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Abstract:
Guidance on the structure and content of devotional gatherings.
Notes:

"Devotional Meetings," Definition and Scope of

by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice

1991-09-19
MEMORANDUM
To: The Universal House of Justice
From: Research Department

The Research Department has studied the questions concerning the concept of the devotional meeting raised by ... in his email of 4 August 2001 to the Universal House of Justice. ... mentions a recent meeting called by the Local Spiritual Assembly of ... in which representatives of the Bahá'í institutions who are resident in ... participated. He reports that one important area of consultation was the devotional meeting. In light of this gathering, ... enquires whether the Universal House of Justice has specified in any detail "what a Devotional Meeting looks like". He is particularly interested in "the definition and scope of such a meeting". We provide the following response.

As to the nature of the devotional meetings referred to in recent letters of the House of Justice, in response to a similar question raised by one of the believers, the House of Justice in a letter dated 13 March 2001 written on its behalf, provided the following general guidance:
Regarding your email message dated 14 February 2001, which has been received at the World Centre, questions concerning local devotional meetings should be referred to your Local or National Spiritual Assembly.
While the Research Department has, to date, been unable to locate any comprehensive definition of the nature and scope of devotional meetings, we have assembled, for ... information and study, a short compilation entitled "Selected Guidance Concerning Devotional Gatherings" [online at uhj_devotional_meetings_compilation]. The compilation consists of extracts from letters written by and on behalf of the Universal House of Justice. A number of themes emerge from perusal of the extracts contained therein. For example:
  • Care should be taken to avoid developing rigid practices and rituals (extracts 1 and 6).

  • Bahá'ís are encouraged to use the revealed prayers of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb as well as those of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It is permissible to have prayers and readings from the Sacred Scriptures of other religions (extracts 2 and 7).

  • The form of programme would appear to depend in part on the setting, the occasion, and the purposes of the gathering (extracts 6 and 7).

  • The practice of collective worship is one important ingredient in the flourishing of community life. It also reinforces individual spiritual development (extracts 3, 4, and 5).
Given ...'s interest in the subject of devotional meetings, it is suggested that he might find it helpful to refer to the general compilation entitled "Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude" [online at compilation_prayer_meditation_devotion], which was compiled some time ago by the Research Department, and published by a number of Bahá'í publishing trusts. The compilation is also included in Compilation of Compilations (Maryborough, Victoria: Bahá'í Publications Australia, 1991), volume II [online at compilation_compilations_2].
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