Establishment of Regional Bahá'í Councils in the United States
by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice1997-05-30
To The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States
Dear Bahá'í Friends,
On studying your letters of 27 July 1995, 19 February and 31 July 1996, and the subsequent detailed announcement of your decentralization scheme in The American Bahá'í for the month of 'Ala 153 (2 March 1997) we were profoundly impressed with the wide-ranging survey you had carried out and the thorough consideration you had devoted to this scheme before its adoption. We are pleased with the outcome, and are eagerly looking forward to the beneficial effects of this development.
In recent months, after a prolonged study of the entire question of the balance between centralization and decentralization, and of the various examples which were shared with you in the letter of 27 June 1994 written on our behalf, we have taken the major decision to formalize the establishment of a new institution to be introduced in certain countries where the conditions require it. This decision has been announced to all National Spiritual Assemblies in a letter of which you have no doubt already received a copy. We believe that this concept could prove to be highly advantageous for your own project of decentralization which is already very similar to this new structure and can, with a few important modifications, be developed into it. A similar structure is, as you know, already operating in its early stages in Canada. To avoid the misunderstandings which can arise from the use of the word "committee" in relation to the institutions, which have significantly different characteristics, we are designating them "Bahá'í Councils". We believe that your decision to base the regions of the United States on the areas addressed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the Tablets of the Divine Plan is both wise and of profound spiritual significance. At this point, with the Four Year Plan entering its second year, and with your new decentralized teaching structure getting into its stride, it is essential to maintain and accelerate the momentum already achieved. The changes that are called for in order to form your Regional Committees into Regional Bahá'í Councils and to modify their relationships to your National Teaching Committee should be introduced in a manner which ensures the continuity of plans and activities. When you have studied the principles set forth in our letter to all National Spiritual Assemblies, and its attachment, you will be in a position to the necessary adjustment to your current teaching structure.
This will include modification of the terms of reference of the National Teaching Committee; as you will see from [[section]]4 of the attachment to our message to the National Assemblies, a close relationship is envisaged between the National Teaching Committee and the Regional Councils, and it will be entirely appropriate for the National Task Forces to continue to operate under the National Teaching Committee.
We urge you to announce that the transformation of the Regional Committees into Regional Bahá'í Councils will take place on the anniversary of the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh, Wednesday 12 November 1997,through the election on that day of nine members to each Councils. The first term of office of these newly elected Regional Bahá'í Councils should run for eighteen months until 23 May 1999, to avoid having to have an election for the Councils in May 1998, which will be the occasion of your National Convention that year,
The establishment of Regional Bahá'í Councils in the United States will be a historic step which can, we believe, augment the stimulating effect of the decentralization you have already set in motion, and arouse the enthusiasm of the friends who have already been galvanized by the ground-breaking and highly imaginative television broadcast from your National Convention.
We shall pray ardently at Sacred Threshold for divine blessings to confirm every endeavour of the beloved followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the United States towards the achievement of the Four Year Plan.
With loving Bahá'í greetings,
cc: International Teaching Centre
Board of Counsellors in the Americas
Counsellors in North America