A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Assembly

After the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly, laxity and negligence in the holding of its meetings, in the coming together of its nine members, and in the discharge of its sacred responsibilities, will have undesirable repercussions in the community, will weaken and disgrace the Cause, will create chaos and confusion, and will cause the Faith to decline and retrogress.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 43-44)


If this assembly continues as it is befitting and behooving, great results will thereby appear and conduce to the illumination of those parts, spiritual progress will ensue, the lights of the Sun of Truth will shine, hearts will be illumined, eyes will become seeing, ears become hearing, the lukewarm (or withdrawn ones) become aflame, the inanimate (or numbed ones) will be enkindled in soul and an ecstasy will come to all by which those present will be astonished.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 252)


In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace of estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness.... If this be so regarded, that assembly shall be of God, but otherwise it shall lead to coolness and alienation that proceed from the Evil One.... Should they endeavour to fulfil these conditions the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that assembly shall become the centre of the Divine blessings, the hosts of Divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of Spirit.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)


It is again not permitted that any one of the honoured members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously, though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)


It should be realized that there is a distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should characterize individuals in their relationship to other people, namely, loving forgiveness, forbearance, and concern with one’s own sins, not the sins of others, and those attitudes which should be shown by the Spiritual Assemblies, whose duty is to administer the law of God with Justice.
(Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, p. 110)


Strong ties often exist between members of the Bahá’í community that may make it very difficult to carry out decisions of the Assembly that may hurt, anger, or disappoint family or friends. It is understandable to want to avoid the possible unhappiness or censure of family and friends that may result from carrying out decisions of the Assembly, particularly when issues of confidentiality limit or prohibit explanations about such decisions. Nevertheless, personal considerations should not be allowed to influence the discharge of duties laid upon the Spiritual Assembly, which must, once its decisions are made, proceed with detachment and courage to carry them out.
(National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 103).


[T]he maturity of a Spiritual Assembly cannot be assessed by the regularity of its meetings and the efficiency of its functioning alone. Rather its strength must be measured, to a large extent, by the vitality of the spiritual and social life of the community it serves...
(Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2010, para. 22)


That Assembly resteth in the sheltering shade of the Lord of all bounties, and it is my hope that, as beseemeth that body, it will be favoured and invigorated by the breathings of the Holy Spirit, and that day by day ye will love God in ever greater measure, and become more tightly bound to the Beauty that abideth forever, to Him Who is the Light of the world. For love of God and spiritual attraction do cleanse and purify the human heart and dress and adorn it with the spotless garment of holiness; and once the heart is entirely attached to the Lord, and bound over to the Blessed Perfection, then will the grace of God be revealed.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 202-203)


The National Assembly should neither feel embarrassed nor ashamed in turning to the friends, continuously appealing to them to exemplify their faith and devotion to the Cause by sacrificing for it, and pointing out to them that they will grow spiritually through their acts of self-abnegation, that the fear of poverty should not deter them from sacrificing for the Fund, and that the assistance and bounty of the Source of all good and of all wealth are unfailing and assured.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 258-259)


The believers should learn to turn more often to their Assemblies for advice and help and at an earlier date, and the Assemblies, on the other hand, should act with more vigilance and a greater sense of community responsibility towards every situation.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 80)


The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be nonexistent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that assembly be brought to naught.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87-88)


The greatest need it seems everywhere inside the Cause is to impress upon the friends the need for love among them. There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 41).


The honoured members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise permissible for one to belittle the thought of another, nay, he must with moderation set forth the truth, and should differences of opinion arise a majority of voices must prevail, and all must obey and submit to the majority.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)


The proper functioning of these institutions depends largely on the efforts of their members to familiarize themselves with their duties and to adhere scrupulously to principle in their personal behaviour and in the conduct of their official responsibilities. Of relevant importance, too, are their resolve to remove all traces of estrangement and sectarian tendencies from their midst, their ability to win the affection and support of the friends under their care and to involve as many individuals as possible in the work of the Cause. By their constantly aiming at improving their performance, the communities they guide will reflect a pattern of life that will be a credit to the Faith and will, as a welcome consequence, rekindle hope among the increasingly disillusioned members of society.
(Universal House of Justice, Ridván 1993 message)


The second condition is that the members of the assembly should unitedly elect a chairman and lay down guide-lines and by-laws for their meetings and discussions. The chairman should have charge of such rules and regulations and protect and enforce them; the other members should be submissive, and refrain from conversing on superfluous and extraneous matters.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)


They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one’s views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)


They must, when coming together, turn their faces to the Kingdom on high and ask aid from the Realm of Glory.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)


They [Spiritual Assemblies] must endeavor to promote amity and concord amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause.
(Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 38)


With reference to your next question concerning the qualification of the members of the Spiritual Assembly; there is a distinction of fundamental importance which should be always remembered in this connection, and this is between the Spiritual Assembly as an institution, and the persons who compose it. These are by no means supposed to be perfect, nor can they are considered as being inherently superior to the rest of their fellow believers, It is precisely because they are subject to the same human limitation that characterize the other members of the community that they have to be elected every year. The existence of election is a sufficient indication that Assembly members, through forming apart of an institution that is divine and perfect, are nevertheless themselves imperfect. But this does not necessarily imply that their judgement is defective.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 8)