National Spiritual Assembly, alert to the impending economic recession in the world, took major costcutting and cost-containment decisions in the autumn of the year. These actions were applied only to National Center operations. Budgets supporting the teaching work on the regional level were spared.

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efforts financially to the best of our ability. “The worse world conditions become, the more acute the need for such devoted acts of generosity.” The flow of contributions continues from far-flung places across the land where the dearly loved believers are calling out, “We are the people of Bahá!” We pray each of you will be visited with “a destined recompense and sure reward!”

Fund development and education
n spite of, and perhaps because of, the tests heroically faced by our fellow-believers in Iran, we stand firm in faith, press forward with our mission, and support our efforts financially to the best of our ability.

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“A corollary to the sacred obligation of the friends to contribute to the Funds of the Faith, is the direct and unavoidable responsibility of each Local and National Assembly to educate them in the spiritual principles related to Bahá’í contributions. Failure to educate the friends in this aspect of the Faith is tantamount to consciously depriving them of the spiritual benefits accruing from giving in the path of God.” —Universal House of Justice The Eighth Annual National Treasurers Forum: “Sustaining Growth and Assuring its Spiritual and Material Needs” The annual National Treasurers Forum was held in 2008 on the beautiful grounds of Louhelen Bahá’í School in Davison, Michigan. This year’s Forum was inspired by the material realities of sustaining the unprecedented advancements in our community as a result of service to the Five Year Plan and the vision of achieving all of its goals. Each workshop derived its inspiration directly from statements and quotes from the Riḍván 2008 message from the Universal House of Justice. Volunteer facilitators, composed of a diverse and experienced panel of local treasurers and their assistants, brought to the gathering forward and “outward-oriented” thinking; learnings and explorations into the relationship between systematic teaching, expansion, and consolidation; and fund education and development at the local, cluster, and regional levels. Forum participants experienced an elevating opportunity to spend the weekend engaged in workshops, plenary sessions, and consultations alongside treasurers from our Regional Bahá’í Councils, staff members from the Office of the Treasurer, national Treasurer Dr. William Roberts, and special guests Counselor Alison Milston and Mr. Douglas Henck, Chief Financial Officer at the Bahá’í World Center. Other highlights included: a technology- and Internet-based workshop, which encouraged and ensured that every attendant was “logged on” and comfortably using the Internet as a resource and communication tool for their service to the work; panel and Q&A discussions with our national Treasurer, Ms. Milston, and Mr. Henck; and a plenary presentation by the National Spiritual Assembly’s Chief Financial Officer Soheil Soheil, who also gave a seminar on Fund education and development despite local and global economic challenges. Resources “The Bahá’ís should not always be the last to take up new and obviously excellent methods, but rather the first, as this agrees with the dynamic nature of the Faith which is not only progressive, but holds within itself the seeds of an entirely new culture and civilization.” —on behalf of Shoghi Effendi The funDcasT series. This year saw the launch of the Office of the Treasurer’s FUNDcast video and audio podcast series. Every Monday, the Office of the Treasurer distributes to the American Bahá’í community the latest online episode

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of the FUNDcast series. Each audio podcast offers information that helps our community better align its spiritual and material resources with the challenges and requirements of service as members of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and explains how our contributions ensure the growth of the Faith and the work of the current Plan. Video podcasts feature intimate conversations with Bahá’ís from all walks of life on how they see their role as contributors to the Funds of the Faith and how our collective efforts support the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth. The Treasurers c afé. The Treasurers Café, grown out of a discussion at the National Treasurers Forum in 2007, now has over 400 members who engage weekly in forum discussions and the sharing of resources. New members are joining every day! The Café has revolutionized the manner in which local treasurers gather and share information and ideas, and continues to evolve as we meet the demands of a changing, growing, learning, and advancing community. The site has become a stable community for treasurers nationwide to participate in forums on a number of topics such as Feast reports, audits, Bahá’í centers, investments, planned giving, “in honor/in memory of” contributions, the Five Year Plan, and Fund education. Weekly Fund updates are provided in this network, as well as the opportunity to receive text message updates, watch and download Fund-related videos and FUNDcasts, and stay connected with the latest calendar of events. Members of Local Spiritual Assemblies and treasurers and secretaries of registered groups can become members of the Café: http://treasurerscafe.bahaitreasurer.us The bahá’í Treasurers bulleTin. Now in its seventh year in production, the Bahá’í Treasurers Bulletin (BTB) is distributed every Bahá’í month and is designed to build a bridge of communication between the Office of the Treasurer at the Bahá’í National Center and local treasurers. The BTB continues to offer treasurers of Local Spiritual Assemblies and registered groups monthly updates on the National Fund, the Kingdom Project, the Temple Visitors’ Center, and the Chilean Temple Initiative, along with articles on treasury resource management, Fund education and development, and Fund-related activities for children and junior youth. Campaigns “… [W]e must will to build it and then proceed with the construction.” —‘Abdu’l-Bahá k ingDom P rojecT. Work on the Mother Temple of the West continued with the unyielding and generous support of the American Bahá’í community, bringing completion of its restoration ever closer despite a year of complex and unforeseen challenges. The renovation entered a significant phase this year, requiring the temporary closing of the existing Visitors’ Center and three gardens in order to allow for the construction of the new reflecting pool and the reconstruction of the House of Worship’s main entrance off Linden Avenue. The project also involved replacement of the stairs and landings of the entryway, which were in an advanced state of deterioration. Other developments included the installation of beautiful new stainless steel railings and a concrete retaining wall on Sheridan Road. The retaining wall, built by the Village of Wilmette in conjunction with the renovation of scenic Sheridan Road, was specifically designed to harmonize with the look and feel of the Temple.

he Treasurers Café, grown out of a discussion at the National Treasurers Forum in 2007, now has over 400 members who engage weekly in forum discussions and the sharing of resources.

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ince the last Annual Report over $1 million has been contributed to the Chilean Temple Fund through direct contributions, the Automatic Contribution System, pledges, and “in honor” contributions.

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Global economic conditions and inflation in construction costs were some of the unexpected challenges, while others were literally uncovered during the restoration work. Along with consequent delays and price increases, these challenges forced a 25 percent increase in expenses to the $25 million projected at the start of the project. The most significant of these challenges was the discovery of two 16,000-gallon tanks of oil beneath one of the gardens—part of the Temple’s old heating system. It was found that one of the tanks had leaked its contents, which required the removal of four semi-sized truckloads of contaminated soil from the premises, a task costing over $300,000 alone. The discovery conclusively answered a decades-old mystery as to why the garden above the contaminated area had never achieved a full and expected brilliance. This spring, with the reopening of the main entrance and the new reflecting pool, visitors will experience the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár’s magnificent gardens and grounds in radiant bloom, enhancing its spiritual effect and inviting the diverse peoples of the world to mention of the Name of God. visiTors’ cenTer. Nearly $6.2 million has been contributed toward the $6.5 million goal for the new Visitors’ Center! With only $300,000 left to go, the Bahá’í community is well within reach of another momentous achievement. Designs and plans have been prepared and approved, and arrangements for its construction are under way. Plans for the Visitors’ Center, which will provide a reverent and befitting welcome to the holiest House of Worship, continue to receive praise from members of the surrounding community, from village officials to residents, Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís alike. chilean TemPle i niTiaTive. The American Bahá’í community has, to date, contributed $12.7 million to the construction of the Mother Temple of South America. It has passionately answered the call of the National Spiritual Assembly to contribute the “lion’s share” of the $27 million projected cost of the last of the continental Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs. Since the last Annual Report over $1 million has been contributed to the Chilean Temple Fund through direct contributions, the Automatic Contribution System, pledges, and “in honor” contributions. Young Believers Programs “It is essential that, from an early age, they learn to shoulder their responsibilities, including their sacred duty to contribute generously to the funds of the Faith.” —Universal House of Justice The Liang’s Adventures activity booklet, mailed quarterly to registered Bahá’í children ages 4–9, continues to provide education in the important relationships between giving to the Funds, spiritual progress, and the Five Year Plan. In an effort to embrace and welcome a larger audience, the Office of the Treasurer also began translating the feature story of the booklet into Spanish. The Arise ’zine, mailed to young Bahá’ís ages 10–14, creates connections between junior youth and the goals of the Funds and the Five Year Plan. The themes of the publication engage and encourage junior youth to stay involved in establishing and upholding Bahá’í principles and foster their spiritual development. The FUNDamentals quarterly e-zine for young adults draws thousands of readers from around the world. Themes explored during 2008–09 include the spiritual and financial aspects of marriage; the relationship between happiness, money, and contributing to the Funds; and budgeting to meet one’s spiritual and material goals. A significant development this year was the use of a multimedia approach to engage readers in learning about the Funds, the Five Year Plan, and the spiritual

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and material elements of money management. Multimedia presentations included a slideshow about budgeting that incorporated selections from the Bahá’í writings, a devotional slide show about the relationship between teaching and contributing to the Funds, and a FUNDcast video featuring Counselor Alison Milston. Volunteers The Office of the Treasurer is blessed to have nearly two dozen volunteers who offer their services regularly and lovingly. A number of publications and programs— including Liang’s Adventures, Arise, FUNDamentals, and the FUNDcast series— rely heavily on the precious work of volunteers whose talents range from graphic design to writing and creative consultation. The Office of the Treasurer offers its deep and enduring appreciation to these generous souls.

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Financial Advisors
We offer our gratitude and respect to this team of selfless advisors who offer their continuing advice, aiding the National Spiritual Assembly to steady its sails in stormy financial weather such as that presently being experienced by the world. Each, with his or her own expertise, stands ready to provide counsel and assist in the safeguarding of the financial resources of the Faith. With loving gratitude, Dr. William Roberts Treasurer

significant development this year was the use of a multimedia approach to engage readers in learning about the Funds, the Five Year Plan, and the spiritual and material elements of money management.

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National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
Financial highlights • February 29, 2009 (unaudited), April 30, 2008, and April 30, 2007 February 29, 2009 unaudited $20,139,512 582,156 320,685 357,359 $21,399,712 April 30, 2008 actual $26,338,465 3,325,553 783,762 2,899,497 $33,347,277 April 30, 2007 actual $35,699,090 1,270,395 831,013 2,802,711 $40,603,209

Unrestricted and restricted contributions received by the National Spiritual Assembly Unrestricted contributions Restricted for the Kingdom Project Restricted for the International Funds Restricted for other Funds Total contributions received Contributions to other funds International Funds Expenses incurred on behalf of the International Fund Continental Fund Chile Temple Other Bahá’í Funds and Deputization Total contributions to other Funds Kingdom Project, capital expenditures and depreciation Kingdom Project expenditures Other capital expenditures Depreciation Total unrestricted revenues Total expenses Net assets

$2,013,768 3,637,961 195,074 910,216 59,855 $6,816,874

$2,616,915 1,895,005 218,360 2,903,737 82,929 $7,716,946

$1,541,053 1,748,346 260,804 8,382,131 50,082 $11,982,416

$3,186,895 $1,893,257 $3,218,996 $23,282,605 $29,152,746 $41,508,800

$4,948,198 $2,464,906 $3,499,643 $36,246,031 $36,992,962 $48,510,475

$3,285,173 $3,161,581 $2,973,229 $45,358,594 $38,366,866 $52,412,870

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
Combining and combined statements of financial position • February 28, 2009 (unaudited), and April 30, 2008 Combined total

Assets
Current assets Cash and investments Due (to)/from other Funds Accounts and notes receivable Inventories Other current assets Total current assets Property and equipment net of accumulated depreciation Investments Endowed investments and other assets Total assets

National Bahá’í Fund $8,366,552 6,544,126 247,571 383,378 459,229 $16,000,856 $40,992,301 4,454,510 3,937,307 $65,384,974

Publishing Trust $62,865 (6,544,126) 188,256 320,364 17,777 ($5,954,864) $211,896 0 0 ($5,742,968)

February 2009 unaudited $8,429,417 0 435,827 703,742 477,006 $10,045,992 $41,204,197 4,454,510 3,937,307 $59,642,006

April 2008 actual $13,819,602 0 453,911 776,817 510,068 $15,560,398 $39,343,041 6,286,657 4,767,633 $65,957,729

Liabilities
Current liabilities Accounts payable and accrued liabilities Demand notes and current maturities of long term debt Deferred revenues and current portion of gift annuities Total current liabilities Long term debt Gift annuities long term portion Other long term liabilities Total liabilities

Liabilities and net assets

$1,086,202 9,391,585 484,606 $10,962,393 $2,193,964 3,105,067 1,655,482 $17,916,906

$216,300 0 0 $216,300 $0 0 0 $216,300

$1,302,502 9,391,585 484,606 $11,178,693 $2,193,964 3,105,067 1,655,482 $18,133,206

$1,903,836 9,183,633 484,652 $11,572,121 1,102,420 3,117,796 1,654,917 $17,447,254

Net assets
Unrestricted Temporarily restricted Permanently restricted Total net assets Total liabilities and net assets $33,355,021 10,091,793 4,021,254 $47,468,068 $65,384,974 ($5,959,268) 0 0 ($5,959,268) ($5,742,968) $27,395,753 10,091,793 4,021,254 $41,508,800 $59,642,006 $33,355,894 11,113,327 4,021,254 $48,510,475 $69,957,729

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
Combining and combined statements of activities • February 28, 2009 (unaudited), and April 30, 2008 Combined total Changes in unrestricted net assets Unrestricted net assets Contributions Contributed property Estate bequests Bahá’í school tuition Sale of books and materials Investment and other income Investment gain (loss) Assets released from restriction Total unrestricted revenues Expenses Contributions to International Funds Education and teaching activities Properties operations and maintenance Cost of books and special materials General administration Change in defined benefit plan 1 Total expenses Other changes in unrestricted net assets Increase/(decrease) in unrestricted net assets Changes in temporarily restricted net assets Contributions Net assets released from restriction Increase/(decrease) in temporarily restricted net assets Increase in permanently restricted net assets Increase/(decrease) in net assets Net assets, beginning of year Net assets, end of year
1

National Bahá’í Fund $20,139,512 3,011 1,486,104 789,027 247,496 416,997 (2,722,561) 1,966,710 $22,326,296 $3,178,913 7,911,596 3,976,930 479,079 12,165,611 0 $27,712,296 $0 ($5,385,833) $835,176 (1,966,710) ($1,131,534) $0 ($6,517,367) $53,985,435 $47,468,068

Publishing Trust $0 0 0 0 836,705 119,604 0 0 $956,309 $0 0 0 484,407 956,210 0 $1,440,617 $0 ($484,308) $0 0 $0 $0 ($484,308) ($5,474,960) ($5,959,268)

February 2009 unaudited $20,139,512 3,011 1,486,104 789,027 1,084,201 536,601 (2,722,561) 1,966,710 $23,282,605 $3,178,913 7,911,596 3,976,930 963,486 13,121,821 0 $29,152,746 $0 ($5,870,141) $835,176 (1,966,710) ($1,131,534) $0 ($7,001,675) $48,510,475 $41,508,800

April 2008 actual $26,338,465 1,987 980,219 1,015,020 1,868,194 1,062,623 (247,997) 5,227,520 $36,246,031 $5,821,941 8,097,744 4,463,493 1,123,750 16,201,055 1,284,979 $36,992,962 (610,552) ($1,357,483) $2,682,608 (5,227,520) $2,872,276 $0 ($3,902,395) $52,412,870 $48,510,475

Change in defined benefit plan recorded annually based on investment values and acturial assuptions at fiscal year end

Notes to Financial Statements • February 28, 2009, and April 30, 2008
Operations and accounting policies The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States (the Assembly) was established in 1927 as a voluntary trust and subsequently incorporated in October 1994 as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation to administer, teach, and further the Bahá’í Faith in the United States. The accounts of the Assembly are maintained on the accrual basis. The financial statements of the Assembly include the assets, liabilities, net assets (deficits), and financial activities of the National Bahá’í Fund and the Bahá’í Publishing Trust. The principal accounting policies used by the Assembly are as follows: Contributions All contributions from members of the Faith, unless specifically restricted by the donor, are considered to be available for unrestricted use and are recorded as received. Contributions in kind are recorded at an amount representing the estimated fair value of goods and services received during the year. Items received of artistic or religious significance for which no value can be readily determined and which are not anticipated to be sold are recorded at nominal value. Contributions from nonmembers may not be used to support the Faith and, accordingly, such amounts received are distributed for other humanitarian causes. Contributions restricted by the donor for particular programs and projects, or for property and equipment acquisitions, are earned and reported as revenues when the Assembly has incurred expenses for the purpose specified by the donor. Such amounts received, but not yet earned, are reported as restricted deferred amounts. Estate bequests are recorded when the funds are received. Tax-exempt status The U.S. Treasury Department has held that the National Spiritual Assembly and all subordinate Local Spiritual Assemblies are exempt from Federal income tax as organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) of 1986. Accordingly, contributions made to the National Spiritual Assembly and all of its subordinate Local Spiritual Assemblies are deductible by the donors for Federal income tax purposes as provided by I.R.C. Section 170. Bequests, legacies, devises, transfers, or gifts to the National Spiritual Assembly or its subordinate Local Assemblies are deductible for Federal estate and gift tax purposes as provided by I.R.C. Sections 2055, 2106, and 2522. Inventories Inventories of books and special materials are recorded at the lower of cost, using the average cost method, or market. Investments Investments are recorded at market value. Property and equipment Property and equipment are stated at cost. The Assembly computes depreciation of fixed assets over their estimated useful lives using the straight line method. The estimated lives used in computing depreciation are as follows: Asset description Furniture/Equipment Buildings/Improvements Bahá’í House of Worship Asset life 3–10 years 5–40 years 75 years

National Teaching Office
The role of the office The National Teaching Office (NTO) studies closely best practices related to the Five Year Plan, shares insights gained that lend impetus to the movement of clusters nationwide, and serves the National Spiritual Assembly and Regional Bahá’í Councils as they carry forward the work of teaching the Faith. Monitoring growth Teaching in the United States increased significantly during 2008–09, as the friends engaged in direct and collective teaching efforts in cluster after cluster across the country. Overall, the number of new believers rose 72 percent from the year ending at Riḍván 2008 to the year ending at Riḍván 2009 (see chart below). This level of growth in the enrollment of new believers has not been witnessed in the United States in more than 20 years.

Teaching
55 ...National Teaching Office 58 ...Office of International Pioneering 60 ...Office of Communications 63 ...WLGI-FM Radio Bahá’í

One way the NTO helped support growth was in making teaching materials readily available to Regional Bahá’í Councils, Area Teaching Committees, and many Local Spiritual Assemblies for use in their direct outreach and expansion efforts. 3000 For example, more than 6,000 (2,300 Enrollments in the United States, 2750 in Spanish) newly developed pamphlets First three years of Plan were distributed to or by the Regional 2500 (estimated as of 2/16/2009) Councils. These pamphlets (with content designed to be complementary Adult and youth enrollments 2250 to “Anna’s presentation”) were made Child and junior youth registrations available free of charge, and include a 2000 brief introduction to the Bahá’í Faith, a 1750 1,733 small gift prayer book, and a detachable declaration card. Use of these materials 1500 ultimately helped facilitate hundreds of new declarations of faith. Other materi1250 als and resources made available by 1,003 1000 the NTO included prayer cards (which feature sacred writings used in “Anna’s 794 750 presentation”) that were used in doorto-door teaching, gift-giving after 514 500 home visits, and to invite communities of interest to children’s classes. The 250 NTO posted these and other materials on the national Administrative Website Year ending at Year ending at (www.usbnc.org), including an increasRiḍván 2007 Riḍván 2008 ing number of resources in multiple

he friends at the cluster level are becoming bolder, more audacious, more confident, and more open in teaching the Faith.

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2,756

1,581

Year ending at Riḍván 2009 (estimate)

{Section Title} Teaching

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languages, such as Ruhi course books and copies of “Anna’s presentation.” Growth in the teaching work through the Seeker Response System (SRS) continues. Since Riḍván, over 3,000 new seeker inquiries were directed to the appropriate clusters. Enhancements to the SRS database moved a majority (73 percent) of the inquiries arriving from the national (www.bahai.us) and international (www.bahai. org) public websites directly to a regional level of response, and in 20 percent of the cases, directly to the cluster level. Further, NTO staff continues to directly offer—using “Anna’s presentation”—the message of Bahá’u’lláh to hundreds of live 1-800-22UNITE callers, transcribing their inquiries into the SRS database for regional and cluster-level follow-up, and following up on hundreds of declarations gained through the process. To support the Councils, NTO staff provided ongoing training and resources to a network of regional response “specialists” who connect seekers at the cluster level with Bahá’ís trained in the Ruhi curriculum and able to offer fellowship through a complement of core activities. These specialists are also instrumental in channeling new seekers to Area Teaching Committees for followup, and in lending direct teaching assistance to hundreds of seekers residing within “B,“ “C,” and “D” clusters when other teaching resources are not accessible. Supporting and stimulating the new culture of learning As evidenced by the growth in enrollments, the friends at the cluster level are becoming bolder, more audacious, more confident, and more open in teaching the Faith. Whether they are learning how to systematically respond to individuals directed to their cluster from SRS, engaging in focused teaching among their community of interest, or holding firesides organized around “Anna’s presentation,” more of the friends are increasing their capacity to invite people into the Faith. Moreover, this spirit of teaching and consolidation is permeating clusters at all stages of growth and is increasingly inspired by stories shared by the friends engaged in the institute process. The teaching blog (http://teaching.bahai.us) coordinated by the NTO has flourished over the past year by meeting a need felt by the friends across the country to share inspirational stories. Individual Bahá’ís, Area Teaching Committees, and institutions shared close to 300 stories on the site this year. Stories covered a wide variety of topics, such as collective teaching experiences—including examples of the involvement of Local Spiritual Assemblies, creative consolidation initiatives, and inspirational testimonials from recently declared believers. This unique and regionwide resource articulates, in their own words, the findings of those directly engaged in action to fellow believers who are earnestly trying to carry out the elements of the Plan. It enables the friends to learn from each other’s experiences and inspires others to arise and serve. In the months since the historic regional Bahá’í conferences, the blog posted numerous

ull implementation of the Statistical Report Program (SRP) has resulted in improved collaboration at the cluster level between institute agencies and local Assemblies, and has provided a tool for planning for growth at all levels.

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Inquiries to the Seeker Response System (since Riḍván 2008)

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stories from those who offered individual pledges as a result of their participation. New lines of actions taken by Local Spiritual Assemblies engaged in the Five Year Plan were an important focus over the past year. In a letter dated August 14, 2007, the National Assembly encouraged all local Assemblies to consider ways in which they encouraged contributions to the progress of the Plan within their localities. In the months following, numerous Assemblies shared what they learned with the NTO, which compiled the learning and highlighted practical steps used by individuals and institutions into Learning about Growth in the United States, Vol. 7 (www.usbnc.org/comm/docs/bnc/ntc/2008_05_nto_IPG_NewsletterIssue7.pdf). Collaboration and learning through sharing statistics “One of the important accomplishments of the recent Plans,” reports the Universal House of Justice in its April 8, 2007 letter to National Assemblies around the world, “is a heightened awareness among institutions and believers everywhere of the role statistical information can play in facilitating the planning process at the cluster level.” During the past year, the Statistical Report Program (SRP)—developed by the Bahá’í World Center for the gathering of information necessary to evaluate the progress of clusters—was fully implemented in the United States, fulfilling in part the Universal House of Justice’s goal of implementing the program in all countries with a National Assembly. Implementation required the development of a network of “statistics officers” at national, regional, and local levels and was assigned to the NTO. Full implementation has resulted in improved collaboration at the cluster level between institute agencies and local Assemblies, and has provided a tool for planning for growth at all levels. Bahaiyouth.com showed high use The Bahá’í youth (www.bahaiyouth.com) website was visited by well over 1,900 people from all over the world, and its membership continues to increase. The high traffic indicates the site’s growing potential to serve as an information resource for youth. At present, it is primarily used as a social networking site, and its front page is increasingly being used by the NTO to disseminate urgent messages, such as the National Spiritual Assembly’s recent letters concerning the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran and about the series of Regional Bahá’í Conferences held in December 2008. During the summer of 2008, the website was one of several sources used to compile information on Bahá’ís attending universities and colleges in the U.S. and on Bahá’í Campus Associations (BCAs). Through this process, some 300 colleges and universities were identified and serve as a means for contacting youth today.

igh traffic on bahaiyouth.com indicates the site’s growing potential to serve as an information resource for youth. At present, it is primarily used as a social networking site, and its front page is increasingly being used by the NTO to disseminate urgent messages.

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he most successful pioneers are those who are trained in the full sequence of courses in the Ruhi curriculum before they leave, so that they can offer their services to the community wherever they settle as tutors of study circles.

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Office of International Pioneering
During 2008–09, the teaching work of the Faith continued at an increased pace around the world, and pioneers from isolated locations as well as from established clusters in the United States (see map) left their homes to assist in cluster and community development in countries near and far. At present, the most successful pioneers are those who are trained in the full sequence of courses in the Ruhi curriculum before they leave, so that they can offer their services to the community wherever they settle as tutors of study circles. The American Bahá’í community’s response to the call of the Universal House of Justice for 1,300 international pioneers to fulfill the goals for the current Five Year Plan continued to unfold, and during 2008–09, nearly 200 pioneers left the United States to serve at international posts. (See chart on page 59 for goal status.) Also during this period, nearly 350 individuals left the U.S. to complete traveling teaching trips, making the total for the Plan thus far close to 1,300. Furthering the cost-saving measures that had been taken the prior year, additional actions to reduce expenditures were taken by the Office of International Pioneering during 2008–09. Notably, three of six salaried positions were eliminated, volunteers served in place of staff whenever possible at off-site events, and most printing was either donated or eliminated.

Where did U.S. pioneers originate?

The office now has a volunteer supervising the work of the Pioneer Resource Persons (PRPs) Network. This is a community of volunteers that undertakes some functions of the Office of International Pioneering, helping to decentralize the tasks involved in assisting prospective international pioneers. Representation by staff and PRP volunteers at numerous conferences throughout the year continued to facilitate community education and pioneer recruitment. Staff members again offered workshops at the Green Lake Bahá’í Conference and the Bahá’í Conference on Social and Economic Development, and volunteer PRPs made presentations at the Grand Canyon Bahá’í Conference and many summer and winter school programs. The Pioneer Resource Persons have begun to present a two-hour program called “Global Positioning for Programs of Growth” in their communities and reports have begun to come in about their impact.

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How many goal countries have or have not received U.S. pioneers in this Plan?
Africa
Have Have not

Americas
Have Have not Have

Asia
Have not

Australasia
Have Have not

Europe
Have Have not

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4

10 8 3 0

5 8 2 2

16 13 12 NA

0 7 8 NA

6 5 2 2

7 4 0 4

3 5 2 0

1 4 0 1

2 11 0 NA

2 13 1 NA

In addition to the services provided through the PRP Network, the office has sought to keep the Bahá’í community informed of the needs for international service through articles in The American Bahá’í, mailings to Bahá’í schools, and other channels. The electronic contact management system developed for the office at the Bahá’í National Center has been successful throughout the first full year of its use. It enables the office’s staff consultants to monitor and track the progress of prospective pioneers from first contact through transfer of membership to another country, and assists them in transferring returning pioneers back into the U.S. The system makes all related information immediately accessible to the consultants. Most correspondence is handled electronically, with the exception of a few items that, owing to protocol, require transmittal through the mails. Work on the development of an online pioneer orientation course halted as a result of the office’s downsizing, but plans are to resume work on it as soon as possible. 1400 Pioneers since The need for such an option seemed, dur1,300 ing much of the previous year, apparent, Riḍván 2006 1200 as attendance at scheduled orientations (as of declined. Attendance appears, however, 1000 3/30/2009) to be on the upswing in early 2009. The vast majority of Bahá’í pioneers in the field are self-supporting, though this office does continue to deputize a handful of stalwart pioneers. Continued appeals have been made through The American Bahá’í, through occasional Feast letters, and through Pioneering Resource Person channels to encourage the friends to contribute to this fund, resulting in a moderate response.
800 600 400 200 0
Pioneers sent since Riḍván 2006 Amount that should have been sent to stay on pace Goal for entire Five Year Plan

he vast majority of Bahá’í pioneers in the field are selfsupporting, though this office does continue to deputize a handful of stalwart pioneers.

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Office of Communications
The principal tasks of the Office of Communications include national media relations; training and support for the network of local public information officers; development and management of the national Bahá’í presence on the Internet; and crisis communications. Other important areas of the office’s work include the development of identity and graphic design standards; encouragement and support for individual, locality, and cluster initiatives on the Internet; and digital media asset management.

he most significant national media coverage of the Faith came about because of the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran.

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National media relations During 2008–09, the office worked on a variety of initiatives to broaden media exposure and coverage of the Faith, which resulted in an invitation being extended to the Secretary-General of the National Spiritual Assembly to be a panelist on the Washington Post/Newsweek “On Faith” blog; coverage of the 2008 Bahá’í National Convention by Chicago Public Radio and Interfaith Voices, a national public radio program; and feature stories about several National Assembly members in their hometown media.

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The most significant national media coverage of the Faith came about because of the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran and, specifically, the announcement in February 2009 that the seven imprisoned members of the ad hoc committee overseeing the affairs of the Iranian Bahá’í community would be tried on baseless charges of espionage and insulting Islam (see the External Affairs section of this report for more information). The office worked to mobilize the public information officer network to generate coverage of prayer gatherings held across the country for the imprisoned Bahá’ís. A follow-up press release about the Fast in early March generated additional coverage. In all, more than 60 news stories appeared in local media in February and March. In September, the Office of Communications had an information booth at the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) annual convention for the fifth consecutive year. The convention continues to be an important avenue for the office to develop relationships with key reporters and to expose them to the Faith. The office also worked with RNA on the publication of A Source Guide to the Bahá’í Faith, which was distributed to hundreds of religion reporters in early February and will also be included in the next edition of RNA’s Reporting on Religion primer, a standard and well-respected guide to the religion reporting beat. The office continued to field requests and respond to misrepresentations, inaccuracies, and omissions about the Faith in the national media. The office responded to general inquiries from national organizations and the general public and maintained the accuracy of entries about the Faith in reference works. The office participated in the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) and is on the planning committee for the Religion Communicators Congress, a once-a-decade event that will take place in Chicago in April 2010. Training and support for the network of local Public Information Officers The office provided targeted media relations training to Public Information Officers (PIOs) in communities that are part of “A” clusters (or clusters soon to advance to the “A” stage) and are also located in one of the major media markets in the United States. These two factors create new and potentially valuable opportunities to generate media coverage of the Faith. One-day intensive workshops were held in the Central and Southwestern regions, and more workshops are planned in other parts of the country during the coming year. The workshops focused on applying the methodology of the Five Year Plan to the public information work through focused consultation on the following questions: • How can our sense of purpose, as builders of a new world civilization, affect our interaction with the media? • How can the core activities be presented to the media in ways that are newsworthy and intriguing? • How can we apply cycles of learning, action, and reflection to our public information work? • How can we create a culture of learning within the network of Public Information Officers, so that successes and valuable insights can be disseminated and applied in other areas? To provide ongoing mentoring and support to the PIOs, the office created an online social network for PIOs at www.bahaipio.net. PIOs are able to create a profile and share news and information with each other and with the office. We hope this

he office provided targeted media relations training to Public Information Officers (PIOs) in communities that are part of “A” clusters (or clusters soon to advance to the “A” stage) and are also located in one of the major media markets in the United States.

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tool will create a sense of support and mutual learning among the PIOs. The email addresses used by the PIOs to create an account on the site are the same as those used by the Office of Communications to send messages to the PIOs. National Internet presence The office developed a new web application framework for the Bahá’í National Center that has entered the beta testing phase. The framework will add a new level of functionality to national Bahá’í websites, including the authentication, rolebased delivery of content, and personal customization of web services. The office continues to explore the use of new online tools for social networking and promotion of Bahá’í content. Electronic newsletters are now provided for all the permanent Bahá’í schools, as well as for the Wilmette Institute and the Bahá’í House of Worship. Support for cluster, locality, and individual web initiatives As a response to guidance from the Bahá’í Internet Agency, the office continues to encourage individual initiative online to create an accurate reflection on the Internet of the vibrant, dynamic, and “outward-looking” culture of the Bahá’í community. We also support and encourage the creation of high-quality Bahá’í community and cluster websites across the country. The office has designed a weekend course on “Bahá’ís on the Internet” to be offered at the permanent schools; in October, it was presented at Green Acre Bahá’í School. The office has also created www.bahaiwebdev.net, an online social network for Bahá’ís to encourage and learn from each other about using communications technology to serve the Faith. At this writing, more than 500 people have joined the network, which is not restricted to Bahá’ís or to residents of the United States. Crisis communications In November, the office hosted the annual meeting of the Bahá’í National Center crisis communications team, which includes representatives from the Office of the Secretary, Office of External Affairs, Office of Communications, Public Safety, Information Technology, and Media Services. The team reviewed crisis communications “lessons learned” over the past year and consulted on the functional requirements and potential uses of an emergency notification system for the Bahá’í National Organization. Digital asset management The office has continued to develop the Bahá’í National Center‘s digital media library, which contains photo, audio, and video assets. More than 10,000 assets have been indexed on the media server. The office is working to add a web interface to the media collection, so that different user groups—including Bahá’ís, media outlets, and the general public—can keyword search and download selected assets. We are also continuing the process of digitizing and cataloging existing assets and identifying priorities for preserving older assets that may be deteriorating.

he office continues to encourage individual initiative online to create an accurate reflection on the Internet of the vibrant, dynamic, and “outwardlooking” culture of the Bahá’í community.

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WLGI-FM Radio Bahá’í
Over the past year, WLGI has maintained reasonable consistency in its operations despite challenging conditions. Technical and engineering Many technical challenges faced in past years were rectified with the purchase of a new transmitter in 2007. Some components at the transmitter site had to be replaced after a lightning strike. Beyond that, most technical and engineering issues have been routine ones for a 24-hour broadcasting operation that puts considerable stress on equipment that is in use all the time. A contracted engineer travels to Radio Bahá’í twice a year for routine maintenance checks and troubleshooting. The transmission tower was freshly painted during the year, in compliance with FCC and FAA requirements for making a tower clearly visible to aircraft. Human resources WLGI operates with two full-time staff members: the general manager and the production manager. In practice, titles mean little as both staff persons perform all necessary jobs—programming, production, administrative, minor technical and engineering, and on-air duties. Some services are provided by independent contractors in the areas of voice tracking, programming, and production assistance. Radio Bahá’í has collaborated with Louis G. Gregory Bahá’í Institute personnel in the areas of Bahá’í programming development and technical/engineering oversight. To keep informed on relevant issues, WLGI personnel traveled during 2008–09 to conferences of the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and the South Carolina Association of Broadcasters. Programming Listener feedback indicates the station’s programming has been well-received by the Bahá’í community and the general public. Programming includes: • Bahá’í-oriented programs including Bahá’í Bookshelf, interviews with Bahá’í authors; Bahá’í Newsbeat, drawing news mostly from The American Bahá’í and the Bahá’í e-newsletter; brief spots focusing on various aspects of the Faith; and information about events at the Louis Gregory Bahá’í Institute. • Musical programming, mostly instrumental jazz, chosen to provide for reflection on the spiritual messages that are broadcast. Vocal music is carefully screened for positive, uplifting lyrics that reinforce Bahá’í themes such as love, peace, unity of mankind, equality of women and men, etc. • Public service: announcements from local churches; community organizations and institutions; and spots that deal with issues such as health and well-being, community service, poverty, aging, education, and literacy.

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LGI operates with two fulltime staff members: the general manager and the production manager. In practice, titles mean little as both staff persons perform all necessary jobs—programming, production, administrative, minor technical and engineering, and on-air duties.

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Office of Assembly Development
During 2008–09, despite a 50 percent reduction in staff, the Office of Assembly Development was able to make available to the Bahá’í community the same broad range of resources for Local Spiritual Assemblies it had before offered, while focusing on those that are most relevant to the current stage of Five Year Plan development and working to enhance the ability of remaining resources to more directly answer current needs. For much of the year, the office’s primary focus has been on revising the essential Assembly manual Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies. Efforts were continued to keep the most recent edition of the manual as current as possible. In June 2008, a third set of updates to the manual was published in the form of insert pages; this enabled communities and individuals who had previously purchased the 2007 edition to easily bring it current. For those who did not yet have the 2007 edition in any of its versions, a complete manual containing the updates was also published. Further, also in June, a bookmarked and searchable electronic copy (on CD-ROM) of this latest edition of the manual—as well as revised versions of the supplements on “Domestic Violence” and “Protection of Children and Youth” and a revised Secretary’s Toolbox—was sent to all Local Spiritual Assemblies. All these documents were also posted on the national Administrative Website. The office is exploring ways to enhance the electronic version of the manual, as, due to budget constraints, a hard copy will no longer be published. In addition, a survey of local Assembly members was conducted to investigate usage of the manual. It was determined that a major revision was in order to eliminate information that was available elsewhere, especially in those sections requiring frequent updates. The outcome is a new, 50 percent smaller manual. A complete review of the manual’s content was also carried out, new guidance was added, and the text was reorganized to enhance its flow. The office is working on reinvigorating the Web-based forum for Assemblies, Reflecting Pool: A Forum on Assemblies and the Plan (www.assemblyforum. usbnc.org). After opening access to the forum to the wider Bahá’í community and expanding its range of topics—particularly with more focus on the sharing of learnings on the Assembly’s role in the Five Year Plan—individuals were solicited to seed the posts with comments. Promotional materials to stimulate awareness of this resource and specific training on its use at the Skill Building Conference for Assembly Members were added. The past year has seen a continued expansion of Assembly Development conferences to serve a broader range of Assembly members. The office offered a threeday conference serving 62 participants from 28 Assemblies—with 42 percent being Secretaries, 19 percent Chairpersons, and 38 percent other members. Participants represented a wide range of experience levels, community sizes, and cluster desig-

Community Development
65 ...Office of Assembly Development 67 ...Office of Community Administration 68 ...Persian-American Affairs Office

t was determined that a major revision of Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies was in order to eliminate information that was available elsewhere, especially in those sections requiring frequent updates. The outcome is a new, 50 percent smaller manual.

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nations. The conference was well received, with participants rating its usefulness at 4.9 out of 5. The three-day conference included plenary sessions featuring talks by a member of the National Spiritual Assembly. The office added a segment allowing participants to share what they have learned locally, particularly in relation to their work in advancing the current Plan. Workshop topics focused on practical day-to-day Assembly functioning, though broader topics—such as the role of Local Spiritual Assemblies in the Plan—were also offered. Additional conferences—as well as online workshops on select topics—are being planned for the coming year. Existing materials, including Guidance for Bahá’í Groups and the Assembly Development Module Workshops, were also reviewed during 2008–09 to assess the degree of revision required to enhance their relevance to the needs of Assemblies at this stage in the Faith’s global Plans for development. Work on these revisions will continue into the new administrative year. These revised materials will also be produced in electronic form only. The office put its well-rated Spiritual Assembly Special Visit program on hold for the year while the Visitors’ Center at the Bahá’í House of Worship was closed. This program brings members of local Assemblies to the Bahá’í National Center, enabling them to familiarize themselves with the resources available and providing them with an opportunity to share questions, comments, or suggestions directly with the National Assembly and its offices. Before its temporary halt, the program had focused on assisting local Assemblies to better understand their role in the Five Year Plan. It will resume when the House of Worship Visitors’ Center is once again open.

he three-day Assembly Development conference included plenary sessions featuring talks by a member of the National Spiritual Assembly. The office added a segment allowing participants to share what they have learned locally, particularly in relation to their work in advancing the current Plan.

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Office of Community Administration
The Office of Community Administration provides administrative support to the National Spiritual Assembly by offering guidance to Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers concerning issues of community functioning and the application of Bahá’í laws and principles. In cooperation with the Office of Assembly Development, Community Administration plays a key role in training Assemblies through the continuing program of Assembly visits to the Bahá’í National Center and through skill-building conferences for Assembly members, assisting them to better understand and address issues pertaining to Bahá’í law and Bahá’í administration. It is a continuing challenge for the Office of Community Administration to provide timely responses to the many telephone calls, letters, and email messages it receives each year. Over the past year, the office received approximately 900 letters (300 less than the previous year) and 4,672 emails (1,072 more than the previous year). These figures, however, do not include the many additional emails that go directly to the office manager and five administrative consultants. During 2008-09, the National Spiritual Assembly removed the administrative rights of 24 believers and restored the administrative rights of 20 believers. The majority of cases resulting in deprivation involved knowing violations of the Bahá’í marriage laws and immorality (primarily, couples choosing to live together without the benefit of marriage). Last year, the office began to track the number of divorces reported in the Bahá’í community during the span of a year: from January 1 to December 31, 2008, there were 63 Bahá’í divorces reported (14 more than the previous year). The number includes divorces where both parties are Bahá’ís and where only one party is a Bahá’í. In addition, there were, during the same period, 322 withdrawals (26 less than in the previous year) and 35 reinstatements to Bahá’í membership (three less than in the previous year). There are a number of reasons why people withdraw their membership in the Faith. In many cases, they are believers who have not been active in the Faith for many years and have finally decided to write and say that they never really considered themselves to be Bahá’ís. Some state that they have returned to their former Christian churches. Others express the view that they love Bahá’u’lláh but cannot accept His teachings on such matters as homosexuality or the requirement to have the consent of one’s parents to marry. Still others decline to give a reason.

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ver the past year, the office received approximately 900 letters (300 less than the previous year) and 4,672 emails (1,072 more than the previous year).

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hroughout the year, it became increasingly clear that, if we are to fulfill the desire of the beloved Master to see the East and the West in close embrace, integration requires the active engagement of all Bahá’ís and the full support of every Local Spiritual Assembly.

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Persian-American Affairs Office
The Persian-American Affairs Office (PAAO) continued during 2008–09 to monitor and promote the integration of Persian-American members of the United States Bahá’í community in various areas of the country. Over 12 percent of the total membership of the U.S. Bahá’í community is of Persian descent. The number of Bahá’ís arriving from Iran has continuously increased owing to the intensification of the persecution of the believers in that country. To facilitate the integration of newly-arrived Bahá’ís from Iran, the PAAO collaborates with other Bahá’í agencies both by advising those agencies and by producing various publications in Persian as well as study guides on integration and race relations in the U.S. Integration of Persian believers In addition to its continuing response to the numerous requests it receives for assistance with the transfer of the Bahá’í membership of Persian believers, a significant portion of the PAAO’s efforts this year were devoted to integration issues—particularly with advising specific Bahá’í communities on the integration challenges they are facing. The PAAO also invested many hours of its time during 2008–09 in consultation with individual Bahá’ís throughout the U.S., helping them with personal issues and with the promotion of integration and unity. Individual Bahá’ís volunteered to form local task forces to promote the integration of the Persian friends into their new Bahá’í communities. In July, the San Jose focus group delegated the organizing of a picnic to youth who earlier had not been actively and dynamically engaged in the life of the community, and the event was a great success. In Contra Costa County, a town hall integration meeting was organized, with more than 150 Bahá’ís attending. A dramatic/comedic play was presented to illustrate the life of a Bahá’í child growing into youth and adulthood. The story underscored how our lives are intertwined with the Bahá’í community in which we live and with the Bahá’ís with whom we are related. Throughout the year, it became increasingly clear that, if we are to fulfill the desire of the beloved Master to see the East and the West in close embrace, integration requires the active engagement of all Bahá’ís and the full support of every Local Spiritual Assembly. Other integration-related activities on which the PAAO focused its energies included providing support to the Board of Directors of the Association of Friends of Persian Culture, responding to requests from various government and refugee organizations about refugee and asylum cases, and organizing two quarterly meetings of the Persian-American friends residing in the immediate vicinity of the Bahá’í House of Worship. All these efforts were made parallel to encouraging the Persian friends to fully engage in the institute training process and become active participants in advancing the process of entry by troops.

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Other activities The PAAO translates the National Spiritual Assembly’s Feast letter into Persian and facilitates the surface mailing of copies of the translation to some 500 localities, as well as its regular posting on the national Bahá’í Administrative Website. The office also translates various documents and pieces of correspondence either from or into Persian for other national offices. Additional translations completed during 2008–09 included the provisional translations of several messages from the Universal House of Justice. The office also certifies the transcripts of former students of the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). To date, 104 BIHE graduates in the U.S. have been identified. These friends can greatly assist the integration process, as they are thoroughly familiar with the Persian language and culture and are active in the life of the Bahá’í community. To promote Bahá’í studies in Persian, the PAAO helps organize the Persian sessions of the ‘Irfán Colloquium in the U.S. and assists with the preparation of colloquia proceedings (Safíniy-i-‘Irfán) and colloquia program booklets for publication. The office is also one of the sponsors of the Wilmette Institute. In the area of publications, the PAAO prepares six pages in Persian for each issue of The American Bahá’í. These pages are intended to inform Persian believers in the U.S. of Bahá’í news, messages from institutions of the Faith, and forthcoming events, as well as to encourage them to become fully engaged in activities directly connected with the Five Year Plan. Further, this office has produced the bilingual quarterly publication Tabernacle of Unity, which was reconstituted in a new form in April 2007. Various other tasks were undertaken to assist in the publication of books, manuscripts, and articles, and in rendering translation assistance for certain Bahá’í publications. The PAAO continued to function—until the end of July 2008—as the secretariat of the Persian Reviewing Panel, appointed by the Universal House of Justice to review manuscripts in Persian before their publication. The Persian-American Affairs Office extends its deepest gratitude to Dr. Manuchehr Derakhshani, who, having directed the office for more than 25 years, retired in 2008. Throughout his tenure, which coincided with one of the most turbulent periods in their history, Dr. Derakhshani rendered invaluable assistance to Persian Bahá’ís.

o promote Bahá’í studies in Persian, the PAAO helps organize the Persian sessions of the ‘Irfán Colloquium in the U.S. and assists with the preparation of colloquia proceedings (Safíniy-i-‘Irfán) and colloquia program booklets for publication.

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Office of Education and Schools
The Office of Education and Schools (OES) coordinates and supervises the work of the three permanent Bahá’í schools—Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen Bahá’í Schools—29 Bahá’í school committees, the Wilmette Institute, and the Native American Bahá’í Institute (NABI). In addition, the OES coordinates recruitment and application processes for the Bahá’í Youth Service Corps at the permanent schools and at NABI. National Bahá’í schools supporting the Five Year Plan During the year 2008–09, Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen Bahá’í Schools rolled out a schedule of programs that were primarily focused on addressing strategic regional needs and priorities in relation to the Plan. These programs were the first fruits of collaborative program design engaging Bahá’í school staff in consultation with their respective Regional Bahá’í Councils, Regional Training Institute (RTI) coordinators, and Auxiliary Board members. Recognizing the distinct roles of Bahá’í schools and training institutes as mutually complementary, program goals were identified for the schools that seek to: • Develop an integrated vision of the Plan among participants. • Inspire a sense of urgency and focus to arise to meet the goals of the Plan. • Attract seekers and new believers. • Include strategic programs that meet specific regional goals, such as intensive trainings for targeted areas. Some 29 school committees across the country also worked in close collaboration with Auxiliary Board members and RTI coordinators, and offered 30 Bahá’í school programs in 25 states aimed at accelerating progress toward achieving the goals of the Plan in the communities they served. Membership on these committees had been significantly reduced from the traditional nine members to five, in order to free up human resources across the country to serve their clusters. Despite the challenges resulting from changes in organizational structure and traditional processes of program planning, the staff and volunteers serving the national Bahá’í schools approached their work with that spirit of faith, determination, and commitment to unity and sacrifice called for by the Universal House of Justice. Integration and coherence bosch, green acre, anD louhelen bahá’í schools. At the outset of this process, it was largely unknown how Bahá’í schools could add value to the processes of growth and development taking place at the grass roots of the Bahá’í community, and few had any clear conception as to what sorts of programs would be most effective. The learning process so characteristic of the Plan itself was readily adopted by all and communications throughout the year were universally characterized by a spirit of openness, respect, and humility.

Education
71 ...Office of Education and Schools 75 ...Bosch Bahá’í School 77 ...Green Acre Bahá’í School 79 ...Louhelen Bahá’í School 81 ...Native American Bahá’í Institute 83 ...Wilmette Institute

he schools have begun to learn how to capitalize on the distinct features of school sessions in order to take unique approaches to study of the Plan, contributing to a powerful impact on “deepening the knowledge” and “stimulating the zeal” for the Plan among attendees.

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Program ideas were initially drawn from Part II of Turning Point: Selected Messages of the Universal House of Justice and Supplementary Material 1996–2006—which addresses fundamental concepts of global plans—and the September 30, 2007, letter from the International Teaching Center. Strategic priorities identified in each region tended to emphasize: • Building enthusiasm among youth for engagement in the institute process and taking junior youth animator training.

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ost of these school sessions included opportunities to experience elements of the sequence of courses through “refreshers” or introductions to one or more Ruhi courses, with a focus on practicing the skills of service associated with each course directly at the school.

• Building understanding and capacity for direct teaching and collective teaching projects. • Building understanding and enthusiasm for the Plan and its core activities generally. • Supporting consolidation through deepening courses on the writings, history, and administrative order of the Faith. • Attracting growing numbers of seekers. The schools have begun to learn how to capitalize on the distinct features of school sessions in order to take unique approaches to study of the Plan. These unique approaches, combined with the value of bringing participants together from different localities to interact with each other in a focused, spiritual environment, can have a powerful impact on “deepening the knowledge” and “stimulating the zeal” for the Plan among attendees. While each of the permanent schools received early feedback from the friends stating their preference for deepening courses on more traditional subjects, it was also reported that those who participated in courses on the Plan found them “enlightening and stimulating” in ways that they had not previously experienced. In fact, feedback from course participants has been overwhelmingly positive. Not surprisingly, seekers love the Bahá’í schools for many of the same reasons Bahá’ís do. While there is much to learn to be able to serve their needs and interests most effectively, seekers and new believers responded very positively to a range of courses, including those addressing the Plan. Perhaps the greatest current barrier to seeker participation in Bahá’í school sessions is a tendency not to invite them. This seems to be changing, as the numbers of seekers attending Bahá’í school sessions is gradually growing. Institutional collaboration has been critical to advancing the understanding of how school programs can most effectively complement the institute process. One of the fruits of this effort has been the forging of stronger relationships between the schools and institutions serving at the regional level. The opportunity for developing greater coherence between the educative programs of Bahá’í schools and the institute process is rich. The experience of this year suggests that the schools can continue to play a more vital role in advancing the goals of the Plan. It is also becoming more widely acknowledged that the schools should continue to provide deepening courses on important subjects not addressed by the institute process. There is still much to learn about finding the right balance between programs designed to lend direct support to prosecution of the Plan and those designed to meet the broader educational needs of an expanding community. school commiTTees anD seasonal bahá’í school sessions. Seasonal Bahá’í schools draw attendance from smaller geographic areas than the permanent schools, often serving believers in more remote communities. All but three committees plan

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only one Bahá’í school session a year. Perhaps for these reasons, there seemed to be greater clarity of vision as to how these school sessions could lend direct support to winning the goals of the Plan in the areas they serve. Close collaboration with Auxiliary Board members and RTI coordinators has been fruitful, as they have provided valuable insights into committee appointments, helped committees identify strategic regional priorities for program planning, and supported school sessions with their presence and full participation. As one RTI coordinator described the experience, “This was the first year that institutions were trying to work closely for planning, implementing the new format for the summer schools in our region. All of us tried to work closely. … We communicated, shared our concerns, consulted lovingly and frankly, stayed united and focused, shared our resources and knowledge as members of institutions for almost seven months.” Most of these school sessions included opportunities to experience elements of the sequence of courses through “refreshers” or introductions to one or more Ruhi courses, with a focus on practicing the skills of service associated with each course directly at the school. There was frequent emphasis on a review of Ruhi Book 6 and direct teaching using “Anna’s presentation.” Three school committees organized door-to-door teaching opportunities in collaboration with cluster agencies, allowing school participants to build confidence through practice and adding impetus to the teaching work in those clusters. Feedback from attendees was largely positive, and there is some indication that the school sessions had the desired long-term impact. As an Auxiliary Board member in Florida reported, “This year’s school not only helped with the awareness of the Five Year Plan but gave tremendous impetus to ‘Anna’s presentation’ being given on the local level. Not only did the participants have a positive and unifying experience, they translated their learning into action. Two of the clusters that I work with most closely have been directly impacted through their learning at this year’s school. I witnessed an upsurge in learning and a renewed interest in direct teaching. In both of these clusters they have initiated teaching projects and

uring 2008–09, youth volunteers at Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen participated more than ever in teaching neighborhood children’s classes, tutoring study circles off campus, and carrying out home visits and direct teaching campaigns.

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core activities that were not present prior to the school. It must be mentioned that youth have been leading the way and pushing parents as well!” Bahá’í Youth Service Corps Hundreds of volunteers serve the national schools in a variety of capacities. Among these are the young adults of the Bahá’í Youth Service Corps, without whose contributions the operations of Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen Bahá’í Schools and the Native American Bahá’í Institute would be severely hindered. This year, the Office of Education and Schools processed 125 inquiries from youths considering service, and over 111 offered service for terms varying from a few weeks to a full year. The service teams at each school and institute were enriched this year by the participation of 15 youth volunteers from 14 different countries: Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Hawaii, Liechtenstein, and South Africa. Largely as a result of the increased collaboration between schools and cluster agencies, more opportunities were provided for youth volunteers at the schools to engage directly and more regularly in the learning processes taking place in the clusters surrounding the schools. During 2008–09, youth volunteers at Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen participated more than ever in teaching neighborhood children’s classes, tutoring study circles off campus, and carrying out home visits and direct teaching campaigns. The exposure of youth volunteers to education programs centered on the Plan this past year helped them understand it more deeply. Growing opportunities for them to engage in core activities in the clusters surrounding the schools ensured that they developed the necessary skills and confidence to support cluster development when they returned to their home communities.

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Bosch Bahá’í School, Santa Cruz, California
In pursuit of the Plan The new paradigm Bosch Bahá’í School has been following since late 2007—focusing its program offerings on topics directly related to the promotion of the goals of the Five-Year Plan—was implemented still further during 2008–09. This year Bosch developed a schedule of sessions that, with the guidance and consultation of the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern States, sought to complement the work of the Regional Training Institute; supported the teaching work, by working toward teacher and seeker/new believer education; and provided practical assistance to the ranks of Bahá’ís striving to be of service to the Plan. At the outset, Bosch staff felt some concern that the shift in programming toward a Five Year Plan orientation would have a detrimental impact on attendance. This was clearly not so (see charts on next page). Compared with previous years, average attendance for Plan-related courses rose dramatically. After a full year of promoting a schedule under the new paradigm, it became obvious that there is a strong desire in the Bahá’í community for programs that address the many facets of serving the Plan, whether it be to develop better core activities, to effectively speak to the questions and concerns of seekers, to better train door-to-door teachers, or to investigate the means by which family members can support and complement each other’s service. Many sessions at Bosch during 2008–09 sought to accomplish these aims, but three especially represent the school’s commitment to developing and reflecting on new approaches to assist individuals and communities in their efforts to achieve a sustainable pattern of expansion and consolidation: “Developing a Family Approach to the Five Year Plan,” “Congress of Spanish-Speaking Bahá’ís,” and “Exploring the Bahá’í Writings for New Believers and Seekers.” In “Developing a Family Approach,” the goal was to break away from the typical summer program that addresses the family as a set of individuals and to examine how a family can be awakened to its potential as a collaborative unit of service. In the words of the presenters, “families had never considered sitting together and formulating a collective, or ‘family’ plan for meeting the challenges of the Five Year Plan. … In this Family session, we were able to present the concept of finding harmony between the needs of the family and needs of the Faith in this day.” “Congress of Spanish-Speaking Bahá’ís” tackled a particular need in the consolidation work in California—that of assisting new Bahá’ís of Spanish-speaking backgrounds to be integrated into the wider Bahá’í community and to become engaged with the core activities. Another goal of this session was to help this distinct group of new Bahá’ís feel more connected with other Bahá’ís of a similar background across the southwestern states and remove the sense of isolation that is so prevalent among monolingual Spanish-speaking families.

n “Developing a Family Approach,” the goal was to break away from the typical summer program that addresses the family as a set of individuals and to examine how a family can be awakened to its potential as a collaborative unit of service.

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osch is continually seeking ways to promote its activities to the ever-increasing numbers of Bahá’ís and seekers in the southwestern states. Number of Courses related to the Five Year Plan at Bosch
40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5

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“Exploring the Bahá’í Writings” was developed as a means to introduce seekers to the Bahá’í Faith by using the successful training institute prototype. The course consisted of small discussion groups studying the Bahá’í writings on an array of contemporary topics, as opposed to the classroom/lecture setting of previous seekers’ sessions. In all, 83 new believers, seekers, and their Bahá’í friends attended this weekend program—three times the number of participants at any seekers’ weekend in the previous two years. The fundamental reason this course was so successful and well-attended apparently lies in its design and facilitation by an outside committee of Bahá’ís and seekers; they also collaboratively developed the course materials. In addition, the Bahá’ís involved in facilitation of the class personally invited most of the seekers who attended. This direct approach to publicizing this course, as well as the style of the class itself, created a new model for future seekers’ sessions—a model Bosch is confident will yield greater numbers of attendees and declarations of faith. Beyond their everyday service to Bosch, youth service volunteers continued their dedicated work with the core activities. They are actively pursuing completion of the sequence of courses and, in a landmark for the school, have started a weekly children’s class at a low-income housing project that had been the target of a successful teaching campaign by the cluster surrounding Bosch. It is the first of its kind in the cluster and the devotion of youth to its success has opened up further avenues for teaching in the area. The project has been praised by the Auxiliary Board and the Cluster Institute Coordinator and receives their warm support. Other achievements Every year, Bosch makes various improvements to its facilities to achieve the dual purposes of lowering long-term maintenance costs and enhancing the quality of the school’s services and aesthetic appeal for guests. Perhaps more so than in any other year, the improvements during 2008–09 mark a renewed commitment to these goals. Over the course of the year, all cabin porches, steps, and decks were replaced with a quality wood-composite material ensuring their rot-proof durability for years. Large kitchen appliances were replaced with high-efficiency stoves and ovens. All guest accommodations were painted and stained to protect against degradation. Tankless water heaters were installed in a number of buildings to increase the overall efficiency of propane use. Finally, thanks to generous earmarked contributions, all guest cabins were refurnished with high-quality, beautiful, robust furnishings. Lastly, Bosch is continually seeking ways to promote its activities to the everincreasing numbers of Bahá’ís and seekers in the southwestern states. One of the most recent innovations was to enlist the volunteer assistance of friends of the school who would travel to their home communities to deliver a presentation about upcoming programs at Bosch at Nineteen Day Feasts and answer questions about Bosch’s role in the Five Year Plan. After the first round of presentations, the school received offers from over 20 volunteers to participate in the project. Through a unified vision and the devoted endeavors of each member of the outstanding staff, it remains the aim of Bosch Bahá’í School to dedicate the preponderating share of its efforts to supporting the work of the Five Year Plan. By providing opportunities for the development and deepening of the greater Bahá’í community and by being supportive of each individual’s desire to improve her or his service to the Plan, now, more than ever, the results of this vision are beginning to match the intensity of action demanded by the Universal House of Justice.

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2006– 2007 2007– 2008

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Average attendance at Five Year Plan-related courses at Bosch
40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5

38

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2006– 2007

2007– 2008

2008– 2009

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Green Acre Bahá’í School, Eliot, Maine
Green Acre Bahá’í School continued, during 2008–09, to align its programs and activities ever more closely with the goals of the Five Year Plan, experiencing a number of positive developments and significant confirmations. Expanding an outward-looking orientation At Green Acre’s annual Race Unity banquet, 30 leaders in race relations enthusiastically received a modified “Anna’s presentation” highlighting oneness, resulting in a standing ovation and requests for home visits. Peace-loving groups and individuals have also been very receptive. In collaboration with the Spiritual Assembly of Eliot, the Annual Sarah Farmer Peace Award was given to a local nonprofit organization named Friends Forever. Its director was so impressed on visiting Green Acre and learning of the teachings on peace that he asked if the school would help host a group of Arab and Jewish Israeli teens who would soon be visiting the area. Youth Service Corps volunteers prepared a devotional program, a PowerPoint presentation, and a unity rap for the occasion. The Israelis also shared presentations, songs, and dances. The entire gathering enjoyed an Israeli-style lunch, warm fellowship—even a soccer game! Green Acre’s Youth Service Corps also participated in an interfaith discussion at the University of New Hampshire on gender equality, resulting in two youths being invited to make a presentation on the Faith in a women’s studies class. They also took part in the Martin Luther King Jr. Spiritual Celebration at the university, where they offered Bahá’í prayers and writings on the subject of equality, justice, and unity. Afterwards they taught the Faith to a hospice chaplain who gratefully accepted a Bahá’í prayer book and a copy of the writings used in the program. The various groups renting Green Acre facilities continue to learn about the Faith during their stays here. One example during 2008–09 was the Hindu-based Vedanta Society. Two swamis, wanting to honor one of their founders, Swami Vivekananda, who visited Green Acre in the 1890s, brought 22 followers for a weekend retreat. All asked many questions about the Faith and rejoiced in the spirit of Green Acre. One swami wrote: “We were overwhelmed by the loving kindness we experienced during our stay … we want to come back next year.” The school also hosted a banquet for the local Methodist Church in honor of one of their members. One Eliot resident in attendance was so impressed by the quality of the school’s services and facilities that she has now invited Green Acre to host the kick-off event for the Town of Eliot Bicentennial celebration in 2010! Educating children, junior youth, and youth Green Acre focused much attention during 2008–09 on empowering young people to be active participants in the Plan. Using the Teacher’s Toolbox curriculum, children created teaching booklets, learned how to do home visits, and gained

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ne visitor from the Vedanta Society wrote: “We were overwhelmed by the loving kindness we experienced during our stay … we want to come back next year.”

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confidence practicing home visits and presentations on the Faith. At one open house, the son of a seeker astounded onlookers by very ably and naturally delivering “Anna’s presentation” to a classmate! Some 55 children participated in Green Acre’s annual full-scholarship weekend focused on devotional gatherings and how children can take more initiative in creating them with families and communities. They presented inspirational prayer-raps and systematically developed devotional plans. One young teacher, a newly-trained animator who has been a Bahá’í for only two months, said, “It was an experience I will never forget!” Youth classes studied the Universal House of Justice’s Riḍván 2008 message, reflecting on the needs of the Plan and how the core activities in each cluster create a framework for growth. They assessed their personal responsibilities in this process, and many sent pledges of service to their clusters. Junior youth have had the opportunity to prepare to become “spiritual descendants of the Dawn-Breakers” in fall and spring weekend institutes. Their summer institute focused on spiritual transformation and the integration of the arts into teaching and proclamation. With the aim of mobilizing resources for the clusters, the school also offered two Ruhi Book 5 animator trainings, to youths and young adults and to parents. Perhaps one of Green Acre’s greatest successes has been empowering Youth Service Corps volunteers to support the goals of the Plan. Besides their regular deepenings on various themes of their choice, they have received Youth Empowerment training and animator training, and are participating in other community activities, including door-to-door teaching, home visits, devotional gatherings, firesides, traveling teaching, and proclaiming the Faith boldly and creatively in many venues and in many ways. Their unity raps and poetry have received standing ovations, and one activity was covered in the local news. Youth Service Corps members also privileged to participate, in December 2008, in the Regional Bahá’í Conference held in Stamford, Connecticut, and attended the annual Northeast Bahá’í Youth (NEBY) conference to learn about contributing to cluster advancement, as well as to promote the Youth Service Corps program and urge others to join in this remarkable experience. Green Acre has embarked on another major construction project, which involves an apartment building for staff (projected for July 2009), a guest housing facility with 12 rooms and two dormitories (December 2009), an office building, a youth center, and a library/archives building (2010). Working with the National Spiritual Assembly’s Office of Communications, Green Acre has developed a monthly e-newsletter. The color photos, news and notes, and upcoming course announcements have served to strengthen Green Acre’s bonds with the national community. As the school looks ahead to the coming year, its principal goal will be to prepare for entry by troops. To further build capacity to offer distinctive spiritual education, Green Acre will be actively seeking to enlist more Youth Service Corps volunteers and more children’s class teachers.

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hildren created teaching booklets, learned how to do home visits, and gained confidence practicing home visits and presentations on the Faith. At one open house, the son of a seeker astounded onlookers by very ably and naturally delivering “Anna’s presentation” to a classmate!

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Louhelen Bahá’í School, Davison, Michigan
Drawing from lessons learned in previous years, Louhelen Bahá’í School during 2008–09 made a significant shift in programming that underscored the importance of furthering the two essential movements of the Five Year Plan. This shift signaled the school’s desire to achieve greater coherence with the institutions of the Faith and required a redoubling of efforts to systematize its programs and activities to meet the growing needs of the individual and community. In the forefront of efforts were the school’s youth volunteers, whose excitement for involvement in the Plan strongly motivated them to arise to play their part and assist with cluster development. Systematic efforts At the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly, the preponderating share of Louhelen’s programs throughout 2008–09 focused on development of knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the goals of the Five Year Plan. As their offerings are considered for inclusion in a particular season’s program, presenters are requested to identify key elements in their course outlines that apply to the Plan. Presenters must emphasize themes that promote a greater understanding of the Plan and the application of learning in the field. Children’s and junior youth classes continue to employ a systematic approach to education through the Teacher’s Toolbox, in which the content addresses themes central to the Plan. Parents frequently remark that they bring their children to Louhelen for children’s classes as a means of fostering their Bahá’í identity. Through action and reflection, it was learned that when the school offers intensive Ruhi training, the most effective book in the curriculum is Book 5, Raising up Animators of Junior Youth Groups. Enrollments increase when these intensives run concurrently with other programs. Through these offerings, the school can meet the needs of more than one family member; it can also extend special invitations to individuals in clusters that lack sufficient human resources to hold a study circle. During 2008–09, eight staff members completed Ruhi Book 7 over the course of three such weekend intensives—doubling the number of people active as tutors in the surrounding “C” cluster. Consultations with members of the Continental Board of Counselors and their Auxiliary Boards, with the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States and the Regional Training Institute, and with the Regional Cluster Coordinator resulted in a closer and deeper collaboration. One outcome of this collaboration is a new program brought to Louhelen by a member of the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States. Called “A Coherent Approach to Growth,” the program focuses on the interactive role of cluster agencies, Local Spiritual Assemblies, and a statistical process from the Universal House of Justice. Some 30 attendees from Assemblies and cluster agencies commented favorably on the usefulness of the content, requesting expansion of the program from a one-day workshop to weekend sessions.

t was learned that when the school offers intensive Ruhi training, the most effective book in the curriculum is Book 5, Raising up Animators of Junior Youth Groups.

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outh Service Corps volunteers, staff, and other community members gather to simultaneously participate in several study circles or as tutors. This strategy increases participant movement through the sequence of courses and requisite practices.

Youth volunteers The Bahá’í Youth Service Corps’ education program at Louhelen was organized to include participation in the institute training process. In collaboration with the local Cluster Institute Coordinator, a weekly “study-circle-within-a-study-circle” was established. Youth Service Corps volunteers, staff, and other community members gather to simultaneously participate in several study circles or as tutors. This strategy increases participant movement through the sequence of courses and requisite practices. Youth Service Corps volunteers are in the forefront of Louhelen’s Five Year Plan work, sponsoring devotional meetings, tutoring study circles, teaching children’s classes, serving as youth animators, and participating in direct teaching projects off the school’s campus. Youth tutors have been instrumental in advancing the surrounding cluster’s engagement in the institute process. The coordinators of the summer Youth Eagle program experimented this year with a new format combining the study of the sequence of Ruhi courses with interactions with artists in various media—watercolors, photography, instrumental and vocal music, and poetry. Through this creative agenda, the arts were incorporated into the Ruhi program’s practices. For example, participants in a Book 6 study circle invited a religion class in the area to hear “Anna’s presentation”; a Book 3 study circle taught children’s classes. Youths wrote original poetry and music, created watercolor paintings and collages of photos as outward expressions of the sacred writings, and presented their artistic endeavors at two public programs. A declaration of faith resulted from the inspiration, excitement, and high energy that only youth can bring to a campus. During a family session, a youth class and its teachers traveled to a neighboring cluster and participated in its intensive program of growth. The cluster’s Auxiliary Board member and members of its various communities welcomed the contributions of the youth to a direct teaching project that resulted in a declaration. Members of the youth class enthusiastically returned to reflect on their experience and carry their learning back to their own clusters. Advancement of geographic clusters Louhelen provides a model for Bahá’í community life that includes welcoming seekers to its programs. This year, seekers attended numerous sessions—many accompanied by their primary teachers. Six declarations of faith occurred as a result of their experiencing the loving atmosphere of Bahá’í community life. The Spiritual Assembly of Yellow Springs, Ohio, plans an annual retreat to Louhelen to build a spirit of love and unity within the cluster. Seekers, new believers, family and friends, and children and youth gather for a weekend of education on a theme that builds vibrant communities. This session develops a greater coherence among individuals, the institution, and community members, through study of the sacred writings and living the life. As the friends return home, the common language of encouragement, love, and unity brings them closer together. Farewell reception During the summer, a farewell reception was hosted in honor of Drs. Rick and Barbara Johnson for their 17 years of selfless service as Co-Administrators at Louhelen. Their invaluable contributions to the growth and development of this institution are deeply appreciated and their radiant hearts, nurturing spirits, and wealth of stories are missed by everyone. The staff’s prayers are with them as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

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Native American Bahá’í Institute, Houck, Arizona
As the Regional Training Institute for the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations, the Native American Bahá’í Institute (NABI) finds itself engaged in learning about growth at the same time it is experiencing growth. Whether in the “A,” “B,” or several “C” clusters the institute serves, 2008–09 has seen growth in nearly every aspect of the framework for action described by the Five Year Plan. Core activities, home visits, and teaching initiatives are steadily growing in more than 20 native communities in five of the six clusters. And enrollments, which used to average about six per year, are now approaching six per month! Facilitating training, establishing core activities, stimulating teaching, and raising institutional capacity continue to be NABI’s primary responsibilities. As elsewhere, both Bahá’ís and supporters in the community of interest are learning how to do it. The institute has had a rich year in learning how to train, carry out the practices required in the Ruhi curriculum, initiate core activities, conduct regular home visits, collaborate, plan, teach the Faith and invite others to join, reflect, deepen new believers, and, especially, serve the community. These experiences have underscored the interdependence of the institute training process and the advancement of clusters—the two essential movements of the Plan. Also evident is the value of collaboration among individuals, institutions of the Faith, and the community—the three constituents of the Plan. NABI has learned the importance of incorporating what junior youth and youth like to do as they initiate programs of service to others; that it is better for home visits to follow a regular pattern; that since each cycle in a program of intensive growth brings new learning, it is critical for NABI and the friends in general to become more systematic in their work; and, at least in NABI’s case, that a nearly 200-members-strong community of interest represents a most fertile field for direct teaching efforts. About 75 of the friends in the area are involved in teaching activities, and many now feel confident enough to engage in direct or “heart-to-heart” teaching. In White Cone, after completing Ruhi Book 1 (in Navajo), the friends wanted to carry out the requisite practice by teaching the Faith to their neighbors and relatives. When a declarant in Fort Defiance was told of the return of Christ, he exclaimed: “Why wasn’t I told of this before?” In Wide Ruins, a whole family is studying Book 2, while the local junior youth are busily studying Book 3 and pursuing service activities. The same is true for Houck, Tsaile, Tuba City, Pine Springs, Mexican Springs, and other communities. All involved are learning that sustainable growth isn’t about numbers, it’s about transformation, teaching together, and serving others. It is a spiritual enterprise. And systematization makes the Bahá’ís dependable. People know they can rely on the Bahá’ís. Initiatives are not canceled or dropped: they are adjusted or changed as needed. The institute has learned about flexibility!

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hether in the “A,” “B,” or several “C” clusters the institute serves, 2008– 09 has seen growth in nearly every aspect of the framework for action described by the Five Year Plan.

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NABI’s five youth and junior youth programs incorporate not only study, but also service, recreation, socialization, and team-building skills. These programs stimulate initiative and teach youth not to rely on the historical or government pattern of waiting for top-down direction. They are learning to serve others, which brings joy to their parents, grandparents, and themselves! One youth couldn’t stop chopping wood for an elder—the wood would have filled the hogan if the Grandma hadn’t told him to stop! Not surprisingly, the community of interest NABI serves has steadily increased from 100 at the beginning of 2008 to 200 at year’s end. It may be because over 65 percent of Ruhi Book 7 trainees are active in tutoring and accompanying their collaborators, and because everyone associated with the training institute is also engaged in building social skills. Beyond teaching initiatives, many friends are interested in community improvement—for example, tutoring after school, assisting with college applications, teaching behavioral skills, or bringing paved roads to the region. NABI’s engagement in all these serves as a natural springboard for investigation of the Faith for such service-minded friends. Poor roads and long distances require making the most of home visits, particularly as NABI concentrates its efforts in “A” and “B” clusters. Indeed, home visits provide the greatest successes; the families who are visited say they look forward to the visits and the core activities of Bahá’ís. They say they love their Bahá’í visitors because they are of service and do not disparage other religions. Home visits have really become a natural fit with the culture. Both for those making the visits and those receiving them, they have acquired the quality of a hand-in-glove relationship: both are happy and both are engaged in the same thing. The families being visited often invite the friends to stay and teach more, while a meal is prepared to show appreciation and esteem. This same teamwork is then directed into accompaniment as teaching and outreach is extended to others. Being in the midst of native communities, the friends see that the Bahá’í culture is consistent with the Navajo culture, and respect for it abounds. This leads to family transformation and cluster advancement. One Navajo grandmother told her children and grandchildren: “I don’t know much about the Bahá’í Faith, but what I know is it fits with our traditional ways. Your child’s and your future lies in this Faith. It is the only way for you and my grandchildren.”

hese programs stimulate initiative and teach youth not to rely on the historical or government pattern of waiting for top-down direction. They are learning to serve others, which brings joy to their parents, grandparents, and themselves!

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Wilmette Institute
Mission The Wilmette Institute was established in 1995 to offer quality e-learning courses and applied courses on the Bahá’í Faith. The institute is committed to engaging a broad and diverse community of learners in deep study of the Faith and to fostering love for study of the Faith. The institute is financially self-suffiWilmette Institute online cient and receives no direct financial support from the National Bahá’í course offerings, 2008–09 Fund, though it does receive support services from offices and agencies Kitáb-i-Íqán and Gems of Divine Mysteries of the National Spiritual Assembly. The Promised Day Is Come Staff costs are covered by tuition fees and donations. The Writings of the Báb Online courses During 2008–09, the Wilmette Institute offered 19 online courses, five more than the previous year, constituting a new record. Attracting 359 students, the courses reflected some of the following characteristics: Courses focused on priorities related to the Five Year Plan (“Arise for the Triumph of the Cause,” “The New Five Year Plan”), strengthening Local Spiritual Assemblies (“Introduction to Archives for Bahá’í Archivists”), and continuing priorities of the Faith (social and economic development: “Creating a Nonprofit Organization”). Six courses focused on the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, or Shoghi Effendi, strengthening the ability of Bahá’ís to study the authoritative texts. Four courses helped Bahá’ís to study other religions and relate them to the Faith. All courses are designed to develop a culture of learning in the Bahá’í community. Many students report using insights from Wilmette Creating a Nonprofit Organization Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation: A Systematic Survey Exploring The Tanakh/Christian Old Testament Arise for the Triumph of the Cause: The New Five Year Plan What is Religion? The Summons of the Lord of Hosts `Abdu’l-Bahá: His Life and Writings Introduction to Archives for Bahá’í Archivists Bahá’í History, 1844-53: Rediscovering the Dawn-breakers Hinduism for Deepening and Dialogue The Life of Bahá’u’lláh The Ministry of Shoghi Effendi Bahá’í Theology: Concepts of God, Revelation, Manifestation, Humanity, Creation, Afterlife, and Covenant Health and Spirituality Kitáb-i-Aqdas Exploring the Christian New Testament

uring 2008–09, the Wilmette Institute offered 19 online courses, five more than the previous year, constituting a new record.

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Basics

Students 26 18 23 17 12 13

Groups 4 1 1 2 1 0 4 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 4

33 17 6 20 15 18 14

9 19 20 24 15 40

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Institute courses in teaching the Faith to inquirers and giving classes to children, youth, and adults. Courses attracted an average of 19 students, compared to averages of 25 in 2007–08, 23 in 2006–07, and 18 in 2005–06. The decrease probably reflects the drop in the number of local study groups. The average course had only one local study group; the average was two per course in both the previous years. Students came from 28 countries outside the United States (one more than both previous years): Australia (8), Belgium (1), Brazil (2), Canada (37), China (2), Cyprus (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (1), Finland (1), Gambia (1), Germany (2), Iran (1), Ireland (1), Jamaica (4), Luxembourg (1), Malaysia (1), New Zealand (2), Northern Mariana Islands (1), Samoa (1) Singapore (1), Solomon Islands (1), South Africa (13), Spain (1), Sweden (1), Switzerland (1), Taiwan (1), United Kingdom (21), and Zambia (1). Canada remains the chief source of foreign students (38), followed by Europe (31), Africa (15), and Australasia (11). Students from outside the United States—including some pioneers—totaled 110 (101 in 2007–08, 84 in 2006–07, 90 in 2005–06) and accounted for 31 percent of all students. While statistics have not been collected, a significant percentage of institute students often serve as Ruhi course tutors or have taken numerous Ruhi courses. Many are using Wilmette Institute information in their study circles. Upgrading quality The year 2008–09 represented a turning point in course quality, as the institute launched Moodle, its new course management system, on January 28, 2008. The effectiveness of courses steadily improved during the year, as measured by the rising volume of postings to the courses’ discussion forums. Students familiar with the old and new systems all said they preferred Moodle. Course completion rates increased and have, perhaps, doubled compared to previous years. A faculty training course, under development for nearly two years, was inaugurated in March–April 2008 and has been repeated quarterly since. Each repetition of the course has brought improvements in its quality. As faculty are trained to use Moodle, the Wilmette Institute staff have less secretarial work to do and can focus on increasing the number of courses and further improving their quality. Over the next year, all courses will add automated final quizzes to measure student learning. As the year drew to a close, plans to switch the registration system to Cvent software were far advanced. Cvent will make registration much smoother, will streamline the providing of scholarships, and will allow the institute to survey customers to collect marketing data. Moodle, faculty training, and Cvent will greatly professionalize the institute’s services. This will allow the institute to pursue two goals it has set for itself in the Five Year Plan: 1. Collaboration with Bahá’í campus associations in creating courses accreditable through their universities. 2. Creation of courses designed for and marketed to inquirers. Publicity and marketing The Lamp, the institute’s newsletter, was replaced by a monthly e-newsletter starting in June. It was prepared and distributed by the Office of Communica-

he effectiveness of courses steadily improved during the year, as measured by the rising volume of postings to the courses’ discussion forums. Course completion rates increased and have, perhaps, doubled compared to previous years.

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tions using Constant Contact software. The format is quick and easy to edit and is probably more effective. Publicity information was distributed at the annual Association for Bahá’í Studies conference, the Association of Friends of Persian Culture conference, and the Rabbani Trust conference. In most cases, the publicity included a display as well as fliers. Monthly email notices to several thousand people attracted the majority of students. Service to the Five Year Plan and the Bahá’í community In a letter written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi noted, “The Cause needs more … people who not only are devoted to it and believe in it and are anxious to tell others about it, but also who have a deep grasp of the Teachings and their significance, and who can correlate its beliefs with the current thoughts and problems of the people of the world.” This statement captures the purpose of the Wilmette Institute. Bahá’ís take Wilmette Institute courses to: • Enrich their presentations to study circles. • Assist them in preparing children’s and youth classes. • Enhance their devotional programs. • Improve their artistic skills (students are linked to mentors who are professional artists). • Develop their scholarship (several students, mentored by published Bahá’í authors, have produced publishable works). • Acquire knowledge in order to explain the Faith more effectively (to such groups as Jews, Christians, Muslims). • Foster regular study of the Word of God (through courses on Bahá’u’lláh’s writings). Bahá’í academics and researchers have felt encouraged and empowered by the opportunity to serve as Wilmette Institute faculty; for some, it has been an important confirmation that their specialized education is valuable to the Faith. Students and faculty alike are acquiring a deeper grasp of the Bahá’í teachings, a greater eagerness to take the Faith to others, and an enhanced ability to relate the Bahá’í Faith to the world.

ahá’í academics and researchers have felt encouraged and empowered by the opportunity to serve as Wilmette Institute faculty; for some, it has been an important confirmation that their specialized education is valuable to the Faith.

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House of Worship Activities Office
During 2008–09, the Bahá’í House of Worship Activities Office faced a challenge unprecedented since the Temple’s dedication and formal opening to the public in 1953. Due to the House of Worship restoration work, the Visitors’ Center was closed to the public and will remain closed until after Bahá’í National Convention 2009. The closing affected many aspects of the Activities Office’s day-to-day operations, including teaching the Faith, guiding and interacting with visitors, and planning and coordinating Holy Day commemorations. First and foremost, the Visitors’ Center functions as a welcoming center where staff, volunteer guides, and Bahá’ís from neighboring communities can talk with people who are interested in finding out more about the Bahá’í Faith and the House of Worship. Closing the Visitors’ Center meant not having a space to continue doing this. The Activities Office staff understood it would have to adapt to circumstances as they stood. Despite this temporary loss of a valuable resource, the Temple itself, the American Bahá’í community’s most precious asset, would remain open, fulfilling its role, in Shoghi Effendi’s words, as the “great ‘Silent Teacher’ of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.” In fact, the Temple became the focus of subsequent teaching efforts and has been the starting point for many wonderful conversations with visitors about the Faith. Because of the low number of volunteers available since the Visitors’ Center’s closing in May 2008, each staff member in the Activities Office has been required to spend a portion of the workday guiding. All have realized the importance and necessity of having guides present at the entrance to the Temple’s auditorium to welcome visitors to this holiest House of Worship. Through spending more time upstairs, staff have developed greater familiarity with the most common questions visitors ask about the Temple and the Bahá’í Faith, have learned from each other how to address visitors’ most difficult questions, and have gotten a better sense of who the people are that visit. Notwithstanding the challenges of the last year, the Activities Office continued to receive support from a few stalwart volunteers, whose service at the Temple has been invaluable. Without the service of these committed and selfless believers, the office staff would not have been able to maintain the level of productivity and efficiency necessary to execute all of its various duties. Also affected by the closing of the Visitors’ Center was the House of Worship bookshop. The Activities Office saw in this extended closure a unique opportunity to examine the bookshop’s inventory in detail—with an eye to downsizing it in preparation for the bookshop’s transition to the new Visitors’ Center. The bookshop envisioned for the new Visitors’ Center will be more like a reading room and less like a souvenir shop. The office has assisted the bookshop manager in sorting through books, peeling labels, counting pamphlets and postcards, updating the Booklog inventory control and point-of-sale software program, and creating a new

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taff have developed greater familiarity with the most common questions visitors ask about the Temple and the Bahá’í Faith, have learned from each other how to address visitors’ most difficult questions, and have gotten a better sense of who the people are that visit.

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store layout. The new layout will be easier to navigate, with less inventory out on the floor—enabling visitors to walk in without feeling overwhelmed, with too much to look at. Finally, the displays that had been on the walls of the Visitors’ Center for nearly two decades were taken down and will be replaced. Displays based on the content anticipated for the new Visitors’ Center displays are being created by the design team. Over the next few years, visitors will provide the team with opinion on what is effective and what is not, what they want to know more about, what they like and what they do not like. The new displays, it is expected, will provide people who have been to the Visitors’ Center many times with information about the Bahá’í Faith and the Temple that they never knew before. Though achieving an exact count was impossible—owing to the closing of the Linden Avenue entrance to the auditorium and the resultant unavailability of the counting device used to record their entry—a rough estimate of the number of visitors to the House of Worship during 2008–09 is 128,000, with some 9,900 attending the 618 regular devotional programs that were held. Some 56 student interviews and 98 tours of the House of Worship were conducted by Activities Office staff and by volunteers—who contributed 3,860 hours of valued service. The closing of the Visitors’ Center diminished the number of weddings held, but some 13 took place on the Temple’s grounds nonetheless. The year 2008–09 has been one of great transition, pointing up a need to change the way the community thinks about how things are done at the Bahá’í House of Worship. It has also marked the office’s entrance into a new phase in its operations, symbolic and reflective of changes occurring in the worldwide Bahá’í community and in the greater community. Surprisingly, the Visitors’ Center closure did not appear to affect the majority of people visiting the House of Worship. On the contrary, the most prevalent question asked by visitors was, “How can we get to the Visitors’ Center?” Most did not seem aware before they came that the Visitors’ Center was closed. This may suggest that most visitors do not look at the House of Worship website before coming but are, instead, coming based on a past experience or through hearing about someone else’s experience—in other words, through word of mouth.

he new displays, it is expected, will provide people who have been to the Visitors’ Center many times with information about the Bahá’í Faith and the Temple that they never knew before.

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House of Worship Choir
The year 2008–09 has been unique for the Bahá’í House of Worship Choir, owing to the closing of the Temple’s Visitors’ Center. The choir’s Sunday morning rehearsals were relocated to the loft of the auditorium, where the choir is usually stationed as it sings on the first three Sundays of each month. These rehearsals— which are mainly held to prepare the choir for singing for the regular Sunday morning devotions at 12:30 p.m.—have attracted many visitors who sit down to listen and meditate while the quiet singing wafts down from above. Some visitors sit through the entire hour-long rehearsals. This is a new experience for the choir, which has been accustomed to rehearsing downstairs in the Visitors’ Center on Sunday mornings, with few or no visitors standing by. With the Visitors’ Center closed and little programming being held in the House of Worship that the choir would normally support, the choir has moved out into the community—on the average, singing at one program per month in the local community since September 2008. This outreach program has further drawn attention to the House of Worship and the Bahá’í Faith, as the public has learned that a choir exists that sings at the Temple three Sundays of each month. As a result, the choir has received more invitations this past year to sing at various venues in the larger community and has met many people in the Temple’s neighboring communities. The choir has developed a repertoire using instruments, which is combined with their a cappella repertoire in these performances for the larger community. Most memorable of these outside performances was the choir’s participation in a service at the North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois, where the minister’s sermon was about the Bahá’í Faith. The House of Worship Choir provided the main music and was joined by the church’s choir to sing two combined choir pieces. The church posted a video of the service on its website, and a member of the church posted on YouTube a video clip of the combined choirs singing under the direction of House of Worship Choir Director Van Gilmer. The House of Worship choir increased its membership this year and has experienced greater participation by its members by an average of four more singers. Since rehearsals in the main are held in the Choir Director’s home, no further impact was felt as a result of the closing of the House of Worship Visitors’ Center. The past two Choral Music Festivals at the House of Worship have gained support from a large and diverse number of singers throughout North America. A third annual festival is being planned for 2009 during Memorial Day weekend. The festivals have given singers an opportunity to sing in the holiest Bahá’í House of Worship in the world. It has also focused attention on the importance of using music and the arts to attract a community of interest to the Faith. Over the past two years, at least six persons are known to have declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh as a direct result of participating in or attending the Choral Music Festivals. Numerous other people from neighboring communities—who were among the approximately 1,000 individuals attending the culminating concert of the festivals each

he choir has moved out into the community—on the average, singing at one program per month in the local community since September 2008.

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year—have become friends of the Faith, with some now participating in core activities. For the first time ever, the choir hosted a Release and Signing Meeting at the Wilmette Public Library for the newly released CD Sacred Songs II Recorded Live at the Bahá’í House of Worship for the North American Continent. The choir’s participation as the only non-Unitarian Church choir in the church’s annual concert in Evanston, Illinois, has influenced an obvious change in the attire and repertoire of their fellow performers. The first year, the House of Worship choir was the only choir dressed in black and wearing shawls. This year all the choirs were dressed in black and one also wore shawls! The choice of music was also influenced and all the choirs showed more variety in their selection of songs. In all, during 2008–09, the choir has sung for nine services outside of the House of Worship. It has sung for approximately 30 regular devotional services in the House of Worship, five Holy Day observances, and one memorial devotional. During August, the choir is generally off for vacation. Support of special devotional services During the past year, the choir provided music for the following Holy Day commemorations and special memorial services at the House of Worship: • Declaration of the Báb • Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh • Martyrdom of the Báb • Birth of the Báb • Birth of Bahá’u’lláh • Memorial Service for Mrs. Charlayna (Cookie) Gilmer

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ver the past two years, at least six persons are known to have declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh as a direct result of participating in or attending the Choral Music Festivals.

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Reaching out to the community of interest During 2008–09, the choir performed at the following local community venues and events: • Interfaith Choral Festival, Jewish Constructionist Congregation, Evanston, Illinois (The House of Worship Choir was the only choir featured in the Interfaith Agency newsletter) • Second Annual Choral Music Festival at the Bahá’í House of Worship • 100th Bahá’í National Convention (four programs) • Family Focus of Evanston Gospel Fest, Evanston, Illinois • North Shore Unitarian Church, Deerfield, Illinois • Release and signing of new Choral Music Festival CD, Wilmette Public Library, Wilmette, Illinois • Family Focus West End Market Event, Evanston, Illinois • Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at St. Procopius Abbey, Lisle, Illinois • Winnetka Interfaith Council Thanksgiving Devotional Service at Winnetka Congregational Church, Winnetka, Illinois • Interfaith Sunday Service, “Paths Toward Peace,” Glenview Community Church, Glenview, Illinois In addition, the choir was the recipient, in March 2009, of an Imani Award from Family Focus of Evanston, Illinois. Activities of the Choir Director • Participated in One Human Family 10th Anniversary Celebration, Durham, North Carolina • Spoke at Winnetka Interfaith Council Presentation, New Trier High School, Winnetka, Illinois • Performed for the 2008 Bahá’í Social and Economic Development Conference, Orlando, Florida • Performed—with 43 singers, mostly from North America—at Diamond Jubilee Celebration of 75 Years of Bahá’í Faith in Ethiopia A new CD entitled Sacred Songs II Recorded Live at the Bahá’í House of Worship for the North American Continent was recorded during the Second Choral Music Festival.

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new CD entitled Sacred Songs II Recorded Live at the Bahá’í House of Worship for the North American Continent was recorded during the Second Choral Music Festival.

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Bahá’í Publishing Trust and Distribution Service
The Bahá’í Publishing Trust and Distribution Service set out on a new organizational path during 2008–09. In the months leading to Riḍván 2008, with the guidance and approval of the National Spiritual Assembly, the Publishing Trust and Distribution Service combined offices in Wilmette, hired and trained new staff, and outsourced warehousing and fulfillment services while preparing to meet the challenges and goals of the coming year. Entering this fiscal year, the organization faced the two central challenges of: 1. Balancing the editorial calendar for all imprints and better serving the objectives of the Five Year Plan. 2. Reducing the annual subvention to the Publishing Trust by $500,000. A total of 18 new works or new editions were issued by the Publishing Trust under its three imprints. The Bahá’í Publishing Trust (BPT) imprint released seven new titles: Bahá’í Wall Calendar, 166 B.E.; Bahá’í Datebook, 166 B.E.; Family Life: A Compilation; Unrestrained as the Wind: Releasing the Spirit of Youth (new expanded edition); Palabras Ocultas (The Hidden Words, Spanish edition); Pasajes de los Escritos de Bahá’u’lláh (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Spanish edition); and Oraciones Bahá’ís (Bahá’í Prayers, Spanish edition). The Bahá’í Publishing (BP) imprint released nine new titles: From a Gnat to an Eagle: The Story of Nathan Rutstein by Nathan Rutstein; Illumine My Heart: Bahá’í Prayers for Every Occasion, prepared by staff; Remembering 1969: Searching for the Eternal in Changing Times by Robert Atkinson; Waiting for the Sunrise: One Family’s Struggle against Genocide and Racism by Elizabeth Gatorano; Meditations: Selections from Bahá’í Scripture, prepared by staff; Adam’s Wish: The Unknown Poems of Ṭáhirih, by John S. Hatcher and Amrollah Hemmat; In the Glory of the Father: The Bahá’í Faith and Christianity, by Brian D. Lepard; The Pen of Glory: Selected Works of Bahá’u’lláh; and Illumine My Spirit: Bahá’í Prayers and Meditations for Women, prepared by staff. In addition, downloadable teacher’s guides were prepared to assist teachers wishing to use Waiting for the Sunrise and Remembering 1969 in the classroom. The Bellwood Press imprint for children, junior youth, and youth released two new titles: The First Gift, written by Judith A. Cobb and illustrated by Wendy CowperThomas; and How Riley Tamed the Invisible Monster, written by Dawn E. Garrott and illustrated by Luthando Mazibuko. Some 20 reprints were completed this year: six BPT titles, 12 BP titles, and three Bellwood Press titles. BPT titles that were reprinted include Communion with God (booklet); Huqúqu’lláh: The Right of God; The Kitáb-i-Aqdas (pocket-size edition); The Kitáb-i-Íqán (pocket-size edition); Prayers and Meditations (pocket-

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total of 18 new works or new editions were issued under the three imprints Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Bahá’í Publishing and Bellwood Press.

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size edition); and Some Answered Questions (pocket-size edition). BP titles that were reprinted include Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era; From a Gnat to an Eagle; God Speaks Again; Hidden Gifts (reprinted twice); Illumine My Heart; Meditations: Selections from Bahá’í Scripture; The Purpose of Physical Reality; Religion on the Healing Edge; The Secret of Divine Civilization; Waiting for the Sunrise; and A Way Out of the Trap. Bellwood Press titles that were reprinted include The First Gift; O God, Guide Me!; and Wave Watcher. At the direction of the National Assembly, the Publishing Trust designed and produced flip chart teaching aids of “Anna’s presentation” from Book 6 of the Ruhi curriculum in English and Spanish, along with a teacher training booklet. These were offered free of charge by the Assembly to clusters throughout the country to support intensive programs of growth and direct teaching efforts. The Publishing Trust has 28 new projects in development under the Bahá’í Publishing Trust and Bahá’í Publishing imprints and six new projects under the Bellwood Press imprint. Some 15 reprint projects are also under way. Acquisitions activities continue to focus on developing materials that support the goals of the Five Year Plan and particularly on materials that directly support the teaching work and the four core activities. Promising, appropriate manuscript proposals that are closely aligned with the goals are coming in for all imprints. The Bahá’í Distribution Service (BDS) continued to serve as the distribution arm of the Publishing Trust and as the primary distributor for Bahá’í World Center publications. BDS also provides the majority of product fulfillment to the national Bahá’í schools and provides subscriber services for Brilliant Star, World Order, One Country, U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel, and international subscriptions to The American Bahá’í. As of this writing, the Publishing Trust and Distribution Service expects to easily exceed the goal of reducing the annual subvention by $500,000. It is clear that the Publishing Trust and the Distribution Service will be challenged in the coming year by the dim economic outlook facing this country and the rest of the world. Controlling costs and improving efficiency in all areas will remain a principal focus. On the revenue side of the equation, this challenge will be met in large part by the reopening of the Bahá’í House of Worship bookshop and by providing a Bahá’í bookstore to at least one additional conference in 2009. The Publishing Trust also hopes to expand its market presence by introducing downloadable e-books and audio books in the coming year.

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cquisitions activities continue to focus on developing materials that support the goals of the Five Year Plan and particularly on materials that directly support the teaching work and the four core activities. Promising, appropriate manuscript proposals that are closely aligned with the goals are coming in for all imprints.

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Bahá’í Media Services
The mission of U.S. Bahá’í Media Services is to work in partnership with National Spiritual Assembly offices and agencies, with regional and local Bahá’í institutions, and with individual believers to create a more informed American Bahá’í community—one that is continually challenged and invigorated by a deep understanding and appreciation of the global plans of the Universal House of Justice for the growth and development of the Faith. To carry out its mission, Media Services produces and distributes multimedia products that express the ideals, relevance, momentum, vitality, and cultures of the American Bahá’í community. Having begun the year with a staff of seven, Media Services was among the many offices at the Bahá’í National Center that was required to cut back staff, and, since December, has continued to provide services with a staff of three. Bahá’í International Convention Media Services participated in the 2008 International Convention at the Bahá’í World Center in Haifa, Israel, serving as consultants and coordinators for various aspects of the convention, including: video production, lighting, technical support for language translation, and audio production. Regional conferences Media Services provided coordination and production support for video coverage of all six of the regional Bahá’í conferences held in the United States in December 2008. Among services provided were: • Editing of video for three of the conferences and coordination of Web postings. • Coordination of volunteer efforts to edit video for three conferences eventually to be posted in the online edition of The American Bahá’í. • Collaboration with Bahá’í World News Service to produce video segments of the conferences for Web posting. U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel During 2008–09, Media Services released three Newsreel DVDs, which contained a total of 10 stories covering a number of topics directly related to the work of the Five Year Plan, including direct teaching, consolidation, Local Spiritual Assembly and community development, children’s classes, junior youth, home visits, individual initiative, youth in action, and the Bahá’í Fund. Collaborations Throughout the past year, Media Services joined with sister offices and agencies at the Bahá’í National Center in a series of collaborative projects, including:

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edia Services provided coordination and production support for video coverage of all six of the regional Bahá’í conferences held in the United States in December 2008.

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edia Services has begun efforts to develop a cadre of independent Bahá’í producers that the National Spiritual Assembly can call on to meet the communications needs of a growing American Bahá’í community.

• For the Office of Communications: Technical and strategic resourcing, content provision for various websites, staff development efforts, and staffing resourcing. • For The American Bahá’í: Editorial and story resourcing, content provision for the journal’s online edition, and staff development efforts. • For the Conventions Office: Planning and execution of all audiovisual services connected with 2008 Bahá’í National Convention. In addition, Media Services worked in close partnership with the National Teaching Office and the Office of the Treasurer on content for the U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel and received continuous editorial guidance and support from the Office of the Secretary. Special Projects • Memorial video for the Hand of the Cause of God ‘Alí-Muḥammad Varqá— worked with the Office of Ḥuqúqu’lláh to modify this memorial video for use by the Trustees of Ḥuqúqu’lláh as an educational tool • Memorial video for Counselor Rebequa Murphy (currently in production) • Choral Music Festival at the Bahá’í House of Worship (video/audio production only) • U.S. Bahá’í National Convention—ongoing audiovisual support • U.S. Bahá’í National Convention—production editing and Web postings • U.S. Bahá’í National Convention delegates’ highlights—audio production • The Divine Plan—produced and edited motivational video designed for Bahá’í National Convention New initiatives Media Services has begun efforts to develop a cadre of independent Bahá’í producers that the National Spiritual Assembly can call on to meet the communications needs of a growing American Bahá’í community.

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The American Bahá’í
The year 2008–09 was the first of an audacious enterprise for The American Bahá’í: publication of its printed edition as a full-color news magazine six times per year, after 38 years in tabloid newspaper format. Introduced at the 100th Bahá’í National Convention in May 2008, the magazine continues to feature dignified presentations of guidance from the senior institutions of the Faith; reports of cluster-level achievements and learning by Bahá’ís across the country and beyond; news of the Bahá’í community’s response to persecutions in Iran and elsewhere; several pages of articles in Persian; and helpful items such as the calendar of events, classified notices, and the “In Memoriam” listing. New elements include a greater space in the center of the magazine for in-depth features, a page on the theme of Ḥuqúqu’lláh, a revamped section on the National Bahá’í Fund, and pages in Spanish. The front covers of each issue are especially intended to convey the rich diversity of the Bahá’í community in action. The magazine has covered such large-scale events as the six regional conferences held in the United States in December 2008 and last year’s Bahá’í National Convention with vivid images and in-person reports. Several issues have been organized around such themes as intensive growth activities, consolidation of communities, youth and junior youth, and living the Bahá’í life. This bold transition, taken at the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly, was accompanied by a new, “cleaner” redesign of The American Bahá’í online edition, which also gained its own Web

everal issues have been organized around such themes as intensive growth activities, consolidation of communities, youth and junior youth, and living the Bahá’í life.

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address (http://tab.usbnc.org). The online edition is home to numerous Web-only articles, more in-depth and feature-added versions of many magazine articles, fulllength obituaries, and the popular “Excellence in All Things” feature. Together the two editions represent a step forward in carrying out the central missions of The American Bahá’í: to disseminate guidance providing focus and direction for our activities, to inspire and encourage the national Bahá’í community to carry forward the Divine Plan, and to share news of how the friends are acting to further the Cause and to benefit their local communities.

ozens of readers have offered encouraging feedback since the magazine was launched, praising its readability, ease of use, and attractiveness. They have also sent suggestions for refinement, and staff of The American Bahá’í has implemented several of these.

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Dozens of readers have offered encouraging feedback since the magazine was launched, praising its readability, ease of use, and attractiveness. They have also sent suggestions for refinement, and staff of The American Bahá’í has implemented several of these. In the coming year, The American Bahá’í aims to collaborate with the U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel team and the Office of Communications to make more audio and video content available on the Web, both as standalone features and to complement written and photographic content. The staff cherishes its continued collaboration with agencies and institutions including the National Teaching Office, the Office of the Treasurer, the Office of International Pioneering, the Office of Education and Schools, the Persian-American Affairs Office, the Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Brilliant Star, the Board of Trustees of Ḥuqúqu’lláh, and the Bahá’í World News Service. The magazine is also grateful for the contributions of the highly skilled professionals who offer it expert consultation on visual design and Spanish translation services, as well as the dozens of writing and photography volunteers who made coverage of the December regional conferences possible.

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Brilliant Star
During 2008–09, Brilliant Star steadily progressed in its mission to achieve excellence in children’s publishing, pursue innovation and learning, and develop a global community of readers and contributors. The National Spiritual Assembly’s complimentary subscription program for registered children in the United States promotes the magazine’s increasing receipt of helpful comments and opinions. A parent recently wrote, “What an absolutely superb children’s magazine … the love and dedication, work and collaboration truly shows on each page. To anyone who opens that magazine, it is clear that great love, care and creativity is put into it.” An 11-year-old reader wrote, “I love the purpose of the magazine, to give a chance for kids to learn about the Bahá’í Faith in a fun manner, and to teach kids how to be a better person! We love you guys!” “I like every single page and I read them over and over again!” said another 11-year-old subscriber. One reader noted, “What I like best … is the beautiful artwork put into it. Every page is filled with … pictures to match the theme of the page and the overall theme of the magazine. A ton of pure thought is put into that.” Brilliant Star benefits from the insights of its young advisory group, the Trailblazers, with representatives from each continent. One 10-year-old Trailblazer reported, “I love reading about … [Bahá’í] biographies, because I learn about … how they grew up and the good work they did. … Lightning and Luna [the comic series]

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n 11-year-old reader wrote, “I love the purpose of the magazine, to give a chance for kids to learn about the Bahá’í Faith in a fun manner, and to teach kids how to be a better person! We love you guys!”

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are like my best friends and I love that they have superpowers to help the world and defeat the Erasers! The [comic] is fun to read in both pictures and words. … I like that each magazine has a theme (health, justice, … environment) … that I can understand and learn about through the whole magazine. … I like the quotation on the back. I read it over and over to learn it by heart.” With reader encouragement like this informing its work, Brilliant Star supports the Five Year Plan on many fronts. The magazine’s content inspires and educates Bahá’í children with stories, activities, and resources that are fun, engaging, informative, timely, and suited to multiple learning styles. Communities are assisted in their spiritual nurturing of children, and Bahá’í children around the world feel connected. Six issues of Brilliant Star were released during the year, with the following themes: “True Wealth” (May/June 2008), “Flow of Creativity” (July/August 2008), “A World Connected” (September/October 2008), “Seekers of the Light” (November/December 2008), “Noble Journey” (January/February 2009), and “Caring for Our Planet” (March/April 2009). One of the key goals of Brilliant Star is to provide children and their parents—as well as Bahá’í communities—with a highly effective tool for sharing the Bahá’í Faith. The magazine strives to develop content that is accessible to readers of all faiths and backgrounds. Focusing on progressive revelation and interfaith unity, the November/December 2008 issue served as a companion to the 2006 issue, “We Are One,” which received a DeRose-Hinkhouse “Best of Class” award from the Religion Communicators Council. Brilliant Star’s staff continues to refine the magazine’s editorial and visual approaches and to advance its high production values. Efforts in recent years have led to enhanced public awareness of the magazine and a constant stream of honors in publishing industry competitions. In 2008, Brilliant Star was awarded its second APEX “Award of Excellence” for graphic design, editorial content, and overall communication effectiveness and excellence. The magazine’s most outward-reaching initiative is Brilliant Star Online, currently under construction (at www.brilliantstarmagazine.org). As a result of the current Fund deficit, the website has been on hold, but staff is prepared to regain momentum. The interactive website will be an educational, entertaining, and visually engaging environment that complements and reinforces its print counterpart. It will feature resources for parents and teachers—carefully defined through collaboration with teachers, parents, and others with expertise or interest in child development. The website will also improve marketing and distribution of the magazine and will increase awareness of Brilliant Star’s value as a teaching tool. There is vast potential for widely expanding Brilliant Star’s application among Bahá’ís, as well as communities of interest around the world. An example of this potential is a recent subscription from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Arab Emirates, which sends Brilliant Star to all Bahá’í children in the country. Even with limited promotional activity in recent years, the magazine has reached subscribers in over 80 countries. Efforts continue to significantly improve the subscription fulfillment system, which includes online ordering, subscription renewals, and bulk ordering. The Brilliant Star staff is “conscious of the magnitude of the spiritual forces” at its disposition and deeply grateful for the opportunity to help children develop their spiritual perception, vitality of faith, and commitment to service. Continuously inspired by the children the magazine serves, the staff looks forward to supporting their endeavors as Bahá’í world citizens throughout the Five Year Plan and beyond.

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ne of the key goals of Brilliant Star is to provide children and their parents—as well as Bahá’í communities—with a highly effective tool for sharing the Bahá’í Faith.

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World Order
World Order publishes on “issues of broad social concern from a Bahá’í perspective,” thereby fulfilling its mandate from the National Spiritual Assembly. It continues to make significant contributions to a body of literature that supports the national teaching plan and external-affairs activities; fosters the development of spiritually distinctive communities; provides materials for individual and group deepening; develops and enhances the intellectual and cultural life of the community; and seeks to correlate, as Shoghi Effendi has encouraged Bahá’í scholars to do, the beliefs of the Bahá’í Faith “with the current thoughts and problems of the world” in the areas of religion, society, polity, and the arts. During the past year, World Order has published remarkably varied content on a number of issues central to the current Five Year Plan. Some examples are listed below, including the volume and issue number in which each example appeared: Community building, past and present: The effects of persecution, prejudice, and war • 38.3: Letters about the 1952 and 1954 trials of the Bahá’ís from Yazd, Iran, written by the lead attorney Kazem Kazemzadeh and translated and introduced by Firuz Kazemzadeh. Community building: What Bahá’ís are doing and what they can do • 38.1: A poem commemorating the 75th anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf. • 38.1: “The Bahá’ís as a Mystic Community: A Forum,” by Jack McLean and Moojan Momen, discussing Momen’s article in 37.4. • 38.2: An editorial on travel as an element opening human beings to immersing themselves in the vast spiritual ecosystem that is the human family. • 38.2: Excerpts from a journal kept by a Canadian artist about how his art also served as an entree to teaching the Faith in Salvador, Brazil. • 38.2: A creative nonfiction piece, based on a trip to Central America, containing reflections on travel and comments on poverty and sexuality. Community building through the arts • 38.1: An anthology of poems that help us to repair our damaged spirits.

uring the past year, World Order has published remarkably varied content on a number of issues central to the current Five Year Plan.

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• 38.2: An interview with Mark Bamford about his award-winning film Cape of Good Hope, which examines a variety of prejudices and the healing power of love. Solving humanity’s problems • 38.1: An editorial on consultation as the new vocabulary of communication that encourages us to look at our troubled world and at some of the qualities needed for bringing unity of thought and action to problems facing humankind.

he National Spiritual Assembly has asked World Order to cease publishing as a subscription print magazine and to effect a transition to a new, free online magazine that will be available on the Web.

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• 38.1: An interview with the holder of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace about the challenges and opportunities it faces as it moves into its second phase of development at the University of Maryland. • 38.3: An editorial on achieving a new level of universal consciousness, characterized by a new level of social maturity, that would facilitate governments, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals linking together in service to their suffering brothers and sisters. • 38.3: Four talks by Alain Locke redefining democracy, education, and world citizenship. Other highlights exTernal ouTreach. • The National Spiritual Assembly’s Office of External Affairs and U.S. UN Office: Distribute several hundred copies of each issue to contacts. • The National Spiritual Assembly’s Office of Communication: Regularly posts on its public e-newsletter stories on new issues of the magazine. • Local Spiritual Assemblies: Use World Order in their external-affairs activities. i mProving service
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subscribers.

• Consulted with the Bahá’í Distribution Service, Subscriber Service, Media Services, and Brilliant Star about streamlining and improving the quality of service provided by Subscriber Service. TransiTion To a new online m agazine. The National Spiritual Assembly has asked World Order to cease publishing as a subscription print magazine and to effect a transition to a new, free online magazine that will be available on the Web. The current Editorial Board has been dissolved and an interim task force has been appointed to think through the nature of a new Editorial Board and of the website needed for the new online magazine and to recommend editorial and marketing goals. The hope is to have the online magazine operational by November 2009.

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National Bahá'í Archives
In keeping with the Five Year Plan’s emphasis on being more open and involved with the larger society, the National Bahá'í Archives has long welcomed non-Bahá'í researchers. Two graduate students who are not Bahá'ís visited the Archives this year to conduct research for their dissertations. Partly to make information about the holdings of the Archives more widely available to the public, the Archives staff has begun working with the Bahá'í National Center’s Information Technology department on an Archives public website. Most archives and libraries now have websites, which allow the public to easily access information about their location, hours, and collections. Often the websites will also have available digital displays of archival or library material. An important function of the Archives is to assist other offices of the Bahá'í National Center. Of the 459 reference requests handled by the Archives staff during 2008–09, 255 came from National Center offices. About 60 percent of these requests were for biographical and historical information. Another 15 percent were for information on archival holdings, copies of documents, and the retrieval of files. National Center staff also checked out 147 books from the National Bahá'í Library and 76 photographs from the Archives Photograph Collection. The online catalog for the National Bahá'í Library was upgraded to a web-based program. This allows all National Center staff with access to the Internet to view the catalog. The Archives staff also assisted Bahá'í scholarship by answering 191 reference requests from individuals and assisting 15 researchers who visited the Archives in person. During the year, the Archives supplied a total of 10,209 photocopies of archival and library material, 349 digital copies of photographs, and 132 digital copies of documents or library material. Another responsibility of the Archives staff is to provide technical advice on questions of archival preservation and arrangement. The Archives answered 46 such questions from National Center offices, local communities, and individuals. The Archivist was lead faculty for the 2008 Wilmette Institute course “Introduction to Archives for Bahá'í Archivists,” which is given every other year. Taking the course were Bahá'ís working in four local Bahá'í archives (Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Peoria, Illinois; and Wichita, Kansas), four National Bahá'í Archives (Cyprus, El Salvador, Spain, and Samoa) and the Green Acre Bahá'í School archives. The Archives was also visited by the archivist of the National Bahá'í Archives of the Netherlands for a week-long training program. Due to continuing restoration work at the Bahá'í House of Worship, the Archives displays were closed to visitors for much of the year. Only 387 visitors toured the displays, down from the 882 of the previous year. One group that did view the displays was a local Ruhi Book 4 study circle.

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he Archives staff has begun working with the Bahá’í National Center’s Information Technology department on an Archives public website.

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uring 2008–09, the Archives staff processed 141 new accessions, including nine original letters from the Guardian, two works of art, one artifact, files from two former Counselors, and 50 boxes of Bahá’í National Center records. The Archives also received eight new collections of personal papers.

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The services provided by the Archives are made possible by the work of the Archives staff in acquiring, processing, and preserving archival and library material. The Archives continues to struggle with the acquisition of significant volumes of new material, which creates space problems. During 2008–09, the Archives staff processed 141 new accessions, totaling 134 linear feet, including nine original letters from the Guardian, two works of art, one artifact, files from two former Counselors, and 50 boxes of Bahá'í National Center records. The Archives also received eight new collections of personal papers and additional material for nine existing collections, including the Alice Dudley Papers, Sarah Farmer Papers, Jacqueline Left Hand Bull Papers, Barbara Bray West Papers, and Gayle Woolson Papers. Some 53 boxes of National Center files were processed, including records of the Office of the Secretary, National Teaching Committee, National Youth Committee/ Office, Office of International Pioneering, and Legal Affairs Office. The Archives also processed 21 collections of personal papers, including the Antoinette Edmonds Papers, Susan Engle Papers, Glenford Mitchell Papers, Ruth Moffett Papers, and Rexford and Sylvia Parmelee Papers. Among the material processed by the Archives staff was an artifact belonging to Amatu’l-Bahá Rúḥíyyih Khánum, one drawing by Mark Tobey, 431 photographs, 70 CDs, 13 DVDs, 181 audiotapes, six posters, and two architectural drawings. The Archives had 16 audiotapes digitized and transferred to CDs. The staff added 1,079 items to the National Bahá'í Library—including local bulletins from 47 communities in 27 states—and cataloged 2,019 periodicals.

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Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project
The Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project achieved a major milestone in early 2009 with its launching of a website featuring a gradually expanding selection of articles for the study of the Bahá’í Faith. The Universal House of Justice has recently underscored the importance of such study in the context of the Five Year Plan: The House of Justice is fully committed to fostering the development of Bahá’í scholarly activity in all parts of the Bahá’í world. Through their scholarly endeavours believers are able to enrich the intellectual life of the Bahá’í community, to explore new insights into the Bahá’í teachings and their relevance to the needs of society, and to attract the investigation of the Faith by thoughtful people from all backgrounds. Far from being a diversion from the worldwide effort to advance the process of entry by troops, Bahá’í scholarship can be a powerful reinforcement to that endeavour and a valuable source of new enquirers. —Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 24, 2008 The Encyclopedia Project was initiated in the mid-1980s in response to the growing need for a comprehensive and accurate reference work on the Bahá’í Faith. The vision for this reference work has evolved since then through a continual process of consultation, action, reflection, and adjustment. Conceptions of the final product have ranged from a one-volume dictionary with brief entries, to a wide-ranging, multivolume work, to an online (and constantly changing) multimedia publication. Developments in the world at large have radically altered the nature of reference works, further challenging the vision for a Bahá’í Encyclopedia as well as creating exciting new prospects for its development. Throughout this lengthy process, the National Spiritual Assembly has provided unfailing encouragement and financial sup-

he Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project achieved a major milestone in early 2009 with its launching of a website featuring a gradually expanding selection of articles for the study of the Bahá’í Faith.

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he Encyclopedia Project website will offer a groundbreaking selection of articles, though modest in number, that will become a point of reference for a variety of users, facilitating learning and discussion on a range of topics.

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port. In late 2008, however, cost considerations resulting from the world economic crisis led the National Assembly to seek ways to reorganize the Project in order to maintain momentum in its online publishing while reducing expenditures. The Encyclopedia Editorial Board was released from service, and the Encyclopedia Project’s two-person staff was immediately halved. After several months spent on preparations for launching the website, the coordinating editor’s tenure as a full-time staff member also ended. The Project is currently being restructured on the basis of volunteer service and earmarked contributions to support part-time editorial work (on articles already approved by the Editorial Board) and website maintenance and development, as resources permit. The Encyclopedia Project now holds a vast store of material, contributed by authors from around the world, in various stages of assessment and editorial progress. While work on the Encyclopedia as a whole will be limited by the currently available resources, the Encyclopedia Project website will offer a groundbreaking selection of articles, though modest in number, that will become a point of reference for a variety of users, facilitating learning and discussion on a range of topics: Bahá’í history, biography, laws, institutions, teachings, and literature. This pioneering effort, rather than being an end in itself, will serve as a stimulus to the expansion and refinement of Bahá’í studies in the 21st century. The members of the Encyclopedia Editorial Board, many of whom have served for all or much of the life of the Project, deserve special thanks. They are: Larry Bucknell, Betty J. Fisher, Firuz Kazemzadeh, Todd Lawson, Heshmat Moayyad, Gayle Morrison, Sholeh A. Quinn, Martha L. Schweitz, Robert H. Stockman, and Will C. van den Hoonaard. The Project’s administrative assistant for over ten years, Sharon Bakula, also merits gratitude for her hard work and steadfastness. The Encyclopedia Project welcomes inquiries, which may be sent to: encyclopedia@usbnc.org. Please visit the new website (www.bahai-encyclopedia-project.org).

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Office of Review
The review of literature, audiovisual materials, and music is carried out by the Office of Review, in collaboration with a Review Task Force appointed by the National Spiritual Assembly and with a small but growing network of reviewers around the country. Local Spiritual Assemblies are responsible for reviewing literature that is for local use only, as well as all “special materials” (such as artwork and graphic creations, greeting cards, jewelry, and T-shirts) produced by individuals in their jurisdiction, whether intended for local or national distribution. The purpose of review is to assist authors and artists in ensuring that what they publish and produce represents the Bahá’í Faith accurately and with dignity. A third criterion is timeliness—for example, whether there is anything about the publication of the work at this time that might increase the danger to which the Bahá’í community is exposed in sensitive locations. Anything that is published or disseminated only electronically via the Internet is not subject to review. Questions regarding use of the Web may be directed to the Office of Communications or to the Bahá’í Internet Agency. The Office of Review was restructured and reorganized in 2005, when it was separated from what was previously the Office of Research and Review. Developments since then have focused on instilling a consultative approach to review, creating accessible resources for education on review standards, and increasing efficiency in management and organization of the work. A learning process One of the aims of the office is to educate authors and artists new to the process about the standards and purposes of review, by fostering a spirit of collaboration among all involved. As the Universal House of Justice has written—in a letter dated December 10, 1992—Bahá’ís should look upon review “in this early stage in the development of the Faith [as] a species of peer review which they welcome, since it is primarily among their fellow Bahá’ís that they would find at this time those who would have sufficiently wide and deep understanding of the Faith and its Teachings to raise issues of importance which they would want to consider before publication.” In addition to consulting with authors and artists as the need arises, steps are being taken to gradually cultivate an expanding network of Bahá’ís who can review manuscripts and other materials. This open-ended network consists primarily of authors and artists who have themselves submitted materials for review, thus continually building our collective capacity as a community to uphold the review standards for accuracy and dignity across a wide diversity of fields. The Office of Review is continually learning, as it faces new questions and resolves them through consultation with authors, reviewers, and the Review Task Force. Tools for education Both the day-to-day work of the office and its educational functions have been

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ne of the aims of the office is to educate authors and artists new to the process about the standards and purposes of review, by fostering a spirit of collaboration among all involved.

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well served by the creation of an extensive compilation of the guidance on review. Increasingly this information is being made available on the national Administrative Website. The forthcoming edition of Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities will include a revised section on review, primarily for the guidance of Local Spiritual Assemblies reviewing special materials. Systems and statistics Nearly all submissions are now received in electronic form, be they Word documents or MP3 files, which has enhanced efficiency of the workflow and allowed for electronic filing and archiving. The system for monitoring the progress of cases is functioning well. Further advances at the Bahá’í National Center in content management systems will be of great assistance. During 2008–09, the Office of Review received approximately 180 submissions, up from a previous annual average of about 160. The wide variety of items reviewed includes books, articles, chapters, songs, deepening materials, DVDs, CDs, children’s materials, study guides, magazines, scripts, pamphlets, sheet music, and PowerPoint presentations. Some submissions are received from other agencies of the National Assembly. Authors and artists are generally asked to allow about 12 weeks for the review of a book, eight weeks for an article, and four weeks for a CD. Many reviews are completed more quickly than this, while a handful require an extended process of consultation. The office continues to work to shorten the average time required for review of all submissions. In the diversity, range, and depth of materials being created by Bahá’í authors and artists may be seen not only work that can contribute directly to the expansion, consolidation, and spiritual transformation of the Bahá’í community, but also early efforts to stimulate a new public discourse on issues of our day and to motivate new approaches to social action. It is a privilege to witness the devotion and creativity inspired by the message of Bahá’u’lláh, as expressed by the talented friends with whom the United States Bahá’í community is blessed.

n the diversity, range, and depth of materials being created by Bahá’í authors and artists may be seen not only work that can contribute directly to the expansion, consolidation, and spiritual transformation of the Bahá’í community, but also early efforts to stimulate a new public discourse on issues of our day and to motivate new approaches to social action.

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Conventions Office
The mandate for the Conventions Office, a part of the Secretariat, is to plan, coordinate, and direct the implementation of national and electoral unit conventions and to plan and coordinate any necessary boundary changes for electoral units. Boundary changes approved in 2007 have been implemented, and the Conventions Office continues to offer support to Assemblies affected by the changes. The changes altered to some degree the majority of the 161 electoral units throughout the 48 contiguous states of the United States, particularly South Carolina, a state with a large number of electoral units that historically experienced low participation in Bahá’í elections. Also completed within the first year of the current Five Year Plan was an extensive reorganization of electoral unit boundaries in California necessitated by the state’s decision to eliminate judicial district boundaries. With the assistance of the Membership and Records Office, the Conventions Office gave notification in writing to each community in the United States that was affected by these boundary changes. Each letter provided a brief explanation of the reason for the changes and included information on where individuals could search online to find the localities included in their redrawn electoral units. The Unit Convention website (http://unitconvention.usbnc.org) continues to be a helpful resource throughout the year for Local Assemblies and individuals needing information about the unit conventions in their area or to learn about the Bahá’í electoral process. Since 2002, when the National Spiritual Assembly took the decision to relieve the Regional Bahá’í Councils of responsibility for coordinating unit conventions, the Conventions Office has taken on the task of coordinating all 161 unit convention elections. Regional Bahá’í Councils now provide the Conventions Office with guidance and recommendations regarding Local Spiritual Assemblies that would be suitable choices to serve as unit convention hosts. In 2006, the National Assembly requested that a task force be coordinated by the Conventions Office to help to increase participation at unit conventions, held every October in all 161 electoral units. To this end, the task force implemented a number of exciting “firsts” including: creation of the first stand-alone Unit Convention website, where the friends can find valuable resources all year long pertaining to unit convention; production of three “viral videos,” 30-second to one-minute video shorts about the nature and purpose of the unit convention; and the publishing of a special brochure sent to all adult believers in the United States, encouraging them to attend unit convention, to invite their Bahá’í friends, and to partake in the sacred nature of the electoral process. Lastly, as a follow-up to the unit conventions held in October 2006, the National Assembly requested that a summary of recommendations and suggestions from unit conventions be

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lectoral unit boundary changes approved in 2007 have been implemented, and the Conventions Office continues to offer support to Assemblies affected by the changes.

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shared with the rest of the Bahá’í community. These summaries appeared in the March 2007 issue of The American Bahá’í and in the journal’s online edition. The office hopes to maintain this special focus on the sacredness of the Bahá’í electoral process every year prior to unit convention and to reinforce the message throughout the remainder of the year. In 2007, a secure online program for registration was made available to delegates to Bahá’í National Convention. This newly created program has the potential for many more uses, including the registration of agencies and committees. The Conventions Office continues to use the online registration form for delegates and, in conjunction with the Information Technology office, hopes to make improvements to it on a yearly basis. In the years ahead, the Conventions Office hopes to make more multimedia options available, enabling delegates and all participants to experience Bahá’í National Convention on a multitude of levels. By communicating with host Assemblies and delegates by email as often as possible, the Conventions Office strives every year—mindful of continuing challenges facing the National Bahá’í Fund—to conserve paper. As advances are made in keeping electronic communications secure, the office hopes to make further strides in minimizing the use of paper.

n the years ahead, the Conventions Office hopes to make more multimedia options available, enabling delegates and all participants to experience Bahá’í National Convention on a multitude of levels.

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Bahá’í Center Assistance
Bahá’í Center Assistance (BCA) was created to support the growth and development of the Faith by providing a systematic program of education, training, and technical assistance to communities whose goal is to lease, purchase, and maintain Bahá’í Center properties. BCA is a financially self-supporting agency of the National Spiritual Assembly. During 2008–09, BCA continued to emphasize the use of Centers to support the goals of the Five Year Plan and advance the process of entry by troops. It also carried on programs begun in previous years. The organization made available to communities three new types of loans for Bahá’í Center properties—specifically, loans for energy-related improvements, renovations, and construction shortfalls due to unforeseen conditions. It continues to offer loans for first center acquisitions—loans to help convince a bank to extend a first mortgage to the community. BCA also established a program to enable individuals to support Bahá’í Center loans and invest in the future of the national community. Individuals can now loan a minimum of $5,000 to support the work of BCA. With “101 Uses for Bahá’í Centers,” BCA published a statement describing a multitude of creative ways to use a Bahá’í Center. Tax, zoning, and insurance issues when receiving rents for the use of a Center were the subject of a similar statement, “Rental of a Bahá’í Facility.” BCA also made available—as samples of various approaches to issues concerning Bahá’í Center acquisition and use—a series of documents created and used by Bahá’í communities around the country. The documents include mandates for Center committees and describe operations policies, employment/contractor issues, endowment funds, and rental/use agreements. Improvements to the BCA website www.bahaicenterassistance.org during the year were the addition of “Frequently Answered Questions,” “101 Uses for Bahá’í Centers,” “Lessons Learned,” and a question box. The “Local Bahá’í Centers Technical Assistance Manual,” also available on the website, continued to be a popular source of information about the acquisition and operation of Centers. As of this writing, during 2008–09, BCA responded to inquiries from 26 communities and consulted in depth with more than seven of them. BCA also toured seven Bahá’í Centers to increase its understanding of opportunities and challenges communities have encountered in acquiring and operating a Center. More information is available on BCA’s website (www.bahaicenterassistance.org). BCA can also be contacted via email (info@bahaicenterassistance.org), telephone (847-425-7940), fax (847-425-7941), or surface mail: Bahá’í Center Assistance, 1233 Central St., Evanston IL 60201-1611.

CA made available to communities three new types of loans for Bahá’í Center properties—specifically, loans for energy-related improvements, renovations, and construction shortfalls due to unforeseen conditions.

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his year, 10 new items in Braille were added—equaling more than 4,500 pages—as were 13 new titles on cassette tape. The Service also continued to increase its collection of Large Print titles, which now includes all but one of the books in the curriculum of the Ruhi Institute.

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Bahá’í Service for the Blind
The Bahá’í Service for the Blind continued during 2008–09 to pursue its mission to provide the literature of the Faith in various media to those who are unable to use normal print due to a disability. The three media currently available are Braille, cassette tape recordings, and Large Print. The Service makes a lending library of these materials available to Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís alike. The Service also ensures that The American Bahá’í is regularly available on cassette tape, free of charge. Through the efforts of the Service’s all-volunteer staff, the number of titles available in the three media has been steadily increasing. This year, 10 new items in Braille were added—equaling more than 4,500 pages—as were 13 new titles on cassette tape. The Service also continued to increase its collection of Large Print titles, which now includes all but one of the books in the curriculum of the Ruhi Institute. Ruhi Book 7 will soon be added to complete the collection. Demand for the Service’s materials remained steady. During 2008–09, 119 books were sold: 35 in Braille, 70 on tape, and 14 in Large Print. An average of 40 people receive The American Bahá’í on cassette tape. The Service’s website (www. BahaiServiceForTheBlind.org) provides information about its work and an up-todate listing of all its materials.

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Human Resources
The Office of Human Resources (HR) continued during the past year to welcome to its offices many new applicants for service at the Bahá’í National Center. Telephone and email contact with applicants seeking employment at the three permanent Bahá’í schools and at satellite offices of the National Center in New York City and in Washington, D.C. also continued to be a part of the services HR offers. The Director of Human Resources further provides recruiting assistance to the Bahá’í World Center’s Personnel Office. During 2008–09, 283 applications were received, and of that number, 41 new staff members were hired. The Regional Bahá’í Councils added another 55 to their respective staffs, bringing to a total of 96 the number of new hires that were added to all offices and agencies serving the National Spiritual Assembly. The Bahá’í National Center was pleased during the year to participate in the Mayor of Evanston’s Summer Youth Program. During summer 2008, two high school interns served in the National Teaching Office and were able to gain some practical experience while offering their skills to a dynamic nonprofit organization in their hometown! Similarly, a number of college students from across the country traveled to Evanston to serve as interns, making a valuable contribution to the National Center’s work and adding to its productivity. Human Resources staff made a recruiting trip to the annual Green Lake Bahá’í Conference and was provided an opportunity to host a seminar as well as to talk to individuals about the current and future needs of both the Bahá’í World Center and the National Center. Further recruiting trips were made to Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Recruiting efforts included the posting of both paid and volunteer positions in the online and print editions of The American Bahá’í and in special flyers that were periodically designed and sent to communities throughout the United States. In April 2008, the HR Benefits Administrator and the Treasurer’s Office Payroll Specialist assumed management of the payroll and benefits plans for the Regional Bahá’í Councils. The National Assembly invited representatives from the Councils, the Treasurer’s Office, and the Office of Human Resources to meet with it to ensure as smooth a transition as possible to the new platform. In addition, two meetings with the National Center’s carrier for retirement benefits were held to answer any questions staff might have regarding their benefits and to share information regarding new developments in the retirement industry. In October, the National Center’s Internet-based payroll system was upgraded, providing opportunities to enhance the management of payroll data for all employees. The Bahá’í National Center’s Reception Desk and Switchboard comes under the supervision of the Office of Human Resources. The building’s reception area was recently refurbished to make it more aesthetically pleasing to visitors and staff

uring summer 2008, two high school interns served in the National Teaching Office. Similarly, a number of college students from across the country traveled to Evanston to serve as interns, making a valuable contribution to the National Center’s work and adding to its productivity.

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alike. Throughout 2008–09, hosting of visitors and tour groups in the National Center building has been a pleasant result of the closing of the Visitors’ Center at the Bahá’í House of Worship during extensive reconstruction on Temple grounds. The Bahá’í National Center Mailroom welcomed a new supervisor and a new staff member this year. With an outstanding staff of three and one regular volunteer, the Mailroom handles an enormous amount of work, sending and receiving tens of thousands of pieces of mail each month. When a project involves more volume and complexity or requires more speed than the Mailroom can itself provide, a request for assistance is made throughout the Bahá’í National Center and many staff members put their own work aside for a time to ensure that the project is completed efficiently and in timely fashion. The work is done with a generous and cooperative spirit that continually inspires this office’s deepest gratitude.

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ith an outstanding staff of three and one regular volunteer, the Mailroom handles an enormous amount of work, sending and receiving tens of thousands of pieces of mail each month.

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Information Technology
Information Technology (IT) provides email, file, and print services, local and long distance telephone services, helpdesk support, enterprise applications, and reporting services to the offices and agencies of the National Spiritual Assembly. Helpdesk support related to the eMembership application is provided to Local Spiritual Assemblies and registered Bahá’í groups, and helpdesk support related to the Statistical Report Program (SRP) is also provided to cluster statistics officers. The Membership and Records Office maintains the national membership database, processing enrollments, international transfers, address changes, and local Assembly formations and elections. While IT does not perform tasks directly related to the goals of the Five Year Plan, enterprise applications such as UnityWeb, RTI Tracker, SRP, and eMembership provide timely information to assist those serving at the national, regional, cluster, or community level in their efforts to achieve the goals of the Five Year Plan. During 2008–09, 89 percent of local Assemblies and 22 percent of registered groups used eMembership to maintain their community membership information, and, for the first time, the number of enrollments processed by local Assemblies using eMembership surpassed that of the Membership Office (56 percent to 44 percent). At Riḍván 2008, 64 percent of Assemblies reported their elections using eMembership rather than mailing or faxing forms to the Membership Office. While enrollments have virtually doubled this year, the increased use of eMembership has resulted in the gathering of more accurate and timely information and has avoided unwanted delays or the need to add additional staff in the Membership Office. In response to the Universal House of Justice’s call for six regional conferences to be held in the United States in December 2008, online regional conference registration was launched in early November. The user-friendly form for the friends to register online for their specific conference provided crucial attendance projections for each site necessary to the planning efforts of the National Spiritual Assembly and Regional Bahá’í Councils. The address list for The American Bahá’í was streamlined during the year, reducing the number of copies printed and mailed by approximately 9,500 and saving about $6,000 in printing and postage for every issue. The LSAi system email accounts provided some years ago to every Local Spiritual Assembly and registered group were discontinued in 2008 due to low usage and increased cost. Instead, Assemblies and groups were asked to establish official email accounts for their communities with one of the many “free” email providers. To date, 88 percent of all local Assemblies and 46 percent of all registered groups are receiving email correspondence from the National Spiritual Assembly and other national offices. Email is now the predominant form of communication, further reducing printing and postage expenses while enabling local communities to receive more information with greater speed and efficiency.

uring 2008–09, 89 percent of local Assemblies and 22 percent of registered groups used eMembership to maintain their community membership information, and, for the first time, the number of enrollments processed by local Assemblies using eMembership surpassed that of the Membership Office (56 percent to 44 percent).

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An Internet-based Event Registration service now provides integrated and secure online registration and payment processing for sessions at Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen Bahá’í Schools. The Wilmette Institute and seasonal schools will be added in the coming months. My Page Personal Online Services, which provides “self-service” options to individual Bahá’ís from the national Administrative Website, was launched in early January 2009. The initial offering, My Personal Information, allows individuals to update their contact information. Additional services coming in 2009 include online contributions and online orders for marriage certificates, birth certificates, and replacement Bahá’í ID cards. By Riḍván 2009, new believers will be able to declare their belief in Bahá’u’lláh and register online to become a Bahá’í from the national public website. IT has worked closely with the National Teaching Office and regional Seeker Response Specialists in the development of a new online registration system to provide an Internet-based portal of entry into the Faith. Determining the correct Bahá’í locality for new believers has always been a challenge, but is made easier with the automated use of nine-digit zip codes and geocodes from the U.S. Postal Service. Efforts to correct existing Bahá’í locality assignments are under way. Affected local Assemblies and registered groups are notified by email as these membership changes occur. Other projects completed during 2008–09 include: • Launching, in April, of the Encyclopedia Project website with 18 comprehensive articles. • Beginning development of a new public National Bahá’í Archives website now that new software to catalog the extensive book inventory in the National Archives has been implemented. • Continuation of work assisting the Office of International Pioneering to track the Bahá’í pioneers serving around the world. • Computerization of a long-standing manual process using index cards to record, in Persian, names and other information of the friends leaving Iran. • Virtual completion (99.7 percent complete) of a two-year effort to map the boundaries of more than 31,000 Bahá’í localities in the U.S. Pending availability of funds, goals for the coming year include: • Providing boundary maps for electoral units, clusters, and localities on the Administrative Website. • Redesigning the Administrative Website. • Providing “single sign-on” capability for all My Page applications. • Providing electronic document management to the offices of the Bahá’í National Center. • Capturing and electronically maintaining youth and volunteer service activities. • Evaluating the Bahá’í National Center’s compliance with the current payment card industry (PCI) data security standards.

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y Page Personal Online Services, which provides “selfservice” options to individual Bahá’ís from the national Administrative Website, was launched in early January 2009. The initial offering, My Personal Information, allows individuals to update their contact information.

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Meetings and Hospitality
The Meetings and Hospitality Office provides on-site and off-site meeting planning services for the National Spiritual Assembly and its offices and agencies, attending to meals and the provision of hospitality for all regular and special meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly, special programs at the Bahá’í House of Worship, meetings at the Bahá’í National Center with members of the Continental Board of Counselors, Auxiliary Board members, the Regional Bahá’í Councils, and other special guests, including those participating in special visitors’ programs. The office also assists with arrangements for Bahá’í National Convention. In all these efforts, the office strives to provide high quality, loving, and caring support while managing in an efficient and cost effective manner to protect the interests of the National Fund.

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Public Safety
The Department of Public Safety provides safety and security services to the National Spiritual Assembly, the staff of the Bahá’í National Center, and Bahá’í and non-Bahá’í guests who visit National Center facilities throughout the year. These services are provided by nine public safety officers who patrol on foot and by vehicle, and through physical and electronic security systems. In addition, Public Safety provides transport and courier services for the National Spiritual Assembly and for the offices and agencies of the Bahá’í National Center. During 2008–09, construction at the Bahá’í House of Worship presented Public Safety with a new set of challenges. Heavy equipment traffic, deliveries to work sites, and interruptions in the normal operation of the parking lot required officers to spend much time directing traffic and controlling entrance to the House of Worship’s grounds. As they make their rounds, officers also provide a wide variety of services to the many thousands of visitors to the House of Worship, talking with them, directing them to the appropriate entrance, and sharing information with them about the Temple, its gardens, and its grounds.

t the Bahá’í House of Worship, heavy equipment traffic, deliveries to work sites, and interruptions in the normal operation of the parking lot required officers to spend much time directing traffic and controlling entrance to the House of Worship’s grounds.

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Properties Office
Bahá’í National Center facilities The Properties Office is responsible for oversight of all Bahá’í National Center facilities in Evanston and WIlmette, Illinois, including routine and special maintenance, repairs and alterations, custodial services, grounds and gardening, purchasing and budgeting for facilities, remodeling and new construction. The following are highlights of services the office provided during 2008–09. bahá’í house of worshiP. The Properties Office has taken advantage of the temporary closing of the Visitors’ Center to refresh all paint and carpeting and to make necessary repairs. Work was completed this year on the Temple’s new heating and air conditioning system. Caulking, sealing, and painting of windows on the Temple’s upper levels was also completed. The Properties Office is also responsible for the Temple Concrete Studio in Wheeling, Illinois, which supports work on the Kingdom Project. The Concrete Studio painstakingly molds the necessary ornamental concrete replacements for the House of Worship Restoration Project and the new Visitors’ Center. Hundreds of pieces of ornamental concrete were cast during 2008–09. sPecial P rojecT. A large model of the Bahá’í House of Worship as originally designed by Architect Louis Bourgeois has long been located in the Temple’s lower level. The model had deteriorated over the years and needed extensive repairs. These repairs were completed during 2008–09 by the Properties Office’s master carpenter Eric Nelson, and the model is now on display. Ḥ aẓ íraTu’l-QuDs. Sealing and caulking of the Ḥaẓíra’s exterior was completed and work toward stabilization of the roof parapet was started. New balustrades were purchased and will be installed during the summer of 2009. bahá’í naTional cenTer builDing. The parking area at the Bahá’í National Center was resurfaced and the building’s reception area, which had remained unchanged since 1963, was remodeled. National properties In addition to the facilities located at the Bahá’í National Center, the Properties Office provides oversight, assistance, and contract management for maintenance, repair, and capital improvements for the three permanent Bahá’í schools, training institutes, and historic properties managed by the National Spiritual Assembly. All this work is coordinated with the administrators and facilities coordinators at the individual properties. Accomplishments during 2008–09 included the following. bosch bahá’í school, sanTa cruz, c alifornia. All cabin decks, porches, and stairs at Bosch were completely rebuilt. New cabin furniture (beds, dressers, window coverings, bedspreads) was purchased. New stainless steel kitchen tables, sinks,

Properties
123 ...Properties 126 ...Bahá’í House of Worship Restoration

he Properties Office has taken advantage of the temporary closing of the Bahá’í House of Worship Visitors’ Center to refresh all paint and carpeting and to make necessary repairs. Work was completed this year on the Temple’s new heating and air conditioning system.

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and a stove were purchased and several new tankless water heaters were installed. The Staff Lounge was refurbished and the Lodge fireplace was repaired with a new stainless chimney liner and is now usable. Some new carpeting and vinyl floors were installed, and significant tree and brush trimming was completed to reduce fire danger. green acre bahá’í school, elioT, m aine. Remodeling of the school’s main kitchen was completed. A new roof was installed on Ole Bull Cottage. The Schopflocher Residence housing for Youth Service Corps volunteers and the Facilities Coordinator’s apartment were remodeled. A new roof was installed on Lucas Cottage, as was new carpeting in the Sarah Farmer Inn Music Room. Thanks to earmarked contributions, construction is well under way for a new four-apartment staff housing building. Construction on a new guest housing building has also begun, and plans to rebuild the three cottages near Sarah Farmer Inn are completed. Construction, it is hoped, will begin during the next fiscal year. louhelen bahá’í school, Davison, m ichigan. The third phase of replacing Louhelen’s exterior cedar siding was completed. New fire alarm wiring was installed in the dormitory building. Electrical upgrades to lighting in the classroom building were completed, and new heaters were installed in the gym. Bath counters and sinks in dormitory rooms for the disabled were replaced. A new roof was installed on the maintenance barn, and a new garden tractor with snow brush was purchased. naTive a merican bahá’í i nsTiTuTe (nabi), houck, a rizona. A major renovation of NABI’s dorm building was completed, including installation of new bunk beds, dressers, and other furnishings. New deck/porches were installed on mobile homes serving as staff housing. For safety, new concrete walkways were installed, as were emergency generators. louis g. gregorY bahá’í i nsTiTuTe, h emingwaY, souTh c arolina. The Facilities Coordinator at Louis Gregory Institute keeps all the buildings and vehicles clean and properly maintained. Dorm building siding was replaced during the year and painted. The cottage was remodeled, including installation of new kitchen cabinets and stove. New vinyl floors and carpeting were also installed, and interior walls and trim received fresh paint. New insulated windows replaced old. wlgi r aDio, hemingwaY, souTh carolina. The transmitter tower was repainted with FCC mandated materials. wilhelm P roPerTies, Teaneck, new jerseY. The caretaker tirelessly attends to the tasks of keeping the three buildings clean, neatly mowing lawns and trimming shrubbery, maintaining annual flowers, shoveling snow, and keeping heating systems in proper order.

he Properties Office provides oversight, assistance, and contract management for maintenance, repair, and capital improvements for the three permanent Bahá’í schools, training institutes, and historic properties managed by the National Spiritual Assembly.

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Wilson House, Malden, Massachusetts

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wilson house, m alDen, m assachuseTTs. A major renovation requiring two years’ work was completed on the home’s entire exterior and interior, including new hardwood floors, new insulated windows, window coverings, a rear yard fence and a retaining wall. Caretakers are now in place to greet the occasional Bahá’í visitor and to ensure a continued superb quality of maintenance. Dublin i nn, Dublin, new h amPshire. The caretaker carries out the regular cleaning and other maintenance of this large inn with professional attentiveness and care. The sweeping grounds are landscaped with great expertise, and, in winter, formidable accumulations of snow are cleaned from the driveways, walkways, and porches. Interior painting and plaster repairs necessitated by water damage were completed. The meeting and dining room walls were repaired and painted. A new snow blower was purchased and a new equipment enclosure was erected. New lock hardware was installed on all exterior doors. The Properties Office is also researching and gradually implementing measures to make all facilities as ecologically sustainable as feasible. Some of these efforts include caulking, sealing, or replacing windows, replacing old HVAC systems with newer, low-energy systems, reducing building temperatures in the winter and raising them in the summer, implementing an extensive recycling program, reducing paper use through various conservation methods, reducing the amount of salt and ice melt by 50 percent and significantly reducing the amount of chemicals used in facilities’ gardens—replacing them with more environmentally friendly products.

he Properties Office is also researching and gradually implementing measures to make all facilities as ecologically sustainable as feasible.

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Bahá’í House of Worship Restoration
The Bahá’í House of Worship Restoration Office met two objectives during 2008– 09. The first objective was to complete the restoration of the terrace and stairs at the garden entrance to the Temple opening off Linden Avenue. The second objective was to complete preparations for construction of the new Visitors’ Center.

he Linden Avenue entrance pool has an additional feature through which water will gently cascade over a sculpted spillway urn into a lower pool.

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Immediately following the 2008 Bahá’í National Convention, the old Visitors’ Center was closed so that the exit from the lower level, the terrace, and monumental stairs at the main entry could be rebuilt. The auditorium of the House of Worship remained open. Visitors used the grand entrance at Sheridan Road instead of the more familiar entrance at Linden Avenue. During demolition of the old terrace, two abandoned heating oil tanks were discovered in reinforced concrete vaults below the terrace’s foundations. Both these sizeable tanks—which were nine feet in diameter by 22 feet in length—were still filled with old heating oil. One tank had been leaking for decades and had spread oil into the surrounding soil below one of the gardens. The oil and contaminated

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soil were taken to a hazardous waste disposal site. Clean soil was hauled back to the Temple to fill in the hole below the garden. To remove the abandoned fuel tanks and contaminated soil, it was necessary to relocate the large gas and water pipes between Linden Avenue and the Temple. The 90-year-old sewer pipe from the Temple to Linden Avenue was also rebuilt. The main electrical-service cable and ducts were uncovered and examined; they remain in very good condition and spare ducts exist for future needs. The beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, approved a plan for the Temple gardens that included reflecting pools, but the Bahá’í community of that era could not afford to build them. Now, as one facet of the Kingdom Project, the Bahá’í community of our time is completing Shoghi Effendi’s vision by building the reflecting pools. One is along the new entrance from Linden Avenue. The pool’s pebblecolored coping stones and glass mosaic tiles are the same as those used for the reflecting pool in the Sheridan Road approach through the gardens. The Linden Avenue entrance pool has an additional feature through which water will gently cascade over a sculpted spillway urn into a lower pool. To meet the National Spiritual Assembly’s goal of opening the Linden Avenue approach in time for the 2009 Bahá’í National Convention, construction continued during winter under heated tents. In one of the coldest and snowiest Decembers in Chicago’s history, craftsmen completed the structural concrete, tile, plumbing, electrical, fountain feature, and ornamental precast concrete. Another enhancement at the Linden Avenue garden entrance is a new set of steps leading up from the Linden Avenue sidewalk. The new stairway has graceful curving steps, a landscaped planter, and a welcoming ornamental wall. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, the spillway of the new reflecting pool comes into view. The Restoration Office’s second objective during 2008–09 was to prepare for the start of construction on the new Visitors’ Center building. This required zoning variations and special use approval from the Village of Wilmette, construction plans and specifications, building permits, utility agencies’ review, preparation of the site itself, and selection of key contractors. In May 2008, the plans for the Visitors’ Center were presented at a public hearing with the Village of Wilmette Zoning Board of Appeals. The new Visitors’ Center required a special use approval and 17 zoning variations. The Zoning Board unanimously approved all the variations and recommended that the Wilmette Village Board approve the plans. Three weeks later, the Wilmette Village Board of Trustees unanimously approved the project. A team of consultants has prepared more than 120 construction drawings for the new Visitors’ Center building and site. Numerous review meetings have been held with the Wilmette building department, Fire Department, and utility agencies. The site of the new Visitors’ Center has been prepared; utilities have been removed from the two existing buildings adjacent to the Temple parking lot, and they have been emptied. The Restoration Office also worked with the Village of Wilmette to coordinate the completion of improvements to Sheridan Road along the Temple site. The Village built a new sidewalk, retaining wall, and landscaping along the perimeter of the House of Worship gardens using materials that coordinate with the new terraces and gardens. As this report is being written, the Restoration Office is meeting with pre-qualified contractors for the new Visitors’ Center and is preparing estimates and making bids for consideration by the National Spiritual Assembly.

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team of consultants has prepared more than 120 construction drawings for the new Visitors’ Center building and site. Numerous review meetings have been held with the Village of Wilmette building department, Fire Department, and utility agencies.

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Association for Bahá’í Studies—North America
The Association for Bahá’í Studies—North America (ABS) is a membership organization serving Alaska, Canada, and the United States. Its Executive Committee is appointed by and operates under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada. Two full-time employees staff its office in Ottawa, Ontario. The Association currently has 1,897 individual members and 63 institutional members worldwide. There are 18 affiliates in other areas functioning under the jurisdiction of their respective National Assemblies. The mission of the Association for Bahá'í Studies is “to stimulate scholarly study of the Faith and its teachings, to promote a sound understanding of the Cause in academic circles and to demonstrate its relevance to the study of social issues,” as well as “to stimulate an appetite for learning within the Bahá'í community generally.”1 Aspects of this mission are pursued within the context of the global plans of the Universal House of Justice for the expansion and development of the Bahá'í community. In advancing its mission, the Association is currently focusing on the following developmental initiatives: • Developing Bahá’í scholarship among students and young adults. • Developing university courses across disciplines on diverse aspects of the Bahá’í Faith. • Developing opportunities for the exchange, publication, and circulation of diverse forms of Bahá’í scholarship. • Developing The Journal of Bahá’í Studies into an outstanding forum for Bahá’í scholarship so that it is acceptable in academic circles and accessible to wider audiences. • Developing extension activities that stimulate Bahá’í scholarship through grassroots initiatives by Area Committees and Special Interest Groups, through the utilization of Bahá’í schools, and through other decentralized approaches throughout the year. • Developing an “outward-looking” orientation that engages diverse leaders of thought through symposia, seminars, and other opportunities for dialogue and collaboration. • Developing the annual conference so that it serves the broad mission of the Association and advances the Association’s other major initiatives. Highlights of ABS’s development during 2008–09 include: Launch of new ABS website The Association launched a new website this past year with the aim of making the

Affiliated Organizations
129 ...Association for Bahá’í Studies—North America 132 ...Association of Friends of Persian Culture 134 ...Bahá’í Association for Mental Health 136 ...Bahá’í International Radio Service 138 ...Health for Humanity

he mission of the Association for Bahá’í Studies is “to stimulate scholarly study of the Faith and its teachings, to promote a sound understanding of the Cause in academic circles and to demonstrate its relevance to the study of social issues,” as well as “to stimulate an appetite for learning within the Bahá’í community generally.”

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1. Universal House of Justice, in a letter to an individual, February 22, 2005.

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site more attractive and user friendly. The new features will allow users to search for items and connect better with the aims and work of the ABS. Faculty/graduate student program A daylong special development program for university faculty (including prospective faculty and advanced graduate students who are interested in academic careers) was held on the first day of the ABS Conference in San Diego. Topics included publishing opportunities and strategies, the development of university courses that incorporate Bahá’í content, the mentoring of youth and young adults, influencing discourse and practice in academic fields, support for the Bahá’ís in Iran who are denied access to higher education, the role of scholarship in the context of the global plans of the Faith, and related issues. Endowment fund prizes for distinguished scholarship An endowment fund was established in 2007 by anonymous donors. The purpose of the endowment is to recognize contributions to Bahá’í scholarship and encourage further efforts through awarding prizes in various categories. Two prizes were presented this year: to Sovaida Ma’ani-Ewing for distinguished scholarship in the Book category and to Ariana Salvo for distinguished scholarship in the Graduate Thesis category. Online bibliographic reference database The Executive Committee is studying a proposal to create a comprehensive, searchable, online bibliographic reference database to provide a powerful research tool

he 32nd Annual Conference in San Diego, California had the largest representation from countries outside of North America with about 1,400 attendees from 25 countries.

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for Bahá’í and non-Bahá’í researchers around the world who are interested in conducting literature reviews of primary and secondary literature related to the Faith dating back to 1844. This database will be housed within the ABS website—an arrangement that will increase the availability of the database as a research tool. Working with students and young adults College Students and Young Adults Workshops were offered at Louhelen and Bosch Bahá’í Schools using the Scholarship, Service & Social Action in the Context of the Divine Plan workbook developed by the Association for Bahá’í Studies. A successful Campus Association conference was held at McGill University April 5–6, 2008, at which students and young adults took part in participatory workshops to reflect on the relationship between scholarship, service, and, ultimately, social action, using the denial of education to Bahá’ís in Iran as a test case. The Journal of Bahá’í Studies The Association published one issue of The Journal of Bahá’í Studies (Volume 17, Number 1/4, March–December 2007). Articles from back issues of the Journal are being converted into electronic form, proofread, and posted on the Association’s website. ABS Annual Conference The 32nd Annual Conference was held over Labor Day weekend, August 29–September 1, 2008, in San Diego, California on the theme “Religion and Social Cohesion.” The conference had the largest representation from countries outside of North America with about 1,400 attendees from 25 countries. Mr. Paul Lample’s talk on “Learning and the Unfoldment of the Bahá’í Community” set the tone for the conference and supplied many rich insights that informed discussion and inquiry throughout the weekend. His talk can be downloaded from the ABS website. The 26th Hasan M. Balyuzi Memorial Lecture was given this year by Mr. Hushmand Fatheazam, who offered “Some Observations on the Scope and Value of Bahá'í Scholarship.” The 2009 ABS Annual Conference will be held August 13–16 in Washington, D.C. on the theme of “Environments.” Further information is posted on the Association’s website.

he Executive Committee is studying a proposal to create a comprehensive, searchable, online bibliographic reference database to provide a powerful research tool for Bahá’í and nonBahá’í researchers around the world.

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or the first time in the history of the Association’s annual conferences, a live voice report of the proceedings was broadcast on a U.S. Persian television station. In addition, a detailed report of the conference was printed, in six parts, in a Persian newspaper in Canada.

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Association of Friends of Persian Culture
Background In 1991, the Persian-American Affairs Office received permission from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States to establish an organization devoted to the promotion of Persian arts and culture. Later, the name of the organization was changed to the Association of Friends of Persian Culture. This Association is a nonprofit organization operating under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly. Objectives The main objectives of the Association are to: • Assist people of Iranian descent to remain in contact with and to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, artistic, and literary heritage of Iran. • Encourage children, youth, and young adults of Iranian descent living abroad to familiarize themselves with and to gain a deeper appreciation of Persian arts, literature, and culture. • Help English-speaking relatives and friends of Iranians—as well as the general public—gain an appreciation of Persian culture. • Promote systematic and comprehensive study of Persian arts and culture. Activities during 2008–09 a nnual conference. The Association organized and conducted its 18th Annual Conference on Labor Day weekend 2008, in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois. At the opening session, a message from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States conveyed the enthusiastic support of the Assembly for these conferences. Throughout the conference, different aspects of Persian culture (particularly as they relate to the Bahá’í Faith) were discussed, artistic programs were presented, exhibitions of the work of Persian artists were organized, and participants were informed of the results and conclusions of recent studies about Persian culture. The conference was attended by many individuals (1,789 adults, 239 college students, 54 youths, and 135 children and junior youths), the majority of whom were of Persian origin. Although most attendees were from North America, many from across Europe, Australia, Asia, and South America were also in attendance. The Association’s Board of Directors was assisted in conducting the conference by Task Forces for Arts, Children, Junior Youth, and Youth programs. The conference included sessions in Persian with simultaneous translation enjoyed by the Englishspeaking attendees via headphones. Sessions were also held for youth and junior youth and classes for children ages 3–5, 6–8, and 9–10. Workshops on poetry recitation and family issues related to pre-youth were offered.

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Special features of the conference included the inauguration of Young Professionals Networking Sessions, presentations by youth at the main sessions, and recognition of the contributions of Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, the author of Encyclopedia Iranica, to greater appreciation of Persian culture. Three well-known friends of the Faith accepted the invitation of the Association and addressed the audience, and many more made artistic presentations. The number of Iranian friends of the Faith in attendance was noticeably larger than in previous years. For the first time in the history of these conferences, a live voice report of the proceedings was broadcast on a U.S. Persian television station. In addition, a detailed report of the conference was printed, in six parts, in a Persian newspaper in Canada. Plans for the 19th conference are well under way. Many prominent guests have accepted the invitation of the Board of Directors to speak or make artistic presentations in what promises to be another successful annual conference. P ublicaTions. Efforts at publishing the proceedings of the conferences and other pertinent materials continue. Two titles are currently available and three books will be published shortly. In addition, CDs of talks and music by performing artists are available for purchase. More materials will be produced as this process gathers momentum. new websiTe. With invaluable assistance from experts in the field of web design, a new Association website was launched in 2008. Features of this website include information about the Association and its activities, online registration for the annual conferences, and access to conference presentations and other materials. Finances Consistent with its status as a nonprofit corporation, the Association has operated completely independent of the National Bahá’í Fund for the past three years. Sources of income include registration fees and other income from the annual conferences, sales of materials, and contributions from individuals.

wo titles with proceedings of the conferences are currently available and three books will be published shortly. In addition, CDs of talks and music by performing artists are available for purchase.

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AMH has been granted the right to confer Continuing Education credits, sponsored by the American Psychological Association, for its annual and regional conferences and other more specific educational and training events.

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Bahá’í Association for Mental Health
During 2008–09, the Bahá’í Association of Mental Health Professionals, incorporated in the State of Illinois as a nonprofit corporation, underwent an official process of changing its name to the Bahá’í Association for Mental Health (BAMH). This decision was voted at the organization’s annual meeting in September 2007, in an effort to reflect more fully the comprehensive outreach orientation of the Association. BAMH is committed to opening a space for the emergence of an enriched understanding of mental health, one that recognizes and studies systematically the intersection between spirituality and authentic mental health. The Association seeks to illuminate the role of social context in the pathogenesis of mental illness and to study the dynamics of comprehensive and systemic mental health initiatives. It seeks new ways to reach out and be of service both to the Bahá’í community and to the larger professional community, as each struggles to address the unique challenges of a global age. An important advancement toward this goal has been the granting to BAMH of the right to confer Continuing Education credits, sponsored by the American Psychological Association, for its annual and regional conferences and other more specific educational and training events. This newly gained privilege will help attract to BAMH’s forums a wider range of professionals that seek new insights into the dynamics of authentic mental health, and the application of such an enriched understanding to both clinical practice and everyday human interactions. The 2008 BAMH annual conference was held September 17–21, 2008 at Louhelen Bahá’í School. It focused on “An Exploration of the Therapeutic Process: Spiritual Literacy, Ethics & Intimacy.” The conference engaged in both a conceptual, as well as an interactive, experiential articulation of the core of health for individuals and communities. In addition, members of the governing board continued throughout 2008 to offer individual consultancies in the spirit of service, addressing specific mental health issues arising in particular Bahá’í communities. For summer 2009, BAMH has planned a regional conference at Bosch Bahá’í School that will bring to colleagues and friends on the West Coast some of the insights gleaned and processes developed at the 2008 annual conference at Louhelen. The Association is also compiling a list of references to publications in a Bahá’íinspired approach to mental health, in order to make it available to its membership, to the wider Bahá’í community, and to the professional community. Further, the Association is reevaluating and expanding its website, so that it can offer a richer body of more specific information to its membership as well as to interested colleagues in the field. Among the remaining unaccomplished challenges that must engage the Board are the following goals articulated in previous years:

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• Developing the capacity of BAMH to attract a larger and more sustainable and active membership that can be mobilized to address, from an informed spiritual perspective, issues of mental health in the current global crisis. • Developing greater participation of minorities in the work of BAMH. • Developing more specific and effective ways to support local Bahá’í communities in their meeting the challenges of the Five Year Plan. • Developing more successful outreach to the larger professional community, as well as engaging a range of non-Bahá’í groups that may be interested in the issues addressed at BAMH forums.

he Association is also compiling a list of references to publications in a Bahá’íinspired approach to mental health, in order to make it available to its membership, to the wider Bahá’í community, and to the professional community.

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he content of radio and TV segments was aligned with the goals of the Five Year Plan and focused on introducing and reporting on the four core activities around the world and inviting listeners and viewers to explore these activities.

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Bahá’í International Radio Service
Payam-e-Doost radio and Á’ín-i-Bahá’í television programs Bahá’í International Radio Service oversees the operation of Payam-e-Doost, the Bahá’í radio program in Persian that started as a weekly AM program in the Washington, D.C. area on March 21, 1994 and commenced worldwide broadcasting on April 21, 2001. Since that date, its 45-minute daily programs have been broadcast on shortwave to Iran and the Middle East, as well as on two satellite systems. One system transmits the signal to Europe, parts of South Africa, the Middle East, and areas of Central Asia, while the other beams the programs to the United States, Canada, and parts of Central America. Payam-e-Doost programs are also heard on the Internet (www.bahairadio.org). The first Bahá’í teleradio service was commenced on July 1, 2002. Through this service, Persian-speaking individuals can access Payam-e-Doost radio programs 24 hours a day by dialing 212-990-6397. Weekly television programs in Persian under the title of Á’ín-i-Bahá’í commenced broadcasting in July 2005. These programs are aired on AFN-TV and Channel One, both of which are Persian television programs broadcasting on HotBird 8 and Telstar 12. HotBird is the satellite system most watched in Iran. A new satellite television station—Pars TV—has been added to the others. With this addition, Á’íni-Bahá’í programs are broadcast to Iran daily. Á’ín-i-Bahá’í television programs may also be viewed on the Internet (www.bahaiview.org). Á’ín-i-Bahá’í TV programs, as well as Payam-e-Doost radio programs, are accessed on GLWiZ—a Web-based application that gives access to favorite channels through television or computer to subscribers. Under the guidance and direction of the Bahá’í World Center, achievements during 2008–09 include the following: • Payam-e-Doost radio programs continued with a shift to a magazine format with more youth appeal and through shorter segments presenting subject matter relevant to contemporary Iranian culture. To ensure a wider range of listeners, however, in-depth discussions of topics related to the Faith were offered as well. • The content of radio and TV segments was aligned with the goals of the Five Year Plan and focused on introducing and reporting on the four core activities around the world and inviting listeners and viewers to explore these activities. • An agreement was made with Pars TV—a Persian satellite TV channel—to broadcast Á’ín-i-Bahá’í programs beginning on March 1, 2009. This addition to Channel One and AFN-TV broadcasts makes Á’ín-i-Bahá’í programs available to Iran on a daily basis. • For the first time in the history of broadcast media, 20-minute coverage of the

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10th International Convention for the election of the Universal House of Justice was broadcast into the Middle East, specifically to Iran. Iranians witnessed firsthand the democratic election of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the worldwide Bahá’í community. • New segments were developed to cover current affairs related to Iran or of interest and importance to the targeted audience in Iran. In addition, new programs were produced to introduce Bahá’í websites/blogs and make them available to the Iranian public as a means of ensuring circulation of accurate information about the Faith. • To further the creation of alliances with like-minded Iranian organizations and individuals, radio and TV interviews/roundtables were conducted with friends of the Faith on topics such as human rights in Iran, the prosperity of Iranians and their culture, and building the Iran of the future. • Collaboration with a number of task forces has increased the production of various segments for both Payam-e-Doost radio programs and Á’ín-i-Bahá’í television programs. • Á’ín-i-Bahá’í TV launched its new website (www.bahaiview.org) with the following new features: easier searchability, secure address to open up access in Iran, downloadable short segments, feedback, surveys, and a whole new look. • Steps have been taken to further expand the broadcasting of TV programs tailored to a younger audience. This is also a response to the non-Bahá’í Iranians who contact Á’ín-i-Bahá’í and appeal for more programs. The increased number of such contacts via email and telephone from Iran, informing Á’íni-Bahá’í of its vital role as the only means of obtaining accurate information about the Faith, is another motivation for expanding Á’ín-i-Bahá’í’s offerings. • Payam-e-Doost radio’s website (www.bahairadio.org) is under construction for easier accessibility and a secure address in Iran. The Bahá’í International Radio Service continues with its mandate to remove misconceptions about the Bahá’í Faith among Iranians, to acquaint them with accurate information about the Faith, and to create loving relationships among the Iranian people.

ranians witnessed firsthand the democratic election of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the worldwide Bahá’í community.

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H works with local partner institutions to identify needs; short-term volunteer specialists then make one- or two-week visits to provide medical training, lectures, and consultation.

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Health for Humanity
Mission and challenge Health for Humanity (HH) provides volunteer medical services to communities around the world. Long-term capacity building—through which the host country’s medical personnel gain the knowledge and resources necessary to sustainably address the health issues of their communities—is one of the organization’s cherished goals. HH works with local partner institutions to identify needs; short-term volunteer specialists then make one- or two-week visits to provide medical training, lectures, and consultation. Where additional training is needed, HH sponsors partner health professionals to fellowships at international training hospitals for ophthalmologic subspecialties. In addition, HH offers its partners the Values-Based Leadership program, which is designed to provide a spiritual framework in which all can work. The principal challenge facing the organization over the next several years is focusing its limited resources, both volunteer and financial, in a way that will most effectively achieve HH’s mission. HH’s Board has formed a volunteer services committee to develop and explore new project sites—particularly those that can utilize a greater number of volunteers. Two sites being considered are in Bangladesh and Ecuador. Highlights of HH’s activities during 2008–09 include the following: • Medical training was provided by HH volunteers in the following specialties: general cataract surgery, oculoplastic surgery and treatment, pediatric rehabilitation, general pediatrics, psychiatry, HIV/AIDS prevention and related mental health issues, pediatric cardiology, and diabetes prevention. Additional training in Values-Based Leadership was provided to health care professionals to aid them in using their technical training to be of most service to their communities. • Ten HH volunteers visited four current projects in Mongolia, China, and Albania. • Four HH volunteers visited three potential projects for exploration in Brazil, Ecuador, and Bangladesh. • Two partner health professionals (one nurse and one ophthalmologist) were sponsored for advanced training in India—for establishing an eye bank to support the donation of corneas and for fellowship training in glaucoma treatment. • Five health promotion activities were offered by HH volunteers in the United States on the topics of senior wellness, smoking prevention, drug abuse prevention, healthy nutrition, and HIV/STD awareness and prevention. • Four representatives of HH and one Mongolian ophthalmologist presented the results of Values-Based Leadership Training in Mongolia to members of the

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International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness at their meeting in Argentina. Current HH international projects • China Blindness Prevention Project, initiated in 2007, Tianjin, China ProjecT goal: Reduce the prevalence of blindness from cataracts in China, especially in remote rural areas. • China Continued Medical Training, initiated in 1999, Yueyang, China ProjecT goal: Support the Chinese government’s commitment to continuing medical education through lectures and clinical training experiences. • China Pediatric Rehabilitation, initiated in 1999, Chengdu, China ProjecT goal: Improve the quality of life for children with disabilities by developing the capacity for pediatric rehabilitation services. • Mongolia Blindness Prevention, initiated in 2002, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia ProjecT goal: Reduce avoidable blindness in Mongolia by developing capacity for modern cataract surgery and vitreo-retinal surgery. • Mongolia Continued Medical Training, initiated in 2002, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia ProjecT goal: Support the Mongolian Ministry of Health’s commitment to continuing medical education through lectures and clinical training experiences. Current HH domestic projects • Ohio Senior Wellness Lecture Series, initiated in 1997, Youngstown, Ohio ProjecT goal: Improve the quality of life and health of seniors by providing health education seminars. • Portland Smoking Prevention in Elementary Schools initiated in 2006, Portland, Oregon ProjecT goal: Educate greater Portland area children about the hazards of tobacco use. • United States Health Promotion Projects initiated in 2006, across the U.S. ProjecT goal: Launch community health promotion activities throughout the country to raise awareness on key health issues such as youth nutrition and AIDS/HIV awareness. Potential projects being explored • Bangladesh Continued Medical Training exploration in 2009, Dhaka, Bangladesh ProjecT concePT: Support the Kumindini Welfare Trust’s Medical, Nursing, and Dental Schools by sending volunteers from multiple specialties to offer lectures and clinical training experiences. • Ecuador Continued Medical Training exploration in 2009, Portoviejo, Ecuador ProjecT concePT: Partner with the Andean Parliament to offer training to community health workers, beginning with diabetes prevention and dental hygiene education.

ive health promotion activities were offered by HH volunteers in the United States on the topics of senior wellness, smoking prevention, drug abuse prevention, healthy nutrition, and HIV/STD awareness and prevention.

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Appendix: Annual Report of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace, University of Maryland
During 2008–09, the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace undertook activities in keeping with its established objectives for: • Encouragement of multidisciplinary approaches. • Facilitation of human and institutional capacities for dialogue and cooperation. • Dissemination of knowledge germane to socioeconomic development. • Cultivation of moral leadership. The Chair continued to co-chair and develop the transdisciplinary Initiative for Education in Peace, Cooperation, and Development (IEPCD). The IEPCD is creating a campus-wide “Semester on Peace” during the fall 2009 term to bring forth the qualities of peace that transcend all departments of the University (www.iepcd. org). The Chair’s next Interactive Dialogue in November 2009 will be a major event in the Semester on Peace. The IEPCD is a producing a book, The Language of Peace, in which the Chair has a chapter entitled “African Performing Arts: A Language of Social Connectivity, Reconstruction, and Harmony,” to be published in 2009. The Chair is developing a companion website called a “Lexicon of Peace” that will create an expanded “global peace vocabulary” to facilitate dialogue across cultures. In April 2008, the Chair hosted Professor David Cadman, a past Chair lecturer and an advisor to the Prince of Wales to discuss his essay, entitled “Peace-talk,” at the University’s Academy of Leadership. The Chair worked with the Phelps Stokes Fund to establish a Ralph Bunche Society on campus to “develop globally conscious student leaders” and is its Faculty Advisor. In November, the Chair partnered with Phelps Stokes to hold a major leadership conference at the University. Over 200 attendees interacted with outstanding speakers on opportunities for minority leadership in international work. In terms of disseminating knowledge, the Chair is writing a book entitled Global Mutual Aid, revising an article on President Eisenhower’s doctrine of “Waging Peace,” and has an expanded version of its first Interactive Dialogue, The Humanity of Diplomacy, in the final stages of production. The Chair’s teaching program has consolidated around Professor John Grayzel’s courses: “Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and International Development,” a requirement for all students in the Certificate Program on International

Appendices
141 ...Annual Report of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace, University of Maryland 143 ...Membership of the National Spiritual Assembly and the Regional Bahá’í Councils 144 ...Membership of key consultative and directorial bodies

he Chair continued to co-chair and develop the transdisciplinary Initiative for Education in Peace, Cooperation, and Development, which is creating a campus-wide “Semester on Peace” during the fall 2009 term to bring forth the qualities of peace that transcend all departments of the University.

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Development and Conflict Management, and his Honors seminar, “Creating Alternative Futures.” With Chair support, Professor Suheil Bushrui taught his seminal class, “The Spiritual Heritage of the Human Race,” and completed the Arabic translation of the book by the same name—a milestone representing the first Arabic language work to treat major religious and spiritual traditions in equally respectful terms. The Chair participated in a variety of conferences and dialogues during 2008–09, including: • Delivering the closing presentation at the University’s Confucius Institute’s January 2008 conference. • Speaking at the University of Virginia as part of the national “Denial Campaign,” on the denial of higher education to Bahá’ís in Iran and the responsibility of universities to assume global leadership in protecting the rights of all people to higher education. • Moderating a dialogue between the University’s “Beyond the Classroom” service program and Christopher Hedges, best-selling author of War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. • Addressing the Bahá’í Law Conference at American University on “Discourse vs. Dialogue: Revisiting the Relationship between Law, Religion and Governance.” • Chairing a panel discussion on “The Value of an Internationalized Campus Community” at the Global Leadership Conference. • Presenting to the Executive Committee of the U.S. Government’s Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) key research conclusions regarding the Marshall Plan Productivity Program, highlighting, in particular, the application of group consultation to today’s development challenges. The Chair continued to advise the USAID BIFAD coordinator on reformulating the role of BIFAD and associated Land Grant Universities (for example, the University of Maryland) to more effectively address a potential crisis in world food security. Although the Chair’s activities during the year fulfilled its established focus, the Chair has determined that its extremely broad and varied involvement, especially its engagement on the agendas of others with broad objectives for peace, is worthy but problematic. Specifically, this approach does not allow the Chair to produce its own demonstrable results on a scale to sustain an enduring program commensurate with the University’s role as a major international research institution. Therefore, the Bahá’í Chair has refocused its activities to reflect a key assertion of its founding document, The Promise of World Peace, that “the primary challenge in dealing with issues of peace is to raise the context to the level of principle, as distinct from pure pragmatism.” The Chair has revised its mission statement to: “Dealing with issues of peace in the context of fundamental principles.” Its new program focus is: “Advancing Global Governance: From Pragmatism to Principle.” Its revised objective is: “Creating a single program focus built on four components: a body of information crafted for dialogue; a tool for policy; a methodology for application; and a learning community.” Each component represents one or more major deliverables for the coming year.

he Bahá’í Chair has refocused its activities to reflect a key assertion of its founding document, The Promise of World Peace, that “the primary challenge in dealing with issues of peace is to raise the context to the level of principle, as distinct from pure pragmatism.”

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Appendix: Membership of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, 2008–2009
Muin Afnani Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary-General Juana C. Conrad, Deputy Secretary-General Robert C. Henderson Jacqueline Left Hand Bull, Chair Dorothy W. Nelson William L.H. Roberts, Treasurer Erica Toussaint David F. Young, Vice-Chair

Membership of the Regional Bahá’í Councils in the United States
Central States Yvonne Billingsley Dana Farrar Marianne Geula, Treasurer Jena Khadem Khodadad, Vice-Chair Patricia Kubala, Recording Secretary Behrad Majidi Becky Smith, Secretary Lynn Wieties, Chair Breeana Woods Northeastern States Nina Dini Brett Gamboa Neal McBride, Treasurer Chester Makoski, Secretary Mary K. Makoski Joel Nizin, Chair Vickie Nizin, Assistant Secretary for Administration Katherine Penn Greg Wooster Northwestern States Doug Allen Carol Brooks, Recording Secretary Derek Cockshut Henri Cross Frederick Delgado, Secretary Dale Eng, Treasurer Randie Gottlieb Shannon Javid, Vice-Chair Omid Meshkin, Chair South Central States Lupita Ahangarzadeh Aniela Costello, Cluster Development Aram Ferdowsi, Recording Secretary Jack Guillebeaux, Vice-Chair John Hatcher, Chair Hoda Hosseini Sohrab Kourosh Karen Pritchard, Treasurer Regina Rafraf, Secretary Southeastern States Ford Bowers, Treasurer Navid Haghighi, Vice-Chair Robert James, Chair Ahmad Mahboubi Carole Miller Corinne Mills, Assistant Secretary Cluster Advancement Mahyar Mofidi, Secretary Janice Sadeghian, Assistant Secretary James Sturdivant Southwestern States Shad Afsahi, Treasurer Fariba Aghdasi, Deputy Secretary Cluster Advancement Jerry Bathke, Chair Gary Bulkin Randolph Dobbs, Vice-Chair Keyvan Geula Marsha Gilpatrick, Secretary Charleen Maghzi, Deputy / Recording Secretary Farhad Sabetan

Appendix: Membership of key consultative and directorial bodies
National committees and task forces
Office of Review Task Force Shahin Borhanian Charles Carnegie Gary Matthews Richard Schickele Martha Schweitz Matthew Weinberg Bahá’í Center Assistance Board Ted Amsden Tandis Arjmand (retired) Farzad Ferdowsi Farshad Monfared Sharon Dixon Peay Lee Ratcliff Virginia Rogers Mahdad Saniee Johanna Toloza-Parrish Ron Lillejord Wanda Wood, Program Administrator Wilmette Institute Roger Dahl Nancy Davis Manuchehr Derakhshani Betty J. Fisher Gayle Morrison Keyvan Nazerian Mark Rossman Robert H. Stockman Geoff Wilson

Editorial boards
World Order Betty J. Fisher Arash Abizadeh Monireh Kazemzadeh Diane Lotfi Kevin A. Morrison Robert H. Stockman Jim Stokes Herbert Woodward Martin, Consultant in Poetry Encyclopedia Project Larry Bucknell Betty J. Fisher Firuz Kazemzadeh Todd Lawson Heshmat Moayyad Gayle Morrison Sholeh A. Quinn Martha L. Schweitz Robert H. Stockman Will C. van den Hoonaard

Association of Friends of Persian Culture Board of Directors Goli Ataii Guitty Ejtemai Changiz Geula Hermien Hoveydai Jaleh Joubine-Khadem Manuchehr Khodadad Fuad Ziai Health for Humanity Board of Directors Val Abbassi Gity Banan-Etemad Jennifer Chapman Richard Czerniejewski, Vice-Chair Kamyar Jabbari, Chair (resigned March 2009) Steve Jackson William McMiller Robert Phillips John Safapour, Secretary Geoff Wilson, Treasurer May Khadem, Executive Director (resigned January 2009) Bahá’í Association for Mental Health Board Dulamdary Enkhtor Jack Guillebeaux Jason Ighani Elena Mustakova-Possardt Michael Penn Mary K. Radpour

Other advisory boards
Bahá’í Service for the Blind Robert Dickson Bill Peary Lynne Peary John Simpson Laurie Simpson Financial Advisory Group Shad Afsahi Ryan Armour Nava Ashraf Badi Azad Richard Bauman Gregory Belzer Ray Cameron Robert Cook Zeeba Dalal Shariar Eshragh Faran Ferdowsi Ridvan Gurmu Grant Kvalheim Ron Lillejord Neal McBride Casey McCants Sharon Dixon Peay Karen Pritchard Mehrdad Rassekh Virginia Rogers Kelsey Taylor Rebecca Wilson Johan Wong

Affiliates’ boards and executive committees
Association for Bahá’í Studies—North America Executive Committee Lisa Dufraimont, Vice-Chair Stephen Friberg, Recording Secretary Michael Karlberg, Secretary Mehran Kiai, Treasurer Pierre-Yves Mocquais Kim Naqvi Mehrzad Khorsandi Sahba Martha Schweitz, Chair Journal of Bahá’í Studies Editorial Committee (Carey) Alexander McGee, Managing Editor Redwan Moqbel Peter Terry Phyllis Perrakis Deborah van den Hoonaard

School and institute advisory committees
Green Acre Bahá’í School LaRae Johnson Davis Wandra Harmsen Rabi Ann Musah Farhad Rassekh Paul J. Robbins Keivan Towfigh Native American Bahá’í Institute Alice Bathke Jerry Bathke Alvin Bitsilly Nanabah Foguth Rahan Khozein Elizabeth Louis Brad Rishel Robert Turner