Posted by Arjen on December 05, 2101 at 03:15:57:
In Reply to: Re: Bahá'í World Statistics - comparative posted by anon on December 04, 2101 at 19:19:25:
Please read the below comments of the Universal House of Justice on this subject:
Ridvan Messages of the Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 3:
While the restriction of the formation of Local Spiritual Assemblies to the first day of Ridvan, which took effect in 1997, produced the anticipated decrease in the number of these institutions, the fall was not drastic.
Letters of The Universal House of Justice, 1995 Oct 26, Message to CBC re Four Year Plan, p. 7:
Election of Local Spiritual Assemblies
In developing the Administrative Order, the Guardian established the First Day of Ridvan as the day when all Local Spiritual Assemblies should be elected. During his own lifetime, this practice was followed as the number of Local Assemblies steadily grew to over one thousand.
In the subsequent two decades the Faith expanded greatly, especially in the rural areas of the world, often remote and difficult to reach. In view of this development, the Universal House of Justice decided in 1977 that, in certain cases, when the local friends failed to elect their Spiritual Assembly on the First Day of Ridvan, they could do so on any subsequent day of the Ridvan Festival. This permission did not apply to all localities, but to those that, in the judgement of the National Spiritual Assembly, were partic- ularly affected by such factors as illiteracy, remoteness, and unfamiliarity with concepts of Baha'i Administration. The House of Justice also gave permission at the beginning of the Five Year Plan for Assemblies being formed for the first time to be elected at any point during the year.
These provisions have enabled the believers in a large number of localities to receive assistance in electing their Local Spiritual Assemblies, and much experience has been gained in strengthening Local Assemblies under diverse conditions in a vast array of cultural settings. Nevertheless, in principle, the initiative and responsibility for electing a Local Spiritual Assembly belong primarily to the Baha'is in the locality, and assistance from outside is ultimately fruitful only if the friends become conscious of this sacred responsibility. As progress is made in the training of human resources and in the development of the entire range of Baha'i community life, the capacity of the friends to elect their Local Spiritual Assemblies on their own will certainly grow.
With these thoughts in mind, we have decided that, beginning at Ridvan 1997, the practice of electing all Local Spiritual Assemblies on the First Day of Ridvan will be reinstituted. We recognize that the immediate result may be a reduction in the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies at Ridvan 1997, but we are confident that subsequent years will witness a steady increase.
The National Spiritual Assemblies and their agencies on the one hand, and the Counsellors and their auxiliaries on the other, clearly have a duty to foster the establishment and development of Baha'i communities, including their divinely ordained local institutions. This duty can be discharged mainly through sustained educational programmes which create in the believers the awareness of the importance of the Teachings in every area of their indi- vidual and social lives and which engender in them the desire and determination to elect and support their Local Spiritual Assemblies. These programmes should take full advantage of the provision that has been made for the temporary formation of administrative committees of three or more members in localities where Local Assemblies are not elected, or where the members of a Local Assembly fail to meet.
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